CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Initial fallout over Supremes' desecration of the Constitution
and other matters


Leonard Kopelman of the Boston law firm Kopelman and Paige, which represents two thirds of the stateís municipalities as sole counsel or special counsel, including many towns on the Cape, said the use of eminent domain would continue to be rare and costly in Massachusetts, even with the courtís decision.

"I donít think itís going to be a radical change," Kopelman said....

The Supreme Court decision was blasted yesterday by Citizens for Limited Taxation, which called on Romney to file a state constitutional amendment, if necessary, to protect private property.

"We understand, and barely approve, the concept of eminent domain for major public projects like roads ... But to be forced by government at any level to give up our homes to private sector developers, for business expansion, shopping malls and "better" housing than our little homes, is a violation of everything for which America has stood since its birth," the CLT said.

Ottaway News Service
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Supreme Court decision could lead legislature
to reexamine eminent domain law


"No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session," Mark Twain wrote. Now we can say that of the U.S. Supreme Court, too....

A Boston Herald editorial
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Court: Your home not your castle


With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments can seize homes and businesses for private economic development. In doing so, the majority of the court stretched the definition of "public use," which in eminent domain terms usually applies to the right of the government to seize homes for public works projects, schools, libraries, and the like. Now the court has given permission to many municipalities to take perfectly functional private homes and businesses so they can approve upscale private projects capable of paying higher property taxes.

A Boston Globe editorial
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Property grab


We urge lawmakers here to join the list of states that provide some degree of protection to the average homeowner, to the people who are working hard and playing by the rules. Without some new protections on the state level, virtually anything can be deemed a public use - and the Fifth Amendment is rendered meaningless gibberish.

A Springfield Republican editorial
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Defining 'public use' until it is meaningless


When it comes to land usage, Justice John Paul Stevens, age 85, writes for the majority that City Hall "knows best." And who can dispute that? Naturally you want to replace the local rabble with a better sort of people, and what more reliable measure of someone's worthiness than whether they pony up when the local pol's bagman comes calling?

All the Beautiful People on the Court, including ultra-liberal Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, voted against the blue-collars of New London, Conn., who were trying to hang onto their oceanfront property. Apparently Ginsburg and Breyer aren't terribly concerned about any of their vast portfolios of inherited real estate being divested from them.

It was left to Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, to call the liberals out on their dirty little secret: "In cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as 'Negro removal.'"

That quote didn't get a lot of play in the mainstream media, did it? Nor did the fact that the NAACP and the AARP were on the same side with the working-class white homeowners being evicted from their own homes to make way for rich liberals with trust funds.

The Boston Herald
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Like that land with a view?
So will your fearless leaders

By Howie Carr


One hates to be cynical, but given the scores of currently indicted or soon-to-be indicted or recently indicted pols around here, one must maintain vigilance to keep greas-unamis at bay and Grandma O'Leary's ancestral cottage from going luxury high-rise....

To paraphrase dissenting justice Sandra Day O'Connor, it won't be the landed gentry of Nantucket losing their waterfront but the working people of places like South Boston, Revere, Quincy, Nantasket or Nahant who can't afford to fight city hall.

The Boston Herald
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Who can you trust not to take your house?
By Margery Eagan


In effect, the majority in Kelo v. New London held that the words "public use" in the Fifth Amendment -- "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation" -- can mean wholly private use, so long as the government expects it to yield some incidental public benefit -- more tax revenue, new jobs, "maybe even aesthetic pleasure," as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in a dissent joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Would your town's tax base grow if your home were bulldozed and replaced with a parking garage? If so, it may not be your home for long.

As a result of this evisceration of the Public Use clause, "the specter of condemnation hangs over all property," the dissenters warn. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory." ...

It isn't the high and mighty on whom avaricious governments and developers prey. Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy are responsible for this execrable decision. But they'll never have to live with its consequences.

The Boston Globe
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Eminent injustice in New London
By Jeff Jacoby


Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

News Release - Freestar Media, LLC
Monday, June 27, 2005
"Lost Liberty Hotel" proposed on Justice Souter's land


When the state closes the book on another fiscal year June 30, Massachusetts, for the first time, will have collected more tax money than it did in 2001, the year the economy and stock market collapsed. In the current fiscal year, the state expects to collect about $17.1 billion in taxes, up more than 7 percent from last year. In 2001 the state collected $16.7 billion....

The Romney administration believes the state is flush enough to cut taxes. "If the money sits around, it will be spent," said Eric Kriss, secretary of Administration and Finance. The Democratic Legislature has rebuffed the call for tax cuts, arguing that any extra money should be used to restore spending cuts and build reserves....

During the economic boom of the late 1990s, the state set aside money in a "rainy day" fund to prepare for an eventual downturn. When the recession hit, Massachusetts had $2.8 billion in the fund and several hundred million more in other accounts -- a level of savings few states could match. Over the past four years the state spent $1.7 billion of those reserves. "Without that money the pain would have been worse," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a watchdog group. Widmer credits former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran for resisting calls to spend the extra money or give it back in the form of tax cuts.

The Boston Globe
Monday, June 27, 2005
State seeing end to fiscal downturn
Tax revenues are expected to rebound, surpass 2001


Massachusetts lawmakers have created a budget that sharply curbs the powers of state court administrators to manage local courthouses, a move that critics say will strengthen the lawmakers' control over patronage....

