Volume 74, Number 3 | June 8- 14, 2005


Silver is the M.V.P.of the stadium fight

As far as opponents of the West Side stadium are concerned, the most valuable player of the fight is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

By ordering his representative on the Public Authorities Control Board to abstain from voting on the project on Monday, Silver prevented the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from transferring the West Side rail yards development site and the state from allocating its half of the $600 million subsidy for the contentious project.

In his remarks justifying his decision, Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, said the Jets/Olympic stadium would spur development jeopardizing rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, which hasn’t seen one new brick placed since 9/11.

“This is not about the Olympics,” Silver said. “It’s about a moral obligation each and every one of us committed to when we saw those towers go down. For me, it’s about lifting my community, my hometown, my constituents from a kind of devastation never before experienced in the United States of America.”

In addition to the 2,749 souls who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, at the Trade Center, Lower Manhattan lost 13.4 million square feet of office space, more than $10.8 billion in wages and is still missing more than 67,000 jobs.

Clearly, the city’s — and the nation’s — bid for the 2012 Games is now dead. But it’s not fair for the mayor to blame Silver and the stadium’s opponents for the collapsed bid. It’s Bloomberg’s fault for not providing a plan B for a stadium at another location in this great and sprawling metropolitan area. Instead, he tried to box everyone into accepting the unpopular site south of the Javits Center, tying the city’s bid to that dubious site.

Much of the blame falls on the shoulders of the mayor’s deputy mayor for the Olympics, Dan Doctoroff. Given that the Olympics and West Side stadium have been Doctoroff’s consuming raison d’etre for the last 10 years, he must now ask himself if he can really serve the city as a bona fide mayor for economic development.

Perhaps Bloomberg is better off the stadium was sacked. The issue threatened to be an albatross for his reelection campaign, distracting from his many positive accomplishments, like leading the city through tough budgetary times, decreasing crime and improving the schools.

So, here’s to Shelly Silver, M.V.P. of the stadium fight — with a co-M.V.P. to the community and local politicians for all their efforts.

A model for us all

The loss of Keith Crandell over the Memorial Day weekend hit many of us hard. Keith was the moral conscience of Community Board 2, of which he was a veteran member. He was the quintessential community activist, representing no interest or agenda other than the community’s. And he was a gifted writer for The Villager: He was named Best Columnist for 1999 by the New York Press Association and won second place for 2001. His finely written, insightful columns reflected what he was about: compassion, selflessness, defending the little guy — giving a damn. We should always remember Keith’s example.

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