June 30, 2006

Kelo New London: It’s Over

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:16 pm

My reax: Less than satisfying, but probably as much as could have been hoped for in the circumstances.

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Go here for links to all previous
Kelo New London posts and a pre-
final settlement map of the area.

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Excerpts from The New London Day’s report on today’s final settlement (link will require registration after one day, and a paid subscription after seven days):

Kelo’s pink house to be relocated

Susette Kelo’s little pink cottage, the home that was the subject of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case and a national symbol of the fight over eminent domain, will be spared from the wrecking ball. In a compromise between Kelo and New London, the home will be saved and moved to another location, perhaps close to where it originally stood over a century ago, near Pequot Avenue.

….. “It is wonderful that Susette Kelo’s little pink house, which is a national symbol of the fight against eminent domain abuse, will remain standing,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, which continues to represent the remaining two homeowners.  ”The home will continue to serve as a tribute to her brave struggle and as a powerful symbol of the fight to stop land grabs by cities and their developer allies.”

“I am not happy about giving up my property, but I am very glad that my home, which means so much to me, will not be demolished and I will remain living in it,” said Kelo, the lead plaintiff in Kelo v. New London. “I proposed this as a compromise years ago and was turned down flat.”

….. Faced with eviction and the destruction of her beloved home, Kelo put forward an idea that she had originally proposed when first threatened with eminent domain abuse: preserving the home and moving it.

Fewer details were available concerning the Cristofaro settlement. The Cristofaros will lose their current home, but under the agreement, the city has agreed to support an application for more housing in Fort Trumbull, and the Cristofaro family has an exclusive right to purchase one of the homes at a fixed price.

Here’s more from the Institute for Justice’s press release (HT to Steve who posted earlier at the SOB Alliance site; bolds are mine):

Susette Kelo Lost Her Rights, She Lost Her Property, But She Has Saved Her Home

….. “I will be able to continue living in the home that means so much to me, with a real title to my property,” said Kelo. “Also, I will once again live in a neighborhood rather than a demolition zone.”

….. While Kelo’s agreement today signifies her deep attachment to her home, the agreement reached with the other remaining homeowner, the Cristofaros, reflects the family’s deep affiliation with the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, where they have lived for over 30 years. Although the Cristofaros will lose their current home, under the agreement, the City and the NLDC have agreed to support an application for more housing in Fort Trumbull, and the Cristofaro family has an exclusive right to purchase one of the homes at a fixed price. Moreover, a plaque will be installed in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to commemorate the loss of family matriarch Margherita Cristofaro, who passed away while the battle against eminent domain abuse occurred in New London.

“Neither the Kelo nor the Cristofaro family wanted to lose their homes, but they are each keeping some part of their homes,” added Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dana Berliner.  ”Susette Kelo will keep her house, albeit in another location. The Cristofaros want to stay on the Fort Trumbull peninsula. This agreement gives them the right to own a home in Fort Trumbull when one is built. The City also has agreed to move the trees that father Pasquale Cristofaro transplanted 30 years ago, when the previous Cristofaro home was taken by eminent domain.”

“The New London case was history-making,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. “It is only fitting that the house that launched a grassroots revolt should be preserved.”

Amen.

Hats off to Susette Kelo for her perseverance, the Cristofaros for also hanging in, and to the Institute for Justice for staying with them through what had to be more than they ever thought they would have to go through in their worst-case scenario. Susette Kelo will own the title to her home, and in that sense, when you remember what the alternatives were, no one can deny that she in a major sense prevailed. I have to confess to strong disappointment that the Cristofaros did not get to keep their original home, but clean title to a newly-developed property in Fort Trumbull will at least mean that the last two holdouts will have held off the city for the right to own property in the neighborhood.

Now it’s up to the city and the NLDC to get cracking. They have a deadline to keep with the Cristofaros, as noted at this WTNH-TV report that has a totally wrong headline:

“We have the option to move back into the neighborhood which we will. That is something we will do,” Michael Christofaro said.

“If they develop?”

