In Kelo v. New London, the five most liberal justices on the Supreme Court ruled that local governments are within their rights to take people’s land and give it to private entities, as long as it is ostensibly serving some “public purpose.”
Well, if you ask Felix Ungacta, the mayor of Agana, Guam, it served a public purpose for the local government to give Mr. Ungacta his neighbor’s parking lot.
Cato’s Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus have the story:
Artemio Ilagan owns and operates an apartment building in Agana, Guam. His neighbors, Engracia and Felix Ungacta, own an adjoining, residential lot that once lacked access to a road. Unfortunately for Mr. Ilagan, Mr. Ungacta was also the mayor of Agana when the city took a parking lot from Mr. Ilagan and gave it to Mayor Ungacta.
When challenged, the city claimed that the taking was done in accordance with a post-World War II “economic development” plan — the “Agana Plan” — that was enacted to reconfigure irregular lot lines in Agana. At the time of the taking (1981), the Agana Plan had not been used for seven years and, during the years it was used, was never used to take any lots. Moreover, the Plan has not been used in the 30 years since the taking of Mr. Ilagan’s lot.
When government is more powerful, the politically connected profit at the expense of the less connected.