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November 7, 2011

Big Politically-Connected Real Estate Projects: Ignoring The Public Majority With Futile “Participatory Democracy” Hearing Process

Noticing New York

When I heard Bill Maher on his Real Time show a week ago offer his thesis about the futility of the forms of participatory democracy into which we are routinely channeled by those with the political upper hand I couldn’t help but think of the public hearing process in New York City with respect to big real estate projects. . . I am not thinking about all real estate projects, but the “done deals,” the wired deals involving those you know are the politically connected heavyweights.

Maher was speaking about the complacent assurance of plutocrats that they’ve cornered the political market and therefore can expect to have the Occupy Wall Street 99% boxed in, just so long as the opposition movement can be channeled into the regular and routine forms of civic contest. Then plutocrats know that the 99% “will lose” if they can be channeled into the normal ways of doing political battle, says Maher, because “the other side [the plutocratic side] has all the lobbyists and all the suits.” Or, as Rachel Maddow observed in the same conversation, when the 99% does it the way the plutocrats would like, an out-gunned 99% can be ignored.

That’s why, says Maher, the plutocrats are intent on having the opposition do it THEIR way.
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While Atlantic Yards is not the best example of the public being channeled into conventional participatory processes so they can then be ignored, it is a good example of the tinkering around the edges that occurs as things are engineered when the powers-that-be want a preordained result. Had those in power not had some appreciation of how massively objectionable to the public the Forest City Ratner project was likely to be they might not have decided to override standard public review process to deliver the deal to Ratner.

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NoLandGrab: Here's one recent example of how to not play by the rules.

Posted by eric at November 7, 2011 10:53 AM