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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mosque Imam A New Jersey Slumlord, Developer A Deadbeat John

Do as I say, not as I do.

The news media is starting to do its job.  This morning's Bergen Record reports that Ground Zero mosque imam Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan have owned at least one rundown "slum-like" apartment building in an impoverished urban section of Hudson County, NJ and have claimed financial difficulties to excuse their failure to make basic building repairs.   Yet these are the same people travelling internationally to raise funds for the mosque project.
Isn't there a term, used by the press, to characterize building owners who neglect their properties and have tenants living in rundown conditions?  Does the term "slumlord" ring a bell?
These reports -- as well as a New York Post report that developer (or more probably, front man) Sharif El-Gamal is a tax deadbeat and an earlier New York Daily News report about the supposedly waiter-turned-developer-wunderkind El-Gamal  being a patronizer of prostitutes, among other things -- are alarming.  

These reports also raise questions about the State Department's "vetting" process of Rauf -- a man whose travel abroad it recently funded -- and why elected officials such as New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg are supporting this project...and trampling on the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state.

In all probability, this is more a symptom of government incompetence more than it is a sign of some nefarious government-assisted conspiracy to turn America into a Shariah-run land.  I will not address the hysterics who populate the blogosphere (idiotosphere?).

One wonders whether there are state or federal prosecutors who are already planning to issue subpoenas to look at, among other things, loan applications and other applications for government grant monies.  Businesspeople and investors who show no regard for the rules run a serious risk of criminal investigation, prosecution and incarceration. 
As a lawyer who has seen one too many two-bit huckster-landlords try poverty to avoid court judgments -- even in small claims court -- this is a rehash of the same tired "M.O." from the owners of buildings in impoverished urban areas who know they can take advantage of the poor and uneducated. 

These press reports indicate the Ground Zero mosque backers are just playing another shell game -- or three-card monte, trying to hide the pea -- in the bazaar of New York and international politics.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and president of Eric Dixon LLC.  He handles the representation of individuals and small businesses on various legal matters including government investigations, internal investigations, due diligence and background checks, strategic consulting and other advice.   

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