Ed Hoffman’s statement (in part) below is both disingenuous and illustrative of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” — the notion that the interests of huge corporations trump those of the wider public:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/books/review/Stiglitz-t.html?_r=1&ref=books&or\
ef=slogin

This Columbia defender (a Californian based lawyer?) on neighborhood lists repeatedly displays either naiveté or disingenuousness regarding Columbia’s promises — past and future — to render service to the community. As has occurred in Morningside Heights, so all those lower income housing units and businesses in and around Manhattanville will be
displaced by luxury stuff, if Columbia is allowed its grab.

The massive housing complex at 3333 B’way (at 135th St. just to the north of Columbia’s proposed expansion) is now doing what will spread south from 125th St. — expelling residents and small businesses renting there, north to afflict the largely Latino and African American residents and businesses up B’way and its surrounding streets for many blocks, and east to hit the businesses that serve both Grant Houses and Morningside Heights Co-op (which in turn will see its sale prices rise and with them the dispositions towards the community of its prosperous new buyers). Bye, bye C-Town, the discount store, laundry, shoe store, etc., etc. on 125th St.

Those of us who have lived in Morningside Heights have watched its rental buildings be converted to co-ops and the prices in our stores nearly double in comparison with those even in the same chains in lower priced neighborhoods (e.g. University Market). Large and more expensive chains have replaced small neighborhood businesses.

How does this game get played? It is the easiest thing in the world for owners of rental properties to raise leases astronomically on businesses and to harass apartment renters out or simply make “capital improvements” which suddenly hit low income residents with bills of thousands of dollars that they cannot pay. Eviction becomes the name of the game and luxury housing moves in — the Cathedral leased rentals along W. 110 the St. will be astronomical with a promise of a handful of “affordable” units — largely paid for by a $100 million loan from the city! Columbia is playing an even vaguer game along this line with its Manhattanville takeover plan — no written commitments at all, at all!

Once again the truth must be told and our pols must have their feet held to the fire when they play along. Every square inch of Manhattan offers vast potential profits for those who make grabs — at great cost to those living here now and in the instance of the Columbia’s to the tax payers via the Dormitory Authority of NY (DASNY) which will pay for construction of its buildings with low interest loans and no tax pay back from this tax exempt institution. NY’s credit rating is already at rock bottom without yet more huge expenditures of this kind for privates.

The river bank park will be a lovely place for its Columbia researches to spend their lunch hours. But what of the additional burdens on the North River Sewage plant already so overloaded that it dumps all but solid sewage into the river with any heavy rains and minimally screens out the poisons under the best of circumstances. Columbia’s operation will be dumping yet more offal into our river which may at some future point be needed for drinking water (the tides press waters up and down the river)? This sewage horror is never mentioned with the happy projections of environmental impacts — one of our on-going NYC cover-ups of the worst kind. The following website only touches on some of the environmental hazards there, but it does illustrate the blatant racial and ethnic discrimination that it — and Columbia’s grab — have manifested:

http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/ny.html#background

The Hoffman complaint below illustrates precisely the current right wing perspective on social policies — that private ownership Trumps (pardon the pun) the public interest. Pretty ironic, but illustrative in this instance of what is really intended — that a huge corporate interest be permitted to trump small business owners and lower income residents standing in the way of a corporate giant.

Ed Kent

…………………….

Hoffman complaint in part (typos corrected):

3333 Broadway is privately owned. It either has been or is now being sold by one private developer to another as part of deal involving three other large projects. One of these projects is on Roosevelt Island and two others are elsewhere in Manhattan, far from the Columbia expansion zone. Given that 3333’s owner is treating the building just like other
properties in its portfolio, what evidence do you have that Columbia’s plans have anything to do with the changes going on there?

I have challenged you on this point at least a dozen times and you have *NEVER* responded. Either show us your evidence or admit that you have none.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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