Monday, December 22, 2003

NYU Hits Rock Bottom Over Bottom Line

by Wayne Robins

It's really disheartening to see indignant arrogance of NYU in its endgame with The Bottom Line continue unabated, with NYU showing all the flexibility of Jorge Mas Canosa discussing recognition of Fidel Castro. As one who enjoyed an inspiring and invigorating year (1997-1998) as the Elizabeth Arden-Chen Sam fellow at NYU's Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication (from which I received my M.A.), and having taught writing at the J-school for two semesters, I'm in a position to say that the behavior of my most recent alma mater is reprehensible. President John Sexton is presiding over the school's ugliest territorial seizure in its history.

But the media has been relatively quiet on the matter. Perhaps the New York Times' serial novel about the sale and purchase of New York magazine has left it without the resources to lean on this story.

This should be an enormous public relations debacle for the university: The school's attitude towards negotiating with the Bottom Line, a music industry Greenwich Village landmark for 30 years, reminds me of a military junta's approach to a nation's democratic institutions: The only lip service being offered is the kiss of death. Maybe the metaphor isn't such a stretch. One scholar during my fellowship described NYU as a real estate developer that operates classes on the side. NYU once took much of its cachet (and at times, historically, its only cachet) from its location in Greenwich Village. Now it sees Greenwich Village as a wholly owned subsidiary of The University, to be transformed according to the whims and needs of the University's corporate management. I would hope that powerful alumni like Clive J. Davis, who bestowed $5 million on NYU to operate an accredited music industry program, would at least open a back channel to negotiations. If I were Clive, I'd tell Sexton I wanted my money back, since you can't have an academic music business program run by the same institution that is gung ho to obliterate the magnificent chunk of that music business' history that occurred at the Bottom Line.

People have been e-mailing me links with more in-depth information than I can offer. I hope James Hoffman doesn't mind my attaching the information sent to me in his e-mail that will, I hope, illuminate the situation a little bit.
"Dear NYU Alumni,

I am a friend of the club, a past student of NYU and a concerned New Yorker.

NYU has publicly claimed on numerous occasions that it wants to work things out with The Bottom Line.

The Bottom Line has raised the money and established corporate sponsorships to provide for its financial solvency and as has been publicly noted, has had the money to pay all of the back rent held in escrow since September.

All that would appear to be needed would be for NYU to be true to their word and sit down and work out a new lease.

Now that the court case is over, NYU is refusing to discuss anything unless they receive all of the back rent first and are unwilling to provide any assurances what so ever regarding a new lease prior to the payment. All indications are that if they were given the money that is in escrow, they would still continue with the eviction. They have given The Bottom Line no reason to think that they want anything except the Club gone.

NYU has falsely claimed that The Bottom Line gave them lease terms that included a 250% rent increase and $1.5 Million in renovations to be paid for by the Club. This is clearly false and is a very poor attempt by NYU to make the Club look like it reneged on the non existent deal.

The Bottom Line has a clear responsibility to Sirius Radio, who put up the money, to make sure that it is used to save the club vs. just to pay debts its NYU and then have NYU shut down the club down.

I have attached the details below of the recent events along with the last proposal from The Bottom Line to NYU.

The Club has tried to work this out with the school. That is now at a clear impasse.

Please make sure your voice is heard. The following email address has been setup to allow you to send a message to the members of the NYU Board.

We encourage you to do this and pass this message along to your friends.

Your support is needed and appreciated now more than ever.


James Hoffman


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

After speaking with NYU President John Sexton, Councilperson Alan Gerson approached The Bottom Line late on Friday, December 5, 2003, to offer his good offices as a mediator-facilitator between The Bottom Line and NYU. The Bottom Line worked intensely with Councilperson Gerson over the weekend to craft an agreement that Gerson felt would meet NYU's needs and at least work as a starting point for reaching a lease agreement. Beyond including an initial payment to NYU of $55,000 to show good faith, The Bottom Line included a mentoring program for NYU students in the Music Business program, and a work-study initiative for NYU students.

Today, that proposal (which we have included in its entirety) was unequivocally turned down by NYU's attorneys, who said that the University was not interested in any way, shape or form in entertaining this proposal or any proposal, and in fact had no desire to have any communication with The Bottom Line at all. NYU's response speaks volumes for their true intention, and perhaps their intention from the very beginning.


Submitted to NYU, Monday, December 8, 2003:

In an effort to reestablish negotiations with New York University with the goal of reaching a mutually amicable settlement to the current situation, The Bottom Line would like to propose the following offer to President John Sexton and NYU:

The Bottom Line will pay four months at the current rent of $11,250 for a total of $55,000, which shall be broken down in the following manner:
$22,500 for November and December 2003 "use and occupancy"
$22,500 prepaid for January through Feb 2004 "use and occupancy".

Furthermore, to show good faith, and to further establish The Bottom Line's desire to remain a tenant in their current location, an additional $10,000 toward arrearages will be paid in good faith, for a total of $55,000 by The Bottom Line to New York University.Payment of the $22,500 shall be made by the close of business on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2003. Payment of the balance shall be made by Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2003.

The above offer is extended with the following conditions:
1. NYU agrees to stay the eviction and a complete stay of enforcement.
2. NYU agrees to enter into good faith negotiations with The Bottom Line in a good faith effort to negotiate a new ten year lease. Councilmember Gerson, or a senior member of his staff, will act as a facilitator and/or intermediary.
3. NYU and The Bottom Line agree to jointly prepare a press release, to be issued by Councilmember Gerson, announcing the combined efforts to resolve the current situation. In this press release, Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky will thank NYU President John Sexton for becoming personally involved in the negotiations in order to try to help reach a beneficial resolution for all parties.
4. As part of the ongoing negotiations, the Bottom Line will attempt to create a mentoring proposal which will allow NYU students from the Music Business program to get hands on experience at The Bottom Line. Further, NYU students would be given priority hiring for all employment positions, and The Bottom Line shall work in tandem with the work-study offices at NYU.

In light of the court's ruling, we would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience. "

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