Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Pal of Bloomberg's

Long shot gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has an idea to use eminent domain to take away the property that's slated to be used for a mosque near Ground Zero . As Daily Politics reports: "If elected governor, WNY's Carl Paladino vows in a new radio ad that he'd use the eminent domain laws to stop the construction of a controversial Islamic center/mosque near Ground Zero. (I'm not sure he could actually do that, by the way, but I'm looking into it.) Paladino says sure he can, and instead of a mosque, the site should be a war memorial."

Well, in our view, he certainly could do just that but there's one major obstacle in his way-he's gotta get elected first. But a while ago, we suggested that the city-or the state-should use eminent domain if Larry Silverstein continued to act as an obstructionist around the Ground Zero rebuilding effort. As we said last year: "It's time for the city and the state to give both the Port and Silverstein the heave ho-they have dithered enough; and the mayor, along with all of the former governors, have been as nonfeasant as any elected officials could be. This is, after all, supposed to be sacred space-and for seven and a half years Mike Bloomberg hasn't said much of anything about the lack of action on the site."

Certainly, the taking of the mosque property to build a war memorial, or something similar, is much more of a public interest use than taking away Nick Sprayregen's land and handing it over to Columbia University-or giving Jake Bono's Willets Point property to a developer to be named later. As we commented: "The fact that we still have a hole in the ground while the mayor has had eight years of lockjaw on the matter is to his everlasting shame. That he hesitates to use eminent domain to kick his fellow billionaire out of the site is certainly, as the socialists say, no accident. It's only the little guys who become the targets of government taking-especially when class acts like Mike Bloomberg are running things."

Bloomberg, for his part, is playing Mr. Tolerant-which, as we have said, may not be the real issue here. As Daily Politics points out: "Carl Paladino may think his idea to block a Ground Zero mosque via eminent domain is pretty smart, but Mayor Bloomberg doesn't -- and says it's a moot point, because the Republican gubernatorial hopeful's not getting anywhere near the second floor of the State Capitol. Asked about Paladino's proposal, Bloomberg replied: "Huh? He's not going to get elected, so let's go on to the other topic. This city is built on openness and tolerance. We are not walking away from that, no matter who is governor."

But why does such tolerance preclude a due diligence about the source of the $100 million being ponied up to build the mosque? It's not as if mosques have never been used as fronts for nefarious. As the NY Times reported seven years ago: "Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, a six-story converted factory trimmed in orange and gold, has been many things to many people during its life: a mystery, a noisy neighbor, a source of suspicion, and, for thousands of Muslims who live or work along Atlantic Avenue, the main street of Arab Brooklyn, a place of worship. Last week, the mosque became, not for the first time, a symbol of terror. A federal affidavit unsealed on Tuesday describes links between the mosque, several Brooklyn businessmen and a cleric in Yemen who, prosecutors say, claims to have funneled more than $20 million to Al Qaeda. ''They did their fund-raising right here in our own backyard,'' Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said."

This isn't about tolerance at all, it's about being careful as well as respectful around a site that, after all, was the scene of an awful event stimulated by a group of Islamists who believed that their religion sanctioned-and sanctified-their horrific actions. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?