Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gotbaum and Eminent Domain

In a column that once again demonstrates how difficult it is to remain ideologically consistent about the issue of eminent domain, Robert George takes Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum to task for her support of Atlantic Yards. It seems that Gotbaum, in her public statements as well as in the debates, has taken an absolute position in opposition to the use of eminent domain.

All of which creates an obvious problem for her support of The FCRC project in Brooklyn. There are a number of interesting observations here. First is the alliance of the conservative George with the liberal Norman Siegel and Tish James. Secondly, the Gotbaum conundrum points to the dangers of taking an absolute "no way' position.

Is the taking of private property for anything but an obvious public use out-of-bounds? If not, are there policy guidelines that can be creatively crafted to allow the use of ED in certain circumstances? This is definitely the starting point for a spirited public debate. Our position, in support of the Atlantic Yards project, can be defended on a number of sound public interest rationales. The use of ED, however, does create complications. We do look forward to the upcoming debate around this issue and we're certainly not going to shy away from the conflicts it will generate.