Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Back in the glory days of the New London Development Corporation (NLDC), and long before anyone outside the reach of The Day, New London’s daily newspaper, heard the name Fort Trumbull, NLDC president Claire Gaudiani systematically attempted to manipulate the press coverage of what was unfolding in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan (MDP). It was for the most part convincingly positive and fed the psyche of a struggling community that was dealing with failing schools, broken infrastructure, and a vacuum of political leadership. Typically during that time, Claire Gaudiani and her attendant staff were able to find open venues in the community to tell how the new MDP would dramatically change the city’s direction and complexion and stem it’s downward slide. She said we would have a “hip little city” where young professionals, scientists, and students would fill our streets, restaurants and shops. That hasn’t happened. None of it.

Back then, when we who were asking questions, hard questions, about the viability and legality of the plan, Gaudiani and her staff, dismissed us as a “small vocal group” and rejected our pleas out-of-hand. It was quite ironic to watch the charade of what Gaudiani referred to as an open, respectful, and democratic process. It was all talk and smoke-and-mirrors.

So after almost ten months of lobbying local citizens, state commissioners, the attorney general, and a host of others, we finally were able to convince the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C., based, public-advocacy law firm to help us out. They came with an impressive legal resume and also had an effective public relations arm that could get the word out quickly and dramatically. I’ll never forget my response when we got the call from Scott Bullock, IJ’s senior attorney, that they were taking the case. I said with elation, “this story has left 06320. They (NLDC) won’t be able to keep it quiet now.” By December 2000, IJ made it official with Scott Bullock and Chip Mellor making the announcement from Susette Kelo‘s front porch. It’s the same porch that remains today at the empty shell of what used to be her home. (See the picture above and read my post on the dedication of the new Kelo house.)

Now, some three years after the US Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. City of New London), John Brooks, NLDC project manger for Fort Trumbull continues to protest that the Institute for Justice manipulated public opinion about the case. Writing in the magazine, “Right of Way” Brooks asserts that the “public was persuaded, and in many cases duped, by media distortion of the particulars of this case.” In my opinion, Brooks’ distortion of the facts have left him duped. Like they say, “if you repeat a lie enough times, you’ll begin to believe that it is true. While I intend to present the Brooks article in its entirety, and a response by Scott Bullock on the article, I just want you to focus on the picture above to, show how the NLDC and its supporter continue to distort what is so blatantly obvious. They are either so stupid or blind that they continue to tell tales that can be easily be dismissed as fiction.

Look at the picture above. As I said, it is a picture of what is left of the front porch of Susette Kelo’s pink house on East Street in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood in New London. In the Brooks article he makes a point of saying why her house had to go. It was simply that it did not meet code requirements. He noted, “The first instance of a child getting hit by a car as a result of the lack of a curb, sidewalk, or safe sightline would easily have led to a flood of litigation against the City and State – especially since a new street design had been completed, reviewed, approved and taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Now if you take a look at the picture above, along with the picture of Ms. Kelo’s former house at the right, you may just notice that there are still no curbs, sidewalks, or extended sightlines to this day. Furthermore, the open basement is a hole in the ground that is unsecured. Any one could easily fall in a hurt themselves, bring a “flood of litigation.” If John Brooks was truly interested in protecting the City and the State’s interest against possible litigation, he should do something about the obvious dangers that are starring him in the face. I think John Brooks’ can’t see the forest for the trees and his apparent concern about possible “flood of litigation” is, well, damn hollow. Pardon the pun.

For now that’s all I have to say. I could go on, but frankly I’m tired of talking about it. So I’ll just present John Brooks’ piece and then Scott Bullock’s response. Here they are:

John Brooks’ Article:


Scott Bullocks Response:



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