This is a victory for New Haven and Yale both. A letter I wrote to the New Haven Register too late to be printed:
A few months ago, Yale Associate Vice President Mike Morand decried Alderman Matt Naclerio’s resolution, on which the Board will vote tonight, as an “attack” on the “longstanding and deep-rooted American tradition for churches, colleges, schools, and others.” Given that the resolution would challenge the “super-exemption” which allows Yale to buy New Haven property even for for-profit ventures and remove it from the city’s tax base, and would call on Yale to increase its annual voluntary contribution to the city in lieu of taxes, which is currently less money than Yale pays annually to the city of New York, Morand’s comment forces me, as a New Haven resident and a Yale student, which august tradition Morand sees threatened, and what vision he and others among Yale’s leaders have for partnership between Yale and New Haven. Alderwoman Lindy Lee Gold’s description at a May public hearing of New Haveners who want to see the nation’s second-wealthiest University make a fuller contribution to one of the nation’s poorest cities as behaving like an “ungrateful petulant child” articulates one vision of Yale-New Haven relations. Yale’s public rhetoric, as when President Levin expressed his hopes last January that “by adopting active strategies for civic improvement, by becoming engaged institutional citizens, we can make a major difference in the quality of urban life,” suggests a far more progressive vision. But in struggling for years to divide a broad-based movement throughout this city for a new social contract between New Haven and its dominant employer, in conducting a Soviet-style election in order to keep a New Haven preacher and Yale Alum off of the Yale Corporation, in leading the campus and community once more towards a bitter, protracted, and unnecessary strike, and now in fighting to defend an arrangement in which New Haven loses $13 million dollars a year in differential between PILOT and Yale’s property value even as the city considers a third tax increase, my University sends a message more in line with Alderman Gold’s rhetoric than our President’s. Tonight’s resolution is not a threat to the best traditions of this city or this University but rather a step away from the ugly side of their three centuries of shared history. For this reason I am proud that my Alderman stands in support of this resolution and proud to call, with my peers, for the Board tonight to pass overwhelmingly a resolution that would push my University to act in a manner which reflects the ideals that its espouses and pursues a vision for true partnership and progressive change.