At the same time, the Legislature, in the $23.9 billion budget plan it sent Governor Mitt Romney last week, restored nearly $1.5 million to the accounts for the commissioner of probation, John J. O'Brien, a close ally of House leaders....

To soften the blow, the state spending plan provides modest increases to the budgets of each of the courts. Massachusetts is the only state where the Legislature sets strict funding levels for each courthouse....

The Legislature's budget also ignores reforms proposed in 2003 by a special commission headed by Boston College's chancellor, the Rev. J. Donald Monan. The panel recommended that the courts be run with less interference from lawmakers who are cutting what it said was "backroom deals." ...

A study in 2001 by a former district court judge, James W. Dolan, for the fiscally conservative think tank Pioneer Institute, found that lawmakers had in recent years created 382 positions the judiciary never sought, costing taxpayers $48.3 million.

The Boston Globe
Monday, June 27, 2005
Budget shifts judicial power
Chief justice loses control of money


Gov. Mitt Romney's plan to force more people to pay for health insurance is surgically splitting conservatives over the issue.

For decades, liberals have favored a universal health-care system, often pushing for a single-payer system that would centralize control and funding via government....

But the plan is dividing conservatives about how far government should go toward mandating and paying for people's health care. The split comes down to a free-market purity vs. a sort-of-free-market pragmatism....

Meanwhile, the head of Suffolk University's conservative Beacon Hill Institute is at odds with the local anti-tax group, Citizens for Limited Taxation, whose conservative leader endorsed Romney's plan last week.

"It's a badly thought out idea," said David G. Tureck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute. Tuerck says Romney's proposal will eventually lead to more government controls over health care.

CLT's Barbara Anderson counters that government has already mandated that people receive health care. The question, she says, is how to pay for it.

"Let's just face that reality and deal with it," Anderson said last week, arguing Romney's plan is about forcing people to pay up for services they expect to get for free from taxpayers.

The Boston Herald
Monday, June 27, 2005
Conservatives debate Romney insurance plan


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to decimate centuries of property rights under the U.S. Constitution and beyond is having the effect we predicted. When, if ever, has one issue drawn together the left, right, and center with such common purpose?

When the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, and even the Springfield Republican all editorialize in one voice, something big and terrible is happening.

What the court's ruling accomplished in giving government the right to take away private property on a whim has been to turn the Constitution's "Takings Clause" into one of class warfare -- because everyone, left, right, and center, knows how government operates, in reality whose interests are catered to by our elected "public servants." We all recognize that government only expands its power if allowed -- the left counts on it patiently, the right opposes it at every turn, the middle attempts to influence, moderate and direct it.

But this isn't a left-right issue because all -- left, right and center -- own property or aspire to it; property has always been the foundation of the American Dream, its basis going all the way back to the Magna Carta of 1215.

When representatives of the young republic of the United States gathered to draft a constitution, they turned to the legal system they knew and admired -- English common law as evolved from Magna Carta. The conceptual debt to the great charter is particularly obvious: the American Constitution is "the Supreme Law of the Land," just as the rights granted by Magna Carta were not to be arbitrarily canceled by subsequent English laws.

This heritage is most clearly apparent in our Bill of Rights. The fifth amendment guarantees:

"No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

National Archives and Records Administration
The Magna Carta

That American Dream has just been shattered for everyone without influence among the ruling elite.  In the end, none -- left, right, or center -- trust the ruling elite. Not even the Boston Globe.

As Barbara wrote in our news release on Friday, "We fight to limit taxes Ė but we start with the assumption that we have private property to be taxed." If private property is no longer recognized, then the battle and our mission have changed.


Perhaps the most delicious justice of all for the Freewheeling Five on the nation's highest court would be one or more of them losing their property, their homestead, to some developer as a result of the the court majority's treacherous blasphemy. I'm happy to report that one has already come forward with a proposal to grab Associate Justice David Souter's Weare, New Hampshire home.

Logan Darrow Clements has applied for a eminent domain ruling on Souter's property to build a proposed hotel.

Now we'll  see if "equal justice for all" and "a nation of laws and not of men" are dead as well.


Overshadowed by this shredding of the Constitution was the news that the state Legislature approved its final FY2006 budget.

According to the State House News Service on Thursday:

The House at 3 pm [Wednesday] voted 157-0 to approve the $23.9 billion fiscal 2006 conference committee budget bill that was filed at 3 am. The Senate followed with a 35-0 stamp of approval.

With a week left in the fiscal year, the branches sent the budget to Gov. Romney's desk at 4:10 pm. Whether the budget is in place before the July 1 start of the fiscal year now depends on whether Romney takes the full 10 days allotted for him to review the bill, sign it, and announce his amendments and vetoes.

The Boston Globe reported:

When the state closes the book on another fiscal year June 30, Massachusetts, for the first time, will have collected more tax money than it did in 2001, the year the economy and stock market collapsed. In the current fiscal year, the state expects to collect about $17.1 billion in taxes, up more than 7 percent from last year.

Still no tax rollback. But "the Legislature, in the $23.9 billion budget plan it sent Governor Mitt Romney last week, restored nearly $1.5 million to the accounts for the commissioner of probation, John J. O'Brien, a close ally of House leaders.... A study in 2001 ... found that lawmakers had in recent years created 382 positions the judiciary never sought, costing taxpayers $48.3 million."

Still no tax rollback as mandated by the voters five years ago, as promised by the Legislature 16 years ago.

Here they go again, creating the next "fiscal crisis" as the revenue -- our tax overpayments -- pour in and choke the state's coffers.


