Kelo v. City of New London,

Pertinacious Tom

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How "urban renewal" (aka "negro removal") worked out in Detroit...

The Destruction of Detroit's Black Bottom
 

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Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood provides the perfect prism through which to see the unfortunate ways in which public housing and its close cousin, urban renewal, destroyed African-American institutions and robbed residents of the chance to accumulate wealth. It's a story well told in a lively phone conversation in July 2020 with historian Jamon Jordan, the president of the Detroit chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Increased appreciation for what was lost when Black Bottom was cleared has led the onetime middle school social studies teacher to a new career. He now works as a tour guide for university and high school groups interested in the handful of buildings (including public schools) that remain of what was once a dynamic community of 130,000, replete with more than 300 black-owned businesses.

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In 1946, real estate developer Eugene Greenhut first proposed their demolition—and the idea found favor with Detroit Mayor Edward Jeffries. "This area [should] be acquired by the city and completely cleared of all buildings thereon," Jeffries wrote. "The area [should] then be re-planned, with the object in mind of disposing of as much as possible to private enterprise for redevelopment for housing and incidental commercial purposes after providing sufficient space for parks, playgrounds, schools and other public uses." It was modernist planning.

The city's Common Council voted to approve the idea and to broadly condemn the neighborhood's buildings. But the idea stalled for lack of city funds to compensate property owners, many of whom were white (even when the businesses themselves were black-owned). Indeed, Jeffries' successor as mayor, Albert Cobo, campaigned against the idea of spending city money on public housing and its attendant costs. The plan might then have stalled permanently were it not for the entrance of the federal government and its deep pockets.

The National Housing Act of 1949—which would vastly ramp up the vision of Catherine Bauer and Edith Wood—included funding for "urban renewal." The few public housing projects built during the Depression and early war years would be augmented on a grand scale. As a latter-day summary by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development would put it, the act "authorizes Federal advances, loans, and grants to localities to assist slum clearance and urban redevelop-ment." At the same time, it provided funding to expand public housing by up to 810,000 additional units over a six-year period.

This would make possible both the clearance of Black Bottom and the construction of the six high-rise public housing towers known as the Frederick Douglass Apartments, which were combined with a single previously built project to become the Brewster-Douglass Homes. The plan suited the purposes of two seemingly disparate forces: the progressive Democrats of the post-war Truman administration, who were convinced that public housing would provide the "safe and sanitary" conditions too many Americans lacked, and Detroit's Republican mayor, Albert Cobo, whose racially charged campaign included promises to maintain white neighborhoods as white. The Michigan Chronicle characterized it as "one of the most vicious campaigns of race-baiting and playing upon the prejudices of all segments of the Detroit population."

First elected in 1950, Cobo was capitalizing on hostility to the Supreme Court decision barring real estate racial covenants. But making good on the pledge to keep black people in Detroit from moving into white neighborhoods—keeping them confined and concentrated instead in what amounted to high-rise reservations, modern and gilded before they rapidly deteriorated—would have been unlikely absent the National Housing Act. Progressive housing policy did what even the race-baiting local mayor might never have been able to do.

It was made easy, Jordan notes, because Black Bottom was already a discrete and concentrated neighborhood: "It was so easy to just wipe it out." Business owners, for the most part, received no compensation. And the public housing itself, Jordan says in understatement, "was problematic." In the short term, it provided better physical accommodations for those relocated. "A significant number of people clamored to be on the list." But "after years living there, all you would have would be rent receipts. African Americans would get the projects; whites would become homeowners. And property ownership is the way to accumulate wealth in America."

Housing projects were not the only obstacle to black wealth accumulation. There was also the well-documented race discrimination of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which made post–World War II homeownership possible by insuring private mortgages.

The FHA was created to help middle-class earners buy their first homes. It did so by insuring mortgage loans that were 80 percent or more of a home's property value. But only loans with a low risk of default were eligible, and the FHA would do its own appraisals to determine eligibility under requirements that were explicitly racially discriminatory. As Richard Rothstein, a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, wrote in The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (Liveright), "The FHA judged that properties would probably be too risky for insurance if they were in racially mixed neighborhoods or even in white neighborhoods near black ones that might possibly integrate in the future."

