Dozens of interested citizens from the Utica-Rome area gathered at the headquarters of the AHI on Saturday afternoon, 4 October, to hear Carla Main speak on the abuse of eminent domain. Ms. Main, a lawyer and journalist, began by recalling her days as a lawyer, working for New York City in condemnation proceedings, during which she witnessed up close and personal the testimony of those people whose property was being seized, often as a result of an unholy alliance between government officials and developers.

In her prize-winning book Bulldozed (Encounter Books, 2007), Ms. Main centered her discussion on a case in Freeport, Texas.  She recounted the story of Freeport’s Gore family, model citizens whose patriarch Wright “Pappy” Gore rose from poverty to build the Western Seafood Company into a prosperous business.  In 2003, city officials in league with a prominent Texas businessman attempted in the name of economic development a taking of the Gore’s property, crucial to the operation of Western Seafood.  The developers wanted the property for the construction of a multi-million dollar marina on the Freeport waterfront.

Arthur Lee of Virginia spoke for many of the founders of this country when he said “The right of

[private] property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.”   Ms. Main would agree, and her lecture discussed how such Supreme Court cases as Parker v Berman (1954), Hawaii Housing Authority v Midkiff (1984), and, most notably, Kelo v New London (2005) have chipped away at private  property rights throughout this country by dramatically expanding the founder’s understanding of “public use” in the Fifth Amendent to embrace the much more elastic “public purpose.”

Ms. Main’s appearance, which included a book signing, attracted the largest gathering of informed citizens ever to attend an AHI function.  We congratulate her on the success of her talk.  The AHI would also like to thank Daniel F. Fitzgerald Jr., Regional Vice-Chairman of the the New York State Conservative Party, for his attendance and enthusiastic support of the AHI.