Tuesday, June 28, 2005

OK, so "Atlas Shrugged" might be a bit over the top

It seems that Supreme Court Justice David Souter may not be making the best use of his home in New Hampshire. Might a hotel bring a greater public benefit?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, how much do you make as a blogger?


3:18 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Nothing, and I'm worth every penny.

7:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't buy all of it, but I think CNN should clarify its position.


3:46 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I know there has been some criticism of Hayes' reporting in the past, but I don't recall the substance of it.

7:06 PM

Blogger djhlights said...

I still find it quite odd that the "conservatives" are so upset over this court case. I never heard them proclaim the horrible use of eminent domain in order to gain lands used to create private toll roads as a source of fiscal alleviation for budgets of state and local public works in the red state south and west.

Oh that's right! It's ok if you're a republican and you're just tearing down homes of the poor and giving it away to private interests instead of the suburbs of Connecticut to private interests. Then it becomes a constitutional issue.

2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To a conservative, the very mention of 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation' would make it a moot point.

Originalists never for a second believed a local government would be permitted to, some day, take private property and give it to another private entity in a push to drive up tax collections.

There's a PA decision known as Sparhawk that goes to this point, in the common law, and this CL predates the U.S. Constitution in juris prudence.

The CL, you see, has always tolerated takings, at just compensation, for projects intended for the good of all in the community (roads, turnpikes -- which were the common form of intrastate locomotion before the Constitution -- dams, etc.).

The very notion that the federal goverment would ever traffic in ED wasn't even an issue until the 1876 Kohl decision, but that's another point.

States were constrained, anyway, by the common law that pre-dated the Constitution previous to passage of the 14th Amendment.

This CL wisdom has been overturned, first by a very unusual decision in CT, then by a controversial SCOTUS ruling last week.

The only private entities that could receive such land, Constitutionally, had been public-use utilities and railroads, which it has been long argued benefit the entire community by their use, not simply the corporation.

The famous test case for that, of course, is Curtiss v. Georgetown & Alexandria Turnpike Co. decision of 1810.

So, DJ, if it's been on the books since 1810, it might pass muster with conservatives. Just saying...

I believe the real problems began in the 1954 Berman decision that allowed governmental entities to seize properties to eradicate blight.

That said, there still was a scope of "public benefit" that would come from removing the vestiges of povety -- although one could hardly say this ever actually happened in Pittsburgh. Rather than sparking economic development that drew benefits for the dispossessed poor (most of whom were renters and, therefore, went uncompensated for their loss of home or business), one could make a convincing argument that ED use in Pittsburgh has been a long, hard fight against poor black folks.

That it has been championed by both conservative developers and machine politicians hasn't made it right.

I was hoping the court would revisit Berman in the Kelso decision and really investigate the public policy fallout from the heady post-war years of absolute faith in elected governments.

Alas, no such luck.

The nice thing, however, is that Congress has decided in a bipartisan manner to codify what Bush has been doing at HUD for five years now.

If the legislation goes through, no federal funds will ever be used on any project that seizes property from individuals and gives it to corporations.

It's not a conservative or liberal ideal. It has to do with fairness.

5:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, JP, the fallout from Kelso is already sweeping the country.

In Freeport, Tx, the city council moved to seize private businesses so that they can expand the marina.

In Ardmore, Pa., the board wants to take properties for a redevelopment scheme.

In NJ, trailer home residents are now being forced out so that a developer can put up a gated senior citizens' community for 250 wealthy retirees. The town expects property tax receipts to jump from $250,000 to $3 million, so it's ok to take land from the poor and hand it to the rich.

6:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I might suggest a Sister Souljah moment? Maybe the pudgy howler monkey we currently have leading the DNC can attack Tom "Don't Indict Me" Murphy and Pittsburgh's irresponsible, criminal use of eminent domain, thus making our party look like the champions of the poor and dispossessed and not their worst enemy?

Just a thought.

6:03 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I'm familiar with the Ardmore project. I have a friend who lives there. It's been in the works for a while.

I can sympathize with local governments' efforts to eliminate true blight, but the definition of that word is too fungible. I think one can be opposed to the New London decision yet still believe that private property owners have certain obligations to the community that can and should be enforced by law.

6:18 PM

Blogger djhlights said...

"The only private entities that could receive such land, Constitutionally, had been public-use utilities and railroads, which it has been long argued benefit the entire community by their use, not simply the corporation."

Tell that to you GOP controlled Congress.

Thu Jun 30,10:00 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The next road you travel -- and pay a toll to use -- could be privately owned.

Looking for ways to finance highway projects without hitting the public trough, the U.S. Congress appears set to pass a proposal to encourage private ownership of new toll roads.

The provision, part of the highway spending bill now being hammered out by a Senate and House conference committee, would allow private companies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects with bonds that are exempt from federal income taxes.

While the proposal has broad support in Washington and the business community, the idea of private highways has incited grassroots opposition in some states, with some saying the government -- not a profit-seeking company -- is the proper owner of the public's roads.

Toll road owners such as Spain's Cintra (CCIT.MC) and Australia's Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG.AX) stand to benefit from the move to private infrastructure bonds, since their tax-exempt status would keep interest rates and funding costs low.

The move would also bring lucrative fees to Wall Street banks and others for underwriting and trading tax-exempt debt.

"The time has come for this," Sen. Jim Talent (news, bio, voting record), a Missouri Republican who co-sponsored the proposal, said in a telephone interview. "I think we have an excellent chance of the $15 billion bond issue coming out of conference."

While highway spending has traditionally been the government's responsibility, many states faced with tight budgets have given corporations the right to build, operate and maintain roads.

States have the right to regulate toll rates or limit profits, but generally give operators wide latitude to run the roads as they see fit, which concerns some commuters.

Texas, California and Virginia are among the states at the forefront of the movement, one of the most significant changes to the interstate highway network since its inception in the 1950s.

11:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahem. As I mentioned before, the reality is that in the earlier days of this Republic, turnpikes were private affairs, as were canals and, later, railroads.

As "common carriers" (there's statute and common law to this effect), they must serve all comers, regardless of age, sex, class, religion, blah, blah, blah, and submit to interstate regulation (even intrastate, in some cases).

The case I cited for eminent domain concerns involved a private tollway.

This was so long before there was even a Republican Party.

4:42 PM


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