Friday, January 19, 2007

Columbia Comes to the Table

In today's NY Sun the paper reports on the beginning of negotiations between Columbia and a local LDC that has been established to work out a community benefits agreement with the university. Columbia's public statement indicated a desire to work with the community but as is always the case in these kinds of things, the devil is most certainly in the details.

The key lightening rod here it seems to us is the fact that the 18 acre expansion plan does not include any affordable housing, and in fact calls for the eviction of hundreds of low-income tenants. Another problematic feature here is the inclusion of attorney Jesse Masyr as the "pro bono" legal representative for the LDC. In a curious retainer letter with the group Masyr reserves the right to get paid at a later date by "unknown third parties." It would appear that the LDC will do as well with Masyr as the British did with Nevil Chamberlain.