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$100 land sale rubs reader wrong After watching a...

April 09, 2003

$100 land sale rubs reader wrong

After watching a recent council gigglefest, I was struck that when

it comes to the plight of tenants and low-income residents here, our

local sultans have no problem preaching the bitter necessities of the

free market.

But when well-heeled landlords and developers come down to feed at

the public trough, we can't do enough to make life more comfortable

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for them. When it comes to the operation of local government

nowadays, it's clearly a case of socialism for the rich, and free

enterprise for the poor.

What we saw at a Redevelopment Agency meeting was clearly a

blatant case of corporate welfare. It's bad enough our council has

spent almost $10 million assembling various downtown properties in a

dubious "redevelopment" scheme. It's awful when they decide to "sell"

valuable land to a local developer for a mere $100. But when council

members respond to reasonable criticisms of the deal by smugly

claiming these future landlords were "willing" to "step up to the

plate" on the project -- as if the Cusumanos are doing us all a favor

by accepting the land for a 'C' note -- one doesn't know whether to

laugh, cry or commit suicide.

It's insane to throw away good money after a bad idea; this

dubious project only proves how perversely "redevelopment" can be

manipulated by the wrong people. Whoever said we need the kind of

downtown project our council claims is the reason for the giveaway in

the first place? Did it ever occur to them that the difficulty other

developers had in placing projects there might indicate the

problematic nature of the core idea itself?

There's nothing wrong with letting a downtown parcel lie fallow

until economic conditions improve enough to the point where other

developers might also be "willing" to take on a project. The funniest

moment of the evening came when a spokesman for the deal claimed that

with financial conditions as they are, combined with the specific use

requirements of the city, the value of the land in question was only

about $100 anyway.

Oh, yeah? And we're supposed to take these people seriously? The

folks who are laughing the most are doing it all the way to the bank.

And thanks to this council, the rest of us won't be joining them

soon.

JIM CARLILE

Burbank

Hunting and hillsides don't mix

In this day of dwindling habitats for our precious wildlife, the

answer is not to appease sportsmen who find some sick pleasure in the

taking of life. Is it not enough that we have seen the Burbank hills

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