Volume 79, Number 20 | October 21 - 27, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Let us apologize for Goldman Sachs
Since Goldman Sachs has been a big part of the Lower Manhattan fabric for almost a century and a half, we’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the rest of the country on behalf of our neighbor, a financial giant personifying much of what is wrong on Wall St.
Before we get to the multibillion-dollar stuff, we’d first like to apologize that the firm has not yet paid a few thousand dollars of vet bills for the five kittens born in its headquarters building nearing completion in Battery Park City. In August, after our sister publication Downtown Express reported the kittens’ discovery, Goldman offered to pay the bills and encourage its employees to adopt the “BlackBerries.”
It may be just a matter of Goldman waiting to get the vet invoices — we can’t imagine they’d stiff kittens while writing out bonus checks worth $23 billion — but the cats still need adoptive homes. (Incidentally, anyone interested in one of these adorable kittens should e-mail their rescuer, the Brotmans, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As for that headquarters, most of the money to build it, $1.6 billion, came from tax-free Liberty Bonds, a post-9/11 federal program. We’re sorry the firm was not more careful constructing the building, as a project architect was paralyzed by falling debris, and neighborhood children and a cab driver were almost hit in separate incidents.
Goldman did contribute an infinitesimal percentage of project money, $4.5 million, to help pay for a nearby library and community center. Originally, Goldman was “only” going to get $1 billion worth of tax-free bonds. But when the firm pulled out of the deal, former Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg sweetened the offer in 2005 with more bonds and $150 million in incentives.
We recognize that Goldman’s wealth has many benefits in the neighborhoods around Wall St. Along with the rest of the financial industry, Goldman helps drive the city, state and national economy, but it is hard to be appreciative when its greed is so unbridled.
Under the 2005 deal with New York, Goldman is entitled to get $321 million back at the end of the year because many of the World Trade Center deadline promises will be missed. In a recent interview with the Daily News, Mayor Bloomberg said he thought the bad public relations of collecting the money will prevent the firm from exercising its rights. We hope so, but we know a few kittens who are not so sure about the firm’s P.R. savvy.
Goldman made 10 times more — not in revenue — but profits in the last three months than the $321 million it is due. While New York City and the country continue to hemorrhage jobs, the firm is paying out $23 billion in bonuses. Yes Goldman paid back with interest the $10 billion in bailout money it borrowed; but the firm also got indirect TARP funds through distressed companies, like A.I.G. Goldman and the rest of Wall St. drove us to the cliff, got bailed out by taxpayers, and now are lobbying Washington against the regulations that will prevent this risky behavior from reoccurring.
Questions continue over why Lehman Brothers, Goldman’s competitor, was allowed to fail last fall under the direction of Hank Paulson, the former Treasury secretary and Goldman C.E.O., and whether the Obama administration remains too cozy with the firm.
We do hope our longtime neighbor will start acting like a good corporate citizen, but until they do — America, please accept our apology for Goldman Sachs.