The Continuing Kelo Outrage

If this is correct, this is the most outrageous think I have ever heard, and I have heard a lot in the past few years:

Those who believe in the adage “when it rains, it pours” might take the tale of the plaintiffs in Kelo v. New London as a cue to buy two of every animal and a load of wood from Home Depot. The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city’s original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It’s a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

In some cases, their debt could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as it was in 2000…

The New London Development Corp., the semi-public organization hired by the city to facilitate the deal, is offering residents the market rate as it was in 2000, as state law requires. That rate pales in comparison to what the units are now worth, owing largely to the relentless housing bubble that has yet to burst.

“I can’t replace what I have in this market for three times [the 2000 assessment],” says Dery, 48, who works as a home delivery sales manager for the New London Day . He soothes himself with humor: “It’s a lot like what I like to do in the stock market: buy high and sell low.”

And there are more storms on the horizon. In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case, the city would expect to receive retroactive “use and occupancy” payments (also known as “rent”) from the residents.

In the letter, lawyers argued that because the takeover took place in 2000, the residents had been living on city property for nearly five years, and would therefore owe rent for the duration of their stay at the close of the trial. Any money made from tenantssome residents’ only form of incomewould also have to be paid to the city.

If this is correct, and my reading is accurate, they are kicking these people off of their property and handing it over to other, better, private citizens who will make the city richer, and to add insult to injury, they want to pay them less than fair market value- the market value for what their house was 5 years ago. Then, to add insult to injury, they intend to charge them ‘rent’ for living in their own property for the several years they were fighting the city from taking their property.

Unbelievable. I want to see more, and I want to see this verified, and then, if true, stopped.

(h/t Captain Ed)

More here:

The homeowners could soon be served with eviction notices, which is justified by the court ruling. But the rent is something else. For some, it comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Kelo, whose name is on the landmark case, could owe $57,000. “I’d leave here broke,” she told the Fairfield County Weekly. “I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge.”

In a letter to the homeowners’ lawyer a year ago, the development corporation justified its behavior by saying, “We know that your clients did not expect to live in city-owned property for free.”

Well, they might have expected not to be bullied for exercising their right to be heard in court.

News of the city’s heavy handed tactics should add to the unusual national backlash that has followed the Supreme Court’s ruling. The court said state and local governments can seize homes, not just for a public purpose such as building roads or schools, but also for someone else’s private profit if the city’s economic future is at issue.

I think we can take USA Today as a confirmation.






49 replies
  1. 1
    jerry says:

    John,

    I think you’re a jerk. But if you really wanted to add some value to this country, you could become the blogger that tracks Kelo nationwide.

    At the time of Kelo a month or so ago it was supposed to be a rare decision. But after Kelo, in the past month or so, I have heard of Kelo decisions being made in Oakland, California, and again, today in Arizona (Mesa or Chandler or Gilbert).

    Kelo appears to be a purple state issue (red team and blue group both appear to dislike it), and by tracking it, and lurning about it, and discussing it with your online magazine, you could show off those purple bonafides that some blue bloggers like to think you have.

    My nonsense aside, there’s a niche, you could fill it, and people would encourage you and help you. There could be fame and fortune in it for you. Seriously.

  2. 2
    srv says:

    For all the hand wringing and flaying by federal and state legislators, their pockets will be filled with bounty by developers and cities. Particularly as the real estate bubble starts to deflate, ground zero for the best ROI on property taxes will be urban neighborhoods.

    They’ll keep waving their flag amendments while the bulldozers warm up to plow over the remains of the 5th amendment.

    When I look at the last few years (Kelo, Padilla vs. Rumsfeld, et al), you’d almost think someone was trying to dismantle what was left of the Constitution.

    Just keep voting Republican and Democrat, and just keep drinking your kool-aid folks.

  3. 3
    djc says:

    John,

    I think you’re a jerk. But if you really wanted to add some value to this country, you could become the blogger that tracks Kelo nationwide.

    John, I don’t think you’re a jerk, but Jerry seems to be making some sense…

  4. 4
    KC says:

    Jeez, talk about fucked up.

  5. 5
    djc says:

    KC Says:

    Jeez, talk about fucked up.

    What’s fucked up?

  6. 6
    ppGaz says:

    I don’t get it. Are we supposed to support our government no matter what, or not?

    I am getting mixed messages here. The big big government can’t get anything right, but we dasn’t criticize it, especially the policies that kill a lot of people and cost a billion dollars every three days or so. But the little governments, who just want to freshen up their downtowns, we are supposed to blast at the drop of a hat?

