practically begging the state for a whipping....
The Gotham Gazette recently covered the topic of Eminent Domain in regards to three prominent development proposals for New York City. The most heated fight is taking place in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, where developer Bruce Ratner has the blessing of politicos to whip up a sports arena, mega retail stores, as well as thousands of new housing units.
The trouble begins when there are hundreds of people already living there, and running businesses in the targeted area. They don't want to leave, and many aren't looking for a handsome hush-money buyout (currently they must sign "gag orders" upon selling, and promise to do naught but promote the development plan).
Unfortunately for them, they have little choice in the matter, as an opponent of the Columbia University expansion proposal explained:
"They say 'deal with us now or deal with the state later,'" said Whitman, who also sits on Community Board Nine. "It's like having a gun to your head."
While I support the efforts of, and commiserate with the people for experiencing the business end of a gun, I cannot for the life of me understand why they still continue to confer legitimacy to the one agency which is holding the whip, or in this case, the gun.
Witness the roadblocks they attempt to place before the impending condemnation; they talk about the public wealth transfer to Ratner, they complain that the community has no Land-Use Review power as this proposal sidesteps the Community Board with blessing from the city and state, they complain that architecturally significant buildings will be lost to wrecking balls and bulldozers, that many of the 53 to-be-condemned buildings are historically significant because they functioned as underground railroads where escaped slaves found sanctuary.
In effect, they are doing everything but confront the source of the problem- the state. You see, in their minds, eminent domain is fine and dandy as long as the right people are in office-- the same naiveness we suffer hearing about every election cycle. Do they really think it makes a difference with whom lies the whip of state power?
Their pitiable defense amounts to one thing; a demonstration that the statist 'casus belli' for attacking property rights is nothing more than convenient excuse to cover up privilege. It is nothing less than laughable to then attempt using the states' lame rhetoric such as the "interest of preserving cultural landmarks", or "protecting the middle-class renters" to stop them from dispensing privilege, as that is what the rhetoric is meant to make honorable in the first place.
In short, I'm unhappy that these people are drawing the short straw; however when they agree in principle with the state having the ultimate right, and only disagree over the degree of final measure, I think they just have the whip coming to them.