Although the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (you know, that pesky old piece of paper that Times editorial writers only seem to rediscover when it's needed to justify a right to sodomy or abortion or downloading porn from the Internet) bars the use of eminent domain without "just compensation," the Times is only required to pay $85.6 million for the land. That's at least a 25 percent discount, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology real estate professor W. Tod McGrath.
In addition, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice noted in a recent report on eminent domain abuse, the Times and its developer will recoup any cost of acquisition that exceeds $84.94 million in rent concessions, a figure the Times itself estimates may come to $29 million. Buried in the 99-year lease agreement is an option provision stating that after 29 years, the Times may buy the site in exchange for one dollar.
This cozy arrangement is "legalized theft," plain and simple, as New York Libertarian Party official Richard Cooper has noted from the beginning stages of what he and the party have dubbed "Time$cam."
It's also an example of the Times' sky-scraping editorial hypocrisy.
The paper's opinion pages have been filled for the past two years with liberal rants from the likes of Nicholas Kristof and Paul Krugman decrying corporate welfare schemes and accusing President Bush and Republicans of "crony capitalism." Kristof called a Texas Rangers baseball stadium land grab supported by Bush an "avaricious bruising of the public interest." Krugman carps about subsidies to the energy industry. The Times' editorial board lambastes government loan guarantees to special corporate interests as "pork-barrel politics" that have no honest economic justification.
All have been silent on their own employer's avaricious feasting at the public trough. Who wants to oppose "crony capitalism," after all, when a corner office with windows in the new publicly financed headquarters may be at stake?