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August 1, 2007

EMINENT DOMAINIA: New York! New York!

News Busters, Abuses of Eminent Domain? The NYT's Glass House (or Headquarters)
There's nothing conservative watchdogs like more than going after the hypocritical New York Times, which, by partnering with Bruce Ratner, has become one of the darlings of the eminent domain abuse club.

The front of the New Jersey section of Sunday's New York Times was dominated by "Now You Own It, Soon You Don't? -- Homeowners fight, and legislatures grapple with, eminent domain that benefits private businesses."

In a sympathetic story, reporter Russ Buettner relayed the plight of local property owners fighting abuse of eminent domain -- the taking of private property for public use -- by local governments.
...
Yet Buettner's story had a strange omission -- one involving the New York Times Co. and its own apparent "abuse of eminent domain" in building its new headquarters.

As Matt Welch wrote last year in Reason magazine, the New York Times Co. used

"...eminent domain to forcibly evict 55 businesses--including a trade school, a student housing unit, a Donna Karan outlet, and several mom-and-pop stores--against their will, under the legal cover of erasing 'blight,' in order to clear ground for a 52-story skyscraper. The Times and [developer Bruce] Ratner, who never bothered making an offer to the property owners, bought the Port Authority-adjacent property at a steep discount ($85 million) from a state agency that seized the 11 buildings on it; should legal settlements with the original tenants exceed that amount, taxpayers will have to make up the difference. On top of that gift, the city and state offered the Times $26 million in tax breaks for the project, and Ratner even lobbied to receive $400 million worth of U.S. Treasury-backed Liberty Bonds -- instruments created by Congress to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Which is four miles away."

Is it any coincidence that the Times editorial page stood alone among major newspapers in supporting the Supreme Court's decision?

Rational Review, NY: Owners receive theft notices in corporate welfare scam

A Libertarian blog was quick to post today's story on eminent domain abuse for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan.

NY Newsday, A vision for Patchogue
The NY Times isn't the only hometown paper that supports taking land from private owners to hand over for a private project.

The revitalization momentum in the Village of Patchogue took a nasty hit when the owner of some key downtown land decided not to sell to a major company that wanted to build a boutique hotel there. So the village has begun the process of condemnation. That's the right decision.

NoLandGrab: It is very common for the editorial boards of newspapers to side with government on the issue of eminent domain. Perhaps both think they know what's better for America than the founding fathers did.

Posted by lumi at August 1, 2007 8:14 AM