Four years after one of the most disastrous Supreme Court eminent domain “takings” cases in recent history, Pfizer will vacate its facility in New London, Connecticut. Pfizer in cooperation with the City of New London wouldn’t be stopped by mere private property rights. But just like child who covets a toy but when it is received tosses it to the side, Pfizer has now decided it will abandon the site which triggered the infamous struggle between a corporate “giant” and residential “Davids.”
The “Davids” lost in the end. A decade ago, when it began seizing property in the Fort Trumbull section of New London, Connecticut, the local redevelopment authority had grand plans. The plans took precedence over the individual plans of the people who happened to own the neighborhood’s homes and businesses.
One of those homeowners, Suzette Kelo – the “Kelo” in the Kelo v. City of New London – lost her home along with many other business owners and homeowners whose families had lived and worked in the area for decades. The City threw millions of dollars of incentives at the big pharma giant, hoping that Pfizer’s plans for its new R & D facility accompanied by the new “small urban village” planned for the adjacent area would revitalize the economy. But now New London faces the loss of the company as well as thousands of jobs.
Poor, poor Pfizer. What is it up to now? Well, it just completed a $67 billion acquisition in October of Wyeth, another drug giant. But Pfizer isn’t done – no sireee – Pfizer will now close the one bright spot in the whole ridiculous mess – its R & D facility – and pull 1,400 jobs out of the community, moving them to Groton, Connecticut.
The willy-nilly actions of the City of New London backed by the United States Supreme Court shows just much power corporations can wield. Pfizer wanted land, the City of New London bought into a misguided development plan, and the Supreme Court completed the theft of private property with its ill-reasoned decision.
The one positive? After the decision was handed down, 43 state legislatures – including Indiana – scrambled to pass legislation that prevented the taking of private property for the purposes of economic development alone.