January 7, 2009

Nearly 10 Years Later, Monument to Favoritism in Kelo Ruling Still Stands

A link to a story in the New London (CT) Day (story will be available for only a few days) arrived in my e-mail yesterday thanks to a Google alert:

Deed Gives NL Building A New Address
Italian Dramatic Club outlived street it used to be on in fort area

The story stands as a bitter reminder of the blatant favoritism that took place during the sad saga of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in the Ft. Trumbull area of that Connecticut town.

Ms. Kelo and her neighbors had their homes condemned, and ultimately lost in appeals that went all the way to the Supreme Court, where in June 2005 that court’s majority ruled that when our Founders wrote “public use” in the Constitution’s 5th Amendment (i.e., building a bridge, or a road, or a school), they really meant “public purpose” (doing anything the government deems to be a worthy cause, including taking someone’s property and conveying it to another for a worthy “development” cause).

As you can see from the following Google Earth map image that is probably about two years old, the Italian Dramatic Club (IDC) sits virtually alone at 79 Chelsea Street:


The remaining houses seen near the bottom on Wabash Street were vacant, and have probably been demolished. If I recall correctly, Susette Kelo’s pink house was at the corner of East Street and Wabash. The home of other final holdouts, the Cristofaros, was next door to the IDC.

The IDC is a private social club for well-connected political elites in the surrounding area. Key paragraphs from the Day’s story explain why it’s still there:

It’s been nearly 10 years since the New London Development Corp. decided to spare a private social club in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood while razing nearly all other houses, stores, churches and office buildings.

….. When the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development plan was approved in 1999, the club, which was built in 1922 by Italians from the region of Fano, Italy, was supposed to be torn down along with the rest of the neighborhood. But the club, which offers monthly dinners to its members and guests, was spared demolition. Aldo Valentini, the late trustee of the club, said in 2000 that the 108 members were ready to fight to keep the wrecking ball away but were soon told by the NLDC that they could stay.

Jay Levin, a New London attorney who is a friend of several members of the club, worked with the NLDC to spare the club.

”We were hearing the place was going to be torn down. But I never believed that would be the case,” he said at the time. “I think the NLDC recognized that as the city changes, aspects of the city’s heritage have to remain sacrosanct.”

….. years later, after litigation that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, property owners lost their fight. Today, every building on the 90-acre site is gone, except for a relatively new office building at 1 Chelsea St. and the IDC.

Notice how careful the Day is to avoid mentioning what seems to have become its own version of a four-letter word: Kelo.

The national media almost never mentioned the IDC’s free pass, which I consider an epic fail given the gravity of the case. A Google News Archive search on ["Italian Dramatic Club" New London] for 1998 through 2006 (typed as indicated within brackets) has only 14 results. Only two true news items are from 2001, when the IDC received its exemption, and they are local. There are excellent Jewish World Review columns by John Fund in 2001 and and Doug Bandow in 2002. There is an odious February 2005 Washington Post editorial that, while noting the blatant double standard, nonetheless says that “federal courts shouldn’t be second-guessing the city’s determination of how best to accomplish that very public goal (of development).” Otherwise, the coverage of this important element of the Kelo situation is almost as barren as the Ft. Trumbull area involved is today.

Oh, did I forget to note that a New York Times search on “Italian Dramatic Club” indicates that the paper never mentioned its exemption during the entire term of the case?

If the IDC’s exemption from the wrecking ball had been known to the public during the Kelo saga, I daresay that the attitudes of many who followed the case might have been more sympathetic to the litigants.

Meanwhile in the affected area, 2008 ended as 2007 and 2006 did, with nothing substantive done. But we’re still supposed to believe that government knows best, while it hands out perks to the favored and literally bulldozes over those who get in its way.

Also, don’t miss a couple of the choice comments left at the Day’s story.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘What’s a Auto Industry Bailout Opponent to Do? Boycott!’) Is Up

Hoo boy. It’s here.

I am NOT responsible for the headline at PJM, which is of course free to put up, within reason, whatever headline they think will garner reader attention.

That said, a “boycott” to me implies a high-level, organized, and concerted effort. I am NOT advocating that, though of course others may choose that route. The word “boycott” only appears in the article text twice:

  • in connection with a previous organized effort against Ford.
  • as a futile suggestion relative to banks, which have virtually all taken the money Hank Paulson is giving them (or forcing on them).

