August 16, 2005

New London's Punitive Measures

Apparently the national backlash against eminent domain in the wake of Kelo v. New London, including efforts in many states to limit or restrict its use, didn't get back to New London, CT. In addition to seizing the land of residents in order to give it to Pfizer for a corporate park, New London is now charging the residents back rent. The logic is that they lived on city property for the five years they were fighting the eminent domain. That's just punitive, whether or not it has any legal standing.

One resident is going to be charged around $300,000 in back rent, and the Kelos are going to be wiped out by a $57,000 bill. Not only that, but by state law the residents are getting the 2000 rate in compensation, not the 2005 rate (real estate is a lot more valuable right now). This is not necessary. I don't know how legally credible it is, but this seems obvious as a case of punishing people that tried to fight city hall.

If the legal case is weak, then I would hope some group or philanthropist will simply give the residents money to pay off the bills. In order to recoup the losses there could be an Internet fundraising drive. I don't think we could make the hundreds of thousands needed, but it's not right that these people will be bankrupted after being evicted.

Another good target for Internet fundraising would be to get the city officials tossed out at the next election. I'd put up some money for a good challenger candidate in New London that promises not to toss residents out of their homes for the sake of tax revenue.

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