From the Editor: The Statistics of Sharing
Contaminated Water! Yet Another
Long-standing Debacle in Iqaluit
Searching for the Shelters of Stone
How to Loose a Husky Team
A New Home for the BAS Husky Memorial Bronze Statue
Historical and Climatic Prerequisites of the
Appearance of the Population of Sled Dogs of the
Shoreline of the Chukotka Peninsula
The Sledge Patrol documentary update
Major Virus Issues in Canada’s North and
Canine Parvovirus Infects Inuit Dogs in
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 1978
A Decade of Service: The Chinook Project’s
2015 Labrador Animal Wellness Clinic
Inuk’s release in North America!
Book Review: Games of Survival: Traditional
Inuit Games for Elementary Students
IMHO: The Presumption of Good Faith
Index: Volume 17, The Fan Hitch
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The Presumption of Good Faith
by Mark Hamilton
I need to “set-the-stage” here so please grant me your indulgence. We start with this block-quote from Wikipedia:
Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.The case arose in the context of condemnation by the city of New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property, so that it could be used as part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan.” However, the private developer was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an undeveloped empty lot.
There was considerable public outrage over the city of New London’s action (the eminent domain taking) as well as with the United States Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of that taking. Until the taking that spawned the Kelo case, the use of eminent domain was construed and administered in a more narrow fashion. “Public use” was viewed as meaning use for projects such as public parks, roadways and government buildings as well as for urban redevelopment of “blighted” areas. New London seized privately owned land from private owners and transferred it to another private owner…on the premise that the new owner would pay higher taxes to the city and that the new owner’s development would result in economic growth within the city.
Things did not go as the city hoped. The developer could not get funding for his project. Additionally, the corporation that the development was intended to support merged with another corporation and vacated its facility in New London. As of 2014 the properties the city had seized under eminent domain, as well as the other properties purchased constituted one large empty lot generating no tax revenue or job creation for the city. All the houses and small businesses that comprised the neighborhood had been demolished and former residents either moved to new locations within the city or left.
On the other hand, the fear property owners all over the United States felt (that their city/town was now empowered to seize their property only to give it to a new private owner who would build something that would result in higher tax revenues to their city/town) never became reality either. In fact many states proceeded to revise their eminent domain laws to preclude just such an occurrence and eight states narrowed the description of circumstances under which private property could be seized under eminent domain.
Next, we need to look at the term - good faith. Interestingly, it’s a legal term. Wikipedia provides us this passage:
Good faith (Latin:bona fides) is fair and open dealing in human interactions. This is often thought to require sincere, honest intentions or belief, regardless of the outcome of an action.The following passage about contracts from Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute gives added depth to the above:
In contract law, the implied covenant of good faith is a general presumption that the parties to a contract will deal with each other honestly and fairly, so as not to destroy the right of the other party or parties to receive the benefits of the contract.Please note that no mention is made of that being a written agreement. This is significant and of importance here if we’re speaking of homeowners and cities/towns where there may be unwritten contracts, such as: you pay your property taxes, we pick up the trash weekly and provide public schools as well as police and fire departments.
Property owners, homeowners and residents all interact with local, regional and federal governments. In the immediate post-Kelo time frame many of those state and local government agencies amended their laws relating to eminent domain takings so as to reassure residents. Eight states went so far as to restrict and specifically define the circumstance of “public benefit” under which eminent domain could be used to seize private property. In those instances government was seeking to re-assure residents (the other party in the government/governed contract) of their intentions of acting in “good faith”. In many cases contracts, with their presumption of all parties acting in “good faith,” work.
In Connecticut, home of the city of New London and the Kelo case, there was no revising and restricting of the laws governing eminent domain seizures. So it appears to me that at other times contracts, with their presumption of all parties acting in “good faith,” don’t work.
It’s time to shift our focus north. Issues surrounding the survival of the Inuit Sled Dog in today’s Canadian Arctic have often been often discussed in The Fan Hitch as well as in other publications. Searching for affirmative support from government organizations has been for the most part futile. At best what we’ve seen has to be described as neutral on this subject. There is no government program to support individual, local efforts to raise and use these dogs in harness or even to encourage such efforts. Some communities even have difficulty designating areas where the dogs can be kept.
And now we’ve learned of something that doesn’t even rise to the level of being neutral. In this edition of The Fan Hitch, the article “Contaminated Water! Yet another Long Standing Debacle in Iqaluit” details the appalling lack of any good faith effort on the part of any local, regional and/or national agency of governance toward remediating pollution flowing through an open stream in Iqaluit. That contamination doesn’t just affect dogs summering in the North 40/airport area, it affects children playing in and around a stream that runs through the city as well as potentially all residents eating fish and other marine life taken in the wider region around the city. Pollutants in a marine habitat get concentrated beyond the actual levels in the water (little fish are eaten in large numbers by larger fish, which in turn are eaten in large numbers by still larger fish and other marine animals). Knowledge of this pollution dates back to 1999. Ongoing research and monitoring by a non-government entity began in 2005. And to this day various levels of government continue to point their fingers at one another while uttering, “Not my problem.”
Clearly the good faith contract between government and governed has broken down here. Just as clear here is that despite all of their finger pointing, these agencies also had a thumb available with which to thumb their noses at the residents of Iqaluit.