June 3, 2007

An Eminent, Imminent Failure (CT Legislature’s Eminent Domain ‘Reform’ Is Inadquate)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:32 am

The New London Day is supporting what is in reality a cave-in by Connecticut’s legislature and governor on what was supposed to be eminent domain reform.

The Associated Press reports that the part that would have mattered didn’t make it through (bolded below):

….. the Connecticut measure does not expressly ban using eminent domain for economic development. Instead, it prohibits property from being taken solely to boost property taxes.

“It does not protect the American dream of home ownership,” said Rep. Steven Mikutel, D-Griswold. “Government confiscation of the family home goes against everything America stands for. It strikes at the core of our liberty.”

Despite the 132-7 vote Saturday in the state House of Representatives, many lawmakers complained the bill would not have stopped the taking of Susette Kelo’s famous pink cottage in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London.

….. An amendment to prevent the taking of owner-occupied dwellings for economic development purposes narrowly failed on a 67-72 vote Saturday night.

The bill, which the Senate approved 33-3 on Thursday, now moves to the desk of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. She is expected to sign it because much of the legislation was recommended by her office, lawmakers said.

….. (one of the final two Kelo holdouts Michael) Cristofaro said he was glad state lawmakers were finally debating an eminent domain bill on the House floor, but he believes it does not do enough to protect homeowners.

“There’s nothing in here. No one’s rights are saved yet,” he said. “Our right to own property is not going to really be protected by 100 percent. It’s really 20 percent, if you want me to give you a percentage.”

The Day thinks it’s okey-dokey (requires registration after 24 hours, and a paid subscription after a week):

Those who feel the use of eminent domain should be restricted to purely public projects, such as roads, schools and sewage treatment plants, will not be satisfied with these provisions. But the reality is that the Supreme Court has found that “public use” does include projects that revive the economic vitality of a town or city and is therefore permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

The Day is wrong. The reality is that the Supreme Court decided that “public use” really means “public purpose,” when it’s crystal clear that the Founders meant, and would have entertained, no such thing.

Proponents are putting a great of stock in the idea that politicians, and not “community development corporations,” have to vote to proceed with eminent domain, that it has to be by a two-thirds majority, and that peoples whose properties are taken will be paid 125% of market value. That doesn’t address the fundamental issue.

The fact is that Connecticut’s law is woefully inadequate, and will remain that way, until a homeowner or property owner in the path of a proposed “public purpose” project has the unconditional right not to sell — period.

Positivity: Small miracle reunites flushed ring, owner

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:02 am

From Olympia, WA (HT Good News blog):

City workers retrieve $8,000 ring from sewer

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2007

OLYMPIA – It was a messy job, but two municipal employees painstakingly searched a sewage line and recovered a wedding ring.

The effort began after the Public Works Department in the state capital got a letter from Alma Coate-Wilson, 98, who wrote that she had accidentally flushed her $8,000, 1.6-carat wedding ring down the toilet in the middle of the night two months ago.

Gary Franks, a public works supervisor, said the department rarely gets such requests and usually doesn’t have the time to grant them but decided to try this time because of the circumstances.

Maintenance workers Bill Davis and Jean Wright started by sending a type of television camera through the sewer line.

When that didn’t work, they flushed the main line, blocking solids using pea gravel. Finally, they went through the solids with a garden hose and found the ring.

Four city employees returned it to Coate-Wilson this week.

Go here for the rest of the story.