Property Rights

"This is truly a dark day for all Americans who care about the sanctity of private property rights."

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For more than half a decade, West Harlem business owner Nick Sprayregen has been battling the combined forces of Columbia University and New York's Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the controversial state agency empowered to bypass zoning laws and seize private property via eminent domain. At issue is Columbia's desire to build a massive new research campus in the same Harlem neighborhood where four of Sprayregen's family-owned Tuck-It-Away Storage businesses operate. Despite the fact that three of those four businesses sit on the periphery of Columbia's planned development, the university has demanded a blank slate on which to build, something that state officials have been all too happy to deliver by wielding their power to seize any holdout property. In fact, the ESDC secretly colluded with Columbia in order to create the most favorable conditions for triggering a property seizure.

Sprayregen's long battle reached an end earlier today when the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. Here's what he told me via email:

My family is profoundly disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear our case.  This is truly a dark day for all Americans who care about the sanctity of private property rights.  It is my hope that the loss by my family and the West Harlem community to the greed of Columbia University shall be looked upon as a clarion call to the citizens of our country that what has transpired here cannot be allowed to occur in other places. Americans must stand together and demand louder and more forcefully than ever that we be reunited with the basic civil right of true ownership of our homes and businesses. Until then, no one should feel safe from the collusion of unethical politicians and their favored private beneficiaries. Take it from me – I know first-hand.

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100 responses to “"This is truly a dark day for all Americans who care about the sanctity of private property rights."

  1. I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach and I don’t even know these people.

    1. Don’t worry.

      Chad will be right along to tell you how Nick is a Greedy, Evil Monopolist ™ who tried to stand in the way of Progress as personified in The Holy Project ™.

      After that you’ll feel better. Right?

      1. I’d feel much better if I could kick Chad in the nuts.

  2. I’m coming to the unpleasant realization that Claire Wolfe is wrong: it’s no longer too early.

  3. If the government taxes productive people to give goodies to well-connected cronies and handout-starved leeches, why does this come as a suprise?

    “Because, that is what I do,” replied the scorpion, as he and the frog were drowning.

    1. Drowned frogs and toads usually float – something makes me think the scorpion managed to survive.

      1. The scorpion not only survived, he served out the remainder of his life in the Senate.

        -jcr

  4. I really don’t understand what has stopped people from just going and beheading everyone in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court.

    I’m pretty sure most of the abuses that led to the revolution in the 1770’s were less egregious than those of today, and yet people just put up with it.

    1. Because we Americans genuinely believe that our Constitution is a scared document that will somehow make everything work out in the end when in reality it’s just a somewhat decent collection of okay ideas that can be easily twisted by humans just like all the other “sacred” documents (i.e. Torah, Bible, Koran, etc.).

      We’re taught from a very early age that our “democracy” somehow makes us special and so we the people should NEVER want a new form of government because Uncle Sam is the best even if he isn’t perfect and we know this to be true because everybody (especially him) says so!

      Still…I can’t remember where I read this but someone once said: “There comes a time that we must risk all that we have in the hopes that things might be greater still.”

      1. Q: Who said the Constitution was “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell”?

        1. I would have guessed Spooner prior to Googling.

          1. A: you would have guessed right.

            I join Spooner in the belief that legitimizing statism through supposedly “protective” documents is folly. That just gives scumbags something to point at and use to support their statism.

            1. Whoops, I read your comment wrong. Ignore the “A” part of my comment.

        2. Havent googled yet, going with Patrick Henry.

          1. Okay, actually answer makes sense, and should have guessed it from Penguin’s wrong gues.

          2. I recall Henry’s opinion on the constitution was “I smell a rat”

        3. General Zod.

      2. Because we Americans genuinely believe that our Constitution is a scared document

        My copy can generally be found huddling in the corner, sobbing and begging for the beatings to stop.

        1. Did you adopt it from the POTUS?

          1. They raise their Constitutions in crates as soon as they are weened.

            1. “Weened”? Really? Don’t you have a writing degree?

