The New York Times -- unrelenting champion of the underprivileged, mighty battler against all corporate evils, and vehement opponent of Republican tax cuts for the "rich and powerful" -- lives by a far more self-serving motto:
All the corporate welfare that's fit to collect.
You won't see it reported on the Times' front page, so here's the scoop: The Gray Lady is a greedy leech, siphoning off millions of dollars in state taxpayer subsidies for private real estate development disguised as a public good. Now, the company stands to benefit from a federal tax-exempt bond program intended to help businesses devastated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This week, it was revealed that the Times Company's development partner for the headquarters project has asked city officials for $400 million in federally financed "Liberty Bonds." The federal program was meant for rebuilding in New York City's Sept. 11 disaster zone, not for subsidizing a private newspaper's long-planned palatial ambitions.
The background: While small business owners near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan struggled to pick up the pieces after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, all the midtown Manhattan fat cats at the Times had to do was throw a tantrum to obtain public funding for a new building. After the newspaper's executives threatened to move their workers out of town, city and state officials coughed up a vast tract of land on the edge of Times Square for a shiny, new 52-story headquarters.
One minor glitch: The land that government authorities proposed to give away -- and the 11 buildings and 30 businesses located on it -- wasn't theirs for the taking. No matter. The corporate welfare conspirators invoked two magic words: eminent domain.
Eminent domain powers were originally intended only for "public use" projects, such as highways or bridges. But with the wave of a pen, the Empire State Development Corporation, a "public benefit corporation," condemned the coveted private property on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets for the Times' new digs. Opposed to special tax breaks for everyone else, the Times' project comes lined with a handy $26.1 million in sales-tax exemptions on equipment and materials used for construction, a waiver of the mortgage-recording tax, and a discount on electricity rates.
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