The Boston Herald reported that the governor's proposed health care plan "is dividing conservatives about how far government should go toward mandating and paying for people's health care. The split comes down to a free-market purity vs. a sort-of-free-market pragmatism." Boy, isn't that an understatement -- and I'm one of those straddling the schism.

I can see both sides of this issue but, ultimately, I've come down on Barbara's side: we already have government-mandated health care. The upcoming debate must be over just who is paying that bill. Currently it's taxpayers who're being charged to carry those who, for whatever their reasons, are without their own health care plan. And many of the "uninsured" can afford it more than many of us who are paying for our own -- and theirs too.

David Tuerck is correct, as usual -- but his position lost long ago through the creeping incrementalism he warns us about. Society decided back then that it will not deny medical services to anyone, regardless of their inability -- or ability -- to pay for it. The forthcoming debate is not over whether to have "universal" health care of not: we have it. The debate is over just who will pay for it in the future, and how.

Chip Ford


Ottaway News Service
Saturday, June 25, 2005

Supreme Court decision could lead legislature
to reexamine eminent domain law
By David Kibbe


Last weekís U.S. Supreme Court decision granting municipalities the right to take private property by eminent domain for economic development could prompt the state Legislature to re-examine state laws.

But one legal expert said the high courtís decision in a New London, Conn., case merely reaffirmed the power that redevelopment authorities already have in Massachusetts and in other states to transform blighted neighborhoods.

Leonard Kopelman of the Boston law firm Kopelman and Paige, which represents two thirds of the stateís municipalities as sole counsel or special counsel, including many towns on the Cape, said the use of eminent domain would continue to be rare and costly in Massachusetts, even with the courtís decision.

"I donít think itís going to be a radical change," Kopelman said.

He said the courtís decision affected large-scale development, such as the whole-sale demolition of a blighted neighborhood for an expansive redevelopment plan. He said the prospect of a town knocking down three homes for a supermarket is "not going to happen."

"My guess is it will be some developer that has loads of money and thinks there is a shortage of housing," Kopelman said. "ÖIt will take a grand vision, and then someone will take years to put it together."

But the courtís 5-4 decision to allow the Connecticut waterfront city to take private homes to allow developers to build new housing, stores, restaurants and businesses was reverberating through Massachusetts.

Gov. Mitt Romneyís press office did not have a comment on the case yesterday, or whether the stateís laws needed to be reviewed. However, Romney said on a radio show this week that the courtís decision was "troubling," and eminent domain should be reserved for public needs like railroads.

Officials and activists in two areas that have been eyed for redevelopment Ė Buzzards Bay and Hyannis Ė said they didnít see the Supreme Court decision affecting their towns.

"Eminent domain are two dirty words," said Tom Moccia, president of the Buzzards Bay Village Association.

Right now Mocciaís group is sponsoring an international design competition to resuscitate downtown Buzzards Bay.

He called eminent domain a tool the town was unlikely to resort to any time soon, if at all. Talk of it is premature, he said.

"It may be high-end condominiums, it may be museums," he said. "We have no idea what Main Streetís going to look like yet."

The community should focus on encouraging owners to redevelop property in ways consistent with "smart growth" principles.

He added, "In Cape Cod, the public likes to be involved. Even to suggest an inkling of eminent domain, the hostility would just start."

Thatís what happened in Barnstable, where town officials last year abandoned an effort to expand their land-taking authority in the face of angry opposition from downtown merchants.

The proposal was to form a redevelopment agency that would have the power to force commercial property owners to sell lots to the town for resale to developers.

Now, Barnstable Planning Director Tom Broadrick said the focus is on proposed zoning changes that would collapse Hyannisí 14 planning zones into seven and negotiations with the Cape Cod Commission that would change the threshold for when commission review of projects is required.

"We think that these tools we have in place are going to work well and we wonít need to use eminent domain," he said. "I donít think thatís something anybody wants to revisit any time soon."

Barnstable Town Council President Gary Brown agreed, saying, "Itís one thing that I personally hate to bring up, whatsoever. I just donít think itís fair to take somebodyís land just because you want another use for it."

Eminent domain was used in Bostonís controversial destruction of its West End neighborhood for high-rise towers and offices in the 1960s, a decision that is still being criticized.

Boston was also considering taking private businesses by eminent domain in 2000 to build a new Fenway Park in Kenmore Square, but the plans have been dropped by the teamís new ownership. In 2003, a state legislator proposed taking land by eminent domain for casinos and selling them to the highest bidder. That idea died as well.

Kopelman was preparing a memo on the courtís ruling for the cities and towns that he represents. He predicted the courtís decision would be reviewed by Massachusetts House and Senate lawyers, who would then advise legislative leadership whether any changes needed to be made.

Eminent domain has been used by government bodies to take private land for an overriding public purpose, like public health, safety and transportation. The state is required to pay fair market value for property, and people can challenge the amount in court.

But the definition of eminent domain has grown over the years to include land for sports stadiums, urban redevelopment and industrial parks.

The Supreme Court ruled in the Connecticut case that the public would benefit from a plan that would create 1,000 new jobs and higher tax revenue, even though it would also enrich private developers.

The Supreme Courtís decision still gives latitude to individual states and cities to set limits on eminent domain.

Kopelman said eminent domain remains a difficult process in Massachusetts. For instance, a land taking must be approved by a two-thirds vote of Town Meeting or a City Council. Even if approved, the town must come up with the money to compensate the landowner.