              1. To be sure, “ween” is a word, which means “to think or suppose.”

              2. He was more right that you know. This is torture.

                1. This is torture.

                  You vile little fucker! I had actually forgot about that shit nugget of a song.

                  1. You’re the asshole that wrote about them. Just be glad I can’t stand it either, or else I’d make sure to rickroll you again after your response.

              3. Somedays I find myself too bored to spell correctly.

                1. Right. Too “bored”. Don’t you mean too retarded? I mean, how do you bore an archivist? Do you talk about the Dewey Decimal System for three hours instead of two?

                  1. “Hey, let’s talk in C++ all day! That’d be hilarious!”

                    1. You cant talk in C++. Perl, on the other hand….

                    2. Was that an attempt to insult me? I can’t tell because no one “talks” in programming languages, so your utter lack of comprehension is confusing me. I can’t tell if you’re poor at insults or poor at life. I already know you’re poor at metabolizing glucose, of course.

                    3. That’s not true. I speak in pure binary, but Google Translate allows me to post here.

                      Is SF a Dewey guy, or a Library of Congress guy?

                    4. Dewey, because he was a hit with the ladies.

                      BTW, true story… Library of Congress developed their own shelving schema just to be dicks. Sort of like XML.

                    5. Excellent. Organization schemata should be viciously competitive.

      3. We’re taught from a very early age that our “democracy” somehow makes us special…

        I can’t help but note that most of us are taught about government in government-run schools.

    2. You don’t understand? Why haven’t you commenced the process? The reason you haven’t is the same reason the rest of us haven’t. The ballot box is still the proper place to get these clowns out of office. But keep your powder dry.

  5. Despite the fact that three of those four businesses sit on the periphery of Columbia’s planned development, the university has demanded a blank slate on which to build

    We don’t want any chaotic unplanned hovels to impinge upon the glorious soaring artistic vision of our megaprojects.

  6. The dark day was June 23, 2005. If they can take your perfectly fine home and land to hand over to a real estate developer, they can do anything. This case had no chance.

    The only thing that can realistically be done at this point is to keep pushing for more property rights legislation at the state level.

    1. Ironic, is it not, that a document whose purpose was to restrain the State is now being used to unleash it upon us?

    2. He could always wait for Columbia to finish the project then burn that mother down. In the mean-time he can “discuss” the wrongness of this project with the people that colluded to take his property. Using plyers and a blow-torch should help him make his points.

      1. Yeah. Wait until it’s mostly done, but before it’s in use, and fuck them but good.

  7. If I were in Mr. Sprayregen’s shoes I would be tempted to stand in the way of the bulldozers when they come to tear down my property.

    1. If I were in his shoes, I’d be tempted to litigate against every individual involved in this theft for the rest of their lives.

      -jcr

      1. It’s not a good idea to post what I would be tempted to do if I were in his shoes, as I’m pretty sure I could go to jail for even saying it.

    2. If I were in his shoes, he’d say, “Not only did they take the rest of my property, they took my shoes too!”

  8. I’ll go out on an optimistic limb and posit that the Supremes may be waiting for a better takings case to put Kelo in the ground once and for all. It wouldn’t be the first time they denied cert to a good case when they know a “better” case is coming.

    1. someone whispered “Obamacare” & “Unconstitutional”

    2. Im not sure you can get a more clear cut case than Columbia.

      1. In The People’s Republic Of New York City, nothing is really ever yours to begin with.

  9. The nickname “Empire State” has a sad irony to it here.

    1. ” Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…

      1. For no good reason, this comment makes me think that someone needs to mash up A Christmas Carol and Star Wars. Maybe Lord Vader as Scrooge? Obviously, we’ve got ghosts in both stories.

        1. The Force blesses everyone!

          1. Vader was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Luke Skywalker, who did NOT die, he was a second, er… first father. He became as good a friend, as good a Master, and as good a Sith Lord as the good old Death Star knew, or any other good old megalopolis , planet, or star system, in the good old universe. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and didn’t choke them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened in this brutal stellar Empire, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed and briefly beat unassisted: and that was quite enough for him.

