NEW LONDON, Conn. — Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation's most notorious eminent domain project.
There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne's lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot's towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant.
But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing.
Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a "poetic justice."
"They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing," said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. "I don't think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision."
New London officials decided they needed Kelo's land and the surrounding 90 acres for a multimillion-dollar private development that included residential, hotel conference, research and development space and a new state park that would complement a new $350 million Pfizer pharmaceutical research facility.
Kelo and six other homeowners fought for years, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2005, justices voted 5-4 against them, giving cities across the country the right to use eminent domain to take property for private development.
Kelo can see her old neighborhood from her new home, but she finds the view too painful to bear.
"Everything is different, but everything is like still the same," said Kelo, who works two jobs and has largely maintained a low profile since moving away. "You still have life to deal with every day of the week. I just don't have eminent domain to deal with every day of the week, even after I ate, slept and breathed it for 10 years."
Although her side lost, Kelo said she sees the wider ramifications of her property rights battle.
"In the end it was seven of us who fought like wild animals to save what we had," she said. "I think that though we ultimately didn't win for ourselves, it has brought attention to what they did to us, and if it can make it better for some other people so they don't lose their homes to a Dunkin' Donuts or a Wal-Mart, I think we did some good."
Scott Bullock, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, argued Kelo's case before the Supreme Court. He calls "massive changes that have happened in the law and in the public consciousness" the "real legacy" of Kelo and the other plaintiffs.
The empty land means the city won a "hollow victory," he said.
"What cities should take from this is to run fleeing from what New London did and do economic development that is market-driven and incorporate properties of folks who are truly committed to their neighborhood and simply want to be a part of what happens," he said.
The 5 justices who voted to take citizens' property and give it to a developer:
Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer
The 4 justices who voted against the theft:
Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and O'Connor
The real destructiveness of Kelo is the precedent it set. One egregious example is Didden v. Village of Port Chester. Didden's property would not have been condemned if not for their refusal to pay the "designated developer" the money he tried to extort from them.
>>The U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London generated a backlash on both sides of the political spectrum..... Many of the rear-guard defenders of this ill-conceived decision insisted that abusive condemnations are an aberration in an otherwise sound planning process. They, it turns out, were wrong. Didden v. Village of Port Chester, a most unfortunate decision out of the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, helps demonstrate the shortcomings of their optimistic view.
In 1999, the village of Port Chester, N.Y., established a "redevelopment area" and gave its designated developer, Gregg Wasser, a virtual blank check to condemn property within it. In 2003, property owners Bart Didden and Dominick Bologna approached Wasser for permission to build a CVS pharmacy on land they own inside the zone. His response: Either pay me $800,000 or give me a 50% partnership interest in the CVS project. Wasser threatened to have the local government condemn the land if his demands weren't met. When the owners refused to oblige, their property was condemned the next day.
Didden and Bologna challenged the condemnation in federal court, on the grounds that it was not for a "public use," as the Fifth Amendment requires. Their view, quite simply, was that out-and-out extortion does not qualify as a public use. Nonetheless, the 2d Circuit . . . upheld this flexing of political muscle.
It has taken Irish-Americans a full century to shed itself of the image the hopelessly corrupt, cigar chomping, whisky-sipping back room wheeler-dealer politician of old. As a result, like it or not, fair or unfair, the reality is, the Irish American elected official, especially in New England, is held to a higher standard.
We don’t know if Mister Dodd is a thief and a weasel. He appears to be a thief and a weasel and that does matter, especially in light his identification as a member of the Irish-American community.
That Mister Dodd has managed to embroil himself in an ethics controversy is one thing, but that he dragged the whole of Ireland into the ugly mix, and by proxy, the reputation of the American-Irish community with him, goes, as the Irish say, beyond the pale.
In endorsing State Senator Caligiuri, we understand that most of our readers are not Republican and so, to be clear, we are not endorsing a political party. We are endorsing a qualified, honest and decent man to represent our state in Washington.
Sam Caligiuri, Attorney, Mayor and State Senator, husband, parent and the son of working class immigrants, holds a pristine reputation for honesty, fairness and experience makes him the ideal citizen-legislator in the race.
A well liked and respected leader from overwhelmingly Democrat Waterbury, proves Caligiuri’s appeal to Connecticut voters. His record of accomplishment in service to the people, as mayor of Waterbury and as a well-respected member of the State Senate, is proof positive Caligiuri can and will work across the political spectrum to do what is right and what is best for the United States of America.
