Goldman Goldmine

goldmanDon’t get us wrong. We’re glad Goldman Sachs is back on board in lower Manhattan.

But despite today’s follow-ups on the story of their return, we’re left with a question.

If Goldman’s problem with the previous arrangement was the tunneling of West Street called for in the Ground Zero master plan, why were any additional negotiations or financial considerations necessary after the tunnel was scrapped?

The Times headline reads: Officials Defend Actions to Keep Goldman Sachs Downtown.

Defend against whom? Even the good-government groups that have almost never met a corporate incentive package they liked seem to be quite sure the Goldman deal is a good thing:

“Even [Center for an Urban Future Research Director Jonathan] Bowles, who said he had generally praised the mayor for using corporate tax breaks sparingly, said he was pleased that Goldman had been lured back to the site,” the article reads.

“‘I’m ecstatic that Goldman is going to remain in Lower Manhattan,’ he said. ‘Everybody knows how important they are to the future of the World Trade Center area. I just think we’ve given away too much.'”

This despite Mr. Bowles having said earlier in the article:

“‘It’s probably the case that Goldman really was playing the city and had no intention of leaving Lower Manhattan.'”

So everyone seems thrilled to have them back, even at the enormous price tag that has seemed to carry. And:

“Wrapping up a deal to bring Goldman downtown would be a political triumph for Mr. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki, said Steven Cohen, a professor of public administration at Columbia University.

“‘Politically, it’s very important to both the governor and the mayor to make it at least appear that the redevelopment at ground zero isn’t completely stalled,’ Mr. Cohen said. ‘Obviously, it took a lot of money to make this happen.’

“Mr. Bloomberg’s opponents in the mayoral race would be unlikely to criticize either the offering of incentives to Goldman or their cost, Mr. Cohen said.

“‘I don’t see a political force that’s going to make an issue out of this,’ he said. ‘It’s only going to be a political benefit now.'”

Incidentally, the tunnel was unpopular with downtown activists.

As Matt Drudge would say, “developing …”

– Tom McGeveran

Goldman Goldmine