"Town Meetings arenít crazy about eminent domain, in general," Kopelman said.

The courtís ruling hit the same day the Legislature was completing a $24 billion state budget, and it was unclear what legislative committee might look at the stateís laws.

House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi could not be reached for comment yesterday, and several legislators who serve on committees that handle economic development and municipal law could not be reached, either.

The Supreme Court decision was blasted yesterday by Citizens for Limited Taxation, which called on Romney to file a state constitutional amendment, if necessary, to protect private property.

"We understand, and barely approve, the concept of eminent domain for major public projects like roads ... But to be forced by government at any level to give up our homes to private sector developers, for business expansion, shopping malls and "better" housing than our little homes, is a violation of everything for which America has stood since its birth," the CLT said.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Boston Herald editorial
Court: Your home not your castle


"No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session," Mark Twain wrote. Now we can say that of the U.S. Supreme Court, too.

The high court's 5-4 decision handed down Thursday vastly expands the right of governments to seize private property for a variety of ill-defined "public" purposes. It used to be that the notion of public benefits that warrant eminent domain seizures was obvious - a highway, for example, that shouldn't have to zig-zag around a home in its path.

Years ago the court recognized the need for government to promote the greater good by seizing property in blighted areas. Defining "blighted," of course, is rather like defining pornography. It is often in the eye of the beholder. Where Boston's West Enders saw a vital community, developers saw "blight" now long since replaced by high-rises.

Now the Supreme Court has taken that a giant step forward in a case involving a group of homeowners in New London, Conn., who challenged a plan to seize their homes to make way for a private development to include a hotel, offices and a marina, aimed at increasing the city's tax base.

In her dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall."

A scary thought that, but one that points to the need for President Bush to choose wisely and well as he approaches an inevitable decision on his first Supreme Court nominee.

The New London case shows clearly why it will matter.

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Boston Globe editorial
Property grab


With this week's eminent domain victory in the US Supreme Court, city officials in New London, Conn., prepare to demolish a modest riverfront neighborhood to make way for a hotel and office complex. New London stands to gain property tax revenue, but also a reputation as a city that cares more for commerce than for its residents.

Bostonians know something about the abuse of the Fifth Amendment, which gives government the authority to take property through eminent domain "for public use." The West End story of the 1950s still evokes images of thoughtless government officials who allowed a colorful, close-knit neighborhood of modest homes to be leveled for the development of Charles River Park, an undistinguished high-rise complex catering to the wealthy. "Remember The West End," is still a populist battle cry in Boston. New Londoners may soon rally to the cries of "Remember Fort Trumbull," the targeted neighborhood overlooking Long Island Sound.

With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments can seize homes and businesses for private economic development. In doing so, the majority of the court stretched the definition of "public use," which in eminent domain terms usually applies to the right of the government to seize homes for public works projects, schools, libraries, and the like. Now the court has given permission to many municipalities to take perfectly functional private homes and businesses so they can approve upscale private projects capable of paying higher property taxes.

Takings can be justified if the neighborhood is a slum that poses health and safety risks. Massachusetts law, for example, requires municipalities to prove that properties targeted for economic development are "blighted open areas." As the Supreme Court made clear, states are still free to pass tough laws that restrict the kind of abuses seen in New London. This week's court decision should prompt many states to do exactly that. Absent such laws, the upper hand belongs to private developers whose interests lie mainly in creating commercial profit centers for themselves.

The usually subdued Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dissented from the New London decision passionately, and with cause. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms," she wrote.

New London has been in decline for more than half a century. But efforts at revitalization should target both commercial and residential growth. New London officials tilted too far in favoring tax revenues over taxpaying residents. Far worse, the high court gave them the necessary boost.

Return to top


The Springfield Republican
Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Springfield Republican editorial
Defining 'public use' until it is meaningless


Susette Kelo likes her house, a small, pink Victorian in New London, Conn., with a porch that overlooks Long Island Sound.

But authorities say that Kelo and her neighbors in the working class Fort Trumbull neighborhood have got to give up their houses so that a private developer can build offices, a hotel and new residences. And the U.S. Supreme Court thinks that's just fine.

Thursday's 5-4 ruling siding with the government over the property owners expanded land-taking for "public use" as provided in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution to include even private development that will increase a municipality's taxes.

The decision opens the door to all manner of abuses in the name of development.

Time was, of course, when authorities could seize private property only for an actual public use such as a road or a government building. Later, railroads were afforded the same right because moving people and products is also an undeniable public use. Fifty years ago, eminent domain was extended to allow the destruction of areas that were seen as blighted. Removing blight, the thinking went, was also a public use.

That's where nine states decided to draw the line. They passed laws saying that authorities needed, at a minimum, to be able to prove that an area was blighted before they could seize private property. Massachusetts is not one of those states.

We urge lawmakers here to join the list of states that provide some degree of protection to the average homeowner, to the people who are working hard and playing by the rules. Without some new protections on the state level, virtually anything can be deemed a public use - and the Fifth Amendment is rendered meaningless gibberish.

In a stinging dissent, Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote: "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory."

That might be a nice vision of America for tax collectors, but for everyone else it presents a worrisome picture indeed.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Sunday, June 26, 2005

Like that land with a view?
So will your fearless leaders
By Howie Carr


Remember the sign at Charles River Park, visible to everyone stalled in traffic on Storrow Drive: "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now."

What the sign also should have added was, "If You Still Lived Here, You'd Be Rich Now."