Based on his record, Sam Caligiuri is the common sense candidate who exemplifies the salt-of- the-earth character so desperately needed in a United States Senate that seems increasingly out of touch with the people.
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday she is clueless about an amendment to prohibit government funds for embattled ACORN, although it overwhelmingly passed the Senate Monday and the White House is calling for the group to be held accountable.
"I don't even know what they passed," Pelosi told The Post yesterday. "What did they do? They defunded it?" h/t Gina Vener
Charlie Gibson was a guest on WLS radio in Chicago and was asked why, after the Senate last night voted to halt funding to ACORN and after three of those video tapes of ACORN employees helping the pimp and prostitute set up shop, there was no mention of it anywhere on the network news. Charlie gave out a most uncomfortable laugh and said that that was the first he heard of it!
Brumar adds - If he's really that clueless and uninformed, Charlie Gibson is a real life Ted Baxter.
More media malpractice. Jeffrey Lord revisits and expands on Friedman's and Brokaw's surreal performance on Meet The Press two Sundays ago. How long til these dinosaurs are irrelevant?
>>MR. GREGORY: You talk about Van Jones as well, you know, the fact that in this, in this media age, what he said, by anybody's estimation, was objectionable, to sign a petition saying the government was behind 9/11. But it goes to something that's going on in this information age...
MR. FRIEDMAN: David, yeah...
MR. GREGORY: ...which is you can be a target real fast.
MR. FRIEDMAN: David, when everyone has a cell phone, everyone's a photographer. When everyone has access to YouTube, everyone's a filmmaker. And when everyone's a blogger, everyone's in newspaper. When everyone's a photographer, a newspaper and a filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. Tell your kids, OK, tell your kids, OK, be careful. Every move they make is now a digital footprint. You are on "Candid Camera." And unfortunately, the real message to young people, from all of these incidents, OK, and I'm not here defending anything anyone said, but from all of these incidents, is you know, really keep yourself tight, don't say anything controversial, don't think anything--don't put anything in print. You know, whatever you do, just kind of smooth out all the edges, and maybe you too--you know, when you get nominated to be ambassador to Burkina Faso, you'll be able to get through the hearing.
MR. GREGORY: OK.
MR. BROKAW: Well, I've--one of the things I've been saying to audiences is this question comes up a lot, and a lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet. And my line to them is you have to vet information. You have to test it the same way you do when you buy an automobile or when you go and buy a new flat-screen television. You read the Consumer Reports, you have an idea of what it's worth and what the lasting value of it is. You have to do the same thing with information because there is so much disinformation out there that it's frightening, frankly, in a free society that depends on information to make informed decisions. And this is across the board, by the way. It's not just one side of the political spectrum or the other. It is across the board, David, and it's something that we all have to address and it requires society and political and cultural leaders to stand up and say, "this is crazy." We just can't function that way.
MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, David, I just want to say one thing to pick up on Tom's point, which is the Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone. And I always felt, you know, when modems first came out, when that was how we got connected to the Internet, that every modem sold in America should actually come with a warning from the surgeon general that would have said, "judgment not included," OK? That you have to upload the old-fashioned way. Church, synagogue, temple, mosque, teachers, schools, you know. And too often now people say, and we've all heard it, "But I read it on the Internet," as if that solves the bar bet, you know? And I'm afraid not.
Q: What killed four US troops in Afghanistan yesterday? A: US rules of engagement. The story is from McClatchey by Jonathan S. Landay via Gen. Paul Vallely. Read, but don't weep -- get angry.
U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines -- despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village.
``We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We've lost today,'' Marine Maj. Kevin Williams, 37, said through his translator to his Afghan counterpart, responding to the latter's repeated demands for helicopters.
Four U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday, the most U.S. service members assigned as trainers to the Afghan National Army to be lost in a single incident since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
Whoever wrote these rules should be hauled before the Senate Armed Services Committee and then cashiered.
As of 11:30 am on 9/4 a Nexis search produced these results.
Total words about the Van Jones controversy in the New York Times: 0. Total words about the Van Jones controversy in the Washington Post: 0. Total words about the Van Jones controversy on NBC Nightly News: 0. Total words about the Van Jones controversy on ABC World News: 0. Total words about the Van Jones controversy on CBS Evening News: 0.