Rent Control

From: larry.r.trout
Rent Control

'The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of New York City's rent regulations. As is customary, the court's order gave no reasons, and there were no noted dissents.

The case was brought by James D. Harmon Jr. and Jeanne Harmon, the owners of a five-story brownstone on West 76th Street near Central Park. They live on the lower floors and rent out six apartments, two to a floor, above them.

Three of the apartments are subject to New York's rent-stabilization regulations, meaning that the government sets the maximum permissible rent increases and generally allows tenants to renew their leases indefinitely. The Harmons say the rent-stabilized tenants pay rents about 60 percent below the market rate.

The Harmons said that forcing them to accept below-market rents amounted to an unconstitutional taking of their property. The regulations subjected them, they told the Supreme Court, to the "unconstitutional burden of involuntarily and permanently renting a part of their residence to tenant-strangers whom the Harmons must subsidize for the rest of their lives."

The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation." The Supreme Court has said that government regulation of private property can be "so onerous that its effect is tantamount to a direct appropriation or ouster."

But the court has upheld rent regulations, most recently in a unanimous ruling in a 1992 case concerning a mobile-home park in Escondido, Calif. The justices reasoned that regulation of the terms of a lease did not amount to the sort of complete government takeover of property that is barred by the takings clause.

Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled against the Harmons. In an unsigned summary order, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the couple knew what they were getting into when they acquired the building.

The panel added that the couple retained important rights under the regulations: they could in some circumstances reclaim the apartments for their own use; they could demolish the building so long as they did not replace it with housing; and they could "evict an unsatisfactory tenant."

All of that meant, the panel said, that the city's regulations did not amount to "permanent physical occupation of the Harmons' property."

New York City's rent regulations cover almost half of the city's roughly 2.2 million rental housing units. (Another million units are occupied by their owners.)

Last month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill extending the regulations for another three years by re-declaring a state of housing emergency. The emergency has been in effect for more than 40 years.'



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Fwd: Afghanistan hero

From: <larry.r.trout

'There's multitasking. And then there's extreme, hair-raising multitasking, which is what Air Force Capt. Barry F. Crawford Jr. accomplished in Afghanistan to earn the military's second-highest honor.

Much of what Crawford did wasn't even his job to do

Crawford and Army special forces, who were mentoring Afghan commandos, were on a mission to move through a local village, search houses for weapons and meet local residents, "just trying to talk to them and see what's going on, gather some intelligence," he said. They were told the village was sympathetic to the Taliban and to expect 10 to 15 fighters in the region.

But someone had tipped off insurgents and the mission quickly turned into what Crawford called "a battle of survival."

The U.S. and Afghan troops found the village largely empty but laced with tunnels, and "each house was like a little fortress in itself (fitted with) firing ports," Crawford said.

Eventually more than 100 insurgents converged on the area.

"Every alleyway, every open area that we moved through ... they knew we were there and they were able to shoot down into our positions," Crawford said. One of his buddies referred to it as shooting fish in a barrel.

By time the coalition forces got out of the village and were airlifted to safety, the Air Force says, 80 insurgents were dead, as were two Afghan government commandos.

Three wounded Afghans soldiers survived after being evacuated, including two put on the helicopter that Crawford had helped bring in.

"Capt. Crawford took decisive action to save the lives" of the wounded Afghan soldiers and evacuate the Afghans killed, the citation said.

No U.S. troops were seriously injured.'


'The team of approximately 100 personnel flew into the steep mountains of Laghman Province early May 4, 2010. As soon as they were on the ground, they heard enemy chatter on the radios. Then, within 30 minutes, they found a substantial weapons cache inside the village. The enemy force was apparently dug in to defensive positions and just waiting for the sun to rise before beginning their assault on the Coalition Force.

"As soon as the sun came up, we started taking extremely heavy enemy fire," Crawford said in an interview. "Our placement in the middle of the village, and the enemy's superior fighting positions, required us to 'run the gauntlet' of enemy fire no matter where we were in the valley."

Enemy fighters were expertly using sniper and medium machine-gun fire to target the friendly force as insurgents were closing in on their location from all sides. As the force closed in, a high-volume of machine-gun and sniper fire initially wounded five commandos.

"Recognizing that the wounded Afghan soldiers would die without evacuation to definitive care, Captain Crawford took decisive action and ran out into the open in an effort to guide the [medical evacuation] helicopter to the landing zone," according to the citation. "Once the pilot had eyes on his position, Crawford remained exposed, despite having one of his radio antennas shot off mere inches from his face.

"Acting without hesitation, Crawford then bounded across open terrain, engaging enemy positions with his assault rifle and called in AH-64 strafe attacks to defeat the ambush."

When the weather cleared, the team moved along the steep terrain. To allow his team to freely move in the open and prevent further casualties, Crawford coordinated the delivery of danger-close AH-64 Apache Hellfire missiles, and 500- and 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs from F-15E Strike Eagles.

"Everyone there was on task and wanted to crush the enemy," Crawford said. "My teammates went above and beyond, and everyone's efforts really reenergized the entire assault force's morale."

As the U.S. and Afghan commandos left the burned-out village, Crawford's team once again came under attack. Stuck in an open, narrow valley with 300- to 500-foot sheer mountain cliffs around them, the team was forced to hold their position in poor weather conditions.

With the enemy merely 150 meters away, Crawford repeatedly called for danger-close 30 mm strafing, and rocket attacks from AH-64 Apaches overhead. To mark the enemy locations, Crawford ran into the open to engage the enemy while continuing to direct Apache airstrikes.

"The Apaches were our lifeline," Crawford said. "They were consistently engaging. It was a battle of survival for us, and they unleashed hell on the enemy."

The original mission was to collect intelligence from a remote village sympathetic to the Taliban. However, the village had been burned prior to their arrival. Their mission quickly turned into a battle for survival, which was remarkably successful. The SOF team suffered two Afghan Commando casualties, but more than 80 insurgents were killed during the engagement, including three high-ranking enemy commanders.'


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