Puppets Pulling Strings
by Buck Quigley - posted 10:47 am, October 2, 2009
Tearing a page from the Bread and Puppet Theater, the Coalition for Economic Justice staged the following skit at the condos down by the waterfront yesterday. Pictured is a great big Tom Golisano puppet.
Location: Behind Waterfront Place Condos
Time: 4:00 PM
A Press Conference in 1 Act:
Setting: Rally at Waterfront Condos
Politician played by Eric Gallion
Developer (Carl Paladino) played by Roger Cook
Condo Buyer (Stephen Barnes) played by Harrison Watkins
Foreclosed Home Owner played by Jane Piazza
Unemployed Worker played by Rachel Wilson
Activist: Eric Walker
Act 1: The Press Conference (Politician, Developer, and Condo Buyer stand next to each other, behind podium)
Politician: “We are gathered here today to celebrate the opening of the Waterfront Place Condos. It has been my honor to pave the way for these condos to be built in a tax-free zone, spurring economic development that only the wealthy can afford. This development is a perfect example of creatively using the Empire Zone program, which was originally intended to promote investment and job creation in poorer areas, to subsidize luxury condos for the entitled elite. Without further ado, I would like to introduce the developer who had the courage to take advantage of these subsidies in the third poorest city in the country when he could have built these condos with his own money.”
Developer: “Thank you. But with all due respect, I have to cry poverty. Even though my rich development company has saved nearly $1 million in sales tax on building materials alone, I will only make an outrageous profit here, rather than an obscene one.”
“This will be a great deal for those who can afford to buy one of these luxury condos. And to those who can afford them, these condos are a steal – literally. You will not have to pay your property taxes for seven years. We will give that responsibility to our already over-burdened middle and lower class tax-payers. If the condo buyer next to me had to start paying property taxes immediately, he probably couldn’t afford to buy a $1 million condo, but would have had to have settled for a $700,000 condo. He is entitled to this subsidy, just like everyone else around here. We need more public housing for the rich. I should also add that the electric bills of condo buyers will be subsidized by tax-payers.
Now, I would like to introduce another pioneer who was also brave enough to take advantage of tax-breaks when he certainly can afford to pay his own property taxes. (Crowd Boos)
Condo Buyer: “I am buying a $1 million penthouse here. Because of your unwitting generosity, I will save tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year and hundreds of thousands of dollars over ten years. These subsidies benefitting myself and the other wealthy condo buyers are merely the price YOU and average tax-payers have to pay to promote development. And I think the price you have to pay is worth it – just look at the view I am going to have while I am sitting in my Jacuzzi.
Foreclosed Home Owner: (interrupting) “I just lost my home. It was foreclosed upon. Are there any subsidies available for me so I could keep my home?”
Developer: If you can afford one these condos you can get the subsidy. Units are still available for $1 million.
Politician: Government handouts are not for the likes of you; they are only for irresponsible banks and unaccountable corporations who we deem too big to fail. Instead, I would like to give you the opportunity to help pay for these condos.
Unemployed Worker: I recently lost my job because of the criminal actions of the banking industry. Will this development create jobs or is it just another entitlement for the wealthy?
Developer: Will this development create jobs? Of course it will, but don’t ask us how many or what they pay, because you might not be happy with what you are getting for your money. That brings us to the conclusion of this press conference. Tom Golisano and I have to go to Albany to buy some politicians with your money.
(Golisano and Developer walk off followed by Politician. An activist steps to the podium to speak)
Activist: Hold on. Turns out you aren’t destined for Albany. We have tickets for you to go back to Florida. It’s time for an early retirement. And it’s time for us to get our money’s worth. We need development that can build our neighborhoods, and create quality jobs, health care, and housing for all.
We have a better plan for NY than these guys. Stop the subsidies. Let’s start with these IDAs and Empire Zone subsidies.
The Governor is working on a plan to ensure that when IDAs take our money they create good jobs. Call the Governor right now and tell him we want IDA reform. Get out your cell phone now. Call 518-474-8390 and tell Governor Patterson you want IDA reform. That’s 518-474-8390 for IDA reform.