Thursday, November 29, 2007

Columbia University's "Dinkinsgate Scandal" Connection--Part 9

After New York City voters decided in the 1993 mayoralty election that David Dinkins did not deserve a second term as New York City’s mayor, the Columbia University administration hired the local Democratic Party politician to be a professor “in the practice of public affairs” at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. And during the last few years Columbia University Professor Dinkins ( ) has apparently attempted to use his remaining special political influence in New York City politics to help his private employer undemocratically implement its land-grabbing campus expansion plan north of West 125th Street in West Harlem, despite the objections of local community tenant activists. Not surprisingly, when Columbia University Professor Dinkins tried to sell Columbia University’s expansion plan to the 700 community residents who attended the local community board’s hearings in August 2007, the former New York City mayor was booed, hissed and shouted down by West Harlem residents and their Columbia and Barnard student supporters.

Following, is another section of an article on “The Dinkinsgate Scandal” which first appeared in the August/September 1991 issue of the Lower East Side newspaper, Shadow:

In 1983—two years before he finally succeeded in winning election as Manhattan Borough President—the then-56-year-old Dinkins was named to be a director of the New York State Urban Development Corporation [UDC]. During the two years Columbia University Professor Dinkins served as a UDC director, UDC contracts were apparently given to his business associates, according to Commentary magazine. The Village Voice also indicated in 1985, after Dinkins announced his support for Denny Farrell for mayor, that some UDC contracts were apparently given to Dinkins’ associates while he served as a UDC Director.

According to The Permanent Government: Who Really Rules New York? book:

“With $500 million in bonding authority and $1 billion in construction projects, the UDC has become a secretive, unaccountable, self-perpetuating fourth branch of government. It has become almost a private bank that financed luxury and leisure projects for permanent government insiders.”

In the early 1980s, the UDC dished out $1 million to finance the Theatre Row development project on 42nd Street, $80 million to finance Donald Trump’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, $375 million to finance the 34th Street Convention Center, and $241 million to finance the luxury Portman Hotel at 45th Street.

As a member of the UDC board of directors, Dinkins voted for the Times Square Redevelopment Project.

In a 1991 telephone interview, Manhattan Congressional Representative Jerrold Nadler, then a New York State Assembly representative, said he felt the Times Square Redevelopment Project, by raising assessed taxation values of midtown real estate, encouraged commercial landlords to raise the rents for garment and other manufacturers in Manhattan; and thus led to a further decrease in blue-collar manufacturing jobs in New York City, by encouraging manufacturers to relocate to cities where commercial rents are cheaper. In Nadler’s view, between 1980 and 1991 public officials in New York City neglected to create the kind of manufacturing zones within New York City that would provide a sufficient amount of blue-collar employment opportunities for City residents.

“The City administration under Koch and Dinkins has been injurious to the blue-collar manufacturing industry and to blue-collar jobs,” Nadler said in 1991.

“To get the idea out” that, unless government funds were used to create super-manufacturing zones instead of for UDC projects like the Times Square Redevelopment Project, New York City’s economic decline and loss of blue-collar jobs would continue, Nadler decided to run for Manhattan Borough President in 1985 against Dinkins.

When a local government agency had announced plans to subsidize the building of 7,000 units of luxury housing in Hunter’s Point, Queens—an area of New York City that was traditionally a blue-collar manufacturing center and a source of employment for African-American, Latino-American and white working-class industrial workers—Nadler had gone to Columbia University Professor Dinkins’ office and urged him to speak out against the Hunter’s Point development plan.

“I asked him to hold a press conference. Break this open. But he wouldn’t lift a finger to oppose the Hunter’s Point development plan,” Nadler said in 1991.

Democratic Congressional Representative Nadler also recalled in 1991 that during Dinkins’ successful 1985 campaign for Manhattan Borough President, it was revealed that Columbia University Professor Dinkins’ campaign organization failed to pay the taxes it was obligated to pay in relation to its $7,000 per week payroll disbursements.

Next: Columbia University’s “Dinkinsgate Scandal” Connection—Part 10

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