Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bloomberg's Disdain for Property Rights

Last week WPU held is press conference in support of the Private Property Protection Act, a bill that passed the House and has been sent to the Senate for disposition. The NY Daily News covered the event:

"A proposed federal law could hinder the city’s bid to revamp Willets Point, business owners there are hoping... Willets Point United, a vocal group of stakeholders there, has long contended the city’s use of eminent domain to take their land for a mixed-use development is unfair and unethical.“Does this sound like it should be happening in America?” attorney Michael Rikon said to an applauding crowd gathered around him at a Sunoco gas station in Willets Point on Thursday."

On cue the city cried foul: "But a city official said the bill, which would discourage municipalities from taking private property for economic development, could also squash future unrelated revitalization projects....'If this bill were to become law, important revitalization projects, such as the ones that gave new life to Times Square, MetroTech and Lincoln Center, wouldn’t be possible and it would also jeopardize the long-sought redevelopment of Willets Point,” said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, an attorney with the city Law Department."

It's always nice to know that young city officials remain ignorant of NY's history-and citing the Robert Moses removal of a large Puerto Rican population from the West Sixties to build Lincoln Center for the glitterati as an example of a shining city on a hill confirms young Ms. Bova-Hiatt's ignorance. But wait, that's not all.

The redevelopment of Times Square, when Bova-Hiatt was probably in diapers, started with a push from the threat of eminent domain but as crime dropped and property valuers rose the area developed naturally and organically without the heavy hand of condemnation. But the young woman's comments expose the basic philosophy of the plutocrat mayor: use the power of the state to abscond with the hard earned property of the little guys in order to turn it over to someone richer and more connected. As if nothing would ever get redeveloped in this town without this kind of usurpation of property that is familiar for citizens of the former Soviet Union.

The city also ignores the fact that 44 other states have moved forward with property rights protection-not fearing the potential loss of development, or perhaps being more concerned with property rights protection, a right that is the foundation for all other rights in this country. And the city has a right to be concerned: "The act would also prohibit the federal government from using eminent domain for economic development. City attorneys said the city is not seeking federal money for the Willets Point plan, but the law could discourage it from moving forward because the city could lose out on future money."

Mike Bloomberg is a believer in the power of government to tell you how to run your life, and when it suits him, to use the state to take away all that you have struggled to build in a lifetime-all for the greater good as he sees it. One thing we can all be sure of, however, no one will ever take the property of the very rich to build, let's say, affordable housing or a rec center for the poor. The transfers are always the other way around.

So we urge the senate to take up this measure and do what the besotted citizens of NYC have failed to do: Remove this awful power from the hands of a mayor who has been a scourge of all small business and property owners in this city. If we only had had the foresight to build a mosque on the Iron Triangle we would have been safe from Bloomberg's graspy, greedy hands.