Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kelo Revisited: Conflicts of Interest, Pharmaceutical Companies, and Civil Liberties

In a Washington Times op-ed piece, Susette Kelo, of Kelo vs. City of New London, wrote to remind us that with the blessings of a recent Supreme Court decision, the nominally not-for-profit New London Development Corporation (NLDC) has served "eviction notices" to three of her neighbors who own their own homes. She emphasized that the NLDC "wants my land to market to a developer for projects to 'complement' our area's new Pfizer facility."
Kelo continued,

What is happening to me should not happen to anyone else. Congress and state legislatures need to send a message to local governments that this kind of abuse of power not only won't be funded, it won't be tolerated.
Special interests - developers and governments that benefit from this use of power - are working to convice the public there is no problem, but I am living proof there is.
A reminder: as we previously posted, the NLDC's leadership had multiple conflicts of interest that involved ties to Pfizer. One board member was a Pfizer vice-president. The board president was married to another Pfizer vice-president. Pfizer wanted the part of New London that included Kelo's house made more attractive to complement its new research facility. The husband of the NLDC president had said, "Pfizer wants a nice place to operate. We don't want to be surrounded by tenements."
Although we have frequently discussed conflicts of interest affecting the leaders of health care organizations, this is one case in which the downside of such conflicts is not worse health care outcomes, but loss of civil liberties.

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