            1. Please tell me that isn’t from either a Leigh Brackett or George Lucas book. Lucas I could see writing that badly, but he usually outsources his crap.

              1. Dude, that’s from A Christmas Carol, with some Vader and choking substitutions. You haven’t weened enough on this topic.

                1. Dude, I am super tired and yet have had two Rockstar Recovery already. I’m not thinking too well right now.

                  1. Say the word, and we will have the appropriate chemicals airlifted to Seattle immediately! By “we”, I mean the Reason Foundation and the Kochs.

                    1. If you can send me some oxycontin and some blow, I would be in your debt.

                    2. Make it so!

                    3. Missed opportunity: “Make it blow!”

              2. Charles Dickens: The Reason You Shouldn’t Pay Writers By The Word.

                1. I like Dickens, but yes.

                  1. Don’t forget Stephen King or Leon Uris.

                    1. I like some King, but yes again.

                      I’m a big fan of Dumas (the elder), but I do get the impression in the middle of some of his books that he’s on a per-word commission.

                2. Alexandre Dumas is a better example the dangers of paying by the word; and a better writer.

                  1. Oui et oui.

            2. It’s the feel-good story of a galaxy, far, far away!

              R2-D2 as Tiny Tim?

              1. I had thought about R2-D2 being the little boy he sent off for the Prize Turkey in the butcher’s window. I guess Harrison Ford is Cratchit? Begging for an energy pack so as to keep his laser ink from freezing?

                1. I was thinking that dude that Vader choked but didn’t kill.

                  1. Even better. And because of the choking, we can make him mute. Tim’s dialogue is all treacle, anyway.

                    1. “A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness
                      that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the
                      back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I
                      have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and
                      endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss
                      your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of
                      smoking bishop
                      , Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another
                      coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

                      Smoking Bishop

                      5 unpeeled oranges
                      1 unpeeled grapefruit
                      36 cloves
                      1/4 pound of sugar
                      2 bottles of red wine
                      1 bottle of port

                      Wash the fruit and oven bake until brownish. Turn once.
                      Put fruit into a warmed earthenware bowl with six cloves stuck into each.

                      Add the sugar and pour in the redwine, reserving the port.

                      Cover and leave in a warm place for a day.

                      Squeeze the fruit into the wine and strain.

                      Add the port and heat, but do not boil.

                      Serve “smoking” warm. Yield: 15 to 20 servings

                    2. I meant the choked guy as Cratchit. I still like R2-D2 as Tiny Tim. Marley could be Count Dooku.

                    3. I was banned from making this for New Years Eve, but was approved for Memorial Day, which is appropriate.

                      Chatham Artillery Punch
                      2 cups sweet red wine
                      2 cups strong tea
                      2/3 cup rum?
                      1/2 cup packed brown sugar
                      1/2 cup rye whiskey
                      1/2 cup orange juice?
                      1/3 cup gin
                      1/3 cup brandy
                      1/3 cup lemon juice
                      1 bottle dry champagne

                      Mix all ingredients except champagne. Cover and refrigerate for several days. Stir in champagne just before serving.

                    4. You could run your car with that concoction.

                    5. Woo! I was planning on that for New Year’s Eve this year.

                      I made a batch of Cape Fear Punch Saturday night. Alton’s recipe had far too much lemon oil in it. For the 2nd try, I didn’t macerate the lemon peels at all.

                    6. I posted a truly evil concoction on Urkobold a few weeks ago:

                      Trip to the Moon:

                      1 3/4 oz Absolut Vodka
                      1 3/4 oz Tequila
                      1 3/4 oz Cognac
                      1 3/4 oz Gin
                      1 3/4 oz Rum
                      1 3/4 oz Whiskey
                      2 1/2 tbsp Sugar
                      10 1/2 oz Iced Tea
                      1 1/2 oz Lemon

                      Mix somehow, chill, consume, achieve escape velocity.

