On today’s YDN op-ed page, Grayson Walker begins by arguing that dollar for dollar, your money does more good going to an anti-poverty organization than directly to someone who asks for it on the street – a position I generally agree with, with the caveat that most people who make that argument don’t end up giving money to either. Unfortunately, he goes downhill from there, recognizing that Yale has a vested interest in ameliorating the appearance of poverty in New Haven but not that Yale has a vested interest in substantive change in the plight of New Haveners or in real partnership with the larger community. The only partnership he suggests is
a coalition that includes Yale administrators and students, local businesses, New Haven city officials, and social welfare advocates
which sounds all well and good – unfortunately this coalition is charged not with addressing the structural inequality whose victims are in the thankless position of asking for money on the streets of New Haven, but with finding more creative ways to police them.
Conveniently laid out next to his piece is one from the head of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, Mike Morand, which beneath more artful rhetoric also attempts to absolve Yale of responsibility for real partnership in New Haven. Specifically, he argues that restricting Yale’s tax super-exemption would threaten Yale’s financial solvency without really helping New Haven because the state would respond to any move by Yale to shoulder its own tax burden on its profit-making properties by proportionately scaling back Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to New Haven from the state. The problem with his argument, besides the irony of New Haven tax payers subsidizing Yale’s exemption, is that the state government has under-funded PILOT consistently over the past years, and thus the percentage of Yale’s tax exemption it compensates has steadily decreased. What would keep PILOT funding secure would be for Yale to step up and pay its fair share and for ONHSA to join CCNE in lobbying for increased PILOT. Unfortunately, that prospect seems to be about as attractive to Levin as joining forces with GESO to fight for international student visa reform.