f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

June 24, 2005

local schmocal: kelo

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 2:25 pm
ooh neg  potluck
Like webloggers and journalists across the entire spectrum of American politics and political philosophy (from TalkLeft and Pattis, to Bainbridge and Sandefur; but see NYT editorial) the lawyer in me (especially as an advocate for personal and consumer rights, and the economically weak) believes Kelo v. City of New London was wrongly decided.
Having lived in dying and fiscally desperate NE industrial cities, I admit that another part of me wonders if there, in fact, shouldn’t be a way for major development to go forward when there are a handful or fewer of holdouts, who refuse to sell and are blocking major projects.  (Perhaps there should be compensation for emotional damages for the taking of a homestead, in addition to Fair Market Value, with a jury deciding and the new private owner responsible for the payment.)


ooh I went to bed last night thinking that our political system holds enough checks and balances to keep this Kelo power from being abused.  I woke up this morning, however, remembering my prior postings on the folly of economic development plans in the real world.  For example schmittle Italy.  And, I recalled shenanighans that seem to be part of most “planning” and “development” decisions wherever I look (reinforced by tales from my brother, whose legal practice focuses on representing homeowners in zoning/development disputes).  So, I’m going to repeat the opening sentences from my local schmocal essay, and hope that citizens will vigilantly monitor their local officials — ever skeptical about the relationship of local pols and developers.


One very good thing about our “let fifty labs operate” federalist
system is that states get to see what works in other places and 
take advantage of the experience.   One very strange part of the
system, however, is that states never seem to learn from the mistakes
that happen elsewhere.   And, one very weak part of the system is
that the labs are operated by local governments.
Some political theorists and ideologues wax rhapsodic about
decisions being made and problems being solved at the level closest to the
people.   But, when I think “local government” I tend to think — based mostly
on the seven or eight cities of various sizes I’ve lived in over the past half
century — “un-professional,” “sinecures,” “patronage,” “pay-back,” and
“party hacks.”  I do not think “knowledgeable people likely to solve
complicated problems.” 

Call me a cynic, but when it comes to economic development, I’m more likely to think “the fix is in.”   Hold on to your wallets and your deeds. 
  • Sometimes, George Will gets it exactly right (Wash. Post, June 24, 2005): “[I]n the debate about the proper role of the judiciary in American democracy, conservatives who dogmatically preach a populist creed of deference to majoritarianism will thereby abandon, or at least radically restrict, the judiciary’s indispensable role in limiting government.”
  • Over at TechCentralStation, Steve Bainbridge has a good analysis of Kelo. We part company, however, when Prof. B. says that the votes of Kennedy and Souter prove “once again just how essential it is that Bush 43 pick somebody reliably — and permanently — conservative when there’s an
    opening.” (emphasis added)  If someone tells me that their political or judicial philosphy will never change, no matter how much experience shows that his or her perspective or ideology simply does not work in practice, or does not serve justice, the Constitution, or the public interest in particular
    circumstances, my reaction is “then, you do not have a judicial temperament.”
  • Wisdom often (although certainly not always) comes with experience. See our post-chart “political maturation after age 30.

trailerG update (July 5, 2005):  Don’t miss John Tierney’s NYT op/ed piece, “Your Land is My Land,” asking the next Supreme Court nominee to tour Pittsburgh to see the results of decades of eminent domain aimed at creating “better uses.”  (July 5, 2005)
 * * * * *


      empty house
some nameless plants
      have moved i
    a blue ceiling
where the roof-beams
    have collapsed
family album–
                   the black and white
                   of my youth
         sharp wind

the metal gate bangs shut
          bangs shut
    flag up
on the mailbox
except: “family album” from pegging the wind
moving day —
the house and kids
left behind
winding road —
under the influence
of a strawberry moon
[June 24, 2005]



Powered by WordPress