    This citizenship thing is Hard Work. Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to manage a blog and write these articles every day. Luckily there are smarter people than me, or I, to take care of it.

  7. 7
    jg says:

    When the original central artery was being planned in Boston around the 1940’s a lot of houses were in the way. The gov’t gave the people given ONE DOLLAR for their homes, the people had to sue for the rest.

    Forced to go rent an apartment while you still owe plenty on your mortgage. Nice.

  8. 8
    Mason says:

    If I were living in that area of New London, I think there’d be a re-enactment of Stephen King’s Roadwork

  9. 9
    M. Scott Eiland says:

    If this continues, some homeowner who is being evicted from his home actually owing more than the pittance the local government is offering for his home is going to head out and obtain a quantity of the nastiest toxic waste he can get his hands on and spread it all over his property in a way that will make removal either insanely expensive or impossible for the government to be able to accomplish its purposes–and I’m going to laugh my ass off when it happens (assuming no one is hurt–another risk that these bozos are taking by abusing their power in this way).

  10. 10
    Mike says:

    “ppGaz Says:
    I don’t get it. Are we supposed to support our government no matter what, or not?”

    No. You’ve got to be smart enough to know the difference between Good Government Policies and Bad Government Policies.
    For example:
    Stealing people’s property to give it to private developers and also charging them back rent on the property they thought they owned = BAAAAADD

    Killing Terrorists, preferably by the hundreds and keeping Americans safe from scumbags trying to kill them = GOOOODDD

    “I am getting mixed messages here. The big big government can’t get anything right, but we dasn’t criticize it, especially the policies that kill a lot of people and cost a billion dollars every three days or so. But the little governments, who just want to freshen up their downtowns, we are supposed to blast at the drop of a hat?”

    Who’s not criticizing the government? If you mean the Iraq War, I’d say there are plenty of critics on all sides, myself included. I believe the owner of this Blog has done so as well. What DOESN”T make sense is to run away and allow a Terrorist State to develop. Do you disagree with this?

    “This citizenship thing is Hard Work. Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to manage a blog and write these articles every day. Luckily there are smarter people than me, or I, to take care of it.”

    Last I checked, pretty much anyone could set up their own Blog. All you need is a little cash and alot of time. Go for it. Maybe some of us will even visit and heap crap on you. ;)

  11. 11
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    I can see an argument for 2000 prices. You shouldn’t get a boon for fighting in court. If prices had dropped dramatically by the same amount that they had risen, I’d argue the same. Going to court should place it in a sort of stasis. IANAL, so I’m just giving my view on what should be. Some lawyer should feel free to tell me this isn’t how it is.

    As far as rent goes, that’s just base.

  12. 12
    metalgrid says:


    jg Says:
    When the original central artery was being planned in Boston around the 1940’s a lot of houses were in the way. The gov’t gave the people given ONE DOLLAR for their homes, the people had to sue for the rest.

    Yeah and now Boston/MA has swung the other way where people sell their houses to the state and/or developers at inflated prices. As a result, the politicians with insider connections find out about state or development acquisitions, then buy the property from the original owner. Then the development goes public and the politician/insider sells it for a hugely inflated price. Sort of like a bribe, just not as obvious.

    Every single law that gets passed goes through with a loophole for the politicians to get rich without any real work involved. Do sheep feel outrage?

  13. 13
    Steve says:

    The attempt to charge back rent is absurd and sounds like harassment to me. But I don’t see how they could legally be entitled to anything more than the market price in 2000, when they chose to challenge the eminent domain decision. They don’t get to collect triple the payment just because they managed to tie the case up in court for years.

    Let’s keep in mind, the eminent domain process upheld in Kelo was not some new or revolutionary taking of property in a way that had never been done before. It was a taking that was very, very clearly permissible under 50 years of Supreme Court precedents. The landowners went to the Supreme Court and tried to overturn all those precedents, which is their right to do. But I don’t know of any Supreme Court watchers who actually expected them to win.

    Having discussed Kelo more than a time or two, I now expect to be assailed by claims that Kelo worked some kind of revolutionary change in the law. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

    Fact is, ever since the Supreme Court started making rulings in this area, it’s been very clear that the scope of eminent domain power is going to be something that’s mostly left up to the states to decide. If the people of a state don’t want their government to have any eminent domain power at all, it’s their state, and they can change the laws. Or if they’re ok with the concept of eminent domain, but they want to set limits, they can change the law to do that too. With all this grass-roots opposition to eminent domain in the wake of Kelo, you’d think it wouldn’t be that hard. And with overreaching going on like developers trying to charge back rent, you’d think the political task would get even easier. Many states, by the way, had strong restrictions on when eminent domain can be used for economic development, long before Kelo. There’s no reason why your state can’t do the same, if that’s what the majority wants.