“Yes. If they develop, but we have a nine year option. I hope they’re gonna do something. I mean, if they can’t turn that thing around in nine years why did these people lose their homes?”

This is New London we’re talking about, Mike. They’ve had eight years already, and all they’ve done is tear things down. Now we get to see if they can put something up.

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UPDATE: Here’s more from the Associated Press report, including an opening sentence that unfortunately but accurately states the essence of the downside of the settlement:

The last two holdouts in New London’s Fort Trumbull neighborhood agreed Friday to give up their land to make way for private development, ending an eight-year battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

….. “I’m relieved, but it’s a sad day because the city doesn’t want us there,” said Michael Cristofaro, Pasquale’s son. “I’m going to have to see that house be torn down and you can bet I’ll be there when they tear that house down. I’m not going to let them get away with thinking that day is just going to come and go.”

Cristofaro credited Gov. M. Jodi Rell and a representative from the state Department of Economic and Community Development with getting involved in the final negotiations, treating the homeowners with compassion and understanding that small concessions were important.

“That’s what the city didn’t understand,” he said. “People have personal attachments to their property and money is not always what people want. These were concessions that the city didn’t even bother to try to make. They just wanted you out.”

….. Rell, in a written statement, said Friday that she was pleased the final agreements have been signed. She thanked Kelo and the Cristofaro for their willingness to “negotiate and responsibly settle this very difficult and painful issue.”

“Now these families can have some closure and the Fort Trumbull economic development project will go forward without delay, infusing new jobs and vitality into the region,” she said.

….. Rell said Friday that Connecticut should work to limit eminent domain when the next legislative session opens in January.

Cristofaro said he is not giving up on the issue.

“It’s a happy and sad day. I’m now able to get my life back, but the thing is, I will never stop fighting for people’s property rights across this nation,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things coming out because of our fight here in New London. People are uprising across the nation.”

I’d like to think that the fact that the city and the NLDC, armed as they were with their deeper-pocket legal advantage and even a Supreme Court ruling, were in the end still not able to simply roll over everyone involved, will give some comfort and encouragement to those resisting countless eminent-domain actions around the country. But it would be dangerous to think that the holdouts could have salvaged what they did without Governor Rell’s intervention. True, a referendum appeared to be headed for the ballot in New London, but how binding it would have been is at least somewhat debatable. The lesson for others trying to keep the eminent-domain monster at bay is that until meaningful legislation takes effect, the help of sympathetic politicians who follow through on their commitments will be essential to achieving any kind of success.

Mike Cristofaro is right, that the struggle against the tyranny of extra-constitutional eminent domain is far from over. I personally don’t think we’ll see a definitive end to it without either defining legislation from Congress or a Supreme Court reversal.

UPDATE 2: Apparently there has been no comment from the high-powered, politically-connected Italian Dramatic Club, which despite its location in the Fort Trumbull Peninsula, was exempted from eminent domain action by the city and the NLDC.

UPDATE 3: What is it with these weak headlines? Here’s The Washington Post — “Eminent Domain Case Holdouts Leave Homes.” Uh, no; Susette Kelo is keeping hers.

What Is it with EU Countries and Apple’s iTunes?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:53 pm

Personal commitments mean I’m away from my computer Friday afternoon, and this post was done late Thursday night.

So by the time you read this, the law the French are considering may have passed.

The fight the French and, as you’ll see, other EU countries are picking with Apple is almost bizarre. It’s as if open-source digital music is some kind of entitlement:

France’s parliament is to vote Friday on a draft law which, if passed, could force Apple to make songs on its hugely popular iTunes Music Store compatible with players other than iPods.

But — after months of pressure from the US technology company — the law is also expected to include an amendment that might let Apple sidestep the measure and maintain the status quo.

Much rides on the outcome of the French bill’s passage.

Other European countries — Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and possibly soon Finland — are all considering similar legislation, and there are signs the battle to break Apple’s dominant position in the digital music marketplace could spread even further.

Look, I’m not a big fan of Apple’s proprietary format either. But whining is not the answer. Building a better business model with open source music is. Unfortunately, that would require work, so the music industry is attempting to have governments do the dirty work for them.

