January: What I Did Since Last Summer

If I'm making a New Year's resolution, it's to keep this page updated every month with links to my latest writings and other projects. Not only will that be a better service to you, whoever you might be who's stumbled upon this Internet backwater, but it will also mean I'll never again have to do what I'm now about to attempt: a complete recap of everything I've done since the end of August. Buckle in, and let's go:

The final one-third of 2006 saw New York cross the t's and dot the i's on three sports construction projects, and I was there to chart the course of the bulldozers. With the Yankees already having broken ground in August on their new $1.3 billion stadium (about $400 million of which came courtesy of taxpayers), construction kicked swiftly into gear, creating a giant dust bowl where a 22-acre Bronx park used to be. Out in Queens, meanwhile, the Mets didn't break ground on their new stadium until November, by which time they'd announced that Citigroup had agreed to spend $20 million a year to have the new structure dubbed CitiField - money that will go entirely into the team's pockets, with not a dime to repay the city's $200 million or so in expenses.

With the baseball stadium out of the way, attention turned to Brooklyn, where the Atlantic Yards megaproject (which is to include a basketball arena for the Nets, which would relocate from New Jersey) entered the home stretch for its own approval process. Following the final uninformative public hearing, the state agency running the project first stonewalled on releasing its economic impact study, then released a memo giving incomplete details of the projected effects of the project. Project opponents hoped this would be enough to convince the state's top assemblymember to delay approval of the project; it didn't happen, though.

The New York plans all relied heavily on "hidden" subsidies - everything from tax and rent breaks to low-interest city bonds - something that looks to be an increasing trend across baseball as team owners try to make their projects look more palatable to a skeptical public. That's certainly what Okaland A's owner Lew Wolff did in presenting his own stadium plans in November, as he talked lots about all the new gizmos the park would be wired for, and as little as possible about how it would all be paid for.

But enough about giving public money to rich people. I also wrote plenty this fall about giving public money (or not) to poor people, starting with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's poverty commission recommendations and what actual poor people thought of them (choice quote: "The mayor, the president, the governor, they all messed up"), continuing with the latest on how new federal welfare laws could cost New York City big in penalties, moving on to an analysis of news coverage of the welfare law's 10th anniversary (wherein a study that revealed welfare recipients were no better off financially under the new law was described by the press as showing that "for many the blessings of work have been mixed"), and finally reporting on Bloomberg's first announcement of how he actually plans to help the poor (or as he calls them, "people who are starting their way up the economic ladder"). With the mayor promising 30 new initiatives but not revealing what any of them exactly are, I'll be continuing to follow this one closely, believe you me.

And those were the main themes. The leftover articles in last four months' portfolio include: a look at how New York City's housing tax-subsidy reform is likely too little, too late; a tribute to the second New York Yankee to die in the prime of his career in a small plane crash; a look at the new baseball labor pact and how it's likely to affect team payrolls (a prediction that's panning out pretty well so far, the Gil Meche contract notwithstanding), and a report on how a New York Sun editor used a description of the Lower East Side in the 19th century to argue for its redevelopment now. But hey, what's 120 years between friends?

And that's it for now, at least in terms of the printed word. If you really need to hear more from me, or would just like to rest your eyes, you can hear me talk about poverty coverage on WNUR's "This Is Hell" show from December 16, or blab about the new baseball labor pact on Baseball Prospectus Radio from November 4.

Until next month - really - I'm still Neil deMause. Farewell, sweet Purvs, wherever you are.

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