Tuesday, November 24, 2009

`COLUMBIAGATE': Is Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Campus Expansion Project Illegal?--Part 13

In a January 21, 2009 petition to the First Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, a New York City civil liberties lawyer named Norman Siegel presented the legal case against New York State’s Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] allowing the Columbia University Administration to move forward on its 17-acre campus expansion project in the West Harlem-Manhattanville neighborhood, just north of West 125th Street. (See below for parts 1 to 12)

According Siegel’s January 21, 2009 petition:

“There is no legal precedent recognizing private institutions of higher education as a civic facility, or an entity carrying out a community, municipal, public service, or other civic purpose. The term `civic’ implies use and participation of the public, and has heretofore required at least use by invitees from the public.

“A private university, with selective admission, charging high tuition, and offering its graduates valuable credentials for their private advantage, cannot qualify as a civic facility or provider of a civic purpose. If it did, there is no project sought by or benefiting…any land hungry private university that would not also qualify as a `civic purpose.’.

“In so far as `educational’ services or purposes can constitute civic purposes, the education must be for public education, open to the public, and subject to public governance.

“Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC]’s finding of need for educational facilities in New York City and State is made in bad faith, and without rational basis, for it has not established any public duty to provide private university facilities…”

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