What Is It with EU Countries and Search Engines?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:36 pm

First it was France. Now Germany is jumping into regulating search engines, and toying with the idea of creating its own:

German experts want search engines regulated
28 June 2006

BERLIN – German experts demanded on Tuesday that internet search engines be brought under regulation to ensure that they appoint humans to exercise editorial control over search results.

Marcel Machill, a lecturer in journalism at Germany’s Leipzig and Dortmund universities, told a seminar in Berlin: “It is important that their power not be allowed to develop without monitoring.”

He said he was concerned that web users typing in the words “Nazi Party” had been led to a neo-Nazi website until they were warned that funnelling under-18 web users to such sites breached German law.

He said he hoped that Germany would establish a public corporation to build its own search engine with “editorial responsibility” to compete with the likes of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft MSN.

The idea that a government could build, maintain, and keep current a search engine that anyone would be interested in using and that would generate objective results without political intervention is truly absurd.

Oh, and raise your hand if you think bureaucrats and law enforcement will be able to resist normally disallowed snooping into the search habits of their citizens. Didn’t think so.

How Will China Use the Tibet Railway?

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:11 am

Its completion is an impressive accomplishment, but the question, as is the usual case in the mainland, is whether it will be used constructively or as a tool of oppression:

China’s Tibet railway raises criticism from exiles
June 30, 2006

BEIJING — China unveils an engineering marvel this weekend — a railway to Tibet that features high-tech systems to stabilize tracks over permafrost and cabins enriched with oxygen to help riders cope with high altitudes.

Yet, as with so much else in China’s often harsh 56-year rule over Tibet, the 710-mile-long railway to the Tibetan capital has drawn controversy even before the first train departs Saturday.

Tibetans loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama and other critics say the $4.2 billion railway is part of a campaign by Beijing to crush Tibetan culture by encouraging an influx of Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group.

And environmental groups worry about the railway’s impact on the Tibetan highlands.

….. Pro-independence groups plan to wear black armbands in protest and demonstrate outside Chinese embassies Saturday, a campaign they call “Reject the Railway.”

Railway official Zhu Zhensheng defended the railway, saying it will boost the Tibetan region’s economy and help people learn about its unique culture. Zhu said few Tibetans will work on the train at first, though “we hope to increase those opportunities.”

Railway Ministry officials noted it’s the world’s highest train, taking the 16,500-foot passes at speeds up to 60 mph.

Matt at Students for a Free Tibet referred me to a post that, among other things, expresses the fear that Tibetan culture would be diluted and overwhelmed by the influx of Chines migrants. (Aside: It would be nice if our country grasped the possibility that The United States’ unique culture could be similarly overwhelmed.)

The Chinese appear to be taking a softer but nevertheless similar approach to what Stalin did in the 1920s and 1930s in the Soviet Union. Stalin attempted to destroy native loyalties and cultures by forcibly moving large numbers of people around. China seems to be doing it by “encouraging migration” while continuing to oppress native Tibetans.

If there was true economic and political freedom in China, the railway would be a clear economic win-win for Tibet and the rest of the mainland. But the way the Chinese government conducts itself makes it very likely that whatever economic benefits accrue will be more than offset by the dilution and perhaps loss of Tibet’s uniqueness.

June 28 Was the National Center’s 3rd Blogiversary

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 9:12 am

Congrats (two days late — apologies to Amy Ridenour) to one of the blogosphere’s pioneers.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (063006)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Requires Free Registration

  • Making up a scary headline — “Growing evidence of real-estate ‘bust’.” Trouble is, the article doesn’t address a real-estate bust directly at all, only “asset values,” which include any number of things besides real estate (stocks, bonds, etc.)

Free Links:

  • The AP Got the Headline Right. It really is an AP headline, as it gets repeated here. Will wonders never cease? –

    Senate Rejects Regulating Internet Access

    A massive effort by Internet users to prohibit telephone and cable companies from providing better service and prices to preferred customers failed to get through a Senate committee on Wednesday.

