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Bulldozed:'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   330
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 25, 2007
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594031932  
EAN  9781594031939  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A critical evaluation of eminent domain considers the heated debates surrounding its applications, offering specific coverage of the controversial Kelo case in New London, Connecticut, through which eminent domain was used to fund private development.

Publishers Description
No domestic policy issue more angers or galvanizes the public than the controversy over eminent domain-the taking of private property for public use. The stakes in this always controversial procedure have been dramatically raised in recent years as eminent domain has been used to fund private development. As the notorious Kelo case in New London, CT demonstrated last year. The practice of using eminent domain to enrich municipalities is an incendiary issue. Veteran journalist, Carla Main, takes a hard look at this practice and delivers an incisive expose that is sure to be widely read and hotly debated.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Should Come With a Microchip Playing the World's Saddest Violin Music  Oct 5, 2008
This book should have come with a microchip that plays the world's saddest violin music whenever you open it because it is that (unintentionally?) hilariously biased,...

which is a shame because if even HALF of what Ms. Main writes here is true, this is a story worth telling of arguably the stupidest misuse of eminent domain in US history.

The trouble is that Ms. Main's prose is so dripping with invective for the alleged villains and so ringing with praise for the alleged heroes that in reaction she did the impossible -- she made me sympathize with the alleged total buffoons who gave a clinic on how to exercise eminent domain in the worst possible way, the way most guaranteed to blow millions of dollars, decades of time, and a lifetime of goodwill on a dispute that SANE people could have worked out over a long lunch.

Not surprisingly a considerable portion of the book is devoted to the SCOTUS Kelo decision, a decision over which a disturbing number of otherwise rational conservatives IMHO have lost their minds. The problem is that the wording in the Constitution is quite (IMHO) DELIBERATELY vague for the simple reason that our Founders were not fool enough to place CONSTITUTIONAL limits (beyond the requirement for "just compensation") on the dirty but necessary power of eminent domain. What is the proper definition of the phrase "public use" in this context? I would argue that it is whatever the people through their elected representatives define it to be RATHER THAN what nine unelected philosopher kings define it to be. In other words I AGREE with the anti-Kelo crowd that eminent domain should be strictly controlled, where I DISAGREE is over who should do the strict controlling. I say elected representatives; they say the Supreme Court. Conservatives really OUGHT to know better than to propose taking Yet Another monumentally difficult decision out of the hands of the people.

It doesn't help that in her history of the US use of eminent domain Ms. Main essentially admits that the anti-Kelo position was rendered moot over a half century ago by the Berman decision, though this DOES explain the odd SCOTUS arguments of the anti-Kelo side: unable or unwilling to ask the SCOTUS to reconsider Berman, they were left with the Hail Mary of arguing over the definition of "public use". In the end they failed more narrowly than they had any right to expect; we came just one vote short of running every single eminent domain case for the foreseeable future through the Supreme Court -- a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one.

With all these faults I can only recommend this book to a very narrow audience: government officials seriously considering exercising eminent domain.

Read this book and DON'T DO IT!

This could be you; this is certainly how you will be portrayed. What POSSIBLE "public use" could justify this legal and civic carnage? Better to offer the more recalcitrant more money; you'll spend more on legal fees. Better to modify your plans to accommodate the recalcitrant; you'll waste more time in litigation.

Eminent domain is the atomic bomb of urban planning, and like the original, it is capable of consuming friend and foe alike.

Save the Ultimate Weapon for the Ultimate Situation; for everything less be willing to make a deal.
You Could Be Next  Sep 9, 2008
Carla Main, an attorney who formerly represented condemning authorities in public domain cases and knows that side of the story, has done an about-face and zeros in on one family that has become a victim. Her caustically humorous commentary tells not only the facts of what happened to the Gore family of Freeport, Texas, but at the same time emphasizes the overtly self-serving nature and often ridiculous logic of most eminent domain takings.

She doesn't stop with the Gores, however, and presents case after case of similar situations around the country during the same time period. Putting all that in the light of history, she then outlines the origin of eminent domain and how it went from something for government use only with the assumption that civic conscience would be followed in giving just remuneration, to an economic free-for-all whereby one private party benefits from a property (or properties) being taken from another private party (or parties).

The book is a good basic primer for anyone with an interest in present eminent domain issues, written in a highly readable style. More importantly, it highlights the human cost of this practice.

Main puts forth the idea that in the past eminent domain was used mostly in relation to black or other ethnic communities, citing a case where a large black secton of Washington, DC was taken to build an upscale facility. While this has often been historically true, the takings have not been limited to ethnic groups. Those interested in past use of eminent domain would be interested in reading Stolen Fields: A Story of Eminent Domain and the Death of the American Dream by this author, a memoir of the effects of eminent domain on several generations of a family.

Note: A recent update on the case cited by Main in Long Branch, NJ -- the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the case for the homeowners. A step forward.
A fascinating read  Dec 26, 2007
Legal and economic issues involve real people.

You will get more insight from reading this book about a heroic struggle among life-long friends in a small city, who are fighting for dignity, hope and the fruition of their dreams, than from a dozen legal tomes.

And it might not interest lawyers, but it raises the key question of whether local governments are even able to understand their own best economic interests. It is a microcosm of the conflict between top-down and bottom-up growth.
Public use or government abuse?  Nov 23, 2007
A terrific introduction to the eminent domain battle. The story of Freeport, Texas in the context of the pre and post "Kelo" world is both a fast yet intimate look at the issue that has sparked so much debate. I found the authors presentation of the "real life characters" in this drama compelling. Carla Main's narrative is direct and snappy and her historical analysis interesting without being overly theoretical. This is far from a comprehensive look at the legal underpinnings supporting the "Kelo" decision and will not satisfy the deeper constitutional scholar yearning for a "substantive due process" treatise or a "founding fathers' debate" on the true meaning of the fifth amendment. Everyone else will find it thought provoking and well worth a few nights of reading.

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