The word “boycott” does not appear in connection with my take on what to do about GM and Chrysler.

I believe what is fairly likely to happen (and may be happening already, given Chrysler’s 53% sales drop in December, which included 12 bailout days) is that a significant-enough percentage of American individuals and families will independently, and without outside orchestration, reach the conclusion that they will not buy GM or Chrysler cars because of those two companies’ demands for and acceptance of government bailout money. They will instead go to Ford, which has not accepted government bailout money, if they want to buy from a US-headquartered company, or they will go elsewhere. I suppose that some will consider this a “self-directed boycott.”

Anyway, go read the whole thing. It will appear here at BizzyBlog on Friday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires, under my original title, “What’s a Bailout Opponent To Do?”


Update, 10:55 a.m.: Expanding on the need not to support bailed-out entities — The New York Times is contending in its coverage of December’s results that sales are going to be quite a bit lower for quite a long time. If so, continuation of current market conditions makes ever more non-stop bailout installments inevitable — unless GM and Chrysler sales stay in the tank so deeply compared to the other makers that it’s obvious that car buyers are shunning the companies, and will continue to until they go the bankruptcy route and emerge truly transformed.

If it becomes clear that a turnaround isn’t possible, even the politicians will abandon ship. This could happen as early as March 31 if the shunning takes hold during the rest of the winter.

If all of this transpires, the $17 billion sent to GM and Chrysler by that time will be money sent down the drain. But:

a) Most of us already really know that to be the case, and
b) At least that will be the end of it. At about $60 for each person in the US, it will be a relatively inexpensive lesson learned.

That’s why not buying GM and Chrysler cars is in my opinion so important. It’s really the only actionable outlet available for consumer-taxpayers outraged at never-ending bailouts who want to put a stop to them.

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (010709, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 7:46 am

….. But I don’t Have Any Time For:

  • The Institute for Supply Management Data from the last few days has been grim, but the patient still has a pulse — The Manufacturing Index (covering about 15% of the economy) dropped again in December, this time to a pitiful 32.4%. The Non-Manufacturing Index (covering the rest) went up to 40.6%, but is still firmly in contraction mode (which is anything below 50%). If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the more important NMI walloped expectations that it would go down to 36.5% from November’s 37.3% (but Manufacturing trailed expectations badly).
  • Ed Morrissey fired a rare blank yesterday at Hot Air in “Lesson not learned: SUV sales outpace sedans.” If families conclude that they need large vehicles and are willing to pay the (gas) price, what’s wrong with that? Besides, given current worldwide reserves, an unencumbered market for oil should be counted on to deliver sub-$2 gas for many, many years. It’s when the cartels and governments try to reduce consumption, pretend that we can live without oil, or pretend that we’re running out of it — when the reality is that they are obsessed with preventing us from getting what’s there — that prices rise steeply.
  • The 149th Carnival of Ohio Politics, adroitly assembled by Dan Williamson of Buckeye RINO, is here.
  • Thanks to the Anchoress for this squib — “Best Business Blog: For the life of me I don’t know why Bizzyblog isn’t in here.”
  • Ted Strickland is clearly happy with Ohio’s 2008 early-voting fiasco as it went down, because he vetoed a bill that would have prevented same-day registration and voting. Glad that’s on the record. So is my unrefuted and backed-by-experience assertion that early voting is a travesty.
  • From the “All Is Not Lost” Dept. — “Humana to add 700 jobs; Already moving nearly 1,200 employees into its new building in Walnut Hills (in Cincinnati), Humana Inc. will add up to 700 more jobs in the region during the next three years.”
  • OK, regulation cheerleaders, regulate this — “A PIONEERING climate change project in Africa run by Robin Birley, the socialite, has been accused by the European commission, its main donor, of making unsubstantiated claims about its environmental impact. ….. The project attempts to offset an individual’s carbon footprint by paying poor farmers in Mozambique to plant trees …..” Go further, and you’ll see that the project is really causing trees to be cut down.
  • After all the scare tactics employed at the prospect of people having control of their Social Security retirement funds three years ago, it’s nice to see that Americans, according to Rasmussen, favor giving people the right to opt out of the system by 46%-38% — which also proves as much as one poll can that this is a firmly center-right country. Unfortunately, the political class could care less.