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LaGrasse Testifies Before Both NYS Senate and Assembly

The New York State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, chaired by Sen. Jim Alesi (R, Monroe County) invited Carol LaGrasse to testify on October 18, 2005 before a hearing at the Legislative Office Building on eminent domain in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London. LaGrasse testified that the great City of New York was built and new skyscrapers replaced the earlier structures without the use of eminent domain for economic development. “Holdouts,” which were sometimes part of the construction picture, did not hold back the city. Eminent domain should not be used to replace one privately owned property with another privately owned property, with no exceptions, whether for any definition of blight or for public health and safety, LaGrasse said. The hearing was co-chaired by Sen. Elizabeth O’C. Little (R, Queensbury).
“Inside Albany” interviewed LaGrasse just prior to the Senate hearing, and broadcast the interview in a program about eminent domain over Public Television.

On November 1, 2005, Carol LaGrasse testified at the invitation of the Assembly Judiciary Committee before a joint hearing in the Legislative Office Building. Once again, there were seven invited witnesses to testify on the use of eminent domain, including issues raised by the Supreme Court decision. John Radliff, representing the New York Farm Bureau, and LaGrasse stood alone against the use of eminent domain for economic development against such witnesses as Jeff Haber of the New York State Association of Towns and Peter Byrnes of the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. Richard L. Brodsky, who co-chaired the hearing, questioned LaGrasse at length about the logic of prohibiting all use of eminent domain to transfer private property to another private party. The hearing was presided over by four committee chairs: Helene E. Weinstein—Judiciary; Mr. Brodsky—Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Robert K. Sweeney—Local Government; and RoAnn M. Destito—Governmental Operations. LaGrasse also appeared on the “Inside Albany” program about this hearing, which was re-broadcast February 26.

The invitations to testify were the culmination of a great number of requests for interviews by newspaper, radio and web media after the Kelo decision. The most interesting interview was during the afternoon the day after the decision was announced, answering e-mailed questions for the blog of the Washington Post about the ruling for one and one half hour.

Lise Bang-Jensen of “Inside Albany” interviews Carol LaGrasse at the October 18 Senate hearing on eminent domain for their television program, which was broadcast over Public Television the following Sunday. Photo: Peter J. LaGrasse

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