In this way, too, government involvement in the private housing market can be said to have institutionalized racism. So it was that the hard bigotry of the FHA—a New Deal agency built on fears of white reaction to black neighbors and the racism of Southern Democrats—combined with the soft bigotry of housing reformers who believed in herding black residents into high-rise projects.

Absent the slum clearing and public housing, more positive counterfactuals would have been possible. As Detroit's black residents became wealthier at a time when the city's auto plants were booming, black institutions might have renovated and otherwise improved historically black neighborhoods. Without such deep government involvement in the mortgage market, competing banks might have sought out, rather than shut out, black homebuyers. Instead, both Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were cleared and the Douglass high-rises opened.

By 2014, the six high-rise towers that once housed 10,000 people, including a young Diana Ross of future Motown fame, had deteriorated to the point that they had to be demolished. Clearance had returned to Black Bottom. The nearby original site of Paradise Valley, cleared by 1956, lay fallow for years—a large empty lot where a thriving neighborhood once stood.

Detroit civic leaders, led by United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther, ultimately laid the groundwork for the construction of the Lafayette Park apartments—an upper-middle-class complex designed by the pioneer modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—on the former site of Black Bottom. The reform gaze had done its worst: Clearance had been replaced by the anti-urbanism of modernist architecture. The thriving world of what could appropriately be called immigrant African-American Detroit, judged problematic by both race-baiting local officials and progressive federal officials, had been swept away by their policy tides.
I agree with Mr. Jordan about the bolded bit above. Now I have to go deposit a check from a woman who WILL own her home one day. She was poor and desperate and had given up and was on a sure path to losing her home. My business partner, who speaks poor redneck fluently having grown up as one, gave her the one essential thing: hope. She thinks she can do it. Without that, nothing else was possible. She's been catching up for some time and has a ways to go, but I can't wait to sign her Satisfaction of Mortgage and I'm sure she'll make it. You can't turn herds of lives around. It happens one at a time.

 

Pertinacious Tom

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A reasonable person might suggest that despite their academic pedigrees; the likes of Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett do not even come close to meeting whatever the requirements are to be listed among “the finest constitutional legal minds in the country.”
Are you insinuating that "I vote whichever way Ginny tells me to" does not reflect a reasonable process that a constitutional legal mind would engage in?
I keep seeing stuff like this and keep wondering what Ginny has against Pfizer and how people know about it?

 

Pertinacious Tom

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We'll just take what you owe. And anything else you've got.
 

Whether or not Geraldine Tyler will live to see the resolution of her case remains unclear.

The 93-year-old left her Minneapolis condominium in 2010 after a nearby shooting and a disturbing encounter left her uneasy. But she was unable to finance both her new apartment and the property tax on her erstwhile condo, accruing $2,300 in debt.

Over the course of the next five years, the government raised that debt by over 550 percent, tacking on almost $13,000 in additional penalties, fines, and interest. And when Tyler couldn't pay that, it seized her property, sold it for $40,000—and kept the profit.

Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that was OK.

"Tyler does not argue that the county lacked lawful authority to foreclose on her condominium to satisfy her delinquent tax debt," wrote Judge Steven Colloton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. "Rather, Tyler argues that the county's retention of the surplus equity—the amount that exceeded her $15,000 tax debt—is an unconstitutional buyback."

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The basic idea is that they took her $40k condo fair and square in settlement of her $15k debt, so she's not entitled to the difference.

 

Pertinacious Tom

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Do you honestly think that crazy woman thought any of this out beyond trying to cover her ass? Go read what has been released so far. She's probably guilty of sedition. Clarence doesn't think for himself, and while she's the one wearing the pants in that family, her thought processes are clearly not very cogent. Clarence does what he's told whether it makes sense or not.
I keep seeing stuff like this but no one can explain exactly what Ginni has against Pfizer?

 

Pertinacious Tom

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Is SpaceX really a public use?
 

A resident of a South Texas village told NBC News that SpaceX wanted to buy her house for $150,000 but that the company's offer was one-third of the price of similar properties nearby.

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Johnson and Maria Pointer, another Boca Chica resident, told NBC News that a real-estate agent representing Elon Musk's company had told them their properties could be seized by the state under eminent domain.

