Veteran journalist David Collins is a columnist at the New London Day in Connecticut.
In a column supposedly published on Sunday but "updated" on Saturday (I'm not kidding), Collins assessed the aftermath of the Supreme Court's odious Kelo v. New London decision in 2005 in reacting to a lengthy story by Charlotte Allen in the February 10 issue of the Weekly Standard. In the process, he betrayed two erroneous mindsets about the case which I believe are common among members of the establishment press. The first is that it was purely a matter of "conservatives" backing property rights against "liberal interventionism." The second is his contention that the total lack of any development in the contested area in the nearly nine years since the Court's decision "is not that compelling beyond New London."
The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.
The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.
It appears that it's not news anywhere but at the Hartford Courant, where "Little Pink House" author Jeff Benedict reported the development on Saturday, and at Reason.com (HT to commenter dscott), which linked to the Courant story earlier today. I suspect it won't get much coverage at other establishment press outlets.
The development is that one of the four Connecticut Supreme Court justices in the 4-3 majority which ruled against Susette Kelo and the New London, Connecticut eminent-domain holdouts, ultimately sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 against the plaintiffs in Kelo vs. New London, has apologized -- quite emptily, as it turns out -- to Ms. Kelo, face to face:
This was going to be a relatively quick post about the good news, as announced by the Castle Coalition in a Tuesday press release after being teased a few days earlier by "Little Pink House" author Jeff Benedict, that a Lifetime Channel movie is going to be made about the Kelo vs. New London eminent domain drama.
Then along came "culture blogger" Alyssa Rosenberg over at the hard-left ThinkProgress.
In June 2005, in its Kelo vs. New London decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut could condemn and take over private property, including that on which Susette Kelo's pink house sat, for a "public purpose" (a redevelopment plan worked up by the city's New London Development Corporation), instead of limiting the Constitution's Fifth Amendment application to "public use," as the Founders intended.
The Supreme Court justices who supported the ruling largely justified it on the basis that "The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it (the city) believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including–but by no means limited to–new jobs and increased tax revenue." Carefully formulated or not, nothing even remotely positive happened after the ruling until very recently, and nothing even remotely resembling decent national media coverage of post-ruling events has ever occurred.
In its infamous June 2005 Kelo vs. New London ruling, a Supreme Court majority allowed the city of New London to seize the properties of holdout homeowners in that city's Fort Trumbull area for the "public purpose" of economic development, not a "public use" as the Constitution's Fifth Amendment requires.
It has been eleven years since the litigation began, six years since the court's ruling, and almost five years since the final settlement between the City and final holdouts the Cristofaro family and Susette Kelo, whose former home now stands elsewhere as a de facto monument to the perils of overbearing government. The land involved is still vacant, and nothing of substance has since happened. In late 2009, Pfizer, the economic linchpin which supposedly drove the city's need to remake the area, announced that it was pulling out of New London.
After several false starts, the city is working with a new developer. As of February of last year, this developer wanted to put rental townhouses in an area where century-old, largely owner-occupied homes once stood.
Early Friday, the New London Day's Kathleen Edgecomb reported a new twist. Wait until you see what the developer wants before going forward.
Some "win." In what Ed Morrissey at Hot Air calls "a fitting coda to a chapter of governmental abuse," pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer is leaving the global research and development headquarters it built in New London just eight years ago.
The significance of the move should resonate nationally, because, as the Washington Examiner explains, Pfizer's original decision to locate in New London was driven by the City's promises to eliminate a nearby neighborhood -- promises which led to the Kelo litigation once residents, including Susette Kelo (pictured above), pushed back:
To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of "public use."The New London Day elaborates, while petulantly managing to avoid any mention of what has clearly become the local four-letter word -- "Kelo" (bold is mine):
Pigs aren't flying, but don't be surprised if you see a few of them sprouting wings.
The Associated Press, which along with the rest of the establishment media has almost totally ignored the aftermath of the awful Kelo v. New London ruling over fours ago, actually carried a mostly fair and balanced piece about where things stand by writer Katie Nelson. Though I've followed the story reasonably closely since the fall of 2005, I learned a few things I didn't know about the City of New London's original lofty promises.
I do have a couple of quibbles, the biggest one being the current headline ("Conn. land vacant 4 years after court OK'd seizure"). It seems to me that the word "Kelo," as in Susette Kelo (pictured at top right), belongs in it. My other problem is that it's a weekend story and will thus be lightly read.
But let me highlight the better paragraphs in Nelson's report:
Four years ago, on June 23, 2005, a 6-3 Supreme Court majority ruled in Kelo v. New London that the New London, Connecticut government could condemn houses in that city's Fort Trumbull area in the name of redevelopment. A bit over a year later, the city settled with the area's final two holdouts, the Cristofaro family and Susette Kelo.
Since then the city has without success tried to engage a developer to build a hotel on part of the now-leveled area, and to put apartments or condos on the rest. Yes, you read that right; they're building residences where residences used to be.
The idea behind the hotel was that it would serve as lodging for visitors to the anticipated U.S. Coast Guard Museum.
Now, as reported in last Friday's New London Day, it seems that even the Museum's ultimate presence in Fort Trumbull is in serious doubt:
The battle between New London, Connecticut and the residents of its Fort Trumbull neighborhood began in 1998 when the City decided that it would redevelop the area for ultimate ownership by others and, if necessary, take the residents' properties for that "public purpose" -- not for "public use" (i.e., roads, bridges, schools, etc.), as the Fifth Amendment clearly intended.
Susette Kelo and other Fort Trumbull residents pushed back and sued to try to stop the city's plans. Ultimately, the Supreme Court rendered its 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London in June 2005, erroneously (as the Founders would almost certainly have seen it) siding with the city.
In July 2006, after intervention by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell prevented the City from carrying out its declared intent to forcibly remove final holdouts Kelo and the Cristofaros if necessary, the city and the holdouts settled.
More than 2-1/2 years after the settlement, 3-1/2 years after the Supremes' decision, and 11 years after the city's initial plans, oh boy -- a new tenant has finally moved into the Fort Trumbull Neighborhood. It's a government tenant (link at New London Day will be available for about a week), and the move is into an existing building: