Wednesday, September 29, 2004

One of my pet peeves

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to hear a case on eminent domain. While I understand the need for cities to expand their tax base, I will never agree that using eminent domain is the way to go.

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider reining in the power of cities to seize private homes to make way for business development.

Cities and states, armed with constitutional power to take private property for "public use," traditionally have used it to build roads, schools and airports.

But in recent years, many cities began using their land-use authority to condemn older homes to clear the way for shopping malls, hotels, apartments and business complexes. Officials say these private developments bring public benefits, including jobs and more tax revenue.

So, cities are stealing the land of some, to give to others. They use the excuse that it will create more jobs. So, theft is okay as long as it helps everyone, except the person you are stealing from? I don't know about that.
The justices voted to hear an appeal brought on behalf of several families in a working-class neighborhood of New London, Conn. Taking homes for private developments, they argue, is not what the Constitution means by "public use."

The libertarian Institute for Justice, which represents the homeowners, is urging the Supreme Court to call a halt to what it sees as a dangerous trend.

"If jobs and taxes can be a justification for taking someone's home or business, then no property in America is safe," said Dana Berliner, a lawyer for the group. "Anyone's home can create more jobs if it is replaced by a business, and any small business can generate greater taxes if replaced by a bigger one."

Ask Wal-Mart. They have a habit of doing this to people. And I want you to really listen to what Berliner said, NO PROPERTY IS IN AMERICA IS SAFE.

You get a job, get married, have kids, and buy a home. All of a sudden the city NEEDS your property to open a new chain store. In what way does this benefit you? You say no, you don't want to sell, it's your home. They decide your home needs to go and, they seize it, BY FORCE, because it would benefit society. UM, aren't you a member of society?
The Constitution says people whose property is taken are entitled to "just compensation." But the New London homeowners say the government is not entitled to take private property in the first place unless it is needed for a "public use." The recent trend "raises the specter that eminent domain authority is now being used to favor purely private interests," their lawyers said.

In their response, city officials said New London had been economically depressed since the closing of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in 1996.

"New London was a city desperate for economic rejuvenation," they said. When Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, opened a research center there in 1998, the city announced plans for a 90-acre economic development in the nearby Fort Trumbull section. It envisioned a waterfront hotel and conference center, a retail complex and a new office park.

So, they kick 12 families out of their homes to build stores and a hotel. How is this for public use? The city will turn around and sell this property to PRIVATE ENTERPRISES. That is not public use. It's a way for the city to line it's coffers and it is wrong.