Friday, February 17, 2006

The Chamber of Commerce and Eminent Domain

According to the Daily Dispatch “The Bettendorf Chamber of Commerce and DavenportOne are encouraging members to ask legislators to oppose any new restrictions on eminent domain because they believe it could hamper urban redevelopment.”

Eminent domain was created to allow the government to purchase private property to build roads or other public purposes even if the property owner does not want to sell. For most of its existence, up until 25 years ago or so, it was used for that purpose and there was little opposition to it.

During the last 25 years some local governments have started using their power of eminent domain not for building projects of their own but to help private development projects. They started seizing private property in order to hand it over to private developers, using the rationale that the new owners would pay more property taxes than the current owners which was in the public interest and therefore a "public use". People opposing this practice realized that new laws were needed a few months ago when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of this new use of eminent domain.
There is no reason why the local Chamber of Commerce or local businessmen would have to oppose new laws restricting the use of eminent domain to its original purpose. After all, they are property owners also. They could easily side with the rest of us against this practice of the “golden rule” – someone who has more gold can, with the help of local government, seize the property of someone with less influence. After all, not matter how big you are someone bigger can always come along.

By taking this position they are placing themselves in opposition to the ordinary citizens. They are making it clear that when it comes to us against them, they are them.


Anonymous said...

Right ON! A persons home is their castle! Also for most of us poor schleps it's the largest asset we'll every own.
Ownership society? I'd think D1'ers would like that.

Anonymous said...

Above post: oops I meant ever own.

Anonymous said...

As a homeowner in an older neighborhood I feel more threatened by the imminent abuse of eminent domain than I do by crime and random shootings nearby. Crime is to some degree random if you live a clean life yourself. Also I can arm myself in a number of ways. Not so with eminent domain until the state and local legislatures take back the rightful definition of public use. "Public Interest" is not "Public Use".

My city is already gently testing out the new definition of public use. The preliminary landscape is being put in place for the city to use it.

To sharpen your senses so you feel the wind on your wet finger read deeply into

Dave Barrett said...

Thank you for your comments anonymous 2/17/2006 8:07AM and anonymous 2/18/2006 12:40PM
I have already gotten a bigger reaction to this topic than almost any other topic I have written about in this blog. I believe that this might be because this topic is one that the corporate news media does not present all points of view on because, unlike issues such as the Democrat/Republican horse races, abortion or political scandals this is a topic in which the corporate media, as part of the local power structure, has a vested interest.
It will be interesting to see how long QCOnline continues to feature this blog if we continue to talk about issues such as this.
The corporate media would just as soon the public not know that any responsible and intelligent person disagrees with the power structure's definition of "public interest" and neighborhood "improvement".

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave for your great summary of the issue. This is a complex legal issue, very technical and incredibly ripe for word wars and using peoples legitmate emotions against them to undermine their rightful positions. Our state and local legislators need to lead right now on behalf of all property owners before the single vision business community prevails.

People The chicken has come home to roost on this one. I hope you continue to keep all of updated on the state and local legislators