A provocative take on politics and culture from a skeptical, libertarian point of view

Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Columbia University Eminent Domain In Harlem Condemned By Alumni

LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF NEW YORK 516-767-4688 Contact: Richard Cooper, State Chair
New York City 3/28/07 Columbia University president Lee Bollinger’s plan to use eminent domain to obtain land for a new campus in the Manhattanville section of West Harlem faces new opposition from the Libertarian Party of New York (LPNY) led by Columbia College alumni. State Chair Richard Cooper, Christopher Garvey and Mark Axinn condemn the University’s resort to the Empire State Development Corporation to condemn property-owners who will not sell voluntarily from West 125th to 133rd Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue. The ESDC designated the area as “blighted.” Cooper responds, “Hands off Harlem!”
Cooper notes that he previously fought SUNY-Stony Brook’s eminent domain grab of Flowerfields in St. James. “Eminent domain is a legalized assault on tenants, taxpayers and property-owners. Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” The Libertarian Party says to our modern pharaohs, the politicians and bureaucrats, “Let the people stay.” Bollinger cites our beloved Columbia’s educational mission and the infamous Kelo decision. Is it Columbia’s mission to teach that legalized theft is just and constitutional? Is it to teach that the end justifies the means?”
Mark Axinn, a Manhattan real estate attorney and Manhattan LP treasurer, laments “I am particularly appalled that Columbia University, which already has significant real estate and financial resources far in excess of others is desirous of relying on the thuggery of government to force other real estate owners to relinquish their property rather than simply purchasing any land it desires on the open market. Surely an institution with the power and wealth of Columbia could simply buy property. By seeking to usurp others' legitimate property rights by eminent domain, a university of which I should be proud lowers itself to the level of the street bully simply taking what it wants from those weaker individuals who might also be on the schoolyard.”
Christopher Garvey, a Long Island patent attorney and former LPNY candidate for Governor,is outraged. “On The Brian Lehrer Show (3/8/07), President Bollinger stated his case for expansion into the Manhattanville section of West Harlem. He described the activities of his private university as "public purposes", which justified having the government invoke its powers of eminent domain to steal property from existing owners to give to the University. How arrogant! Declaring one's "purposes" to be "public" is so much easier and cheaper than buying property fairly, from willing sellers on the free market.”
Besides the Columbia University Manhattanville eminent domain, the Libertarians oppose the Brooklyn Nets Arena/Atlantic Yards project. They will hold their State Convention on Saturday, April 28th at the Radisson MacArthur Hotel in Holtsville, New York. –30-
For more information about eminent domain (listing does not imply endorsement of the Libertarian Party):
Castle Coalition
Institute for Justice
Manhattan Libertarian Party
No Land Grab
Property Rights Foundation of America

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Barclays Bank Boycott To Protest Eminent Domain Abuse
Libertarian Party of NY -- Press Release -- Barclays Bank Boycott To Protest Eminent Domain Abuse

Barclays Bank Boycott To Protest Eminent Domain AbuseLIBERTARIAN PARTY OF NEW YORK 516-767-4688 Contact: Richard Cooper, State Chair Gary Popkin, Brooklyn-Queens Chair


Brooklyn, NY 3/19/07 New York Libertarian Party leaders Richard Cooper and Gary Popkin call for a nationwide boycott of Barclays Bank due to its participation in the eminent domain abuse scheme of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards. Barclays, a British bank with branches in America, agreed to pay the developer Forest City Ratner over $305 million for naming rights to the Nets basketball team’s arena over a thirty-year period. Libertarian State Chair Cooper notes that millions of Americans were outraged by 2005's Kelo decision of the Supreme Court upholding eminent domain transfers to private developers. The Libertarians offer an opportunity to demonstrate opposition in a material way.

Brooklyn-Queens Libertarian Party Chair Popkin dubs “…the Barclays participation in eminent domain is an outrage as a private enterprise disrespecting property rights.” Popkin notes that controversy was stirred in Brooklyn because of the sordid past of the British bank in the slave trade. He declares that “The actions of the bankers of centuries past do not taint the arena. It is participation in the eminent domain scheme that taints whoever participates in it.”

Cooper continues, “To Libertarians, corporate sports welfare and eminent domain abuse are legalized theft, stealing from taxpayers and landowners. Barclays chose to become an accomplice of Bruce Ratner. They should both bear the outrage of indignant Americans who favor freedom and justice.”

