Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Property snatching goes on the list for '06

Can government entities, in the name of some guy’s version of progress, simply snatch property from one owner and give it to a second owner for the sole purpose of "economic development"? Well, apparently, yes they can thanks to the Supreme Court Kelo v New London decision. So now every Iowa property owner, and their grandmothers -- particularly grandmothers holding the deed to 1500 hundred odd feet of shoreline on Okoboji -- are just leaking fluid.

This nervousness has not been lost on Iowa politicians. They are stomping around on the issue, settin’ it up for 06. And with that the fun begins as the first inkling of a good Statehouse political fight starts to show.

The GOP legislature (meaning the House, remember the Senate is tied) wants to revisit Iowa's use of eminent domain for purposes outside of building roads and schools. Good. I always say a small prayer when these guys get knocked in the head, or something, and suddenly find some of their libertarian sensibilities. Ya know... life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... it works.

However, Vilsack, despite the direct invitation from Justice Stevens in the Court's decision, wants to leave it up to Congress (that's right Gov, just keep holding your ankles for the inside the beltway crowd). While another East Coast transplant and nut job, Senator Jack Hatch, wants to keep the ability for developers to use the principle of eminent domain, or property snatching, for certain economic development.

The only thing anyone needs to know about Hatch is his creepy attachment to spending other people’s money on everything, including private contractors in the business of economic development or, in the Hatch world, urban renewal. Oh, and he has great hair.

Not all the Democrats are hip to this constitutionally blessed scam. The Fallon for Governor Team – via State 29 blog turned news source – put out a press release objecting to the use of eminent domain for economic development. I love disagreement among the ranks; it makes an issue bleed-out messy and right into an election.

It's as if we are starting to see a pattern of convergence on political issues that scream for good policy. What with Fallon being on the side of GOP leadership on this one and Vander Plaats taking a left turn on corporate responsibility in the hiring of illegal immigrants. OMG, it seems some of these pols have souls that respond to common sense and not the almighty PAC check. Give us more, please.

A day after the Kelo decision was delivered, Freestar Media LLC submitted a proposal in the town of Weare, New Hampshire where majority opinion writer, Justice Souter, owns a farm house. They requested that the town board condemn the land and give it to them, as private developers, who promise to construct the Lost Liberty Hotel in its place. Their tax revenue would no doubt be higher than the reported $2,500 that Justice Souter paid in property taxes last year. It would create employment and attract tourism. The town has a website, and an economic development committee, which has identified its two main goals: 1) Encourage the formation of new businesses, and 2) Promote tourism. However, contrary to its stated goals and the legally sanctioned purpose of economic development, the town’s board turned down the proposal.

So much for poetic justice. Justice Souter’s influence in his community shielded him from his own ruling. No other rational justification can be found.

Thankfully, the legislative branch is now busy at work attempting to shield private property rights from the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the two may have switched roles, with the House defending the Constitution, and the Supreme Court writing new laws.

I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter –skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.
nice post
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