Eminent Domain Abuse in Brooklyn


As previously noted, today is the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's terrible Kelo decision, which upheld New London, Connecticut's use of eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of the Pfizer Corporation. Unfortunately, though perhaps fittingly, the Court today signaled its unwillingness to revisit the issue, refusing to hear the case of Goldstein v. Pataki, one of the first major eminent domain appeals since the Kelo ruling came down.

At issue in Goldstein is the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, New York, a 22-acre boondoggle centered on a new taxpayer-subsidized basketball stadium for the New Jersey (soon-to-be Brooklyn) Nets. All told, more than 40 business owners and tenants face losing their property to the real estate developer (and New Jersey Nets owner) Bruce Ratner, whose Forest City Ratner Companies is overseeing the project along with New York's quasi-public Empire State Development Corporation. As someone who just relocated from one of the thriving neighborhoods sitting in dangerous proximity to the proposed site, I'm here to tell you that the Atlantic Yards will be a catastrophe and a disgrace, ruining many more lives and livelihoods than this lawsuit could ever hope to reflect.

But all hope isn't lost. Matthew Brinckerhoff, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, has declared his intentions to take the fight to New York's state courts:

We are, of course, disappointed that the Court declined our request to hear this important case. This is not, however, a ruling on the merits of our claims. Our claims remain sound. New York State law, and the state constitution, prohibit the government from taking private homes and businesses simply because a powerful developer demands it. Yet, that is what has happened. Recent events have revealed that the public, and the Public Authorities Control Board were sold a bill of goods by Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation. We now know that Ratner's project will cost the public much more than it will ever receive.

Another interesting fact: Justice Samuel Alito noted that he would have granted review to the case. No other member of the Court shared their votes, nor is it common for them to do so when simply denying review. While this doesn't reveal how Justice Alito would have actually voted on the case, it does suggest that he's a potential ally in future property rights fights.

NEXT: "Ask Yourself Why Government Doesn't Start Helping to Fix This Mess"

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  1. Cool story, bro.

  2. The Empire State Development Corp just needs to be eliminated. I can’t think of a single scenerio where it has actually done any good.

  3. I just thought it was funny that one drug supplier is arguing before the SCOTUS while others are shooting each other in the street.

    We can haz access to conflict resolution mechanismz?

  4. One more reminder: Susette Kelo is asking 10,000 people to step up and donate – just $5 or $10 – today to send a message to those in power that eminent domain abuse must be stopped. Visit http://www.ij.org/keloday TODAY to join the Susette Kelo Liberty Club.

  5. On how many levels does this shit piss me off?

    Politicians giving blowjobs to billionaire sports team owners ?
    Eminent domain abuse ?
    The blatant lie that pro sports foster economic development ?
    That SCOTUS won’t fix a clearly fucked up decision ?
    That the politicians always seem to be in luxury boxes during the playoffs ???
    The New Jersy Nets still haven’t been expelled from the NBA ?????????

    That’s sixteen.

  6. Well, Alito was on the minority on Kelo – Root may be on to something there. Too bad that I doubt either Obama or McCain would nominate someone who would be skeptical of eminent domain.

  7. President Obama will appoint strong pro-Kelo Judges who will help government chose the wisest use of property for the collective good.Barack Obama wants double-Kelo.

  8. If they have a comprehensive plan, then the case is finished.

    India: You can’t take our contry, there are millions of people here!

    British: Do you have a flag?

  9. Wanting to grow old in your dream house is a fools dream anyway. Got a condo in Florida for ya though!!! Live the dream!

  10. Alito was not on Kelo.

  11. British: No flag no country. Those are the that rules I just made up.

  12. I read this as “Eminem abuse in Brooklyn”.

  13. “New London, Connecticut’s use of eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of the Pfizer Corporation.”

    Pfizer was simply seeking expansion. You see, that’s funny because Pfizer makes Viagra.

  14. And the really funny/sick thing about this falling on the anniversary of Kelo is that 3 years later, after the Court said that unsupportable decision could go forward, and the Kelo house has been moved, the project has collapsed and the land stands empty.

    Which could easily happen with Atlantic Yards, unless the real rulers of America, the IRS, pull the curtain on the pirate financing of this pirate action.

  15. Alito was not on Kelo.

    My bad. I thought he’d been appointed to the court for more than three years.

  16. Ratner’s been doing this for decades. He’s got projects all over downtown Brooklyn, including a couple shitty malls and a failed office complex, financed by eminent domain and tax dollars–throw in a few units of “affordable housing” and/or promise jobs to “local people” and they’ll give you the keys to the city. Never mind that the housing they took was already affordable and that the people they threw out rarely get the new “affordable” housing, or that the promised entry-level jobs never seem to materialize. In the extremely unlikely event that this plan falls through, I’m sure he’ll have no problem finding some other sucker to pay for his stadium anyway. Everybody loses – except Bruce Ratner.

  17. As another data point Forest City has the prime contract to build and maintain military housing on Oahu (on the order of $350 million for the construction by itself)

    And here’s the sweet deal they got with ‘privatization’. Everyone in PPV (public private ventures) housing pays to forest city whatever is their BAH (basic allowance for housing) So, there is no market incentive for them to lower their rent – but there is an incentive for them to cut costs whenever possible. And, you get pure socialism – two families living next to each other in identical houses will pay rent solely based on their income. Plus, they get the military to screen and place tenants, which is the biggest money drain for most landlords. (no vacancies, nor crackheads). If there financial statements weren’t such an incoherent mess, I’d buy stock in them.

    Now, in practice, it seems to be working; I haven’t heard any complaints, and people seem to be satisfied with the quality of the construction and service (although there has yet to be a big cyclonic storm this decade). But the incentives are definitely screwed up.

  18. The land in New London wasn’t seized on behalf of Pfizer.

    It was seized for the development of hotels and condos. Pfizer’s expansion was in a different area.

  19. Pfizer’s expansion was in a different area.

    Well, sure, but the Viagra joke still works.

  20. Yes, R.C., but sometimes the time just isn’t right. That’s the problem with Viagra. Jokes.

  21. “Well, sure, but the Viagra joke still works.”

    That’s a stretch.

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