Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jeff Benedict's "Little Pink House"

Jeff Benedict is an award-winning investigative journalist, a lawyer, and a best-selling author of seven books. He is a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated and the Hartford Courant.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage, and reported the following:
Little Pink House is the behind-the-scenes account of Kelo v. New London, the most controversial Supreme Court case since Roe v. Wade. The story is set in a seaside, blue collar town in Connecticut, where a neighborhood street fight escalated into a high-stakes federal case. But what happened there could happen anywhere. The fight is over private property rights. The City of New London used a development corporation to condemn, seize and demolish homes to make way for a five-star hotel, a spa, office space and upscale housing. All of this is intended to complement plans by Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, to build its global research and development headquarters next door to the neighborhood. But a nurse – Susette Kelo – and her neighbors rally to save their homes from the wrecking ball.

Page 99 of the book has the NLDC (that’s the development company going after the houses) working hand-in-hand with Pfizer and the government to acquire more and more property. And a local newspaper is trying to find out what they’re up to. It’s all part of the build-up to a dramatic confrontation that ultimately plays out on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and on the steps of the Supreme Court. This case makes history and changes the meaning of eminent domain when the court says it is okay to take land from one person and give it to another capable of generating higher taxes.

On one level this is all about government overstepping its bounds and crushing the little guy. “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property,” Justice Sandra Day O’Conner wrote in a blistering dissent. “Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” Yet beneath this obvious injustice, there’s an even more compelling hidden drama driven by the conflict between unchecked power and raw defiance. At its core this story is about human pride, a virtue that breeds self-respect and a condition that is first among the seven cardinal sins.

Sir Edward Coke said: “A man’s house is his castle …and where shall a man be safe if it be not in his own house?” Little Pink House will make you think twice about this.
Read an excerpt from Little Pink House, and learn more about the book and author at Jeff Benedict's website. View the Little Pink House video.

--Marshal Zeringue