Monday, November 14, 2005

The Exclusive Partnership

It has just come to our attention that the recently concluded Congressional vote on eminent domain legislation has gotten the good folks at the NYC Partnership upset. As it definitely should given the Partnership is made up of all the real estate machers who stand ready to pursue the public interest if only they're lucky to get the call.

Of course the Partnership does not represent the less exalted in the NYC business world, the very firms whose existence is often steamrolled when the permanent government promulgates one of those "well developed plans" that the NY Times sees as the justification for property transfer. What they would like everyone to believe is that their own particular interests are synonymous with the public good.

All of which brings to mind the term "mobilization of bias," coined by sociologists to describe how an ideology linked to a particular power structure comes to define reality for the citizens of an area precisely because it is seen as the essence of "responsible" government.

Such was the underpinning for all of the urban renewalists, from Robert Moses in NYC (and his acolytes Mike Bloomberg and Dan Doctoroff) to ED Logue and Mayor Lee in New Haven. It's truly fascinating that Kathy Wylde ("We are alarmed.."), in criticizing the eminent domain vote for the Partnership, cites the creation of Lincoln Center as her rationale.

We should all go back and reread the Power Broker on this ED endorsement. The ethnic cleansing of the Puerto Rican community is, we guess, a legitimate justification for all the swells who see Lincoln Center as their cultural home. Which is precisely the point. Even where the ultimate goal is meritorious the eminent domain-urban renewal process too often callously disregards communities and small businesses that are swept aside in its wake.

All of which makes the case, not for the status quo, but for reform. The Mayor Mike/NYC Partnership/NY Times axis of renewal does not necessarily represent the popular will or even good policy. It is exactly why we have questioned the "above politics and special interests" mantra coming from the Bloomberg idolaters. All of those who praise the mayor for not being "beholden" are sure of the fact that Mike sees the world through the same class-biased lens that they do.