New York Times Fact Checking Misses a Big One

Our Chance to Kick the NY Times Ass: Is Cornell Tech "free-riding " on Roosevelt Island?

Updated 1 year ago David Stone

Ribbon Cutting: The Bridge becomes the Tata Innovation Center
Ribbon Cutting: The Bridge becomes the Tata Innovation Center
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

This Graduate School Helped Make New York Appealing to Amazon is, more or less, a puff piece using a weak association as a springboard to root for Cornell Tech's adventures in technology innovation. Fair enough. It's a great school and neighbor deserving any spray of hearts tossed its way. But then, the New York Times allowed Roosevelt Island's leading Cornell basher to cut loose as the community's voice.

The article, which shines an admiring light on a variety of achievements, is made to suffer the Times flawed policy of forcing "balance," often not balance at all but boot licking to dodge complaints about fairness.

How the Times came up with Joyce Short as the voice of Roosevelt Island, not an elected representative or more distinguished resident - Judy Berdy, Jim Luce, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, David Kraut are sparkling, fair-minded examples - is anyone's guess.

Ratan Tata announces his donation enabling the name change.
Ratan Tata announces his donation enabling the name change.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

But here's how Short scorched Cornell Tech in our behalf:

Some Roosevelt Island residents have also complained about the continuing campus construction, while others said Cornell Tech had not paid enough to support local neighborhood services, such as street cleaning and landscaping.

“They’re a very prestigious institution that is free-riding off the backs of a working population to function in an environment that they really are not adequately paying for,” said Joyce Short, a writer and longtime resident.

Free-riding? Not adequately paying?

Unfortunately, we've been down this road with Short before. (See: Is Roosevelt Island "Being Screwed" In the Cornell Tech Deal?)

Short, in July of 2017, a Common Council representative and Chair of the Government Relations Committee, a Maple Tree Group leftover, seemed even more confused about the agreement allowing Cornell to build on Roosevelt Island.

Post grads with their latest developments, Open Studio 2017.
Post grads with their latest developments, Open Studio 2017.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"Roosevelt Island is being screwed by both the City and the State of NY," Short claimed. "And it's costing each and every resident money to support the services Cornell Tech needs."

She continued, "Those services should be paid for by the multi-billion dollar commercial enterprises that are housed in the Bridge Building, not by the hard-working residents who live here and struggle each day to carve out an income to support their families and cover the costs of services through our land leases."

We can set aside the most fabulous nonsense to start. 

First, there are no "multi-billion dollar commercial enterprises" housed in the Bridge Building, now known as the Tata Innovation Center. It's a graduate center involved in technology research and development.

Second, massive improvements in Island infrastructure underway are made possible only because Cornell is paying $1 million per year for 50 years for the right to build here. (Cornell's sweetened the benefit to Roosevelt Island by paying a present value amount, roughly $25 million, decades ahead of its due date.)

More practically, as concerns Short's claim that Cornell Tech is "... a very prestigious institution that is free-riding off the backs of a working population to function in an environment that they really are not adequately paying for," we're looking at a fiction.

As the most obvious evidence, in addition to the above, you should know and the Time should've noted, Cornell Tech pays RIOC $400,000 a year to cover costs. Keep in mind that the school has its own security services and does its own landscaping.

In addition, Cornell Tech's generosity toward the Roosevelt Island community has been consistent, beginning even while the campus was under construction and classes were being held at Google's Chelsea headquarters.

Probably most significant in the long run is the commitment of an instructor to help PS/IS 217's teachers train students in computer technology. Cornell Tech extends this benefit to other public schools in the city.

The school's been generous with seniors as well as youngsters, providing Tech Literacy class, gratis, at the Senior Center and donating comfortable seating for what's become a friendship lounge.

Cornell Tech's supplied significant aid to the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, and it's routine to see outreach director Jane Swanson on hand for as many community events as she can squeeze in, keeping a steady hand on the community's pulse.

Apologies to Cornell Tech

For those of us, and we're certainly the majority, who disagree in whole or in part with Joyce Short's Cornell Tech-bashing, The Daily offers an apology. We're extraordinarily lucky to have the campus growing here. 

And, also, here's a wrist slap for the New York Times. Try harder to find legitimate spokespersons to represent us. Real balance demands more than scaring up the most angry local.

 

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