Astonishingly, I agree with Tierney this morning. Responses to Kelo seem mostly to be breaking down on a liberal/conservative split, with liberals on the approving, or at least ambivalent, side. Which, I have to admit, puzzles me. Personally, I’m glad to see so many of our conservative friends finally beginning to develop a healthy distust of government/corporate collusion (now if only they’d extend it to, say, Halliburton’s role in Iraq). I’m just not sure why anyone on my side of the fence would feel anything but disgust. Kelo is essentially a decision in favor of trickle-down economics: clear out the poor folks, bring in some businesses, and if all works according to plan the new tax revenue will make it all worthwhile. But these things often do not work according to plan:
Frank Bugryn Jr.’s family, for instance, owned about 30 acres in Bristol when the city told him in the mid-1990’s that it wanted an industrial park on his property. Ms. Bugryn’s parents had bought the property in 1939 and left it to him and his three siblings in 1970, he said. Mr. Bugryn, 83, a retired brass-mill foreman, planted about 500 Christmas trees on the property about 10 years ago and watched them grow 20 to 30 feet high. When the government officials came knocking, they told him they wanted to put a distribution center on his property. He was totally unprepared.
“I never though that this would happen,” he said.
Mr. Bugryn fought the condemnation in court. When he lost, the United States Supreme Court would hear the case. The city paid $1.8 million for the property, and about $100,000 for the five-bedroom house Mr. Bugryn built, and then bulldozed it, he said. He now lives with his wife, Mary, in a one-story ranch house in Bristol.
“My sisters and I were hoping to live there until we passed away,” he said. “I wanted to die there and give it to the kids.”
Nothing has yet been built on the property. Jonathan Rosenthal, executive director of the Bristol Redevelopment Authority, said the legal battle with the Bugryns delayed the project. The anchor tenant, which had agreed to allow the Bugryns to live on the property for the rest of their lives as the industrial park was built, dropped out of the project while the fight dragged on, Mr. Rosenthal said. The authority received a $1.2 million federal grant to prepare the property for development and has been showing it to potential tenants, he said.