    After three days of debate, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bill intended to let phone companies and other telecommunications providers better compete in video markets now monopolized by cable companies.

    The measure faces an uncertain future because of the controversy over “net neutrality” – how to ensure that consumers and Internet content providers continue having open and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet.

    ….. The vote was 11-11, and ties defeat proposed amendments.

    Headlines at other outlets are along the lines of this one: “Senate panel rejects Net neutrality in tie vote.”

    The closeness of the vote raises the possibility of a Senate filibuster.

  • Google Is Doing Credit transaction processing. Go to the link for more.
  • I am so not surprised (HT Conservative Culture) — Val Verde County in Texas built a better border wall, and crime went down 76%.
  • If you’re an old customer of Cinergy or UHL&P, get ready for two utility bills — Duke Energy is splitting into separate companies for gas and electricity.
  • James Joyner delivered some pleasant news about the cancer-fighting capabilities of coffee, pizza, and beer a couple of weeks ago. Now there’s more good news about beer — and a chance for a free shot at the arrogant ones among wine afficionados (nyah, nyah):

    29/06/06 Contrary to popular opinion, beer is as healthy—if not more healthy—than wine, according to a university professor with an academic title any Joe Six-pack would relish.

    Charles Bamforth, chairman of the food science department at the University of California at Davis and an Anheuser-Busch endowed professor, told food scientists assembled at the IFT Annual Meeting that beer contains valuable B vitamins, such as B12, folic acid and niacin, as well as antioxidants, such as polyphenols and ferulic acid.

    Bamforth, author of the book Beer: Health and Nutrition says beer also has soluble fiber, which is good for digestion, and the active ingredient in alcohol—whether from beer or wine—helps counter blockage of the arteries.

    “People say red wine is key to that,” Bamforth said. “But beer, if you looked at it holistically, is healthier than wine. But it is not perceived that way.”

    Despite their actions against KFC and Starbucks, The Food Police are having the equivalent of a bad hair month. I’m sure they’ll be taking their shots at who endowed Mr. Bamforth’s chair, but what they need to refute is his science. My guess is they can’t.

    Pizza, coffee, and beer are good for you. Who says that you can’t create heaven on earth? I propose a toast to “holistic healthiness.”

Positivity: 11 Year-old Is Back from the Dead

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

Dylan Silva was lifeless when rescued, but is fine now:

Family calls 11 year old boy a miracle child
Updated: 6/28/2006 11:35:48 PM

Grandville-His family is calling 11 year old Dylan Silva a miracle child.

“No two ways about it, he’s a miracle kid,” says Dylan’s aunt Julie Horlind.

The 5th grader at Grandview Elementary was trapped underwater for over 5 minutes while swimming at Ludington State Park last Friday.

He had no pulse and was not breathing when he was pulled from the river.

By all medical measurements he was dead.

“He was completly lifeless,” says Horlind. “Just gone. He was not breathing. His head was hanging.”

“The doctor in the trauma area and the Aero-Med doc both came in and said it wasn’t looking good,” says Dylan’s mother Pam Silva. “He had been without oxygen for a very long time. And I just kept saying you’re wrong. You’re wrong. Dylan is a fighter.”

Dylan was swimming with at least 10 other children in the river at Ludington State Park when he became tangled in a rope they were playing with.

He was pulled under the water.

A Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer and an Ohio Firefighter on vacation led a desperate rescue effort. They used CPR to restart his heart.

“Had those people not been there this would have been a totally different outcome,” says Horlind. “Nobody gave up. They kept going and going.”

Dylan is recieving treatment at Mary Free Bed Clinic in Grand Rapids for the residual effects from his ordeal.

He has some weakness on the left side and some short term memory issues.

But he is already able to shoot baskets with his brothers and cousins on the outside court at the clinic.

“His personality is starting to come back,” says his mother, Pam. “He’s walking around here like nothing is the matter. He’s laughing, singing in the shower like his old self. He’s just there. He’s a miracle.”

Dylan recalls going into the river but does not remember his brush with death. Only waking up in the hospital.