But the people who once resided in the old West End are long gone. They were just too downscale. Jerome Rappaport needed that land, dammit, and he was tight with Mayor Hynes. If you built straight up, the West End had water views. Since when do poor people have a right to water views?

I was thinking about that Storrow Drive sign last week as the U.S. Supreme Court codified for the nation what has been reality around here for at least a half-century: that local pols can grab your land to enrich their pals and campaign contributors.

When it comes to land usage, Justice John Paul Stevens, age 85, writes for the majority that City Hall "knows best." And who can dispute that? Naturally you want to replace the local rabble with a better sort of people, and what more reliable measure of someone's worthiness than whether they pony up when the local pol's bagman comes calling?

All the Beautiful People on the Court, including ultra-liberal Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, voted against the blue-collars of New London, Conn., who were trying to hang onto their oceanfront property. Apparently Ginsburg and Breyer aren't terribly concerned about any of their vast portfolios of inherited real estate being divested from them.

It was left to Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, to call the liberals out on their dirty little secret: "In cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as 'Negro removal.'"

That quote didn't get a lot of play in the mainstream media, did it? Nor did the fact that the NAACP and the AARP were on the same side with the working-class white homeowners being evicted from their own homes to make way for rich liberals with trust funds.

Whenever some unconnected landowner gets taken to the cleaners, the pols say it's all about "public-private partnerships." Which means something public is about to fall into private hands. Remember 75 State Street? Or Teddy Anzalone's $1 townhouse in the North End. More recently, there was Judge Joe Trainor, a hack pal of Tom Finneran and Billy Bulger, who is now on the state appeals court.

This is a convicted drunken driver who was so plastered one night on 128 he couldn't recite the alphabet. Yet a Bulger crony filed legislation to give the crapulous judge 6.6 acres on the Quabbin Reservoir, for $4,000.

In Boston,the Boston Redevelopment Authority can move against "blight," which, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. All the BRA has to do is declare a few parcels a "planned area development," a PAD. Fill in your own joke about politicians on the PAD.

Our two U.S. senators, Kennedy and Kerry, are both fabulously wealthy - one by inheritance, the other by marriage. Just the right sort of people to enjoy an ocean view. And so you've heard not a peep from Ted's seaside mansion in Hyannisport. Sen. Kerry likewise isn't concerned about Wal-Mart grabbing his second wife's first husband's palace on Hulbert Ave. in Nantucket for a new superstore.

Nor has President Bush chimed in. He used to own a baseball team that needed a new stadium. Would you care to guess how the land was obtained? His family's oceanfront manse is in Kennebunkport.

But most of us need not worry about having rich people paying off pols to steal our land. At least as long as we don't own oceanfront property.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who can you trust not to take your house?
By Margery Eagan


"Nothing happens in this state until someone gets greased." Thus speaks Bill Wheaton, South Boston, a keenly astute observer of the commonwealth he's lived in for 73 years.

So the United States Supreme Court just made it far easier for government to snatch private property for private development.

A view developers lust after? The one from front porches along that stretch of South Boston waterfront by Columbia Road, the "L" Street Bathhouse and the "M" Street Beach down to the City Point rotary.

That's where Bill Wheaton sat on a shaded bench with his buddies Friday afternoon.

Does Wheaton trust local politicians not to sell out from underneath him should somebody decide The "M" Street Marriott - jobs, taxes! - would help the city more than, say, Jan Wieckowski's lovely beachfront two-story, no matter its neat gardens or second floor picture window where Jan "can see the planes every day. A real haven."

Would Wheaton trust them should that somebody then decide to contribute heavily to those local pols' campaigns or pet charities? Would Bill Wheaton trust them? Does he now?

"So far," he says, hitting on the two operative concepts now that the court's opened the door for a potential pol feeding frenzy.

Those are "so far." And "get greased."

One hates to be cynical, but given the scores of currently indicted or soon-to-be indicted or recently indicted pols around here, one must maintain vigilance to keep greas-unamis at bay and Grandma O'Leary's ancestral cottage from going luxury high-rise.

The good news for Joe Curran and his to-die-for wraparound porch and lush flowering boxes looking out over a fine expanse of newly non-toxic sea? The private development action in South Boston - for now - is taking place at Fan Pier, closer to downtown.

And lots of important people - the fire and police commissioners and City Council President Michael Flaherty and longtime councilor Jim Kelly - live on or right near the water by Columbia Road. "I just want to underline," says Kelly, in the same house since 1958, "this will never happen in my lifetime." There's a certain steely tone to his voice.

The whole idea's "a disaster," says City Councilor Stephen Murphy, who says "there's no price" that could cause him to turn on constituents or longtime neighbors and sell the Truman Highway, Hyde Park, to developers.

Of course it's not clear who wants the Truman Highway.

The not-so-good news if you live somewhere in Boston that somebody does want? That there's now less to stop the city from taking it. That these irate councilors aren't the ones who make development decisions. The Boston Redevelopment does.

The not-so-good news for those who live outside Boston? That the only thing between your homes going five-star hotel are your own local pols, who may or may not be for sale, plus the state courts and the state legislature, which brings us back to the currently, soon-to-be or recently indicted issue.

Councilor Kelly says he will seek a BRA meeting to get on the record his vehement opposition to the Supreme Court's "un-American" move. Bill Wheaton "can't understand why all the liberals voted for this. They're supposed to be for the working people."

