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It has just been announced that the owners of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan where the Occupy Wall Street protestors have set up camp have deferred their action to remove the protestors on the spurious grounds that they were making a mess.

Given the history of New York landlords to be stick wielding, heavy handed, ball busting, hard men, this all seems strange.  A victory at Zuccotti Park certainly, but why?  The answer is interesting and it’s not just that the protestors whipped round with a duster and a black bag to pick up the pizza boxes before mummy came home.

Zuccotti Park is a privately owned plaza, part of the enormous portfolio of land in New York owned by Brookfield Properties, which has been allocated for public use twenty four hours a day.  This is not through the blind benevolence of the owners Brookfield Properties.  Rather, they were required by planning regulations to give something back to the city in order to gain the permissions to make certain developments.

Drilling down shows us a lovely depiction of how power and business mix at the highest levels in New York and Washington.  In this case it’s not quite oligarchical but it’s getting damned close.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is a divorced man, who has had a long term relationship with a woman who has become for many the First Lady of New York.  Diana Taylor (who is obliquely described as being of “upper middle class” family) was a former Superintendent of Banks.   She now sits on the Board of Brookfield Properties.  This must place old Mike in a terrific bind!  Surely, you might think, if he allows Brookfield free rein to turf the smelly oiks off the lawn he is open to cries of conflicts of interest.

And Brookfield is stuck in a position of having to maintain good relationships with the people of New York whatever they might wish to do to the protesters.  They own 6.2 million square feet of Midtown and 12.8 million square foot of lower Manhattan.  They have just too much riding on it to piss off New Yorkers.

But if you think this is thin stuff, perhaps I can just throw a couple of other straws into the air.  Brookfield Asset Management has had Joe Biden work for it as a lobbyist.  And following Solyndra, the Obama administration has only just approved a $168.9 million loan guarantee for Brookfield’s foray into renewable power with Granite Reliable Wind Farm, an enterprise owned by Brookfield Asset Management.

All of which only supports those who think they are all in it together.

Copyright David Macadam 2011

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