I know he’s hard for a non-NYer to figure out Trump. I have had family in Queens and still maintain lots of friends in Manhattan and Brooklyn. So I understand more than most people about how the thinking goes on there.
Trump, like most NYC landlords have their own priorities and views apart from a blanket interpretation of law.
For example, a property owner (a person with claim of title) is treated differently than tenants (with no claim of title).
Trump is not alone in having a hardline view of tenements and ironically owners of tenement buildings agree with Trump and other owners of real estate. The reason is awful tenements are awful for a reason and most everytime it is because of rent control and laws that favor tenant rights.
When an owner of a tenement building is regulated by rent control or by overreaching tenant rights, that owner cannot easily force a tenant out, and importantly they cannot sell.
Such tenement building owners will in most every case support eminent domain actions because there is no other recourse.
In California, the Howard Jarvis Proposition 13 initiative was created because of rent control causing tenement owners to seek unintended bankruptcy. The anti-tenant sentiment is widespread among owners across the country when it comes to private property.
Now the case of a property owner is different. Such a person has title to the property whereas a tenant has no title.
This is an important distinction. Trump like most NY property owners I know of is someone who detests tenants that falsely claim some sort of right to the buildings they occupy, even where the true owner has given up and is seen to support NY attitudes like Trump’s. You have to live in these settings to fully appreciate the views by owners.
In the case of the woman in NJ who did not want to sell, Trump being respectful of property ownership offered her twice her previous offer. This offer is a telltale sign of respect for private property owners. Trump was, without a doubt, frustrated when his generous offer was turned down. But he is not the kind to have sought ways of booting her from her home. If she was a tenant, he most assuredly would have sought any and all means to turn her out.
Trump has a track record of helping needful people avoid foreclosure. He has said he has a big heart and his record shows it is true. But people facing foreclosure are owners, not tenants.
Back to the awful tenement buildings under control by the tenants themselves, Trump envisaged the tearing down of those tenement buildings and turning out the tenants as beneficial to all. I’m not sure of the exact tenement buildings that Stossel referred to, but there is a history of one tenement slum owner (slum because of rent-control and absurd tenant rights) that wanted to sell to Trump but could only do so if he agreed to let an eminent domain action proceed.
So in at least one case it was owners and prospective buyers against tenants and the City of New York’s Department of Human Rights. Trump was not successful in that action.
Trump pointed out correctly the hypocrisy of the GOP being so supportive of the Keystone Pipeline proceeding under eminent domain even though the pipeline is in private hands. It is not a public works project.
I can understand the lack of understanding and confusion about eminent domain, and especially confusion about Donald Trump under a broad interpretation of eminent domain. He is a good guy and he supports values for property owners. On the other hand, he is willing to talk openly about using eminent domain against awful tenement buildings and the awful tenants that occupy them.
So that’s my view for what it’s worth. One can take it or leave it. It’s certainly not a clean and clear subject.