Free speech and eminent domain: laws we need to be careful with

Before long, it may be illegal to have an opinion, at least one that runs contrary to our Government’s when it comes to deciding what is right for the common good. No, I’m not talking about reforming health insurance, but on the right to protect your property.

Right now, Mayor McLin and Nan Whaley, have no problems spending Federal tax dollars in Dayton to tear down everything in sight. They had no problem stepping in for Midland-Atlantic to help first declare a neighborhood blighted- and then try to force sales- only to see the developer walk. So much for the new Wayne Avenue Kroger.

Eminent domain is a dangerous tool in the wrong hands, and now, even writing a book about the questionable practices has led to lawsuits claiming defamation of character and asking the end of publication of a book.

I highly recommend reading all of this George Will article- that begins like this:

It began with the proliferation of campus “speech codes” ostensibly designed to promote civility but frequently used to enforce political conformity. The new censorship accelerated with the McCain-Feingold legislation that licenses government regulation of the quantity, timing and content of speech in political campaigns.

Now the attack on First Amendment speech protections has taken an audacious new turn, illustrated by a case being pondered by a Texas judge. He is being asked to collaborate in the suppression of a book, and even of expressions of approval of the book.

via George F. Will – Bulldozing the First Amendment – washingtonpost.com.

The book is “Bulldozed: ‘Kelo,’ Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land.” by Carla Main, and deals primarily with what happened in 2000 in New London, Connecticut, where the city condemned middle-class homes so that a developer would come in and build something that paid more taxes. In 2005, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that is was OK in Kelo v. City of New London.

If you believe in free markets, eminent domain is a very scary market force.

If you believe in free speech, you already know that there is a price associated with it. If this developer has his way against the author and publisher- we’re all in trouble.

And, I’m still wondering how much the corner of Wayne and Wyoming is really going to end up costing the taxpayers in Dayton- after the commission’s ill-planned attempt to venture where it shouldn’t have.

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35 Responses

  1. Robert Vigh August 20, 2009 / 10:58 am
    Yay David!

    Emminent Domain should not exist in any capacity, period.

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  2. David Lauri August 20, 2009 / 12:38 pm
    I have to disagree with Robert.  There are some cases when eminent domain is necessary.  I just don’t believe we’d have interstate highways without eminent domain.  (Of course that might be a good thing.)

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  3. Jeff August 20, 2009 / 10:46 pm
    The original 19th century railroad system would not have existed without eminent domain.  Some of the original railway charters (issued by state legislatures) granted the right of eminent domain to railroad companies so they could aquire right-of-way.  Closer in time, the Miami Conservancy District also was granted to right of eminent domain so it could aquire easments and land for flood control purposes.  In all cases the property owner was to be compensated, as required by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

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  4. pizzabill August 21, 2009 / 8:28 am
    Two great examples of the right way to look at eminent domain:  The 1997 Australian film “The Castle”, and the absolutely classic 1954 Bugs Bunny cartoon “No Parking Hare”.
    As Bugs says, “The sanctity of the American home must be presoived.”

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  5. MikeB August 21, 2009 / 9:17 am
    Good analysis about eminent domain being “a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.”   Kelo was the tipping point on the grassroots rising to protect property rights; but it is not a level playing field for landowners.

    Eminent domain in real life is a sobering experience because it amounts to legal theft under the badge of government.

    Speaking as someone who has fought seizure of property rights in Pennsylvania for two years with Houston-based Spectra Energy, backed by the power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we have turned over several rocks that the energy industry would prefer to keep quiet.

    As one of your readers pointed out, the 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution emphasizes, among other points, “… nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Folks who have actually fought eminent domain know that there is a lot of play in the “just” of “just compensation.”  For example, the quiet secret of the energy industry is that “just compensation” for its lease agreements with the state government is very different from the same company’s “just compensation” for private property owners. It has nothing to do with the size of state lands and everything to do with industry politics.

    In our case, Spectra Energy cut a very different — and much better — lease deal with the PA Game Commission in Bedford County than the lease agreements it typically offers to private property owners. 

    Few are aware of this unequal treatment under law, but it will become a legal and political Achilles heel for the energy industry as more people become aware.

