Category Archive 'Ed Koch'

01 Mar 2016

That Fabulous Dealmaker Donald Trump

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Timothy L. O’Brien explains how Trump blew his biggest real estate deal ever.

Through Trump’s rise, fall and rebirth, there was one major real estate project that he tried to keep. The tale of what happened to that property should be of interest to anyone looking for insight into how Trump might perform as president. It was a deal of genuine magnitude and would have put him atop the New York real estate market. And he screwed it up.

The deal involved Manhattan’s West Side Yards, a sprawling, 77-acre tract abutting the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd Streets and at the time the largest privately owned undeveloped stretch of land in New York City. The Yards were a vestige of the Penn Central Transportation Company, a failed railroad enterprise that, in 1970, filed what was then the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. In the wake of that collapse, Trump leveraged his father’s ties to New York’s Democratic machine and local bankers to acquire pieces of Penn Central’s holdings, including the Yards, in the mid-1970s.

Unable to reach agreements with the city and community groups on how to develop the site, Trump let his option lapse in 1979. His Yards saga began in earnest in 1985, when he bought back the property from another developer for $115 million.

Trump’s plans for the property included office and residential space; a new broadcasting headquarters for NBC; a rocket-ship-shaped skyscraper that would have been the world’s tallest building and cast shadows across the Hudson River into New Jersey; and a $700 million property tax abatement from the city as an incentive to build it. The $4.5 billion project — which Trump called Television City — would have been New York’s biggest development since Rockefeller Center.

Like London’s Canary Wharf, begun a few years later, Television City promised to reshape a significant portion of a major urban center. “It’s an opportunity to build a city within the greatest city, and I don’t think anybody’s ever had that opportunity,” Trump said in an interview at the time.

With the property, financing and plans in place, a large part of what Trump needed to do to make Television City a reality was to bring together different stakeholders: locals (like the late actor Paul Newman) who wanted parks and a less imposing development, and a mayor, Ed Koch, who had his own outsize personality and who was trying to balance the city’s redevelopment with the needs of the area’s longtime residents.

Had Trump appeased these interests, he might have made the project a reality. Instead, the author of “The Art of the Deal” quickly became entangled in an epic, only-in-New-York round of public fisticuffs with Koch in the spring and summer of 1987. The brawl devolved into name-calling — and ultimately helped doom a deal that could have had vastly different results if Trump chose different tactics.

After learning that Koch was going to turn down his request for the $700 million abatement for Television City, Trump dashed off a letter to the mayor.

“For you to be playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with perhaps the most important corporation in New York over the relatively small amounts of money involved because you and your staff are afraid that Donald Trump may actually make more than a dollar of profit, is both ludicrous and disgraceful,” he wrote to Koch.

Koch wrote back to Trump, warning him to “refrain from further attempts to influence the process through intimidation.” Koch then held a press conference, during which he released the letters and said he wasn’t going to give Trump the abatement.

Trump doubled down, holding his own press conference and calling on Koch to resign. The battle played out in a carnivalesque stream on TV and on the front pages and gossip columns of newspapers.

Koch said Trump was “squealing like a stuck pig.” Trump said Koch’s New York had become a “cesspool of corruption and incompetence.” Koch said Trump was a “piggy, piggy, piggy.”

Trump said the mayor had “no talent and only moderate intelligence” and should be impeached. “Ed Koch would do everybody a huge favor if he would get out of office and they started all over again,” he noted. “It’s bedlam in the city.”

08 May 2008

“It’s Over” Propagandafest Continues

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Everybody knew that Hillary would win in Pennsylvania, and when she did, the media yawned and declared the result was long predicted. Obama winning in North Carolina, a major African American population state, with 91% of blacks voting his way, was also absolutely predictable, but Barack Obama’s success in North Carolina has been hailed by the MSM for two days now as a decisive event on the scale of Marathon or Waterloo.

The International Herald Tribune describes the avalanche of analysis declaring the race over and urging Hillary to get out of the way..

Very early Wednesday morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.

2:08 “It’s Over” video

Today, open bribes are on the table.

A prompt withdrawal from the contest for the Democratic nomination offers Sen. Hillary Clinton the prospect of major rewards.

One of the most inviting is the near certainty that the Obama campaign would agree to pay back the $11.4 million she has loaned her own bid, along with an estimated $10 million to $15 million in unpaid campaign expenses.

In addition, Democrats, both those who are loyal and those who are opposed to her campaign, say the odds of her winning a top leadership spot in the Senate would improve dramatically if she gracefully conceded now.

But, just look at the upcoming calendar:

MAY 2008
May 13: Nebraska, West Virginia
May 20: Kentucky, Oregon

JUNE 2008
June 3: Montana, South Dakota

Obama is likely to do well in left-coast Oregon, where moonbats nest densely in the forests of Portland and Eugene, but Hillary will trounce him in Kentucky and West Virginia, and she ought to have the edge in all the others.

The Left’s cheer-leading press wants to proclaim it’s over, but the decision is not so simple for serious adult democrat party functionaries who would like to win. Obama has the leftwing base, the media, and the Kennedys on his side, but he remains the most leftwing state legislator in Illinois transported to the US Senate by a fluke, burdened with a variety of radical personal associations, and jeopardized by a ticking time bomb of Chicago machine politics scandal. The “friend” who paid for Obama’s yard is currently on trial for fraud and extortion, and might spill something ripe to save his own skin any day.

Ed Koch says: “the (democrat) party is walking needlessly and unaware into a general election buzzsaw.”

Obama is a smooth article, but he is your typical leftwing elitist snob of Ivy League background, straight out of a one-party democrat urban stronghold, with a closet full of skeletons. He’ll be running against a genuine war hero in a time of national emergency. Obviously no one can predict what will happen in the course of months of intense campaigning, but the chances are very good that as the American people see more of Obama, week after week, all that smooth charm and glib rhetoric may begin to pall. Obama has an excellent chance of pulling off a McGovern-sized debacle for his party.

So those superdelegates will have to think long and hard about electability.

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