Friday, August 28, 2009

Englewood, NJ v Libya, Round One

From the Associagted Press:
"If the U.S. State Department won't shut this down, we will," Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said. "New Jersey's governor, its two U.S. senators and its U.S. congressmen are all on board on this."

Libyan intelligence is widely believed to have orchestrated the 1988 attack on Pan American flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed all 259 aboard — including 38 people from New Jersey. Gadhafi, who has worked to try to rehabilitate his image in recent years, provoked a backlash last week by helping secure the release of the only man arrested in the bombing from a Scottish prison. Television cameras captured Gadhafi giving Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted bomber, a warm greeting as a cheering crowd welcomed him back to Libya.

Already, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, U.S. senators and representatives from New York and New Jersey have protested Gadhafi's plan to stay at the sprawling estate in the upscale community when he addresses the UN next month. Gadhafi is expected to pitch a ceremonial Bedouin-style tent on the grounds, after a request to erect it in Manhattan's Central Park was rejected, according to officials.

The Libyan government, which bought the property in 1982, is renovating the property extensively. Wildes said mansion workers have violated numerous city ordinances by tearing down trees and part of a neighboring fence and expanding the mansion's pool without proper permits. He said they may also have violated state environmental rules by encroaching upon a stream that runs through the 5-acre property.

The city previously sought to slow the renovation via a stop work order, which allowed the imposition of fines. The Libyans have ignored the order. The injunction will allow Wildes to send Englewood police onto the property to halt work. The city plans request an injunction Friday from Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo. Wildes said he expects a decision from Contillo in the next few days.

U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, whose district includes Englewood, has promised there will be "hell to pay" if the U.S. State Department lets Gadhafi stay in Englewood.