All of the self-righteous bullying over the mosque, and on the other hand, all of the fawning in much of the press, has come to this.
Con Edison wants a judge to green-light the eviction of the would-be developer of the controversial mosque near Ground Zero — because, the utility claims, he doesn’t have a prayer of paying the $1.7 million that he owes in back rent.
At a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court, Con Ed lawyer Scott Mollen yesterday portrayed Sharif el-Gamal as a deadbeat slumlord and far too cash-strapped to pay back what he owes.
“They’re $1.7 million in arrears, and they have not come close to demonstrating they have the ability” to pay up on the rent at 51 Park Place, Mollen told Justice Richard Braun.
Mollen asked the judge to lift a restraining order barring Con Ed from booting Gamal from the site.
Gamal’s lawyer, Matthew Hearle, insisted that his client “has the means” to pay but hasn’t done so because he is challenging Con Ed’s “inflated” figures.
Con Ed owns a former substation on the western half of the property, and the mosque developers own a five-story building on the eastern half. The buildings, which used to be connected years ago, at one time housed a Burlington Coat Factory store.
Gamal’s Park51 leased the substation with an eye toward buying it. It would then knock down both buildings to build a mosque and community center.
More: "Con Ed Wants Ground Zero Mosque Out," from My FoxNY, November 18 (thanks to Infidel Task Force):
NEW YORK -- Con Edison wants a judge to give it the green light to evict the would-be developer of a controversial community center and mosque near Ground Zero, arguing he does not have a prayer of paying the $1.7 million he owes in back rent.
At a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday, Con Ed lawyer Scott Mollen portrayed Sharif el-Gamal as a deadbeat slumlord who is far too cash-strapped to pay back all the money he owes the utility.
"They're $1.7 million in arrears, and they have not come close to demonstrating they have the ability" to pay up on the rent at 51 Park Place, Mollen told Justice Richard Braun.
Mollen was trying to convince the judge to lift a restraining order barring Con Ed from giving Gamal the boot from the site.
The lawyer noted that Gamal is currently being sued by four banks for failing to pay loan guarantees, and also owes $230,000 in back real estate taxes -- and he also has not paid up on a $30,000 power bill.
He said another indication of Gamal's money woes is that three of the buildings he owns currently have 754 building code violations, 80 percent of which are for "extremely hazardous" or "hazardous" conditions. If Gamal had the money, Mollen suggested, he would simply pay to fix the problems.
"There's a mountain of evidence that shows a person in significant financial distress," Mollen said.
Gamal's lawyer, Mattthew Hearle, said his client "has the means" to pay the rent, but they believe the amount is tremendously overinflated and they plan on challenging the utility's figures. They maintain the actual back rent they owe is closer to $250,000.
Con Ed owns a former substation on the western half of the property, at 51 Park Place, and the mosque developers own a five-story building on the eastern half.
The buildings were connected years ago and used to house a Burlington Coat Factory store. Gamal's Park51, which had been leasing the substation from Con Ed with an eye toward buying it, wants the two buildings so it can knock both down and build a $100 million, 15-story community center.
After years of stalled lease negotiations, Con Ed raised the rent from $2,750 a month, a rate set in 1972, to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008. The judge said he would rule on Con Ed's request at a later date.