Just Deserts in Pennsylvania

         The Los Angeles Daily Journal informs us in an Associated Press story that justice has been done in Pennsylvania, in the case of a developer named David Katz who . . . Maybe we better quote from the article (David Porter, L.A. Daily Journal, Aug. 28, 2009):

          “The dispute began in the mid-1980s after Katz bought about 730 acres in a mountainous area straddling Interstate 84 where Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York Meet at the Delaware River [in Westfall, Pennsylvania].

          “According to a lawsuit filed in 1994, some Westfall residents tried to prevent Katz from developing the property, first with threats and then by gaining seats on the township’s board of supervisors and changing zoning laws in closed-door meetings, a violation of the state law.

          “Some of the harassment turned ugly, according to court papers; machinery and property were vandalized and Katz was subject to anti-Semitic slurs and threatened with a gun at least once.

         “A federal jury found Westfall guilty of violating Katz’s civil rights and awarded the developer about $10 million in 1999. He later settled with some of the individual board members — none of whom still serves on the board — and agreed to forgive the judgment against the town in return for the town providing water and sewer lines to the planned development.

         “But he later sued for breach of contract, and a federal appeals court upheld a $14 million judgment in 2005. The settlement calls for no interest to accrue [on that figure].

          But Katz, evidently a reasonable man, eventually settled for $6 million — six times Westfall’s annual budget. “Under the terms of the settlement, taxpayers in the township of about 2500 people will be assessed a special tax to pay Katz four payments of $75,000 per year for the next 20 years. The settlement calls for no interest to accrue”

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