Monday, June 27, 2005 | 0 Comments

I heard about the Kelo decision on the morning news the other day, and let me tell you I AM PISSED! For those of you that are unfamiliar with this case that went to the Supreme Court, it has to do with a developer that wanted a chunk of land on the water to put in a marina and upscale businesses and homes. Problem was there were already people that owned the land, lived there, and weren't interested in selling. The woman who the case was named for, "Susette Kelo dreamed of owning a home that looked out over the water. She purchased and lovingly restored her little pink house where the Thames River meets the Long Island Sound in 1997, and has enjoyed the great view from its windows ever since." SO LONG American Dream for Susette Kelo. You're not worthy enough to own the property that you scrimped and saved and sweated and bled for. So what if you spent years bringing it back to living conditions and getting it just the way that you wanted. The city can't make as much money off you, so you're out and big business is in. Too bad for you. Go live somewhere less appealing. That's where you really belong. Only the wealthy deserve nice things.

Susette of course wasn't the only person affected by this decision. "The Dery family, down the street from Susette, has lived in Fort Trumbull since 1895; Matt Dery and his family live next door to his mother and father, whose parents purchased their house when William McKinley was president. The richness and vibrancy of this neighborhood reflects the American ideal of community and the dream of homeownership."

And then of course there is the most maddening story of heartache: "One petitioner Wilhelmina Dery was born in her house in the neighborhood in 1918 and still lives there, along with her husband of fifty years and the rest of her family." That's heritage, down the shitter. They have held on to that house this long just to be booted out on a whim. That was property that the family obviously was going to leave to their future generations. They would have the stories of their family in that house- now it is being taken away from them because someone more important wants it.

Those in support of this activity say that it's fine because the people are compensated for their properties. I argue that they are not. The law only requires that they be given the fair market value of the property. They are not compensated for the lost heritage and family memories. They are not compensated for all the love and hard work that went into getting the home just as they wanted it. They aren't compensated for their moving expenses. They aren't compensated for the new work that will go into finding a new home and most likely having to pay a higher mortgage. BESIDES, I'd like to hear them say that if someone were to come up and tell them that THEY had to move because they weren't good enough to live there.

But they can feel safe supporting it because they will probably never suffer from this. All of the properties that I know of that are taken under eminent domain are lower class, lower income areas. These people are living there because it is the only place that they can afford to live. If their homes are taken, where do they go? What about those that work in the area because they can't afford transportation? What about neighborhoods where families live near each other in order to stay close and help each other out? Will they be able to all move into another neighborhood together? Most likely not. Will any of this be compensated or made right in any way for these people? NO!

The lower priced homes are the first to go under eminent domain because they are the cheapest for the city to buy and they don't bring in much revenue for the city. They condemn the houses even though they are perfectly livable and not violating any codes. This case was claimed to be the first where a private developer was getting the land under eminent domain, but I remember quite a few years ago in the Twin Cities the same thing happened to a lower class neighborhood. Someone had lived there less than a month and then were given a notice that they were being basically evicted from their property. The people interviewed had no idea where they would live, how they would get to work, what they were going to do for daycare now that they would have to move- these people are already living under day to day stress wondering how they are going to pay their bills and feed their family. Then their lives are forcibly turned upside down, without warning because why? What was the reason that the city gave for booting these people out? They were giving the land to a developer so that they could put nicer homes in. The city planners were actually on the news saying that people should be happy because there would be nicer homes to move into and the neighborhood would be so much nicer. The starting cost of a townhome was $150,000! Right, like the people being forced out of their homes would have enough to afford to live there. It was like robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. These developers even got a sweet deal on the land from the city. Just like in New London where the developer is going to be leasing the land for $1 a year. Yeah, you read that right. $1 a year.

People who don't have a lot of money are continually being taken advantage of in this country. This in turn keeps them poor or even makes them poorer. It reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where the air traffic is redirected over the suburb where the Simpsons live and they fight to have it redirected somewhere else. Bart:"At last those planes are flying where they belong." Homer: "That's right, over the homes of poor people." They are an easy target because they do not have the education, money, or connections to defend themselves. People in this country also tend to think badly of the poor as if they are where they are because they are lazy and aren't trying hard enough. You can only try so hard to overcome, and when people with more power are laying more on your shoulders to deal with every day, well, it becomes impossible to overcome. "Justice O'connor wrote, ‘Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.'"

Justice O'Connor was joined by Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas in her opposition to the bill. THAT'S RIGHT! The only two Democrats on the damn Supreme Court ruled in favor of giving the government control over who can own what land. I do want to add here that it did take 5 to win the case for greedy bastards everywhere and that one of the Democrats is actually a conservative- John Paul Stevens (may I remind you that Zell Miller claims that he is a Democrat, too. Right. Keep telling yourself that Zell.).

The real problem with this case goes beyond those few home owners fighting for their properties and lives as they know them. I feel like the very core of what this country was founded on is being threatened. I feel that now, more than ever, the wealthy and connected have more say in what happens in this country than others even though we are ALL supposed to have ONE VOTE. We are all at risk with a decision such as this; but lets not kid ourselves. Those that have the least will continue to be fed on first. Scott on his blog mentioned that a major problem is that there is no law against discriminating against the poor. Oh, what easy targets they do make.

Here are a list of the current Supreme Court Justices. Ooo, and you even get some pretty juicy bios on them!

Wikipedia has the whole story of the case here.


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Blogger evilsciencechick said...

that so pissed me off, too.

and if that ever happened to out. We will SO be the ones sitting on the front porch holding shot guns, daring the bulldozers to move one foot closer.

June 27, 2005 1:11 PM

Blogger SierraBella said...

My grandmother lived on an old cobblestone street in a declining area in the 1960s.
The city decided to build a freeway through the neighborhood, and bought out the homes at their supposedly fair market value.
The homes were liveable, and not worth much... so where could these people go?
This kind of thing has to stop!
You save or inherit a home, pay your property taxes and still have it taken away?
And it can happen to any one of us!

June 27, 2005 1:41 PM

Blogger sideshow bob said...

Yes, that was an excellent episode...and thanks for the excedrin.

June 27, 2005 4:33 PM

Blogger OldRoses said...

I want to comment but I am just too upset about this issue and the way our country is headed.

June 27, 2005 10:38 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

ESC- I think that is definitely the thing that would get me to bear arms! I really love this country and what it is supposed to be. It pisses me off that people are trying to change things to make it run by someone other than the people. Our freedoms are being given away to the highest bidder.

Sierrabella- Exactly!! Those homes mean far more to the person than an asset. They are the center of people's very lives!

SSB- I needed some after hearing about this! Stupid, stupid, stupid judges!

OldRoses- I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN! I actually heard about this last Thursday but was just too pissed to get anything reasonable down until yesterday. The post would have mainly consisted of "Assholes, Bastards, Fucking Assholes, Fucking Bastards"...and something about lots of ammo and grenades up people's asses if they ever tried this with me.

June 28, 2005 12:15 PM