Adolfo Carrion, the borough president of the Bronx, has been appointed as White House director of urban affairs. He has done some good things in the Bronx: helping to revitalize run-down areas, presiding over a borough of great diversity and handling contending groups with tact.
But he made one major mistake. He went along with Mayor Bloomberg in a massive giveaway to the New York Yankees, the richest sports franchise in America. City Hall provided hundreds of millions dollars in tax-exempt bonds to the Yankees to help them build a new stadium on the site of a popular neighborhood park. The old stadium is supposed to be replaced by new parks on that site and elsewhere but, thus far, little has been done to keep that promise.
As Bronx borough president, Carrion, some believe, was duty-bound to do everything possible to hang on to park land for the adults and kids of the Bronx. Instead, he acquiesced to the Bloomberg deal.
Many prominent officials drank the Kool-Aid as the City Hall steamroller got the Yankees what they wanted, including obscenely expensive luxury suites for fat cats who want to watch Yankee games. In announcing Carrion's appintment to the new job, President Barack Obama said he hoped Carrion would help focus attention on the urban scene throughout the nation, "where 80 percent of the American people live and work."
"Vibrant cities spawn innovation, economic growth and cultural enrichment," the President said. "The Urban Affairs office will focus on wise investments and development in our urban areas that will create employment and housing opportunities and make our country more competitive, prosperous and strong."
One skeptic spoke out on the Carrion appointment. Richard Stein, former publisher of the Riverdale Press, said, "I haven't seen that much from him lately, particularly in the Yankee Stadium controversy. But maybe he can turn the page and do something constructive in his new position."
Tom Robbins, the Village Voice reporter who has written many stories about the Yankees and City Hall, said of the Carrion apppointment: "Let's hope the tin ear he had for some of the urban agenda in the Bronx doesn't carry over into his new job in the White House."
Softer words came from Assemblyman Brodsky, who said: "If you judge him overall, including his efforts to revitalize areas like Fordham Road, he's been very good. He's intelligent. He's shown great skill in dealing with people."
As for Yankee Stadium, Brodsky, who has been highly critical of City Hall's dealings with the ball club, said of Carrion: "No one is perfect."
Adolfo Carrion may be a work in progress.