Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Home Not a Castle: ED and Ground Zero

In one of life's true ironies the Institute for Justice's organization formed to combat the eminent domain abuse is called the Castle Coalition. Ironic it is because the man leading the fight against the eminent domaining of Ground Zero businesses is statistician Arthur Castle. Castle's Ground Zero Business Association (GZBA) is fighting the eviction of 140 firms (employing 700 workers) located on a site between John and Fulton Streets on Broadway, a stone's throw from the Tower site.

The GZBA's fight is against the MTA's plan to expand the Fulton Street train stop at the expense of the existing property owners and tenants. The further irony is that many of these businesses have actually received some of the money that was designated to retain firms in the Ground Zero area. After having been among the victims of 9/11 these small professional and retail firms are being re-victimized by their own government while their larger well-heeled comrades are allowed to remain and rake in the downtown dough.

All of which points to what is most problematic about eminent domain. As we have said before the use of ED is almost always in the benefit of the well-connected rich and at the expense of the less well-connected. This was the gist of Justice O'Conner's blistering dissent in the Court's Kelo Decision.

The Alliance has offered its help to the folks at the GZBA and we look forward to making the Castle Brigade the poster child for the fight against the use of ED to cripple and maim small business. These firms, just like the BTM merchants and the Willets Pointers, deserve more than a couple of shekels and a one-way ticket out of town.