Machiavelli never had the chutzpah displayed regularly by NYU and Columbia, the two universities that basically own this town and, wearing a mask of virtue and higher learning, raze culture wherever they go in the name of profit.
Columbia's latest crime: the stomping of a neighborhood book store which has served Morningside Heights for 50 years. Columbia is landlord to Morningside Bookshop. Owners Peter Soter and his wife, Amelia Linden, have been forced to close, as they owe $158,000 in back rent.
Now $158,000 is not nothing—to a small book shop. It is, however, next to nothing to a money-making behemoth like Columbia. A spokesman for Columbia said, "We did everything we could to help them." But is that actually honest? In recent years, through an abuse of eminent domain, the City has helped claim for the university millions upon millions of dollars worth of property. In exchange, couldn't the school give a little something back to the community? How about forgiving that rent? How about not charging them so high a monthly rent in the first place? About 50 neighbors also have offered Mr. Soter at least $68,000 in unsolicited donations to help pay the rent to keep the store open. But Columbia can't do anything in terms of money?