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Pataki Postpones Manhattan’s West Side Stadium Vote

Wed June 01, 2005 - Northeast Edition
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ALBANY, NY (AP) On May 17, Gov. George Pataki postponed state action scheduled for that night on the proposal to build a stadium for Manhattan’s West Side for use by the New York Jets.

The decision stated the proposal was removed from the state Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) agenda at the request of Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. The item was removed “without prejudice,” so it could be rescheduled for a special meeting before the next scheduled meeting in June, according to Pataki’s appointee to the board, John Cape.

Bruno said May 17 he didn’t have enough information on the massive project that would require $300 million in state spending and sought a delay in the vote. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, had also sought to delay the vote because he said the legality of the project wasn’t yet certain.

Pataki, Bruno and Silver can control the board, and a vote against the project by either leaders’ representative would kill the proposal. Pataki strongly supports the $2-billion stadium as an economic development tool for New York City and a revenue maker for the state. Bruno, an upstate Republican, and Silver haven’t yet said if they will support or oppose the project.

The stadium also would be used for the 2012 Olympic Games should New York City win its bid for the summer games, a decision expected to be made by the International Olympic Committee in July. Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said having the stadium project approved is crucial to winning the games. He declined comment on the postponement.

“There are a lot of people saying ’No,’” Pataki shouted to a charged crowd of hundreds of construction union members at a rally outside the Capitol the morning of May 17. Pataki said the stadium and expansion of the Javits Center that is part of the project will create construction jobs, fill hotels and restaurants and revitalize New York City while providing tax revenue for the entire state. He said it could even land a Super Bowl.

“I’m here for one reason,” Pataki shouted, “We have to say ’Yes!’”

The union workers held signs that said “Jobs Now,” “Olympics Now” and “Javits Now.” They spelled out in chants “J-O-B-S” the same way Jets fans cheer “J-E-T-S.”

“You are the ones who are going to make freedom rise from the ashes of ground zero,” Pataki told the union members.

Bruno, usually Pataki’s Republican ally, said he hasn’t received enough basic information from the governor’s office on the borrowing, legality and cash-flow estimates of the project.

“We’re better off trying to talk through it so it doesn’t become a circus,” Bruno said, urging a delay in the May 18 meeting. “All of us want to do the right thing.”

Silver said a board vote shouldn’t happen while lawsuits are pending against the stadium plan, said Silver Spokesman Charles Carrier.

“We are confident that these questions can be addressed … enabling the PACB vote to go forward by the end of the month as the governor has indicated,” said Jets Spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein. “We are also confident that Sen. Bruno will ultimately join New York City’s Senate Republican delegation and dozens of other elected officials from across New York state who support this project because of the thousands of jobs and millions in revenue it will create for New Yorkers.”

Silver is believed to be looking for new economic development help for lower Manhattan, which was devastated by the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Ground zero is part of Silver’s Assembly district.

Meanwhile, Bruno of Rensselaer County is thought to be looking for $300 million in state funds that could be devoted to upstate New York projects.

Under the board’s practices, each member can postpone a vote on an issue once. That means Silver and Bruno could, by acting independently, force postponement of a board vote twice.

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