    There are plenty of people who believe that federalism is a great idea when it comes to leaving issues like abortion, school prayer, etc. up to the states, but they’re stunned that the Supreme Court won’t make an activist one-size-fits-all ruling when it comes to a right they actually care about. They should keep in mind what it feels like.

  14. 14
    The.oopla says:

    Yeah lemme guess, the “rent” is the same ammount as “just compensation” So now the city expects it can just kick people out without even paying them just compensation.

    I expect several homeowners to fortify up and make an armed stand of it. I expect there to be deaths, and the FBI to have to be called in. Gun sales will be up. So will no-doz.

    I think the next fight is in the state legislatures to minimumize the effects of this ruling.

  15. 15
    Don Surber says:

    I see all these palefaces getting all upset (and rightly so) about the guvmint confiscatin our lands (for a li’l wampum) to give to rich developers so the guvmint can rake in more money

    And I imagine Chief Seattle (or maybe Logan — naw, who mourns for Logan? Not one) saying to the palefaces: “Tell me about it”

  16. 16
    ppGaz says:

    Killing Terrorists, preferably by the hundreds and keeping Americans safe from scumbags trying to kill them = GOOOODDD

    Thanks, Mike, for clearing that up. It all seems so simple when you explain it!

    Now if we could only figure out why thousands of posts are wasted, cussin and discussin these things, when it’s really all so simple and so easy. Why the country is divided, when we should all just get along, and agree. Why the majority of people in the Western world don’t seem to see the simple majesty of your thinking.

    Why, in fact, we need blogs at all. All we really need is billboards, put up by the “goooooddd” government, telling us what to think. Get those bad guys, Dead or Alive. Bring it On! Soon, the problem will be in its Last Throes.

    I feel a lot better now. Thank you.

    Mission Accomplished!

  17. 17
    Mr Furious says:

    Grrrrrrrrr.

    That is an infuriating story, indeed, John. I am far too swamped to give this the attention it deserves right now. But I want to register my outrage along with you, ya jerk….

  18. 18
    Defense Guy says:

    Wow. It’s almost as if they are being intentionally cruel. The original story is bad enough. This is like pouring salt on these people’s wounds. Assess them for back taxes and pay only 2000 values on the property. The people of New London should be embarrassed, and then they should throw the council out.

  19. 19
    Don says:

    But I don’t see how they could legally be entitled to anything more than the market price in 2000, when they chose to challenge the eminent domain decision. They don’t get to collect triple the payment just because they managed to tie the case up in court for years.

    Why not? Are the new properties going to be sold at 2001 prices? While the developers took a financial hit because of the stoppage (to whatever extent there really was one – as a fairly sweeping operation it’s possible notable bits kept moving. We just don’t know) the valuation of their resale isn’t going to be one.

    It’s hard to view this as anything other than punative, particularly with the combination of the 2000 pricing -and- back rent. My bet is on a negotiating ploy; no matter how much of a hit the developers took, they don’t want to hold this up even LONGER and you can be sure those folks will be right back into court over this issue.

    Amusing, on the heels of tort reform discussion; here’s certainly an area where I wouldn’t cry too long if these folks ended up in a situation where they got an inflated award…

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    The attempt to charge back rent is absurd and sounds like harassment to me. But I don’t see how they could legally be entitled to anything more than the market price in 2000, when they chose to challenge the eminent domain decision.

    Why yes, you are right. Even though the property is still in their hands, and they had every Constitutional right to go to court to protect their land from being seized by the town, they should receive less than market value. Just because.

    IN fact, I suggest every government everywhere immediately lay claim to take every citizens land, but just don’t move to actually take it. Then, they can charge only the 2005 value whenever they eventually decide to use it.

    Fair market value should mean fair market value.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    ppGaz says:

    I suggest every government everywhere immediately lay claim to take every citizens land

    Well, the government can take your life, or your kid, on the basis of policy that they later explain as lacking “reality.” During the interim, citizens are discouraged from criticizing or challenging the policy. The government, in the fullness of time, will adjust your expectations.

    But by all means, let’s have riots in the streets over land seizures. Well, riots in the blogs, anyway.

    There’s a time and a place for demanding accountability from government, right John?

  23. 23
    Mike says:

    “ppGaz Says:

    I feel a lot better now. Thank you.

    Mission Accomplished!”

    Hey no problem man,
    You often seem confused, I just wanted to help.

  24. 24
    Steve says:

    Why yes, you are right. Even though the property is still in their hands, and they had every Constitutional right to go to court to protect their land from being seized by the town, they should receive less than market value. Just because.

