Skip to comments.Kelo attorney begins negotiations with CT Gov. to let homeowners stay
Posted on 07/21/2005 4:20:26 AM PDT by FortRumbull
Fort Trumbull Advocates Brief Aide To Rell On Change In Law
State hears ways to curb eminent domain powers
By KATE MORAN Day Staff Writer, New London Published on 7/21/2005
New London Scott Bullock, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, met Wednesday with the governor's chief counsel to recommend ways the state could change its laws and restrict the ability of local governments to take private property for economic development projects.
In the month since it lost its case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Institute for Justice has shifted its mission to constrict eminent domain powers from the judicial to the political arena. The law firm has tried to capitalize on public outcry against the court decision to change the laws in Connecticut and other states.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has shown some sympathy to the campaign. While she has not said outright that she favors changing the law, last week she compared the institute's fight to preserve the Fort Trumbull neighborhood in New London to the Boston Tea Party a revolt against the tyrannical power of government.
A spokesman said Wednesday, however, that the governor still has an open mind and would send her chief counsel, Kevin Rasch, to meet next week with members of the New London Development Corp. to hear the other side of the issue. The NLDC manages the Fort Trumbull project on behalf of the city.
Judd Everhart, the governor's spokesman, characterized the hourlong meeting between Rasch and the Institute for Justice as cordial and productive but declined to elaborate on the details of their discussion.
I think it was just part of what everyone hopes will be an ongoing dialogue, he said. (The governor) is open to discussion on just about any aspect of the whole doctrine of eminent domain.
Bullock described the meeting as an informational session in which he presented ways the law might be amended to shore up private property rights. He also tried to convince the governor's counsel that commercial development can coexist with the houses and the apartment building that remain standing on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.
While that meeting took place in Hartford, officials in New London fumed over the Boston Tea Party statement issued last week by the governor's office.
Rell's spokesman seemed to temper that statement on Wednesday, saying the governor had not settled on whether eminent domain law should be changed, but the New London officials were angry she has not retracted what they consider inflammatory rhetoric.
Local leaders say they are baffled that the governor would second-guess the use of eminent domain when it was the state that provided the money to acquire the houses on the Fort Trumbull peninsula and tear them down to make way for offices, condominiums, a luxury hotel and the Coast Guard's national museum.
Gov. Rell seems to forget she was a part of the Rowland administration, said City Manager Richard Brown, referring to former Gov. John G. Rowland, who championed the redevelopment as a way to revitalize a depressed city. Rell was his lieutenant governor and running mate.
Ronald Angelo, the deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Economic and Community Development, said Wednesday the state is not backing away from the plans for Fort Trumbull. He said the state supports plans for a hotel that a developer filed with the city's development office last week. The hotel will not be built on property taken by eminent domain.
Angelo said his office is closely watching how the legislature will act on the issue of eminent domain. He said it is not yet clear whether New London will abide by the moratorium on the taking of private property that the legislature requested cities observe while it holds hearings on amending the state's eminent domain law.
Michael Joplin, president of the NLDC, said Wednesday he hopes to meet with the governor's staff before legislative hearings begin, as early as next week. He also expressed the hope that his agency, whose plan was endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court, would have the first chance to testify during the hearings.
In three courts the Superior Court and the state and federal supreme courts we have shown that we have been impeccable in the way we applied the law, Joplin said. There may be wrong uses of eminent domain, and there probably are, but that is not what happened here. We are perfectly willing to go to the legislature and offer suggestions as to how this statute could be perfected and how, if there are abuses, to avoid them. But we are unwilling to hear from the governor's office that we have done something indefensible.
Joplin was alluding to the statement in which the governor's staff first referred to the Fort Trumbull fight as the Boston Tea Party and then said the use of eminent domain was not justified.
Our homes are the places where we raise our families and build our lives, the statement, dated July 11, said. When government intrudes on our homes, it must have a defensible reason. In the New London case, the reason was not defensible.
On Wednesday, Joplin called that statement extreme to the point of imprudent.
Bullock, the Institute for Justice attorney, meanwhile praised the governor for not letting the policies of a past administration color the way she thinks about the project now.
The person who was mainly pushing it was the old governor, Bullock said. I don't want to fight about what the state did or did not to do in the past. We should work towards a solution right now that helps move development forward and also keeps people in their homes. Finger-pointing and talking about the past is completely unproductive.
© The Day Publishing Co., 2005
Which is exactly why the Kelo holding was such lunacy. Rowland is in jail for taking kickbacks. Where he belongs I might add.
BTW, did we meet at the July 5th rally?
At any rate, I don't know who you are but I know you're righteous when it comes to the takings clause. Soldier on!
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