    We are property owners who are sharing what we have learned with fellow property owners in North America who may be dealing with energy companies and property rights issues. For those who have never been threatened with the seizure of their property rights, listen to property owners talk about the experience.

    You’ll find a landowner video and blog postings on our website:
    http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog

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  6. David Esrati August 21, 2009 / 10:31 am

    @MikeB- thanks for the reminder. I’ve often said that until we reform campaign finance, nothing with government will be as it seems. Dressing our elected officials up in NASCAR like race suits with all the corporate sponsors would make their decisions easier to decipher.

    Eminent Domain, in and by itself is not a problem- if used for a public works. However, fair and just compensation must not be an influenced by behind closed door dealing- for purely private gain.

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  7. Gene August 21, 2009 / 4:22 pm
    ED is good when it takes over worthless homes and adds something positive to the city – and if it displaces poor people further away, hopefully Detroit.

    Fair compensation? A lot of these places are worth 5 or 10 grand. Pay it and be done with it.

    Most of these property owners are a negative, getting rid of their places may be a good thing. That building on Wayne is a dump and former drug user hang out. Get rid of that dump.

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  8. Civil Servants are People, too August 23, 2009 / 1:32 am
    On the Wayne Avenue project, I seem to remember that it was Kroger that pulled out not the developer.   Eminent domain was never used.
    Also, eminent domain for economic development is already illegal in Ohio which is part of the reason the project failed.
    It seems you can’t have it both ways.
     
     

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  9. Teri Lussier August 23, 2009 / 8:12 am
    >Eminent Domain, in and by itself is not a problem- if used for a public works.
     
    Eminent Domain is always a problem as it gives the government the ultimate right to seize your property. The reason is unimportant, as long as you are justly compensated, which has been loosely defined over and over again.  Eminent Domain is unneccesary as there are always alternative methods of procuring land, or the rights to land, and private citizens use sales contracts, leases, and easement contracts every day.

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  10. Larkin August 23, 2009 / 11:07 am
    Fair compensation is more than 5 to 10 thousand dollars, regardless of what the “market value” is. Many of these are homes that are wholly owned, free and clear, by the people who inhabit them. They have to be paid enough money to buy another comparable home, “free and clear” where they can live. That’s why it’s supposed to be “just compensation.” Not just compensation.To say that “most of the property owners are a negative” and “getting rid of their places may be a good thing” smacks of fascism. 

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  11. Gene August 23, 2009 / 12:36 pm
    They can move to Detroit. I will pay for the bus tickets. We need to eliminate the “loser” mentality Dayton has, and that starts with taking over these homes and declaring them as public property for public use. I know it is harsh, but the reality is Dayton will never change if we keep people with a “loser” mentality. The truth does hurt. Or we can stay on course and have more crime, more drugs, more of the same old sh*t. Real change takes the basketballs to make tough decisions. Otherwise we may as well accept reality which is Dayton being a 3rd rate town. I guess I am fine with that as well.

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  12. Larkin August 23, 2009 / 12:59 pm
    Gene, I think you ought to be the first one on the bus. Your non-stop stream of rascist, class-related negative remarks are at the heart of why Dayton can’t pull itself up by its bootstraps. Did Pittsburgh export their “loser” citizens to become one of the most successful cities in the nation? No. They developed a series of economic programs to get the city back on its feet. Why you have such contempt for fellow human beings is a mystery to me, but this drum you beat incessantly is getting to be very a tired one. 
     

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  13. Gene August 23, 2009 / 1:22 pm
    Back of the bus for me.

    It is not racism, thank you. I am white and I am talking about mainly white people. The neighborhood in question is mostly white. Thanks again.

    Class related? I don’t know. I don’t define people in terms of class, just cash. They don’t have it and are a drain on Dayton and Ohio and the United States.

    Why do I have to work so hard to pay for other people? It just gets OLD.

    Dayton is full of losers. People who have too many kids they can’t afford, treat them like dirt, don’t educate their kids. You seem to accept this – I don’t.

    And I was half kidding anyway. Half though.

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  14. Larkin August 23, 2009 / 3:15 pm
    Okay, so you only have to ride the bus halfway to Detroit . . . where would that put you , Findley?  LOL.

