Doomed to repeat history
by Larry Penner
Dec 28, 2011 | 7618 views | 0 0 comments | 203 203 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Redevelopment proposals for Willets Point overlook past history.

New York State and New York City prospered and successfully grew prior to the explosive growth in the numbers of various city, borough and state development corporations - and now regional economic development councils - over past decades.

In many instances, projects supported by these government corporations have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low-interest loans and long-term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers in the end is greater than the so-called public benefits.

There also a relationship between campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, private property condemnation under eminent domain, building permits, and direct and hidden subsidies.

In some cases, city and state development corporations actually compete against each other, attempting to outbid each other in offering potential investors the best deal. This translates to the highest subsidies at taxpayers expense.

Don't forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city, county or state regulatory and permitting agencies. Too many leave in the twilight of any mayor or governor's administration to become employees or consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw.

Some developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which after the major project is completed don't always appear. Other commitments for creation of permanent new jobs and tax revenues frequently do not meet expectations.

If projects such as Willets Point are worthwhile, why can't major developers use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, like medium and small businesses? Don't we have more important priorities than spending taxpayer dollars encouraging people to dine out?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don't want to do it the old fashioned way by sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers expense and favors from elected officials.

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