This page includes posts from
August 14-27, 2005 in the usual reverse
order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these
September 10, 2005
The days of relying upon the mainstream media for the images and reporting of today’s events are surely numbered.
Events such as Hurricane Katrina can only speed the process of spurring independent publications that bring an immediacy and authenticity to reportage.
Jonah Goldberg recently pointed to a great new example of this--a slide show by Alvaro R. Morales Villa, a Nicaraguan whose photos and commentary from the French Quarter and elsewhere in New Orleans are simply remarkable.
Read and watch the whole thing, as they say.
There are a few typos, but one of them, in which Villa describes one scene as "aweful," is in a sense more accurate.
September 8, 2005
Last night we took a stress break and went to see the great new documentary, March of the Penguins.
This is without question the best movie we've seen this year. It should win the documentary Oscar at the very least, and frankly should win the best movie Oscar in the unrestricted category.
The wonderful visuals, an unobtrusive yet moving soundtrack by Alex Wurman, and great narration by Morgan Freeman combined for a delightful evening that was sorely needed.
September 7, 2005
Despite the somewhat erratic pace of publishing here lately, visitors continue to stop by, for which I'm deeply appreciative.
As of yesterday, Sneaking Suspicions has been open for three years and eight months, with 431,123 visitors reading 580,413 pages.
I plan to return to a more routine posting schedule soon, and appreciate your patience in the meantime.
September 6, 2005
In the meantime, two others' essays come close to expressing some of the same points I've been mulling about.
Here are the links. Please read them both in their entirety. They are well worth your time:
Bill Whittle's newest essay.
The John Tierney's column.
Hat tip--Glenn Reynolds.
August 30, 2005
Thanks again for your patronage.
August 29, 2005
You might think that if you win a land-use appeal that clears the way for you to build what you desired, that would be the end of the matter, and you’d leave the courthouse smiling.
The Sunrise Corporation and some related entities bought the St. John's Inn, a combined restaurant and hotel operation in Myrtle Beach in 1996, sited on less than three acres. In 1998, the new owners filed for approval of a major change in the property—namely, a 14-story, 98-unit hotel tower, with related amenities. In every relevant respect, the application complied with the city zoning code.
In addition to the normal zoning regulations, however, Myrtle Beach also has an esthetic code, requiring an additional permit approval from the Community Appearance Board.
Anyway, the community reacted negatively to the new developers’ proposal, and the Board turned it down. The appeal to the City Council didn’t work, either, and so the developers sued. Among other claims, they sought to recover pre-development costs and lost profits from pre-selling some of the units in the yet-unapproved tower.
The Defendants then removed much of the case to Federal Court. The parties agreed to stay the civil rights and inverse condemnation claims, pending the state court’s handling of the zoning appeal.
In less than a year, the Court of Common Pleas overturned the City’s decision. The state court ruled that the permit denial was
Other than that, the decision wasn’t so bad for the City, I suppose.
The Court also determined that a remand to the City would be futile, and ordered Myrtle Beach to issue the permit. Not long thereafter, the plaintiffs sold the site for $4 million.
Undaunted, the City appealed the court order, but lost two successive appeals that ended in 2001.
Once the State Supreme Court made its views known, the parties revived the Federal lawsuit. The District Judge dismissed the case, and the developers appealed.
At this point one can legitimately wonder why they bothered. After all, they won their case, and the permit could now be used by the folks who bought the property from them.
Two words come to mind for the semi-cynical among us—attorney’s fees.
Fortunately, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was understandably skeptical about keeping the case alive under these circumstances, in a decision issued last week.
First, the appellate panel reminded the parties about the actual character of the state court decision:
Second, the circuit court expressed a practical view of the due process claims:
Third, there was no violation of Plaintiffs equal protection rights:
Finally, there was simply no valid takings claim:
Thus endeth the lawsuit--finally.
It's understandable that the struggle to obtain a land use permit can generate some strong emotions, while also adding to the cost of development. On the other hand, those burdens did not convert this relatively normal zoning dispute into a Federal civil rights case.
August 28, 2005
Last week we drove younger daughter and a car full of her stuff down to college for her freshman year. The move went fine.
When we returned home, however, there was an unmistakable sense of quiet in the house.
For now, it’s just my wife and I and the dog. Older daughter has been out-of-town for a long vacation, and will be back later this week.
The girls’ absence is really noticeable--far more so than the usual sense when they were younger, and staying overnight with friends or off on other short trips from home.
This stillness is short-lived, for now. Older daughter will be back soon, and younger daughter will return for school breaks and summers.
Even so, over the last few days we have heard, felt, and to some extent smelled what it will be like around here when they both move away permanently.
This is going to take some getting used to.
Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.
That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.
© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2005