Saturday, February 22, 2014

Who Rules Cooper Union?--Conclusion

WHO RULES COOPER UNION?—Conclusion: A Look at Cooper Union’s Bristol-Myers Squibb and Vassar College-Yale University/Bain Capital Connections

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Perhaps the ultra-rich folks who rule Cooper Union should ask the 1 percent of the people who control Bain Capital (as well as Bristol Myers-Squibb, Vasser College and Yale University) to share some of the big money they apparently obtained from owning Burger King and exploiting Burger King workers and consumers between 2002 and 2010 with Cooper Union—in order to continue providing free tuition for Cooper Union students after the Fall of 2014?

Otherwise, perhaps the Cooper Union Administration should lose its special city tax break privileges on its Chrysler Building commercial real estate property? For, as Werner Cohn noted in his 1996 study, titled “Cooper Union and The Chrysler Building:”

“The…Chrysler Building in New York is one of the city's most famous sights...But while in many ways the building is very conspicuous, there is also a hidden side...What is hidden is that the building pays no property taxes and that the money that would ordinarily be due for such taxes is used to support a private college, Cooper Union. This institution, an elite and…private college…on Manhattan's lower east side, has so far been able to escape taxation of the Chrysler Building even though it is the general rule in New York that real estate taxes are due on commercial property regardless of who owns it.

“The resulting loss to the City…is not a trivial amount in a city that is chronically short of cash….The Chrysler Building has always been used for wholly commercial purposes. The ground on which the building stands, but not the building itself, is owned by Cooper Union. The building's owner pays Cooper Union what he would otherwise have to pay the City…The institution's library, which Peter Cooper had ordained to be free to the community, is now closed to the public. So it cannot be said that the City's taxpayer, unless he is a matriculated Cooper student, gets a direct benefit from Cooper's tax exemption….”

(end of article)

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