An infamous fortune cookie reads "May you live in interesting times." And indeed, all who live in this area of Prospect Heights do. A threat of a sports arena and condemnation of a Brooklyn neighborhood races to beat a December 31st IRS deadline. Within this footprint of turmoil is Freddy's Bar, home of Knit PH and meeting place of numerous activist groups that oppose the private developer, Bruce Ratner, and the use of eminent domain
On December 3rd 2009, Columbia University lost the right to use eminent domain to expand into Harlem. The state appellate court ruled that the seizure of the Manhattanville neighborhood to benefit a private interest, Columbia, was illegal. The resounding question is "Why is this state ruling not applied to Atlantic Yards? My question is "How much did it cost to buy a judge?
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Daniel Goldstein updated us on a fraudulent creation of a state entity called the Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation (BALDC). They were recently created to bypass all normal channels of state review in order to fund Atlantic Yards' tax-exempt bonds. Many legal analysts have called this shadowy move "highly illegal."
Senator Bill Perkins has asked Gov. Paterson to reconsider his approval or face a law suit. The buzz — Atlantic Yards Bonds may be worthless since hey were backed by funds that they were not allowed to issue. Moody's already gave the bonds a low rating, "Baa3," just one cut above a junk bond. Although the bonds sold well at a low interest rate, I'm reminded of the "sub-prime" failure.
Kelo v. City of New London" — Drug giant Pfizer evoked eminent domain and razed an entire New London neighborhood to the ground calling it blighted. Susette Kelo, a single mother, fought hard and lost. Her property was seized and plowed under as Pfizer promised the creation thousands of permanent jobs and tax revenue for the state of Connecticut. But... within two years and a recession, Pfizer moved away leaving behind the city’s biggest empty office complex and acres barren land. In the wake of a recession this drug giants fell hard and left New London in destruction. Yet no one was accountable — so much lost over empty promises.
Later on that evening, Stephanie called to report that Freddy's was packed in both rooms, I joined her for a beer. Bartender Mike said a few hundred patrons flowed in and out once the sun had set. They came for a pre-holiday beer at their favorite watering hole and express support. Black, white, brown, mixed, young, old, religious, agnostic, hippies, hipsters, lawyers, work-a-day folk — Freddy's does have a cross-cultural crowd. How will all this go down in history, loudly or unsung? Who can say, but Freddy's Bar owner Frank Yost has always said "Never without a fight."