To paraphrase dissenting justice Sandra Day O'Connor, it won't be the landed gentry of Nantucket losing their waterfront but the working people of places like South Boston, Revere, Quincy, Nantasket or Nahant who can't afford to fight city hall.

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Sunday, June 26, 2005

Eminent injustice in New London
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist


I reached Mike Cristofaro on Thursday afternoon, a few hours after the Supreme Court ruled that local governments can seize people's property by eminent domain and turn it over to private developers. The court's 5-4 decision was a defeat for seven New London, Conn., property owners, who have resisted the city's plan to demolish their homes to make way for offices, upscale condos, and a waterfront hotel. Mike's 79-year-old father, Pasquale Cristofaro, is one of those homeowners, and I wondered how he had taken the news.

"I haven't told my father yet," Mike said. "I don't know what to say. You want to help me break it to him?"

I first met the Cristofaros in July 2001. The homeowners' lawsuit against the city was going to trial, and I'd come to New London to talk to some of the plaintiffs and see their homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood for myself. As Mike and I walked to his parents' home on Goshen Street, he recalled how they had learned that the city intended to force them from their property. On the day before Thanksgiving, a sheriff's deputy had shown up at their front door with condemnation papers and ordered them to be out by March. The news came as such a shock that Mike's mother, Margerita, began having heart palpitations and had to be taken to the hospital. (She passed away in 2003).

For 27 years, Pasquale had been a loyal city employee. But no one from the New London Development Corp. -- the agency charged with transforming the area into a fashionable complement to the big research headquarters Pfizer was building nearby -- ever came to talk with the Cristofaros about the city's interest in their property. No one from City Hall asked the elderly couple if there was anything that might make a relocation less traumatic. Like the other homeowners, they were told just one thing: Sell now or be forced out.

"These people don't have no respect," Pasquale, who immigrated from Italy in 1962, told me that day. "You supposed to go like gentlemen -- make me a price, ask me a yes or no. I love this house. I pay my bill, I pay the tax. And now they say I should get out? It's not right. It's not right."

No, it's not right. But five Supreme Court justices have just said it's constitutional.

In effect, the majority in Kelo v. New London held that the words "public use" in the Fifth Amendment -- "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation" -- can mean wholly private use, so long as the government expects it to yield some incidental public benefit -- more tax revenue, new jobs, "maybe even aesthetic pleasure," as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in a dissent joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Would your town's tax base grow if your home were bulldozed and replaced with a parking garage? If so, it may not be your home for long.

As a result of this evisceration of the Public Use clause, "the specter of condemnation hangs over all property," the dissenters warn. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

In truth, though, it isn't all property that is at risk. If "public use" now means the government can evict a property owner so that a new owner can use the land to make more money, it is clear who will suffer most. "The fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote sadly. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.... The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more."

In a separate dissent, Thomas made the same point: "These losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities ... the least politically powerful." Fifty years of eminent domain statistics drive home the fact that families uprooted by eminent domain tend to be nonwhite and/or nonwealthy. No wonder urban renewal came to known, with bitterness, as "Negro removal."

"These five justices," Mike Cristofaro told me, "I hope someone looks at their property and says, 'You know, we could put that land to better use -- why don't we get the town to take it from them by eminent domain.' Then maybe they would understand what they're putting my father through."

That won't happen. It isn't the high and mighty on whom avaricious governments and developers prey. Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy are responsible for this execrable decision. But they'll never have to live with its consequences.

Return to top


News Release - Freestar Media, LLC
Monday, June 27, 2005
"Lost Liberty Hotel" proposed on Justice Souter's land
http://www.freestarmedia.com/hotellostliberty2.html

Weare, New Hampshire - Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafť" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

Logan Darrow Clements
Freestar Media, LLC

Phone 310-593-4843
logan@freestarmedia.com
http://www.freestarmedia.com


Monday, June 27, 2005

Mr. Chip Meany
Code Enforcement Officer
Town of Weare, New Hampshire
Fax 603-529-4554

Dear Mr. Meany,

I am proposing to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road in the Town of Weare. I would like to know the process your town has for allowing such a development.

Although this property is owned by an individual, David H. Souter, a recent Supreme Court decision, "Kelo vs. City of New London" clears the way for this land to be taken by the Government of Weare through eminent domain and given to my LLC for the purposes of building a hotel. The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.

As I understand it your town has five people serving on the Board of Selectmen. Therefore, since it will require only three people to vote in favor of the use of eminent domain I am quite confident that this hotel development is a viable project. I am currently seeking investors and hotel plans from an architect. Please let me know the proper steps to follow to proceed in accordance with the law in your town.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Logan Darrow Clements
Freestar Media, LLC

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Monday, June 27, 2005

State seeing end to fiscal downturn
Tax revenues are expected to rebound, surpass 2001
By Charles Stein, Globe Staff


Massachusetts is about to emerge from a deep financial hole.

When the state closes the book on another fiscal year June 30, Massachusetts, for the first time, will have collected more tax money than it did in 2001, the year the economy and stock market collapsed. In the current fiscal year, the state expects to collect about $17.1 billion in taxes, up more than 7 percent from last year. In 2001 the state collected $16.7 billion.

The four-year recovery to get back to the old peak is the longest in recent history, and may well be the slowest such comeback since the Depression, according to those who follow the state's finances.

In many ways, Massachusetts is emerging from the downturn in good shape. Tax receipts are growing and the state's depleted reserves are being replenished. In recognition of the improvement, Standard & Poor's in March upgraded the state's bond rating to AA, the highest ranking the state has enjoyed since the late 1980s. The rating agency praised the state's ability to manage through tough times "without the use of many one-shot revenues that other states have employed."

