Friday, March 25, 2011
"Battle for Brooklyn," the documentary film about the Atlantic Yards Project (our previous AY posts are available here) in Brooklyn, NY, will make its world premier at the prestigious Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in the World Showcase program on April 30, 2011 at 7:00 PM in Toronto. A sneak peak screening of the film premiered at the ALI-ABA Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation course in Coral Gables, FL February 16 and 18, 2011. (See our previous post about the screening here. See also Robert Thomas's interview with RUMUR's Michael Gallinsky after the Feb. 18 ALI-ABA screening here.)
"Battle for Brooklyn" (formerly "Battle of Brooklyn") captures a community's seven-year fight to stop the use of eminent domain to take their homes and businesses for the construction of a mixed-use development including a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets and commercial towers. The film is a compelling story about the abuse of eminent domain and how this awesome power intended for the public good can destroy a community.
About the film: BATTLE for BROOKLYN
The film is a close-range look at the fight to stop condemnation waged by property owners and residents living in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards Project, a massive real estate development proposal to build 16 skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets in the heart of Brooklyn.
Daniel Goldstein's apartment sits at what would be center court of the new arena. He is dragged into the fight because he simply can't believe that the government should use the power of Eminent Domain to take his property and hand it off to a private developer. He and others form a community activist group to develop alternative plans to the proposal and to expose misconceptions about the project in the media. Going up against the largest publicly traded real estate developer in the U.S., a mayor, and Russian oligarch (all billionaires), he wages an all out battle to stop the project and takes his case to the State's highest court of law.
Along the way, Daniel falls in love, gets married and starts a family. Compiled from almost 500 hours of footage, Battle for Brooklyn is an epic tale of how far people will go to fight for what they believe in.
You can view the trailer at rumur.com/battle
About The Filmmakers
As an award-winning multimedia production studio, RUMUR Inc, has collaborated with such high profile clients as HBO, A&E, IFC, PBS, AOL, The New York Times, The New York Public Library and the NYC Department of Education to produce feature films, mini-series, industrial commercials, and web applications. Previous films have been short-listed for Academy Award consideration.
RUMUR has a reputation for producing and distributing provocative documentaries that both garner critical acclaim and have the power to move people to action. Battle of Brooklyn will be the centerpiece of a campaign to re-examine state laws regarding eminent domain and property rights.
For more information visit rumur.com/about
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference began in 2004 at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary. Annually the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference awards the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize to an individual whose work has advanced the cause of property rights and has contributed to the overall awareness of the important role property rights occupy in the broader scheme of individual liberty.
The Brigham–Kanner Property Rights Prize is named in recognition of Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner for their lifetime contributions to private property rights, their efforts to advance pertinent constitutional protections of property and their accomplishments in preserving the important role that private property plays in protecting individual and civil rights. Toby Prince Brigham is a founding partner of Brigham Moore in Florida and has practiced eminent domain and property rights law for more than 40 years. Gideon Kanner is professor of law emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and is currently Of Counsel at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in California. This year’s prize recipient is Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference is renowned for its outstanding panel discussions and for bringing together the bench, bar, and academics on its panels. The Conference is notable for its encouragement of active participation from the audience through its question and answer segments with each of the panels. This is the Conference’s inaugural year abroad and will be hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing.The theme for the 2011 conference is "Comparative Property Rights." Panel topics will focus on property as an instrument of social policy, property as an economic institution, property rights and the environment, a roundtable discussion on the future of property rights as well as a discussion of the important property rights decisions of Justice O'Connor's judicial career. Panelists include the seven previous recipients of the Brigham-Kanner Prize, American property rights scholars and attorneys as well as legal scholars from Tsinghua University and throughout China.
Visit www.bkconference.com for more details regarding the panel topics, speakers and activities planned for the 2011 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference in Beijing. The William & Mary Alumni Committee is planning a post-conference tour of China and Hong Kong. For more information about the post-conference tour click here. See our previous posts about the conference here.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
By Michael Rikon* (reprinted with the permission of the author)
According to an article published February 20, 2011, in Crain’s internet magazine, NewYorkbusiness.com, “Holdouts dig in at Willets Point”, the local business owners are fighting City efforts to turn the 62 acre area into a mixed-use development.
Crain’s isn’t the first to use the pejorative term “holdouts”. In an internet article dated February 13, 2011, WNYC News issued an article titled “City warns Holdouts in Queens of Eminent Domain proceedings.”
This is truly remarkable. What makes it truly remarkable is the concept that a property owner or business owner would be considered a “holdout” for refusing to sell to the City of New York.
Can the reporters who write these articles be so naïve as to the power of eminent domain inherent in the City? Has anyone taken the time to explore the facts and circumstances of the history of this disgraceful proceeding?
Let us set forth the facts of this abusive use of the power of eminent domain. The Council of the City of New York adopted Resolution No. 1759 on December 18, 2008.
This Resolution with other related Resolutions adopted the Willets Point Urban Renewal Area. The Resolution approved the Urban Renewal Plan, the Resolution states, “the Plan requires the acquisition and subsequent disposition of property within the Willets Point Urban Renewal Area.” This is the predicate authorization to condemn.
Although the City is holding a statutorily required public hearing under Article 2 of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law, make no mistake, the authorization for the proposed condemnation is the City Council’s Resolution adopted in 2008.
When the City Council authorizes acquisition of private property, the City is required to comply with the Eminent Domain Procedure Law. That law requires the appraisal of the properties to be acquired and the written offer of an amount that represents 100% of the highest approved appraisal.
This was not done in Willets Point. What was accomplished was the purchase of the properties of the largest owners on extraordinary terms including land to relocate to. And, the ability to stay put even after the condemnation. The City has not made good faith offers to the small owners.
The Eminent Domain Procedure Law requires equal treatment to all property owners. So why does the largest condemning authority in the country chose to ignore the law? Because it is politically convenient. It is no secret that those owners who obtained favorable deals were also those that supported members of the City Council that wrote an “adamant opposition” letter signed by 29 members to prevent the project’s approval. But the Project was approved after the negotiated agreements were made.
The City’s improper conduct in ignoring the law’s requirement of written offers based on fair market appraisals and equal treatment to all property owners is inexcusable. The law was adopted to prevent corruption and special deals.
Indeed, the very scheduling of the Eminent Domain Hearing when the City knows it cannot proceed because it cannot build without ramps to the Van Wyck Expressway is just another improper move to force deals.
Condemnation is a very significant power. It enables a condemnor to forcibly take title to someone’s land or business.
If this awesome power is to be used by the government, it must be used carefully, legally and only when necessary.
Americans have property rights which are guaranteed by our constitutions.
And, remember what Alexander Hamilton said at the Philadelphia Convention, “the security of property” is one of the “great obj(ects) of Gov(ernment)” 1 Record of the Federal Convention of 1787, P. 302. Perhaps Alexander Hamilton was also a “holdout”.
*Disclosure: Michael Rikon of Goldstein, Rikon and Rikon PC, New York, NY is an eminent domain attorney affiliated with the Owners' Counsel of America. Mr. Rikon represents Willets Point United, Inc. and individual property owners located within the footprint of the Willets Point Urban Renewal Plan. These owners will lose their private properties and businesses to eminent domain if the City moves forward with the proposed condemnation.