Allowing the government to take private property, under the guise of Eminent Domain, for the purpose of turning it over to private developers, who are favored by a particular political group, is a form of corruption. Our government is doing that and the law needs to be changed. Take the case of Suzette Kelo and the astounding admission by a state Supreme Court Justice.
First, a little history. Eminent Domain is the right of the government to take private property for public use and it has been in existence since the government’s founding. The Fifth Amendment was added to include just compensation for property taken. Unfortunately, over the years, public use has become for use by the public for private development, including privately owned shopping centers, conference centers, resorts, auto malls, movie theaters, and so on. A developer who curries favor can claim public use for land that would normally be sold privately. Read here: Stolen land
NY is particularly abusive and regularly turns over private land for use by favored developers. On Brookhaven, LI, Town Supervisor, Mark Lesko, said at a Coram town hall meeting, that he would take land he felt was rundown, and he would decide what developer would be given the redevelopment project. Ripe for corruption? How do we define rundown? Who do we allow to define it? It’s not that it cannot work with private developers, it’s all in the details.
For now, the case that needs to be highlighted is that of Kelo v. New London 2004 (Kelo v. New London 2004). The state decided to take Suzette Kelo’s beautiful waterview home, and her neighbors’ homes, for use as a resort hotel and conference center, a park, and a 80-100 new residence with office space. Suzette fought the case. The Supreme Court of Connecticut found that the economic project would create new jobs, increase tax revenues, and revitalize a depressed area, thus making it a public use case. On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the State of Connecticut (Kelo v. New London 2005).
The City eventually agreed to move Susette Kelo’s house to a new location and to pay substantial additional compensation to other homeowners.
The redeveloper was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a dump by the City (Wiki).
A journalist, who wrote a book about the Kelo case, recently gave a keynote address at a private dinner, in which he talked about Suzette Kelo’s personal story . In a most astounding statement, one of the state Supreme Court judges, Richard N. Palmer, approached Suzette Kelo and the journalist, Jeff Benedict, after the address, and said the following to them: “Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently.” Suzette and the journalist were speechless because his vote would have changed history. The Justice “turned to Suzette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words ‘I’m sorry.’ It was all she could do to whisper the words: ‘Thank you.'” Read here: The Hartford Courant
Jeff Benedict, Hartford Courant journalist, has written a book about Suzette Kelo’s story called The Little Pink House.