To the Editor:
Are half-truths the same as lies? That’s the question that kept coming to my mind as I read the latest letter by former Mayor Smith. His attempt to rewrite history to lay all the blame for the city’s financial problems on other administrations is sad.
The sale of a majority of the MOTBY to the Port Authority may have bought some time for the Smith administration, essentially “kicking the can down the road.” But what he fails to acknowledge is that the proceeds from the sale were also used to “plug a budget hole” and that once the money from the Port Authority was spent it had no long-lasting impact on the city’s financial wellbeing. What the “mayor” fails to tell you is that the Port Authority pays no taxes, pilots or other revenue to the city from its ownership of 131 acres of prime waterfront real estate.
More troubling is the fact that “Mayor” Smith’s complaint about the legal fees completely ignores the fact the city was sued as a result of his decision to sell land to the Port Authority. So “Mayor” Smith should get the credit for the 3-million-dollar legal fees. But wait, that is only half the story. What about the millions of dollars that the city gave to Smith attorneys to defend the City against these lawsuits.
My mother used to say that people in glass houses should not throw stones. I guess Mark never learned that lesson. It’s unbelievable that “Mayor” Smith would criticize the proposed abatements when his administration essentially funded and gift-wrapped the Bayonne Crossings project to the Cameron group. What “Mayor” Smith won’t tell you and what is his dirty little secret is that the city though municipal bonds funded the project. The bonds are then paid back by the developer in the form of a long-term tax abatement. The funds from the abatement only serve to pay the project and do not contribute to any municipal services or the budget. The developer gets public financing at a low interest rate and pays no taxes. What that means in plain English is that you, the taxpayer, got screwed. Imagine what one of our local Broadway merchants could do with this kind of deal. Every time you set foot in Lowes or Wal-Mart take a moment to reflect that the city receives no benefit at all and do what I usually do and tell Mayor Smith to “take care.”