Out of Left
York, New York
is Outsmarting Itself
New York needs
like a new hole in its head
By STAN ISAACS
If ever there was a time when the city slickers out-slicked
themselves, it was at the recent burlesque in which New York
City won the United States Olympic Committees designation
as Americas candidate for the 2012 Summer Games.
The Olympic Games in New York? A nightmare by any other name
is a nightmare. The city will be turned upside down and inside
out, inconveniencing, frustrating millions who dont even
care about the Olympics and the bloated presence it will have
in New York for two weeks before and the three-week-long carryings-on.
More important, there is the matter of misplaced priorities.
New York is so broke these days, it cant pay its firefighters
and police decent salaries. School buildings are rotting, classroom
sizes are too large; the city cant stop teachers from departing
to the suburbs for better paying jobs. People are losing jobs
on Wall Street and elsewhere.
They are talking about a $1-billion proposal to convert the West
Side rail yards into an Olympic Stadium. They make gullible football
fans giddy with talk about an Olympic Stadium seating 80,000
that will be the future home of the Jets. This should come to
at least $3 billion. This is supposed to be largely covered by
bonds, which would be paid off by future tax revenues.
Hah. How many times have taxpayers been suckered into going for
projects that will be paid off by bonds? Too often the bond deals
dont measure up and the taxpayers wind up holding the proverbial
For all the talk about building a subway line all the way over
to the west side of Manhattan, that area would become a traffic
quagmire for any event in an Olympic stadium. It would be just
as bad, if not more so, if the Jets played there because most
Jets fans come from the suburbs in cars and SUVs. If you know
Manhattan, think about the effect of some 10,000 cars coming
into the west side on any one day.
West Side people are pretty good at fighting off gargantuan projects.
They beat off an eight-lane highway called Westway not too long
ago. And critics not swayed by the immediate frenzy with which
the unwashed greeted the Olympic caper are already saying the
project would destroy neighborhoods. They argue that the Olympic
project is likely to stop the badly needed Second Avenue subway,
dampen downtown rebuilding and require $6.5 billion worth of
The NYC2012 committee has already spent $13 million to win a
bid that is still only a semi-final victory because New York
must win against Toronto, Istanbul, Rome and Moscow, among others,
in 2005 to nail down the Games. If sanity prevailed, they wouldnt
spend another nickel here when the need is so much greater elsewhere.
Such is the intelligence of what H.L. Mencken called the booboisie
that people at a Knicks basketball game in Madison Square
Garden greeted the Olympic news with cheers. The Knicks certainly
arent giving them any reason to cheer.
And why would anybody want the Olympics? The Games have come
to be associated with corruption, drugs, controversy, an embarrassement
of commercialism, bad TV and the poor sportsmanship of mans
inhumanity to man and women. The Olympics often leave such a
bad taste in the mouth its a wonder there are still cities
lusting to embrace them.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is an enthusiastic supporter
of this Olympic folly. This is interesting in view of Bloombergs
crafty tabling of the attempts of the Yankees and Mets to get
the city to help them build new stadiums.
Bloombergs predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, a fanatic Yankee
fan, sneaked through a bill in the last days of his administration
that would have helped the city underwrite the cost of new stadiums
for the Yankees and Mets. When this news came out, it was greeted
with disdain in many quarters, outrage in some.
When Bloomberg came in, he shrewdly did not outright negate the
stadium plans of his fellow Republican mayor. He merely said
that the city had other pressing needs financially so that this
was not a time to think about stadiums for the baseball teams.
Pretty neat footwork there, Mayor. And that ended any talk of
the city helping out the two baseball teams that happen to have
two of the most lucrative cable television deals in baseball.
Now, Bloomberg is one of the cheerleaders of this Olympic effort.
What happened to the other priorities he talked about when he
put the kibosh on the baseball stadiums? Dont ask.
The subject of big money and Bloomberg happen to go hand in hand.
Bloomberg is a rich guy, filthy rich you might say. His personal
fortune is listed at almost $5 billion from his media corporation.
According to Fortune Magazine this makes him the 29th richest
person in the country. The Olympic thing comes in the wake of
his recent actions putting the axe to many city programs and
departments because of the $4 billion shortfall in the New York
It makes me wonder why Bloomberg, who spent $41 million to get
himself elected last November, doesnt use some of his own
money to help bail out the city. He cant do it all by himself,
but money spent on city needs sounds a lot more admirable than
using the money for the selfish purpose of getting oneself elected.
In effect he spent a fortune to get elected so that he could
then cut millions from projects and people who need it the most.
New York, New York, buffoonery is thy name.
© 2002 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©
2001 by Jim Hummel. The cartoon illustration is from IMSI's Master
Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506,
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