Yankees President Randy Levine and city economic development official Seth Pinsky, apparently not amused by the subpoenas and bad press they’ve received recently, resorted to a relatively aggressive line of defense at a tense hearing this morning on bonds for the new Yankee Stadium, called by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.
The new trick in the bag was personal attacks, as Messrs. Levine and Pinsky attempted to portray Mr. Brodsky as being a petty, headline-grabbing politician who has no problem issuing press releases filled with exaggerations and lies.
In his prepared testimony, Mr. Levine said Mr. Brodsky’s “behavior in this entire matter is worthy of the Grandstanding Hall of Fame,” before he went on to imply a possible connection between tens of thousands of dollars in racing industry campaign donations to Mr. Brodsky and the Westchester Democrat’s votes on gaming matters.
An exchange from the questioning:
Mr. Pinsky: It’s important just to point out—not withstanding the fun and games that you’ve had with my e-mails, and I know that this is part of the game and I don’t take it personally
Mr. Brodsky: Let me stop you—
Mr. Pinsky: No, I—
Mr. Brodsky: I am not going to permit the characterizations of the work of this committee as games
Mr. Pinsky: I’m not characterizing the work—
[He later withdrew his description of the work as “fun and games”]
Mr. Pinsky: It’s an amazing cycle to see—that I get a request from you for information, I respond to that; the next day, it’s in the Daily News. Interesting. But, first, I do want to just say—
Mr. Brodsky: None of that is true—
Mr. Pinsky: Actually it is, but that’s O.K.
Aside from bickering over procedure and whether or not documents were provided, much of the debate, at least in the first two hours, was rehash of previous points related to the issuance of tax-free bonds—a tax exemption that a city agency is slated to vote on (and most likely approve) on Friday. Mr. Brodsky has been highly critical of numerous aspects of the deal, which involves a complex structure where the Yankees pay back the bonds with payments in lieu of property taxes.
The Yankees do not pay taxes now, so the bonds are not directly depriving the city of money that it would normally receive (though there is a considerable amount of public money, mostly federal, that would go uncollected because of those bonds’ tax-exempt status). However, Mr. Brodsky says that because the city referred to those payments as city dollars in applications to the Internal Revenue Service, the bonds amount to public subsidy.
Comptroller Bill Thompson also appeared and gave a testimony critical of the deal—a new position for him.