Kelo effect: Getting last pound of flesh?
Via MaxSpeak, we learn that the New London (Connecticut) Development Corporation (NLDC) has decided they want their attorneys' fees and costs from the losing parties, the homeowners who sued to protect their homes. While this is normally par for the course in such litigation, there is an air of punishment and retribution in this demand that is more than distasteful under the circumstances.
I have written the following letter to the Chief Operating Officer of the NLDC:
I'm an attorney in California who, at my blog, MF Blog, supported the jurisprudence in the majority and concurring opinions in the Kelo decision, though I was troubled by its facts. As one who supports New Deal values, I thought it important for the Supreme Court to defer to legislative action where the overriding primary intent was to restore a tax base to a non-rural community facing decline and blight.
However, that does not mean I support punishing people who are losing their homes in a case that was, after all, 5-4 at the Supreme Court, and contained facts that put this project at the far edge of fairness and close to a private land grab.
I humbly request that the NLDC forego seeking that last pound of flesh from the homeowners who, largely in good faith (I can only speak for some of the homeowners I read about) did not want to lose their homes. As an alternative, the NLDC could hold a few fund raisers and say, "We are pursuing an alternative method of raising money because we recognized that securing the money against the people losing their homes was wrong. We have never intended to penalize anyone. Our goal has always been to re-develop New London into a community in which we can all be proud."
It's your call, but your decision in seeking the fees and costs from the people who were fighting to save their homes will have an adverse effect on all redevelopment actions. The nation is watching.
Mitchell J. Freedman
As a side note, the article linked to above states the homeowners are being offered buyouts based upon the year 2000 values. This is less objectionable because why should those who fought receive a potential windfall for fighting the NLDC compared to those who chose not to fight and agreed to the buy out when it was offered? Fairness needs to work both ways to be...fair.