'Protect Our Homes,'

Woman Urges Senators

The Connecticut woman whose case led to the Supreme Court decision allowing local governments to take homes for private development asked senators yesterday to end federal involvement in such seizures.

"I sincerely hope that Congress will do what judges and local legislators so far have refused to do for me and for thousands of people like me across the nation: protect our homes," Susette Kelo told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The panel is considering one of several congressional proposals that would bar federal money from construction projects that benefit from the court ruling. State and national lawmakers are moving to blunt the effects of the Supreme Court's Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., decision, which ruled that municipalities have broad power to bulldoze people's homes in favor of private development to generate tax revenue.

The House has passed a bill that would bar federal transportation funds from being used to make improvements on lands seized through the exercise of eminent domain for private development. The Senate has not addressed the House bill but is considering its own solutions.

At least 25 states are contemplating changes to eminent domain laws to prevent the taking of land for private development.

Nomination at Risk

Over Secret FBI Memo

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) threatened to block the approval of Homeland Security Department nominee Julie L. Myers, who was named to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, until he receives a secret FBI memo about terrorism suspect interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In February, Democratic senators began asking for an unedited version of a 2004 memo to see whether it mentioned or involved Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who headed the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003. The Justice Department denied the request, saying the memo contained "information covered by the Privacy Act" and had nothing to do with Chertoff.

Myers was Chertoff's chief of staff at the time, said Levin, who also delayed Chertoff's nomination in February for a week to protest being denied the names of people who had sent and received the e-mail. Some lawmakers have said that Myers lacks the experience to head the second-largest U.S. investigative force.

For the Record

* A high-ranking Medicare officer, whose medical license was suspended in Maryland because he falsified documents about his continuing education, was reassigned to the post of senior biomedical research scientist at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, officials said. On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general released an updated list of people and businesses excluded from doing business with federal health care programs. Sean R. Tunis was on the list. He had been chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, helping to determine what services and devices Medicare would reimburse.

* Tax breaks designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims get cash could do more for higher-income survivors than for the neediest, the Congressional Research Service said, citing several items in virtually identical bills that passed in the House and Senate last week. One helps hurricane victims tap their retirement savings early by waiving the usual penalties; others let taxpayers write off more of their destroyed property and erase taxes when a debt, such as a mortgage, is forgiven. The report said lower-income survivors are less likely to have retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs and already pay little tax, making bigger deductions meaningless.

* NASA's deputy shuttle program manager has moved into the top spot, taking over from a former Marine who is now leading the space agency's hurricane recovery effort on the Gulf Coast. Wayne Hale was named yesterday to permanently succeed Bill Parsons.

-- From News Services