My weekend posts should really have been titled: Being Some Notes on the State of the Union–Especially Its Urban Components and Their Budgetary Shenanigans–In the Twenty-First Century. Like my post on Camden yesterday, this post needs little commentary. So, here we go.
Shelley said poets and philosophers were the unacknowledged legislators of his generation. In ours it would have to be late-night satire peddlers and stand-up comics. For instance, George Carlin pointed out–at a live performance that I witnessed at the Red Bank Theater in New Jersey–that given its developmental trajectory, the United States was destined to become a land of golf courses and slums. This line is not to be confused with Carlin’s famous lines about the utilization of golf courses to provide affordable housing for the homeless, which truth be told, still sounds like a pretty good idea to me, even though, as my friend Michelle Ronda informs me:
In 2011, Picture the Homeless (a NYC non-profit) completed a citywide count of empty lots and buildings in low-income communities in New York City. They found enough vacant properties to house the amount of people living on the streets, in homeless shelters and in overcrowded households in our City five times over.
Flash forward to the following headline: In the Bronx, Throwing $97 Million Down 18 Holes (New York Times, September 30, 2012, by Gina Bellefante), which serves to introduce us to an article that begins:
Were we to commit ourselves to making a master list of what New York City needs more of, it is fair to say that many of us would wear a third or fourth pencil down to the nub before settling on an 18-hole golf course and the increased presence of Donald J. Trump. And yet, with the renovation of a major portion of Ferry Point Park in the southeastern section of the Bronx, this is what New Yorkers will receive.
The city is spending $97 million to construct a public golf course in the park; it is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014 and to be operated by Trump National and International Golf Clubs. At that point, residents of a borough where more than 30 percent of people live below the poverty line will have what will surely be seen as a welcome opportunity to improve their handicaps (for green fees higher than those at most municipal courses).
The construction of the golf course, which has a long and embattled history — the budget, to cite one aspect, has swelled by $40 million since 2008 — gained renewed attention last week after The Daily News reported that MFM, a contracting company the city is using on the project, had been linked to a troubled outfit, Felix Associates. MFM’s owners have a passive financial interest in Felix Associates, one of whose principals pleaded guilty to bribery charges two years ago.
Although MFM has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the city’s Department of Investigation had recommended that the Department of Parks and Recreation consider hiring an auditor to oversee dealings with the company. The parks department chose not to do so. [links in original]
‘Nuff said? I think so.
Note: Bellafante’s article is a little too heavy on the snark; she could have merely reported the facts of the story; these speak for themselves.