The euphemism “Public/Private Partnership” contains 3 lies in as many words. It isn’t “public,” it’s government. It isn’t “private,” it’s crony capitalists. It isn’t “partnership,” it’s conspiracy. The inevitable result of “public/private partnership” is waste. The only variables are the extent to which liberty is diminished and the amount of public treasure wasted.
At the middle of that scale we have the abject failure of the City of New London/Pfizer Corporation gang-theft of Susette Kelo’s home and those of her neighbors. It’s not easy to fail so spectacularly, it took impressive incompetence and around $100 million to turn a neighborhood into a wasteland. In the end, imposing this urban blight hinged on the collusion of the Supreme Court of the United States. Federal institutions didn’t start it though, the plan was the brain-child of regional government.
Here are some relevant facts about the government/corporatist looters in New London, Connecticut; the quintessential example of what politicians and rent-seeking businesses mean by public/private partnership:
New London had a population of 27,620 at the 2010 census. The Norwich-New London metropolitan area (NECTA) includes twenty-one towns and 274,055 people.
…On February 22, 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided in Kelo v. City of New London, that the city may seize privately owned real property under eminent domain so that it could be used for private economic development, deciding the tax revenue from the private development satisfied the requirement for public interest for eminent domain.
This decision is of a piece with the use of the Commerce Clause to justify forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. If the only requirement for seizure of private property is a local official’s estimate of future potential tax revenue, what constraint is there? How does your labor differ in principal? Answer: It doesn’t. If you’re nearing retiremment age, you’ve been looted in exchange for promises of Social Security and Medicare you won’t see. If you’re younger you will be looted for decades whether those promises are kept or not. You don’t even have to be born yet.
In spite of the city’s legal victory, the project never got off the ground. The city’s chosen redeveloper was not able to get financing for the project. In spite of an expenditure over eighty million dollars by the city acquiring and demolishing the area where the taken homes once stood, is now a vacant. In November, 2009, Pfizer, which was to be the primary beneficiary of the redevelopment, announced that they instead are closing their facility adjacent to the site and moving those operations across the Thames River to their site in Groton. The New London campus was sold to General Dynamics in 2010.
Where, one might ask, could a city of 27,000 find $80 million with which to persecute and defraud a handful of its citizens? From its regional government:
New London has a form of government centering on a professional city manager and elected city council. Distinct town and city government structures formerly existed, and technically continue. However, they now govern exactly the same territory, and have elections on the same ballot on Election Day in November, the first Tuesday after the first Monday, of odd-numbered years; the officials of town and city interact essentially as do the officials of a single town or city who have different but related responsibilities and powers.
As of 1960, counties in Connecticut do not have any associated county government structure. All municipal services are provided by the towns. In order to address regional issues concerning infrastructure, land use, and economic development, regional councils of governments throughout the state were established in 1989. Most of the towns of New London County are part of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, the exceptions being the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, and Lebanon. Lyme and Old Lyme are part of the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency, while Lebanon is part of the Windham Regional Council of Governments.
Whenever you hear that we need regional government co-operation, think of Kelo, and if what you hear is coupled with the words “sustainable development,” think twice about the outcomes and read up on Agenda 21. Think about half a billion dollars up in smoke at Solyndra.
So what does New London have to show for its arrogance? A 91 acre, weed-strewn dump occupied by feral cats; where there once was a vibrant community. And New London also has 1,400 fewer jobs. Pfizer pulled out of New London, taking those jobs with it.