The Libertarian Party of New York has fought eminent domain that would have dispossessed St. Luke’s Pentecostal Church on Long Island and a neighborhood in New Rochelle to make way for an Ikea Swedish furniture store, besides the NY Times headquarters scheme that Cooper dubbed “Time$cam.” Cooper and Rev. Fred Jenkins of St. Luke’s will speak on the church’s victimization and how the Libertarian Party helped them at the state convention to be held Saturday, April 28th at the Radisson MacArthur in Holtsville, Long Island. –30-

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Mythsmasher At The Movies: "Pan's Labyrinth"

The Spanish language film "Pan's Labyrinth" is a political fairy tale and horror story set in the last years of the Second World War in Franco's Spain as the fascists try to exterminate the remaining Republican resistance in the mountains bordering France.

It is an excellent movie with very imaginative art direction and interweaving of the real and fantastic as eleven year old Ofelia seeks escape from the violence and unpleasantness around her.

The film's website is very high caliber in its unique features: the director's sketchbook, behind-the-scenes on the makeup etc.

Go see it.

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NEWSDAY column "Libertarians could stir fresh debate" 2/19/07

"Libertarians could stir fresh debate"
By Raymond J. Keating
February 19, 2007,0,1894701.column

Too many Democrats and Republicans on Long Island are indistinguishable on too many issues, from education and the environment to housing and taxes. Call them Democrats and Republicans, or Depublicans and Republicrats; it doesn't matter. They're interchangeable.That's why libertarians can be so refreshing. They're all about individual freedom and free markets - ideas often foreign in local politics. Indeed, can any full-blown libertarians be found on Long Island? ... Long Island will host the state convention of the Libertarian Party of New York on April 28.

The big question is: Can Libertarians ever have a political impact around here? Last week, I spoke with Richard Cooper, a Westbury resident who is the party's state chairman, and asked him for the Libertarian take on some key local issues.Regarding the ever-popular open-space preservation movement, Cooper labeled it "unspeakably arrogant." He noted that land preservation with tax dollars serves "the interests of very wealthy people . . . not the poor." He added: "Let the market decide" what's the highest land use, "not the politicians, not the activists." Libertarians locally and across the nation also have fought for property rights by challenging eminent-domain abuses.On the related topic of housing, Cooper highlighted libertarian trust in the free market. He remarked: "We wouldn't have illegal apartments if people were able to build apartment buildings." Quite true.

As for public education, Cooper pointed out: "The school system is being run for the benefit of the school establishment, rather than for the parents and the children." That's for sure, but what's the libertarian solution? Cooper spoke about the need to "separate school and state." But there is disagreement as to what this means. Hard-core libertarians want government out of education completely, while others support school choice through vouchers or tax credits.

Finally, on taxes, Cooper offered a libertarian challenge to the voters: "The problem is that the public keeps saying they want lower taxes," but then they say "gimme, gimme" in terms of "government favors." Cooper summed up: "The solution to suburban problems lies in liberty and markets. The Libertarian Party stands for individual liberty, free markets and responsibility in order to promote a society that enjoys more justice, abundance and peace." That probably sounds good to lots of people.

So why isn't this a Libertarian hot spot? ...why not a simple political agenda - a few issues including taxes, property rights and housing - that Libertarians could rally around locally and present to the public? ...It's hard to envision the Libertarian Party winning an election on Long Island. But it lies within reason that Libertarians could inject ideas into the political debate that Depublicans and Republicrats have neglected.If those ideas catch on, major party politicians eventually will get the message. An actual debate over ideas might ensue. That would be a valuable contribution by Libertarians to Long Island politics. "

Ray Keating suggested a local Libertarian equivalent of the Contract With America

Here are some thoughts.
1) No eminent domain abuse.
2) If not complete abolition of zoning, then make zoning countywide instead of by villages and towns.
3) No "open space" sterilization of land from development.
4) Promote school choice
5) Sell the Nassau Coliseum and the Long Island Ducks baseball stadium.
6) Privatize the jails.
7) Cut the staffs of the county legislature,
8) Abolish the taxpayer financed campaign system in Suffolk
9) Term limits
10) Deregulate jitney transportation to provide an alternative to the mega-spending of mass transit systems and the automobile.
11) Abolish the special districts for fire, water, sewers etc.

These are my thoughts, not "official" Libertarian Party positions.
Mythsmasher a/k/a Richard Cooper

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