Monday, September 19, 2011

A Sorry Apology on Kelo

We just got word from Queens Crap that one of the Connecticut Supreme Court justices is now apologizing for his decision against Suzette Kelo on the New London condemnation case. The Hartford Courant has the story:

"Afterward, Susette and I were talking in a small circle of people when we were approached by Justice Richard N. Palmer. Tall and imposing, he is one of the four justices who voted with the 4-3 majority against Susette and her neighbors. Facing me, he said: "Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently."

I was speechless. So was Susette. One more vote in her favor by the Connecticut Supreme Court would have changed history. The case probably would not have advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Susette and her neighbors might still be in their homes.

Then Justice Palmer turned to Susette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words "I'm sorry."

It was all she could do to whisper the words: "Thank you."

With all due respects to Judge Palmer, you can keep the apology because it is meaningless and not only that-it is irrelevant to the legal framework that the court used to decide Kelo's fate. As the inversecondemnantion blog observes-citing the court's ruling:

"The point of us quoting these passages from the majority opinion is that it did not matter to the court whether New London's development plan would "materialize." Thus, even if the property owners had been able to show that the plan likely would fail and that the area had a high chance of becoming "barren and wholly undeveloped," the rational basis standard of review endorsed by the Connecticut Supreme Court majority meant that these factual predictions would be meaningless unless the city's predictions of success were utterly impossible or completely irrational, which they were not."

Maybe it's high time for court's to exercise a little judgment and not simply allow municipalities to run roughshod over the property rights of its citizens:

"So while it's nice to see one of the justices who endorsed that rationale make nice and say sorry, it seems to be a bit of historical revisionism to suggest that if only he'd known the future accurately he would have voted differently (wouldn't we all, Your Honor, wouldn't we all), when he expressly held that predictions of success or failure of the plan were legally irrelevant. The rational basis standard of review he applied to the case makes his present assertion that he he didn't know of the failure of the plan because those facts "were not yet in existence," itself pointless.

How about instead of these heartfelt -- but legally meaningless -- post hoc gestures, courts adopt a standard of review that would allow consideration of evidence about whether redevelopment plans such an New London's really have a genuine chance of working?"

When SCOTUS ruled that condemnation for public benefit was legal as long as there was a well developed economic plan-Justice Kennedy's brainstorm-what it failed to consider was the nefarious nature of so much that is done in the name of economic development-especially in NYC. What we have been demonstrating throughout this long fiight over Willets Point is that these city officials have an arm's length relationship with the truth-and there's a decent chance that Willets Point will be transformed-just like Suzette Kelo's neighborhood-into a dump!

The effort by NYC EDC to end run the environmental review of the required traffic ramps in a newly concocted first phase development underscores how duplicity reigns in Bloomberg's New York-and how no one's property is safe here as long as Iron Triangle Mike is holding onto to power.