Rampell: New York should seize Trump Tower
Washington Post opinion columnist Catherine Rampell says New York should use eminent domain to seize Trump Tower.
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Officers wielding gigantic guns guard Trump Tower, where President-elect Donald Trump conducts all transition business, and soon lots of presidential business, too. Shoppers patronizing the stores, cafes or public gardens inside must endure layers of security screening. Streets and sidewalks are barricaded; traffic is snarled; and costumed buskers milk money from the looky-loos obstructing the entrances to Gucci and Tiffany.
The challenges of securing this 58-story building in a high-density neighborhood will, by Inauguration Day alone, drain $35 million of local taxpayer money. Who knows the additional costs to commerce and property values?
The feds have thus far been stingy about footing the bill. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a solution that should warm the cockles of the president-elect’s heart: New York should use eminent domain to seize Trump Tower…
Trump loves eminent domain, especially this ruling. He thinks it’s wonderful. And there’s no question why: Throughout his career, Trump has lobbied governments to seize properties from those who refuse to sell when he wants to build amusement parks, golf courses, office buildings and parking lots on their land. He believes expansive use of eminent domain is necessary to promote economic growth and “beautification,” and that it’s even a good deal for property owners who don’t want to sell.
“When eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune,” he has declared…
As Trump well knows, New York has one of the most expansive eminent domain laws in the country, and has condemned property as “blighted” for fairly flimsy reasons.
“The statutory language is so elastic, you can fit almost anything into it,” says Jeffrey Rowes, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. (The institute often represents property owners in eminent domain actions, including an Atlantic City woman who fought efforts to turn her home into a limousine parking lot for Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.)
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