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I wonder if the agent was just trying to scare them into taking the low offer or if there's really eminent domain action in the works.

 

Jules

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Pertinacious Tom

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Pittsburgh Housing Rules Are Unconstitutional Buyback
 

Laws forcing developers to include affordable units in their projects are common in the U.S. A new lawsuit argues that they're also unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, builders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against the city over its requirement that some of the new units they construct in mid- and larger-sized housing developments must be rented or sold at substantial discounts.

Last month, the Pittsburgh City Council approved an ordinance requiring that at least 10 percent of units in housing projects of at least 20 units be offered at below-market rates to lower-income homebuyers and tenants in Pittsburgh's Polish Hill and Bloomfield neighborhoods. Since 2019, the city has imposed identical requirements on development in the city's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

The complaint—filed by the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh (BAMP) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania—says that mandate is an uncompensated buyback that violates the U.S. Constitution's Buybacks Clause.

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Demanding that your operate your business at a loss seems like a buyback to me. We'll see if any courts agree.

 

Pertinacious Tom

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Sure.  You repeatedly take comments from a thread where they are pertinent and post them in a thread where they are not. 
I took that comment back to the unrelated thread and you still haven't traced the money trail.

Possibly because that was just a stupid applause-line and devoid of meaning or factual basis.

 

Jules

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I took that comment back to the unrelated thread and you still haven't traced the money trail.

Possibly because that was just a stupid applause-line and devoid of meaning or factual basis.
Are you upset your attempt at manipulating people failed?

Do you think by making wild, baseless assumptions you can get people to jump at your beck and call?

Better go find someone else.

Now go back to your pathetic habit of trying to keep alive threads no one else cares about.

 

BeSafe

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Pittsburgh Housing Rules Are Unconstitutional Buyback
 

Demanding that your operate your business at a loss seems like a buyback to me. We'll see if any courts agree.
Loss leading isn't the same as operating a business at a loss.  I always looked at 'buyback' as being forced to sell something you don't want to sell.  This case looks more like a 10% tithe or - probably more accurately - a back door tax.

I think the builders are going to lose that case and have to come up with some other argument.  More likely, they'll just build somewhere else.  That's usually what happens - the project just gets scrapped and the builders just fan out farther into the burbs. 

 
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Pertinacious Tom

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Loss leading isn't the same as operating a business at a loss.  I always looked at 'buyback' as being forced to sell something you don't want to sell.  This case looks more like a 10% tithe or - probably more accurately - a back door tax.
I think of loss leading as a voluntary marketing strategy.

I doubt the builders want to sell below cost. They're told to do it or not build. It's akin to a tax but is more a regulatory buyback.

As with the topic case, I agree with Justice Thomas about those. From upthread:

In the most recent Order List from SCOTUS, Justice Thomas dissented from the denial. I have slightly updated his archaic use of language in this quote.
 

Quote
Our current regulatory buybacks jurisprudence leaves much to be desired. A regulation effects a buyback, we have said, whenever it “goes too far.”

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After an 8-day trial and with the benefit of jury instructions endorsed by both parties, the jury found a buyback. The District Court, in turn, concluded that there was an adequate factual basis for this verdict. But the Ninth Circuit on appeal reweighed and reevaluated the same facts under the same legal tests to conclude that no reasonable jury could have found a buyback.These starkly different outcomes based on the application of the same law indicate that we have still not provided courts with a “workable standard.”

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A know-it-when-you-see-it test is no good if one court sees it and another does not.

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If there is no such thing as a regulatory buyback, we should say so. And if there is, we should make clear when one occurs.

I respectfully dissent
Expand  


Troublesome Thomas is right again. And that would make a pretty good screen name.
Maybe after Jules traces the paths of Pfizer's and Kelo's money, I'll change my mind about Thomas' opinions. Not holding my breath.

 

BeSafe

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I think of loss leading as a voluntary marketing strategy.

I doubt the builders want to sell below cost. They're told to do it or not build. It's akin to a tax but is more a regulatory buyback.

As with the topic case, I agree with Justice Thomas about those. From upthread:
I don't think anyone wants to sell below cost unless they gain some advantage.  Marketing to the public or marketing to politicians?  Is it really so different?   The builders don't HAVE to build in the city - they can and probably will just go build somewhere else and there will be ferocious hand wringing about affordable housing and the cycle will repeat because that's the status quo.

