Monday, January 7, 2008

Convention Center Example of Reverse Philanthropy

According to the January 5 New York Times lead article entitled "Age of Riches; Private Cash Sets Agenda for Urban Infrastructure":

"Philanthropic spending adds mainly to the nation's stock of hospitals, libraries, museums, parks, university buildings, theaters and concert halls."....

"The shift from public money to private wealth in shaping the nation’s cities is evident in national data. Government outlays on physical infrastructure have declined to 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product, from 3.6 percent in the 1960s. Philanthropic giving, in contrast, has jumped to nearly 2.5 percent of G.D.P., from 1.5 percent in 1995 and 2 percent in the '60s."

Philanthropic spending often takes place in Lancaster, witness the Pennsylvania Academy of Music and Project Forward Leap. But when it comes to the Convention Center, we have reverse philanthropy: the private hotel interests, consisting of The High Group and The Lancaster Newspapers, are potentially sucking millions out of the public financed convention center through preposterous and unprecedented "gifts" that apparently Authority board members and the public didn't know anything about.

It is indeed sad to see the worthy Steinman legacy so sullied by greedy and short sighted top management. Maybe they will yet redress the matter.