Oh, What a Tangled Web the State Weaves!

Email Print

New York City’s rulers have long ascribed to the medieval idea that the king — or, in New York’s case, the government — owns all the land. Depending on Tyrannosaurus Rex’s whims and mercy, he may graciously allow his serfs to build things on it.

So when a particularly ambitious serf (and believe me, he must be super-ambitious: battling the red tape and securing the endless permits and licenses the City requires for building or even renovating has spawned a whole industry called “expediters”) wants to erect a skyscraper, Our Masters extort various “concessions” from him.

One of the most noxious is the developer’s ceding some of his land or part of his building for “public use.” This requires the property owner to maintain the area — and, of course, pay taxes on it — while yielding his rights over it. So I can camp out in a lobby designated “public use” for as long as the building is open, and the owner can’t do a thing about it except clean up after me when I choose to leave. Recall, too, that at rents of ca. $100 per square foot, forfeiting some of your property to “public use” rather than tenants is serious robbery.

Sometimes the State demands space outdoors for “public use.” This stolen land then becomes a “park.” (You’d be amazed at what New York denominates a “park.” I once saw a forlorn sign crookedly proclaiming a triangle of asphalt at an intersection in Brooklyn “Some-Name-I-Forget Park.” Hey, close enough for government work.)

It is one of these “public-use” parks that “Occupy Wall Street” has commandeered. Which means the thugs-in-blue can’t eject protesters, according to Top Cop Ray Kelly, since the park is “private property” — but neither can the owner, Brookfield Properties, because the land is for “public use.” Stunning, isn’t it? First Our Rulers confiscate acreage, then they profess helplessness when squatters seize it while forbidding the alleged “owner” from evicting them as well.

Don’t waste too much sympathy on Brookfield, however: its chairman, and the park’s eponym, is “John Zuccotti, who was City Planning Commission chairman, [and] later first deputy mayor under Abe Beame…”

Can anyone say “fascism”?

10:47 am on October 7, 2011