Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Times low-balls the total subsidies and tax breaks for Atlantic Yards

From a New York Times article yesterday headlined State’s Top Court Will Hear Appeal Against Atlantic Yards:
Landowners and the group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn challenged the state’s plan to use eminent domain to acquire private property at Atlantic Yards on behalf of Mr. Ratner, who has received more than $300 million in cash subsidies and tax breaks.
(Emphasis added)

"More than $300 million" is like saying the average NBA basketball player is taller than three feet.

The total amount of cash subsidies, according to Forest City Ratner, is $305 million. A New York Post article came up with a figure of $2 billion; while the total is questionable, I think any reporter could estimate "hundreds of millions in tax breaks."

And that's leaving out the $400 million in naming rights reportedly secured by Forest City Ratner--all for an arena under nominal public ownership. Why don't governments keep all or part of naming rights?

I know the $300 million was not the focus of the article. Still, such a sloppy estimate reinforces my argument that the Times should consistently disclose its parent company's business relationship with Forest City Ratner.

Such disclosure should--though I can't say it does--prompt reporters and editors to be more exacting in their coverage.

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