Yesterday's O-D Edict-orial, "Preswick shouldn't be tax exempt" exhorts "Town, school district, county must remain unified." Few of this region's beleaguered taxpayers would disagree with either the OD's conclusion or direction. Prestwick's clientele are screened by the entry fee to be well-heeled and certainly do not need a tax break.
In reviewing the issue, the editors were careful to point out that the exemption in-issue stemmed from an agreement entered into by "a previous Town board." Perhaps this is a veiled criticism of a previous administration?
Mme. Publisher's husband, Jerome Donovan, was not so veiled, however, during his appearance on WIBX's "First Look" yesterday. (Please note the synchronization with the editorial, as well as his occupancy of the entire program between 8 and 9 AM, and that no calls were entertained. Being part of the region's elite apparently brings privileges in getting one's point across.) Mr. Donovan quite plainly accused former officials of failing to exercise "due diligence" and implied that the Town's counsel was guilty of malpractice.
The criticism is unfair (and the motivation for same is questionable). Town consultation with its attorney IS "due diligence," and an attorney's failure to predict how a future court would rule on a legal "gray-area" is NOT malpractice. As we noted a few days ago, although perhaps wrong in hindsight, and although we do not like it now, the Town 's original decision was rational because it guaranteed that the Town would receive a stream of income from Prestwick.
If the implications of the Prestwick Glen project had been brought to the public's consciousness 5 years ago, perhaps the potential customers would have let it be known that they do not want to be perceived as avoiding their fair share of taxes. Perhaps Presbyterian Homes would have realized that their reputation (as opposed to tax status) as a charitable institution would be threatened. Perhaps other local charities would have pressured Presbyterian Homes to rethink its proposal, because of a potential negative reflection on all charities. Perhaps no agreement would have been made.
The editorial is correct, but it comes too late to make a difference . . . Like closing the barn door after the horse escapes.