Don’t let the residue of the Great Recession get you down.
While it is true that America’s middle-class is on the ropes, unemployment remains high, sending a kid to college costs more than most people save in their entire lives, child poverty in Connecticut has gone up 50% in the last decade and the state is facing a $1 billion dollar budget deficit next year, Connecticut’s taxpayers managed to dig deep and find the money to provide one of the world’s biggest hedge fund owners, Ray Dalio, with $115 million in state funds. Meanwhile Stamford’s taxpayers learned this week that they were helping to put the whole deal together thanks to their Mayor’s decision granting a private developer access to some of the most valuable publicly owned waterfront property left in Connecticut.
In return for all this generosity, Dalio, the founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, and a man who was paid $3.9 billion last year will move his offices from Westport to a new $750 million office complex on Stamford’s waterfront.
The deal began with Governor Malloy’s decision to give Dalio a taxpayer-funded corporate welfare package that included a $25 million forgivable loan, $5 million in grant funds for job training, $5 million for an alternative energy system and $80 Million in tax credits.
Now, under Part II of the effort, Stamford’s Mayor Mike Pavia has signed a “letter of intent” granting the developer of Stamford’s Harbor Point the right to use city-owned property as part of overall effort to clear the way for Bridgewater Associates’ headquarters.
The mayor’s action will allow the developer to move the South End boatyard to a different location. Never mind that boaters say the alternative site doesn’t accommodate their needs, we’re talking about pleasing a billionaire – and that is billion with a B – so what he wants is what he gets.
Just to make the whole situation as absurd as possible and to add insult to injury, while the letter of intent was signed back in December, it was only made public this week.
According to reports in the Stamford Advocate, “Mayor Michael Pavia said the goal of the document was simply to allow the zoning review process to commence so as to give the city a chance to assess the plan…Pavia said the city has not yet negotiated a price for the land in question. According to the letter of intent, should the boatyard plan be approved by the Zoning Board, the city and BLT [the private developer] will determine the price as part of a final agreement granting the developer property rights.”
Oh, and for those who are into reading the fine print, although initially Mayor Malloy and then Mayor Pavia pledged that no development project would go forward without all of the appropriate approvals, the letter of intent includes special language that reads, “The Applicant shall obtain final approval of such grant by City of Stamford Boards and Commissions as may be required by City Charter, state law or as the Mayor of the City of Stamford, in his sole discretion deems necessary or appropriate.”
The new wording certainly suggests that if Stamford’s various public boards and commissions didn’t act in an appropriately way, the mayor might have to intervene to move the project along without such approvals.
It is nice to note though that when confronted about this latest addition, the Pavia administration claimed that the language is being misunderstood and the letter of intent does nothing more than allow the process to start moving forward.
So here we are.
On the long list of challenges facing Connecticut, we can put a check mark next to the task that reads – “Help the world’s biggest hedge fund and the highest paid CEO in the country pay for a great new office with a great waterfront view.”
More on these latest developments can be found in the Stamford Advocate: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Setting-table-for-Bridgewater-city-paves-the-way-4177724.php#ixzz2HgLY6z9H and http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Boatyard-plan-agreement-defended-4184605.php#ixzz2HgLH7Uac