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Pfizer Responds to New London Day Story:

This morning I posted on a Pfizer's role in the Kelo takings, as reported in the New London Day newspaper using documents obtained under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act. Pfizer responded to the article in a Letter to the Editor (registration required). Here is Pfizer's response to the article (reproduced in full):

Featured in Letters to The Editor

Pfizer Didn't Call For Razing Fort Trumbull Published on 10/18/2005

Letters To The Editor: Your story "Pfizer's fingerprints on Fort Trumbull plan," published Oct. 16, simply recycles a well-worn, untrue myth - that our company's decision to invest here was conditional on the replacement of the surrounding neighborhood.

That charge is unjustified and plain wrong. The documents and conversations you report show that, in 1997, the state and city asked Pfizer executives for ideas on how our arrival might impact Fort Trumbull.

At that time, we believed our $300-million investment and 1,500 new employees would act as magnets - drawing many others to this area.

Our architects shared our optimism and their diagram includes ideas about how our new neighborhood might evolve if we built here. We had optimism and ideas, but we had only two demands. First, we wanted the next-door sewage plant capped to reduce odor. Second, we wanted the restoration of the long-abandoned and derelict Revolutionary war fort. Both conditions were met and brought considerable benefit to the city.

We insisted on nothing else. Anyone who doubts that should consider a glaring truth. If there were other demands, and these were not met, why did we go ahead and build?

We share our neighbors' frustration and sadness for the city's troubles. Rather than making Pfizer a scapegoat, please judge us on our record.

We have made huge investments here and we have delivered all our promises on employment, investment and taxation. We are a good citizen and neighbor.

William Longa New London

Editor's note: The writer is assistant general counsel with Pfizer Global Research and Development.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Pfizer Responds to New London Day Story:
  2. Pfizer's Role in Kelo Takings:
Shelby (mail):
Poor poor Pfizer, dragged into a PR nightmare against its will!

I have no trouble believing that this letter is technically and documentably accurate, and that Pfizer's people negotiating with New London still managed to convey the importance of razing Kelo's neighborhood. I like Pfizer as a company, but their obvious involvement in all this still has not been punished enough.
10.24.2005 8:07pm
carpundit (www):
Pfizer may indeed have intended to benefit New London, a blighted city in desperate need of help (I went to college there in the 80's), but the end result of that intent was an unjustifiable governmental intrusion into private property rights, and one of the worst constitutional decisions of the Supreme Court in my lifetime.

Pfizer started the ball rolling, and has to accept some blame for where it went, intent be damned.
10.24.2005 8:49pm
anon:
Shelby,

What's to punish? Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, businesses try to work the system to their interest. I wouldn't respect Pfizer if they didn't try to work the angles to the fullest extent permitted by our Supreme Court.
10.24.2005 8:55pm
tom lehrer (mail):
That's "sharks gotta swim, bats gotta fly."
10.24.2005 10:01pm
Whaler (mail):

I'm amazed at how those who profess an affection for free markets have put Pfizer on the defensive throughout this whole thing. I don't fault New London for the bargain they made; if you disagree, go after the city. Making Pfizer into a bogeyman is shameful and beneath conservatives.

And I'm ashamed of fellow conservatives for pumping Ms. Kelo up the way the lunatic left props up Cindy Sheehan.
10.24.2005 10:52pm
Public_Defender:
Why is it "shameful" for people "who profess an affection for free markets" to "put Pfizer on the defensive"?

Pfizer didn't push the city to buy the land on the open market. Pfizer pushed a plan to bypass free markets and force sales from unwilling sellers. Isn't this similar to what Pfizer complains that Canada does with Pfizer drugs--forcing a sale at a government-set price?

If Pfizer had any qualms about kicking people out of their homes so that the NLDC could build luxury condos for Pfizer employees, the company could speak up to try to stop the evictions. Instead, Pfizer plays a major role in the NLDC, which is actively working to evict the homeowners.

Pfizer's attempt to distance itself from a plan it helped create is cowardly and less than honest. We should remember this the next time Pfizer makes claims about the safety of its products or about how much of a drug's price is really for R&D.
10.25.2005 5:30am
William Baude (mail) (www):
Indeed. As I understand most free-marketers, they don't think governments should be bought and sold on the free market.
10.25.2005 10:43am
Thales (mail) (www):
Whaler's comment is only coherent if one interprets "free marketeer" to mean one who adheres to the infamous and demonstrably false adage, "What's good for [Pfizer] is good for the [community], and vice versa." More broadly it illustrates the difference between those who speak free market rhetoric but become (usually) Republican politicians and those who realize that a free market sometimes has implications that hurt the big business constituency.
10.25.2005 11:35am
Shelby (mail):
anon: "What's to punish?"

If businesses can legitimately seek positive PR for their activities that are good for the community (and I agree they can), they shouold also suffer the bad PR resulting from activities that are bad for the community. I think the Kelo situation is clearly in the latter category, but some disagree.

To put it another way, sure "businesses try to work the system to their interest", but that doesn't mean they can escape the consequences of their actions. Sometimes those consequences are a loss of goodwill, which is appropriate here. I'm not suggesting Pfizer should be prosecuted.
10.25.2005 1:00pm
cathyf:
I think it's useful to note that Pfizer's behavior suggests that they are receiving less rather than more blame than they are entitled to. If the story was really that the greedy New London politicians were making money on Pfizer's coattails, while harming Pfizer's good name, and Pfizer was not getting any benefit, then we can be pretty sure that Pfizer would be doing something about it. (Cue Marlon Brando menacing voice here:) "Youse guys, I wanta you leavea my friend Suzanne alone. Capish?"

The fact that they have not moved to rein in the NLDC tends to suggest that they are getting something from the arrangement, and whatever that something is it is worth the bad publicity they are getting.

cathy :-)
10.25.2005 4:46pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Yea, umm.....that would be capasci. Capasci?
10.27.2005 1:08am