    IN fact, I suggest every government everywhere immediately lay claim to take every citizens land, but just don’t move to actually take it. Then, they can charge only the 2005 value whenever they eventually decide to use it.

    Fair market value should mean fair market value.

    Let’s say I owe you $1000, and you have to sue me for it. It takes a year for you to finally win the lawsuit. Who is entitled to the year’s interest on that money, me or you? The answer is you, because it should have been your money all along.

    I don’t understand at all your argument about how the government could benefit by “claiming” everyone’s land now but waiting to “take” it until sometime later. The reason it took 5 years to resolve this is because the landowners maintained a court action, not because the state voluntarily waited 5 years to “take” the property. They moved to take it in 2000; the issue decided by the courts was whether the 2000 taking was permissible. Since it was, the terms of the 2000 transaction apply. This is simply the way the law handles every analogous situation.

  25. 25
    Defense Guy says:

    It was their land to begin with. They claimed, and despite what the court said, that the government had no right to take it. So, this is a retroactive theft with back fees and additional a** f**ings.

  26. 26
    ppGaz says:

    I just wanted to help.

    Yes, of course. And you are, trust me.

  27. 27
    John Cole says:

    That something is current law does not make it right. IMHO, government, when siezing the property of private citizens, should be required to pay above fair market value at the time that the deed changes name. And yes, I meant ABOVE, fair market value.

    That they are taking this property to give to other private citizens for their own financial gain only makes this more offensive.

  28. 28
    Steve says:

    There is absolutely no reason why that cannot be made the law of Connecticut, or any other state. I wouldn’t get outraged because the Supreme Court declines to hold that the Constitution requires the payment of “above fair market value,” though.

    By making a rule that fair market value is not determined until the deed changes name, even if the reason it takes years to change is because of a lengthy court battle, I hope you realize you would be encouraging any number of frivolous lawsuits instituted for the sole purpose of delay. It’s not so clear that such a rule would be good policy.

  29. 29
    John Cole says:

    Considering my almost complete unwillingness to cede the government any rights, even those outlined in the Constitution, regarding the seizure of private land for public use, it would have precisely the effect I would want.

    You can disagree with me on that, and I will note that that is an extreme position, I feel I owe it to you to be honest about my feelings on this matter.

  30. 30
    Steve says:

    My only real interest is in defending the Kelo decision as a legal matter, because I think it is so misinterpreted throughout the blogosphere. But that does not mean I have any interest in defending the concept of eminent domain, or the way it is routinely abused by municipalities. I just wish some people would take their anger at the Supreme Court and channel it towards changing their lax state laws regarding eminent domain.

  31. 31

    […] John Cole (who also finds this to be “outrageous”) has the link to the original Fairfield County Weekly story (and some comments of his own). The story notes: In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case, the city would expect to receive retroactive “use and occupancy” payments (also known as “rent”) from the residents. […]

  32. 32
    Capriccio says:

    Please raise your hands if you’re outraged by Kelo and are damn glad citizens have the right to sue, but yesterday on the tort reform thread you were mouthing power elite propaganda about (ho-ho) frivolous lawsuits.

  33. 33
    Barbar says:

    And raise your hand if you think that there is no right to, say, abortion or gay marriage in the Constitution, and that people who rely on the Supreme Court for protection on those issues are heavy-handed liberals who should be trying to change local legislatures instead (The Power of Democracy), or who could always move to a preferrable location if necessary. Not that you have a problem with abortion or gay marriage, but you have this great respect with legal process that overrides whiny liberal concerns about outcomes.

  34. 34
    Steve says:

    Well, at least Barbar agrees with me that Kelo was correctly decided.

  35. 35
    Deoxy says:

    Steve,

    Kelo was clearly, patently decided incorrectly, as one of the dissneting Justices points out: the only way for Kelo to be correct is if you IGNORE parts of the text of the 5th amendment. Is it “correct” in regard to recent precident? Couldn’t say – and don’t care.

    Capriccio,

    I proudly raise my hand. The ability to sue someone for an injury you caused yourself and the ability to sue the government to KEEP it from (in your opinion) injuring you are quite different. Your post is a pathetic strawman.

    Barbar,

    There is not right to abortion, gay marriage, or even privacy written in the Constitution. These “rights” have been added in by judicial fiat. A much better interpretation of the rights that were interpreted to mean “privacy” would be “property” (and in several places, “property” is actually was is specifically referred to). Strong property rights would guarantee you better “privacy”, while simultaneously preventing (or at leat making more difficult) a Kelo-like decision.

