In his Sunday "newsmaker" presser, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called for using economic stimulus funds to revive the moribund Moynihan Station project, which would convert the New York General Post Office across Eighth Avenue from Pennsylvania Station into a new station facility.
The project, which has been discussed since the 1990s, would certainly quality as "shovel-ready" and would help create jobs, especially in construction. Also, it would give New York a station with architectural features evocative of the original Penn Station that was demolished in the 1960s.
But, here's the rub. According to The New York Times, Sen. Schumer doesn't want to use New York State's share of the stimulus to pay for the project, a glorified commercial real estate development designed to attract upscale retailers and restaurants. He wants the money to come out of the piece of the pie designated for Amtrak or high-speed rail projects.
To quote a certain governor with great legs and a wardrobe to go bankrupt for, "Thanks, but no thanks." The Moynihan Station will do nothing to reduce travel times. If anything, it will lengthen them since the new facility will be further away from the heart of the Midtown business district and other key Manhattan locations. And, taking the money from Amtrak would essentially be robbing that perennially cash-strapped company, which has said it wants no part of Moynihan Station, preferring to stay put in Penn Station, where it is closer to the action.
So what the Senator, whom I consider a political ally, is doing is attempting to turn the economic stimulus into a porkfest for the sake of a little publicity. For shame. It is tantamount to playing into the hands of Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who used the high-speed rail appropriation to make the case that President Obama's economic stimulus was laden with pork.
Sen. Schumer should have paid more attention in Hebrew School when the rabbi told him pork isn't kosher.
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