 
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Pertinacious Tom

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I don't think anyone wants to sell below cost unless they gain some advantage.  Marketing to the public or marketing to politicians?  Is it really so different?
Yes, there's the matter of choice. You can participate in the market and engage in loss-leading pricing if you want. Taking away the choice to participate without this "marketing" strategy makes it seem a lot more mandatory.

A government-mandated sale is also known as a taking. Or a buyback, since that also means "government-mandated sale."

 

Pertinacious Tom

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An Alabama Family Is Fighting a Losing Battle Against Eminent Domain

Well, yeah, they are, and they're going to lose and should lose because their case is exactly why we have eminent domain in the first place.
 

In 2021, the state of Alabama announced a construction project which includes a widening of U.S. Route 43 into a four-lane divided highway. This expansion—with state officials claiming a necessary buyback of 190–225 feet of land—entails the buyback of much of the Moore family's property. It would also require demolishing four of their homes, which house 11 family members.

In response, the Moore family has launched the campaign "Seize No Moore Homes," attempting to raise awareness of the challenge the U.S. 43 construction project poses to their way of life. In a statement, the family stressed that they are not opposed to expanding U.S. 43; they believe that the state is planning on buyingback an unnecessary amount of land rather than pursuing less destructive alternatives. 

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And that's a weird losing argument. It's normal to contest the amount of compensation offered in a buyback. The Moore family is basically saying that the state could get by with 100 feet, not 200, but it would cost a whole lot more. Well, yeah, maybe. Or just buyback the whole 200 and have it cost less.

The engineers have an obligation to the Moore family to limit the impact, but also an obligation to the taxpayers to make the whole road project cost less. The balance tipped away from the Moore's this time and eminent domain allows that result.

 
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Pertinacious Tom

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And she won a jury award.

VICTORY: Jury Rules Texas Woman is Entitled to $59,656 After SWAT Team Destroyed Her Home While Pursuing Fugitive

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“Pursuing a fugitive is a legitimate government interest, but if the government deliberately destroys innocent people’s property in the process, those people must be compensated,” added IJ Nutjob Will Aronin.


Today’s decision comes just weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III ruled that the destruction of Vicki’s home was a “buyback” that required the city to pay just compensation. On April 29, Judge Mazzant rejected the city of McKinney’s argument that police action should be categorically exempt from the general requirement that government pay for property it destroys, holding that the argument “rests on an untenable analysis of police power and eminent domain.” Because “the destruction to Baker’s home was intentional and foreseeable,” compensation was required, he ruled.

“The April 29 decision marks a sea change in the law,” said IJ Nutjob Jeffrey Redfern. “Everyone agrees with the general proposition that the government has to pay for the property it takes, but courts across the country had held that this rule just did not apply to the police. But the police are part of the government, which this victory makes abundantly clear.”
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(edited to update archaic language usage.)
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Eminent Domain in the Ohio Supreme Court

Yesterday, the Institute for Justice (IJ) submitted an amicus brief in a case before the Ohio Supreme Court, which could decide whether or not the government can buyback people’s land and give it to a private company without that company ever proving the land is necessary for the project.


Ohio Power Company is seeking to build new power lines in rural Washington County. In order to do so, the company seeks to obtain easements from four different farms. The farmers don’t oppose all aspects of the easement—they understand power lines are a necessary public use. They simply argue the company doesn’t need all the land it wants to buyback. And under the Ohio Constitution, the company needs to prove that it is buyingback no more than needed for the new power lines.
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When this case first began, the trial court ruled that Norwood’s meaningful review did not apply and that once a government agency says an eminent domain buyback is necessary, there is an “irrebuttable presumption of necessity.” But under that logic, any time a power company says it needs to buyback private property for a new utility project, the assumption will always be that it needs all of the land it wants to buyback.


However, when the farmers appealed the case, the 4th District Court of Appeals determined that Norwood did apply and that judicial review of the necessity of an eminent domain buyback is a key function of the courts. IJ’s amicus brief calls on the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold the Appeals Court decision that Norwood applies.
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The trial court's idea that every buyback is always necessary by definition needs to be overruled.
 
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