    The right to gay marriage is in the Constitution in the exact same spot as the right to gender-neutral public bathrooms (meaning ALL of them have to be gender-neutral). The logic is identical.

  36. 36
    Steve says:

    Every dissenting opinion claims that the case was decided incorrectly. Every dissenting opinion accuses the majority of ignoring relevant constitutional or statutory provisions. So forgive me if I don’t buy your argument that “this case is clearly wrong, because the dissenting opinion says so.”

  37. 37
    ppGaz says:

    There is not right to abortion, gay marriage, or even privacy written in the Constitution.

    Nor is there any power vested in the federal government to regulate marriage, or sexuality, or to establish any standards for “sanctity.”

    There is no constitutional basis for any proscription against any marriage whatever. Nor is there any such basis for assigning the rights of citizenship to zygotes. Citizenship is conferred at birth under the Constitution.

  38. 38
    Blogsy McBlog says:

    Barbar, the people raising their hands to your question must be forgetting the fourteenth amendment. “Power of democracy” is great, but ineffective standing alone. The courts must enforce the “victories of democracy” from time to time.

  39. 39
    jg says:

    There is not right to abortion, gay marriage, or even privacy written in the Constitution. These “rights” have been added in by judicial fiat.

    9th amendment. All rights we consider self evident are contained in the constitution whether specifically spelled out or not. That they weren’t specifically spelled out CANNOT be used as an argument against our possesing basic human rights.

    How is it illegal for police to search you without cause if you have no right to privacy?

    I guess its real easy to support the Patriot Act if you don’t believe we have a right to privacy.

  40. 40
    Capriccio says:

    Speaking of strawmen, Deoxy, do you know this one?

    I could wile away the hours
    Conferrin’ with the flowers
    Consultin’ with the rain
    And my head I’d be scratchin’
    While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
    If I only had a brain

    I’d unravel any riddle
    For any individ’le
    In trouble or in pain

    (Dorothy)
    With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’
    You could be another Lincoln
    If you only had a brain

    (Scarecrow)
    Oh, I would tell you why
    The ocean’s near the shore
    I could think of things I never thunk before
    And then I’d sit and think some more

    I would not be just a nuffin’
    My head all full of stuffin’
    My heart all full of pain
    I would dance and be merry
    Life would be a ding-a-derry
    If I only had a brain

  41. 41
    Blogsy McBlog says:

    Deoxy’s just mad because he wants bad doctors to be able to continue practicing bad medicine on poor people (like real, live guinea pigs!), and the tort system keeps getting in his way!

  42. 42
    TallDave says:

    Yeah, I saw this a couple days ago somewhere fairly obscure (Hit & Run I think), but it seemed so unbelievable I thought it had to be a mistake or an exaggeration.

    Just crazy.

    I wonder what Justice Souter will think when they seize his home, and make him pay rent while he fights the action in court?

  43. 43
    TallDave says:

    There is no constitutional basis for any proscription against any marriage whatever.

    Right, legally you can marry a cabbage if you can get a law passed that says a State must recognize it.

    I favor gay marriage, and I’ll vote for it, but I don’t favor having it shoved down people’s throats through the courts against the voters’ will.

  44. 44
    jg says:

    I favor gay marriage, and I’ll vote for it, but I don’t favor having it shoved down people’s throats through the courts against the voters’ will.

    There is no reason to oppose gay marriage except on religious grounds. All tax paying citizens deserve the same rights. The courts aren’t pushing new law on us, they’re showing the rights are already established. You need a law to prevent gay marriage not allow it.

  45. 45

    NEW LONDON SUES RESIDENTS FOR BACK RENT

    Now front runner in “Mean MFing Bastard” race, virtually a lock

    from Satire News Services

  46. 46
    htom says:

    Did they pay taxes on their property during that time period? If so, I think that they should either get them back.

  47. 47
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    BTW for you “strict” constitutionalists out there: The Ninth Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  48. 48
    Blogsy McBlog says:

    Tall Dave, you should have addressed your concerns to the authors of the ninth and fourteenth amendments. But hey, southerners said the same thing about abolition; they just didn’t want it “shoved down their throats.”

  49. 49

    […] In other Kelo news, the folks at Q and O are about as thrilled with the recent antics of New London city leaders as I was last week. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] In other Kelo news, the folks at Q and O are about as thrilled with the recent antics of New London city leaders as I was last week. […]

  2. […] John Cole (who also finds this to be “outrageous”) has the link to the original Fairfield County Weekly story (and some comments of his own). The story notes: In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case, the city would expect to receive retroactive “use and occupancy” payments (also known as “rent”) from the residents. […]

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