But the four-year workout has taken its toll. Massachusetts put the brakes on spending, making cuts in higher education and public health and holding spending basically flat for public education and aid to cities and towns. According to Economy.com, a Pennsylvania research firm, municipalities in Massachusetts cut their workforces more steeply than in any other state in the nation between 2001 and 2005.

"For us, times are bad and they keep getting worse," said Michael McGlynn, mayor of Medford, one of many communities that have felt the impact of the fiscal squeeze.

The Romney administration believes the state is flush enough to cut taxes. "If the money sits around, it will be spent," said Eric Kriss, secretary of Administration and Finance. The Democratic Legislature has rebuffed the call for tax cuts, arguing that any extra money should be used to restore spending cuts and build reserves.

In 2001, Massachusetts' tax collections fell off the cliff -- a development that played out in other wealthy states like New York and California. In the late 1990s the rising stock market filled the state's coffers with taxes generated by stock options and capital gains. When the market fell, that money dried up overnight.

In the year that ended June 30, 2002, Massachusetts' tax receipts fell almost 15 percent. "It was an unprecedented decline," said Philip Shapiro, head of Standard & Poor's Boston office. Equally unprecedented was the state's response. In previous downturns in the 1970s and the early 1990s, Massachusetts immediately hiked the rate on its income tax to recoup lost tax receipts. This time around, the state cut income taxes, a course approved by voters in a November 2000 referendum. According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington think tank, the tax burden in Massachusetts is lower today than it was in 2001.

How did Massachusetts make it through four years with less tax money? Financial specialists say the state employed a variety of strategies. These included:

Dipping into savings. Massachusetts came into the fiscal crisis with money in the bank. During the economic boom of the late 1990s, the state set aside money in a "rainy day" fund to prepare for an eventual downturn. When the recession hit, Massachusetts had $2.8 billion in the fund and several hundred million more in other accounts -- a level of savings few states could match. Over the past four years the state spent $1.7 billion of those reserves. "Without that money the pain would have been worse," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a watchdog group. Widmer credits former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran for resisting calls to spend the extra money or give it back in the form of tax cuts.

Selectively hiking taxes. After going along with income tax cuts in 2001 and 2002, the Legislature in 2002 froze the tax rate at 5.3 percent, rather than letting it drop to 5 percent as scheduled. The Legislature also boosted taxes on capital gains and eliminated other tax breaks. The Romney administration increased taxes on business by $275 million and hiked fees by $400 million. Kriss disputed the notion that those actions constituted tax increases. He described the business changes as "closing loopholes" and said fees were raised merely to bring them into line with inflation.

Squeezing spending. Kriss said the downturn forced Massachusetts to confront tough questions. "What are we spending and how can we spend it more wisely?" he asked. It is unclear whether the state spent money more wisely. What is clear is that it spent money more slowly. Over the past four years, state spending grew at slightly less than 3 percent a year, about half its historic pace. In the first three years of the crisis, spending rose at a 1 percent rate. In some areas, spending fell sharply: Spending on higher education fell 17 percent, housing assistance 31 percent, and environmental agencies 24 percent. Spending on traditional education rose about 1 percent a year. State aid to communities was level-funded, but in 80 percent of towns and cities, state aid declined. "The state has pushed its problems down to the municipal level," said Widmer, who noted that local property taxes have risen considerably to fill some of the gap. Catherine Boudreau, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Assocation, said the impact on education has been profound. "If the goal was to thin out public education, then that is what has happened," she said.

Benefiting from a rebounding economy. Starting in 2003, the Massachusetts economy began a slow recovery. "An economy that is deep and diverse is again producing jobs and reducing already historically low unemployment," Standard & Poor's wrote in its upgrade of the state's bond rating. Tax receipts have bounced back faster than employment, the result of rising capital gains and bonus payments, economists say.

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Monday, June 27, 2005

Budget shifts judicial power
Chief justice loses control of money
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff


Massachusetts lawmakers have created a budget that sharply curbs the powers of state court administrators to manage local courthouses, a move that critics say will strengthen the lawmakers' control over patronage.

At the insistence of the House, the lawmakers stripped the powers of Chief Justice Robert Mulligan to transfer money and staff among the courts, a key tool that some say is fundamental to ensuring the smooth operations of the state's court system. The language had been carried in the appropriation bill for the past several years but was removed in the current spending plan.

At the same time, the Legislature, in the $23.9 billion budget plan it sent Governor Mitt Romney last week, restored nearly $1.5 million to the accounts for the commissioner of probation, John J. O'Brien, a close ally of House leaders. The funds would allow O'Brien to hire as many as 30 new probation officers, restoring the money that Mulligan had diverted from O'Brien's office over the past year to various courts that needed the cash, according to lawmakers who spoke on the condition they not be identified.

To soften the blow, the state spending plan provides modest increases to the budgets of each of the courts. Massachusetts is the only state where the Legislature sets strict funding levels for each courthouse.

The Legislature's moves provoked little public opposition from the judiciary, which is focused on a request for a $34,000-a-year pay raise for the state's 370 judges over the next two years. Judges have not seen their $112,777 salaries increase in five years, placing Massachusetts near the bottom of the scale when compared with jurists in other states.

Legal observers say that the judges do not want to strain relations with Beacon Hill any further. A hearing on the pay raise bill is scheduled for tomorrow.