                    7. That doesn’t sound too bad. You’d need a tumbler for a drink that size. Or a one liter beer boot.

                      Even though there are 5,000 versions, a Zombie is fantastic if properly done. But I have a hard time keeping that many rums (or any rum) in the house.

                    8. Here’s a version of the Chatham that dispenses with the champagne so as to serve it more like a cocktail.

                      Artillery Punch

                      1 750-ml bottle Rittenhouse rye
                      1 750-ml bottle cheap, simple red wine
                      3 cups iced tea, brewed strong
                      12 ounces dark rum
                      6 ounces gin
                      6 ounces brandy
                      1 ounce Benedictine
                      12 ounces fresh orange juice
                      6 ounces fresh lemon juice
                      6 ounces simple syrup
                      Lemon slices, for garnish (optional)

                    9. You want a really evil drink?

                      1 part Wild Turkey 101
                      1 part Bacardi 151
                      1 part Jagermeister
                      1 part Kahlua
                      Ice, if you can get it to stay in the glass

                      I got snot-slingin’ drunk off this shit years ago, and I’ll never try it again. Your results may vary.

                    10. For truly evil, try the Kentaco:

                      1/2 shot tequila
                      1/2 shot bourbon
                      7 drops tabasco

                      Bourbon on bottom, tequila on top. You dont want to reverse this. Also, if it comes out your nose, I will still be laughing at you 13 years later.

                    11. Are you suggesting that it is possible to synthesize excited tequila in a bourbon matrix?

                    12. Put simply–in deference to you, ProL–it’s like drinking a stick of dynamite.

                    13. I fail to see how I get to be the Kent analogue hereabouts. Maybe Lazlo, but never Kent.

                      Otherwise, nicely done.

                      Oh, and. . . .

                      As soon as we apply a field, we couple to a state, it is radiatively coupled to the ground state. I figure we can destroy at least ten to the twenty-first neurons per cubic centimeter which will give one kilojoule of destruction per cubic centimeter at 600 nanometers, or, one megajoule of neuron destruction per liter.

                    14. That’s hotter than the sun!

  10. Americans must stand together and demand louder and more forcefully than ever that we be reunited with the basic civil right of true ownership of our homes and businesses.

    Shit. The goddamned courts don’t even recognize the basic civil right of true ownership of our lives and persons, let alone our property!

  11. So, considering Alito’s comments, can we assume Roberts was the missing 4th vote?

  12. Some of the most vile abuses of government have been permitted when the Supremes refused to review lower court rulings. Gilmore v. Ashcroft/Gonzalez is one such; this is another.

  13. Fuck Columbia. They graduated Obama, and now this.

    1. Thread winner?

  14. In fact, the ESDC secretly colluded with Columbia in order to create the most favorable conditions for triggering a property seizure.

    And so ends the Rule of Law in the United States.

    But, at least government builds roads (besides stealing from the productive)… Right?

  15. But if the government does it, it’s good?

  16. In The People’s Republic Of New York City, nothing is really ever yours to begin with.

    That can’t be right!

    Just the other day, one of Mayor Bloomberg’s flunkies was on the teevee, bragging about how the Bloomster has made NYC a fabulously business-friendly place. Goldman Sachs seems to be doing okay.

  17. New York’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the controversial state agency empowered to bypass zoning laws and seize private property via eminent domain.

    Why does such an organization even exist?

    1. Without knowing thing one about its history I’ll note that it appears to be tailor made as a vehicle for graft and corruption.

  18. Property rights = racism. ALWAYS.

    1. Property = theft.

  19. “half a decade”?

    You couldn’t have just said “5 years”?

    1. 1/20th of a century.

      1. 130 fortnights.

  20. It isn’t within the Supreme Courts jurisdiction to hear cases regarding local laws. Not that they don’t do it, but that doesn’t mean we should support the continued efforts of the federal government to obliterate any federalism we have left. This is, at most, up to New York State to decide.

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