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ACORN's Flagrant Eminent Domain Abuse

Posted on November 26 2009 3:00 pm
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“A man’s home is his castle,” Glenn Beck said on his TV show Wednesday. “A man’s home is the shelter from the storm. It’s been decorated by you, has your pictures. It is yours.”

But the poorest of the poor don’t have money to go against huge companies that want to take their homes for redevelopment projects, he said. The government, however, is happy to confiscate private property if it thinks doing so will bring in extra tax revenue.

He took the case of the Atlantic Yards project slated for Brooklyn, New York. “It’s about families that want to keep their homes — they don’t have any desire to move — but there are ton of tax dollars to be made. This isn’t about the developer. This is about the government getting tax dollars,” he said.

Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Companies, LLC, a megabucks real estate development firm, wants to move forward with the ambitious project.

Beck makes a good case that the families facing eviction to make way for the taxpayer-subsidized 22-acre mixed-use project are getting the shaft. The sprawling $4.9 billion complex would be built in the neighborhood of Prospect Heights and would include the Barclays Center, a proposed sports arena that would become the new home of the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

Curiously, Beck left out the ACORN connection.

The relentlessly sanctimonious radical advocacy group-cum-organized crime syndicate has become the leading cheerleader for the real estate development that is slated to use eminent domain to remove the poor people it claims to represent.

ACORN, which has long prided itself on fighting the so-called gentrification of neighborhoods as rising property values force the poor to move, has taken money from the project’s developer and signed a binding agreement forcing it to stand behind the project no matter what.

In the world of corporate shakedowns it is commonplace for liberal activist groups to use the money they extract from a supposed “donor” to fund operations, but it is very unusual for a group to take money in exchange for betraying those it is supposed to represent.

But the far-left group is doing precisely that.

In 2005, ACORN signed an agreement with Forest City Ratner. In exchange for ACORN’s support, the developer agreed to set aside 50% of the expected 4,500 rental housing units for “affordable housing.”

According to documents posted online by former ACORN employee Anita MonCrief, ACORN also accepted a bailout from the developer consisting of a $1 million loan and $500,000 in donations. The loan agreement stipulated that $500,000 would be paid to ACORN upon signing and a further $500,000 would be paid out on Oct. 1, 2008. A promissory note provided that interest would accrue at the rate of 4.58% with a final balloon payment of $100,000 due on May 31, 2011.

Forest City Ratner indicated in a letter to ACORN that it would disburse $500,000 in grants but the money wouldn’t go to ACORN directly. The grants were to be made to the ACORN Institute, one of ACORN’s 100-plus tax-exempt nonprofit affiliates.

Whether the money will stay at the ACORN Institute, which trains aspiring community organizers, is anyone’s guess. ACORN routinely shuffles cash around its network. Its nebulous legal status and opaque corporate structure allow it to keep its activities –including money laundering– largely hidden from public view.

Beck also didn’t dig into the background of developer Bruce Ratner, who comes from a family chock full of communists and radicals. Bruce’s sister Ellen is a far-left commentator on National Public Radio and his Che Guevara-loving pro-terrorist brother, Michael, is president of the communist Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Center for Constitutional Rights also happens to be representing ACORN in its meritless “bill of attainder” suit in which ACORN argues its so-called rights have been violated because Congress imposed a ban on federal funding for the group. The ban, which is opposed by one of ACORN’s key political allies Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),  is set to expire Dec. 18 after which ACORN will be free once again to feed at the taxpayer trough.

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