"This is a very delicate time for courts and judges," said David L. Yas, editor in chief of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

House leaders say they insisted on stripping the language that gives Mulligan powers over the budget because House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi strongly opposes the use of budget language to set policy. Some lawmakers fought the effort to strip Mulligan's powers.

In interviews last week, lawmakers point out that a bill to give the courts the power to move funds and personnel is currently in the judiciary committee. But some lawmakers and advocates for reform doubt that the bill will emerge. "That battle has already been fought and the House won," said one advocate working with the judges. A lawmaker who fought for the budget langauge said, "It is a dead issue."

DiMasi's spokesperson said Friday neither the speaker nor members of his leadership would comment. A spokesman for Mulligan said the chief justice would not comment about the budget. O'Brien did not return a call seeking his comment.

The House's push to add probation jobs is seen by critics as part of its leadership's attempts to micromanage the court system. The House also added language to the budget ordering the state to create a court in Belchertown, which is represented by the House speaker pro tem, Representative Thomas M. Petrolati, a Democrat from Ludlow.

Petrolati is a close ally of O'Brien's and widely known on Beacon Hill for finding courthouse jobs in Hampden County for supporters. His wife, Kathleen, was hired by O'Brien's office as a $63,000-a-year probation officer assigned to the Springfield District Court. Representative Petrolati did not respond to a request for an interview.

Kathleen Petrolati heads the Springfield court's bracelet program for parolees. The House added $2 million to the probation budget to implement a statewide global positioning system that would track parolees via ankle bracelets.

The Legislature's move comes amid increasing tension between the House leadership and Mulligan. Last fall, DiMasi cut off communications with Mulligan after the justice ignored his suggestion that he reappoint Superior Court Judge Suzanne DelVecchio as chief justice of the superior courts, according to sources in the legislative leadership.

The Legislature's budget also ignores reforms proposed in 2003 by a special commission headed by Boston College's chancellor, the Rev. J. Donald Monan. The panel recommended that the courts be run with less interference from lawmakers who are cutting what it said was "backroom deals."

"Legislative leaders should commit to a streamlined budget process that allows the courts to deploy resources, so long as they do so according to demonstrated workload," the commission report stated. Another recent report prepared by the National Center For State Courts makes similar recommendations.

Yas said the latest move to strip Mulligan of the power to deploy resources is a major setback. "Taking away Mulligan's control really threatens to make a bad situation worse," he said. "He has been trying to send out a good signal for the judiciary in the hope of getting more money for courthouses and for judicial pay raises and control over the court's budget."

A study in 2001 by a former district court judge, James W. Dolan, for the fiscally conservative think tank Pioneer Institute, found that lawmakers had in recent years created 382 positions the judiciary never sought, costing taxpayers $48.3 million.

Several Supreme Judicial Court rulings in the past several years, including those backing gay marriage and the Clean Elections Law, have strained the relationship between the Legislature and the judiciary.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Monday, June 27, 2005

Conservatives debate Romney insurance plan
By Jay Fitzgerald


Gov. Mitt Romney's plan to force more people to pay for health insurance is surgically splitting conservatives over the issue.

For decades, liberals have favored a universal health-care system, often pushing for a single-payer system that would centralize control and funding via government.

Romney's plan doesn't go that far, relying instead on pressuring individuals to buy state-subsidized insurance from private insurers - or risk the consequence of having tax refunds and wages garnished to pay for health services.

Liberals, such as Sen. Ted Kennedy, have lightly applauded Romney's proposal.

But the plan is dividing conservatives about how far government should go toward mandating and paying for people's health care. The split comes down to a free-market purity vs. a sort-of-free-market pragmatism.

An aghast Cato Institute, a free-market and libertarian national think tank, is now butting heads with another conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, which helped craft Romney's proposal.

Meanwhile, the head of Suffolk University's conservative Beacon Hill Institute is at odds with the local anti-tax group, Citizens for Limited Taxation, whose conservative leader endorsed Romney's plan last week.

"It's a badly thought out idea," said David G. Tureck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute. Tuerck says Romney's proposal will eventually lead to more government controls over health care.

CLT's Barbara Anderson counters that government has already mandated that people receive health care. The question, she says, is how to pay for it.

"Let's just face that reality and deal with it," Anderson said last week, arguing Romney's plan is about forcing people to pay up for services they expect to get for free from taxpayers.

Robert Moffit, director of the Heritage Foundation's health policy center, acknowledged there's an irony for conservatives in Romney's plan.

The proposal all but mandates that individuals take out insurance coverage. But conservatives often despise any government mandates on individuals.

Still, Moffit said the United States already has health-care mandates, in the form of taxes for Medicaid and Medicare.

Meanwhile, the federal government has ordered that no one shall be denied health care if they show up at a hospital without insurance or government coverate, he said.

So the question, Moffit says, is how best to run the system and pay for all that care?

Conservatives might as well help develop and push for a systme based around free-market principles, such as preserving private hospitals and insurers -- and allowing people to make choices about what hospitals and insurers they want to use, Moffit said.

"It expands personal freedom," he said of Romney's that he helped develop.

But Tuerck said Romney's plan is nothing but a Trojan Horse that eventually will be exploited by liberals to allow a government take-over of the health-care system.

"The Heritage Foundation is fooling itself," said Tuerck, adding that the governor's plan endorses the concept that a government-funded health system is "some sort of right."

Return to top


NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


Return to CLT Updates page

Return to CLT home page