Saturday, February 18, 2006

ED Debate

The disingenuousness about the use of eminent domain as an economic development tool continues. The latest example, cited by Jacob Sallum in a Washington Times column, comes from Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson.

Last fall Peterson told a Senate committee that "most people agree to sell"when face with an ED action. Sallum's comment: " the same way having a gun available makes it possible for a bank robber to negotiate with a bank teller."

Sallum goes on to describe the efforts underway all over the country to rein in the ED abuse. He is particularly concerned because last summer's Kelo decision "allows local governments to take perfectly good (not 'blighted') homes and businesses on behalf of private developers." In agreeing that any private use that enhances local tax revenues is fair game, the SC ruling has the potential of opening up a floodgate.

Peterson also dragged out the infamous "plan", the one that needs to be in place before any ED can proceed. As we have already commented, there is always a plan, and its existence offers no protection to anyone being threatened.

The key point in this discussion is Sallum's observation that all it takes to seize someone's home or business is "the unilateral judgment of politicians that society would be better served if the property were in different hands." A scary thought indeed, especially in New York City where, as one councilmember remarked about a large local real estate company: "Related is a fourth branch of government."