Urban Renewal Schemer Arrested Over Checks From Developer
Filed Under: Opinion, Politics | Posted: 05/18/2009 at 8:45PM
Comments | Region: New York | United States
On Long Island, New York Nassau County Legislator Roger Corbin (Democrat-Westbury) was arrested on charges of tax evasion and lying to federal agents about 81 checks totaling $225,000 from developer Ranjan Batheja, one of those in the urban renewal scheme known as the New Cassel Revitalization Project. Corbin has not been charged with bribery or extortion nor has Batheja been charged at all in this case, although he has been implicated in other cases.
Not only is Corbin’s district adjacent to mine, but I was personally involved personally as Nassau County Libertarian Party Chair and later Libertarian Party of New York (www.ny.lp.org) Chair in fighting one aspect of the New Cassel urban renewal scheme–the taking by eminent domain of the building acquired by St. Luke’s Pentecostal Church just before the project started.
The church under Reverend Fred Jenkins (now Bishop Jenkins of the Mount Pisgah Movement) paid $130,000 for the property with a $200,000 mortgage loan to pay for acquisition and renovation of the abandoned Baptist Church. The buildings department said that a building permit would be issued if seven conditions were met. Nothing was said about the blight designation and the revitalization project. St. Luke’s spent considerable sums on renovating the building to bring it up to code.
The Town of North Hempstead www.tonh.org then headed by Supervisor May Newburger through its Community Development Agency (CDA) sought condemnation and offered $80,000 for the property. The CDA’s Executive Director at the time, Kevin Saunders, was later charged with embezzlement of CDA funds. (I am not sure what final disposition of his case was).
I brought the Institute for Justice (www.ij.org) into the case and they helped St. Luke’s Pentecostal Church’s attorney. The Libertarian Party held three rallies on the church’s behalf. Our efforts came to the attention of Representative Ron Paul (Republican-Texas) who joined with Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick (Democrat-Michigan) to bar the use of federal funds to seize houses of worship through urban renewal eminent domain.
Ultimately, given the horrendously unfair nature of eminent domain and urban renewal law in New York State, the church could not prevail in court. However, St. Luke’s was able to receive $160,000 from the Town of North Hempstead, which has helped to pay its debts and the rent it pays currently for the basement meeting room it uses. The mortgage is still due.
It is not clear why Corbin has not been charged with extortion or bribery. Perhaps there is insufficient evidence yet or perhaps investigators and prosecutors hope to secure his testimony against others involved in the New Cassel Revitalization Project, which has taken many properties by eminent domain flipping them over to developers of apartments, commercial space, a bank and a pharmacy.
The last rally that St. Luke’s and the Libertarian Party (myself, Audrey Capozzi and Estelle Edwards) held at short notice to protest the eminent domain was a bitter cold day while the perpetrators celebrated this outrage which involved federal, state, county and town funds. Speaking at the other side’s event were Senator Hillary Clinton, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, Supervisor Jon Kaiman, and of course, Nassau County Legislator Roger Corbin. All Democrats, but Republicans were silent both in North Hempstead and Nassau County. Where the Republicans are in power such as the Town of Hempstead in Roosevelt they do the same things.
As a Libertarian, I regard all of this is as legalized theft violating property rights, even if it is supposedly for revitalization of the commmunity. We see the unjust eminent domain law at work now in the Atlantic Yards scheme in Brooklyn to benefit developer Bruce Ratner, the Willets Point scheme and the New York Times headquarters scheme I dubbed Time$cam. Corbin was charged with a crime but his bipartisan colleagues stand guilty of legalized theft. -30-
About the author: Richard Cooper is an international trade executive with a manufacturing firm on Long Island, New York, USA. He is active in the Libertarian Party on eminent domain and other issues. He was chair of the Libertarian Party of New York www.ny.lp.org.
Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Abuse Scheme Confronts Reality http://groundreport.com/articles.php?id=2857809
Presidential Candidate Defended Black Church Dispossessed By Eminent Domain http://groundreport.com/articles.php?id=2853645
http://groundreport.com/articles.php?id=2873019 Government Pirates Are Not Jack Sparrows