In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its notorious ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. At issue was New London, Connecticut’s desire to use eminent domain to clear way an existing neighborhood and put up a fancy new hotel, apartment buildings, and office towers in its place, all designed to complement the nearby research and development center being built by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. Although this was a classic example of eminent domain abuse, with the government taking property from one private party and then handing it over to another for no legitimate public use, the Court let it stand anyway because it was part of what Justice John Paul Stevens called a “comprehensive redevelopment plan” that would provide “appreciable benefits to the community.”
Unsurprisingly, those appreciable benefits never materialized. Not only was the new development project never built, which means the existing neighborhood was destroyed for nothing, Pfizer later shuttered its facility and pulled out of New London altogether. To add insult to injury, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer, one of the four justices who voted against the property owners and therefore directly precipitated the Supreme Court’s dismal ruling, later apologized to Susette Kelo for his misguided vote.
In the latest twist to this long and infuriating saga, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC), the quasi-public agency that orchestrated the original land grab, is now attempting to whitewash its role in the whole sordid affair. As the New London Patch reports, the agency voted yesterday to change its name to the vague and self-aggrandizing Renaissance City Development Association in order to get away from all those uncomfortable connections with the Kelo debacle. Here’s the New London Patch:
NLDC President Michael Joplin said Mayor Daryl Finizio recommended the change when Joplin and members of NLDC’s executive committee met with him in January. Joplin said the organization has also considered changing its name in the past, saying it has been “unfairly tarred and feathered” due to its role in the Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain case before the United States Supreme Court.
“Everyone in this room knows we’ve got baggage, and it’s spelled K-E-L-O,” said Joplin....
“If there’d been a little more support from the media, we probably wouldn’t have this public relations fiasco that’s plagued the city for so long,” said [NLDC member Stephen] Percy.
It’s bad enough to employ a cute euphemism like baggage to describe the use of government-backed bulldozers to destroy somebody’s house for no legitimate reason, but the self-pity on display by the NLDC is just beyond parody. These people should be ashamed of themselves.