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  15. Gene August 23, 2009 / 9:54 pm
    Larks, you can keep on wanting our taxpayers to fund losers. I grew up years ago. The money I earn is mine, and I am tired of paying for losers. If I pay for losers I want it in the form of health care. I donate more money to charities than you do, and I certainly pay more taxes. Stop trying to screw me. I know you love me though.

    Back to the woods. Liberals are a bunch of June Lovin’ Bicycle Wheels. Figure that one out, CB’s.

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  16. Larkin August 24, 2009 / 1:46 am
    Gene, who said anything about taxpayers funding anyone? I just don’t want the city of Dayton taking away what little assets these people have by way of deeming a neighborhood “blighted” and seizing it by eminent domain. (Or landbanking, or whatever Nan Whaley wants to call it.) If anything, that’s an old-school Republican notion of keeping the gubmnt outta ar bizniz. 
    You’re the one that wants to give them a “hand out” in the form of a bus ticket. (But if it’s white fokes you want to send, I don’t think too many will take you up on De-troy-yit.  West Virginie, maybe.) One of the most incredible things I ever saw were miles of  beaten down junked up single trailers on blocks lining the back roads in the woods of the Ozarks and every one of them had a Bush-Cheney sign on their little patch of heaven.  
    You may donate more money to charities than I do, Gene (and thank you) but do you donate more time?  And besides, does the John Birch Society even qualify as a charity anymore? (J/K) Have a good night. 
     

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  17. Gene August 24, 2009 / 8:32 am
    I donate more time as well.

    And making money takes time. Keep these areas blighted… let them live in their own filth.

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  18. David Lauri August 24, 2009 / 11:30 am
    If name calling were allowed on Esrati.com, a name applied previously to Truth in violation of David E’s rules might be appropriate also for Gene.  However, the lesson one should probably learn instead from the name calling incident is that really name calling’s unnecessary.  It’s rather evident when a name fits, spoken or not.

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  19. Jeff August 24, 2009 / 3:58 pm
    “Eminent Domain, in and by itself is not a problem- if used for a public works. However, fair and just compensation must not be an influenced by behind closed door dealing- for purely private gain.”—The common sense response.

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  20. Larkin August 24, 2009 / 4:04 pm
    Gene, I was going to say you don’t have a clue what I do with my time, but I think I’ll just leave it at  you don’t have a clue. 
    You do presume, though, you do presume. 

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  21. Gene August 24, 2009 / 9:24 pm
    Larkin, I am sure you are a saint. A true leader.

    I hate not having a clue…… it has made me money, I am happy, and otherwise lead a productive life. No clue may be the way to go.

    No police in my life. No drugs. No unwanted kids. No drama. No clue is the way to go. Enough with you and loading the giant cross on your back.

    What do you do with your time? Need a tissue for all those tears? We are who we are, I just want to eliminate the criminals…. oh, bad bad me. And freeloaders. I just want to keep more of the money that I made. Damn, I am evil.

    I am sick of blight. Blight is a result of people, unproductive people.

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  22. Larkin August 25, 2009 / 2:13 pm
    Gene, I never said I was a saint. I just said that you are very presumptuous about me, what I’ve done, what my life is like, how much time and money I give away. Presumptions based on just about nothing. It doesn’t become you.
     
    Who likes blight?  But was the corner of Wayne and Wyoming truly blighted or was that just handy for the city fathers to give incentive (and a huge financial break) to a giant corporation on the backs of the city’s less well-to-do?
     

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  23. Gene August 25, 2009 / 3:04 pm
    is it blighted…?…. open your eyes. YES

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  24. Larkin August 25, 2009 / 5:40 pm
    Historic preservationists might not agree. I agree that Wendy’s restaurants often constitute blight, but using that criteria, one might consider long stretches of 725 and 741 (not Dayton I know) blighted. 

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  25. Gene August 25, 2009 / 5:59 pm
    what is historic there? The big dump building?

    you have eaten Wendy’s before…..

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  26. Gene August 25, 2009 / 6:30 pm
    Yes, the stretch of 725 and 741 is evil. Blight all over the place. Destruction and deterioration. It is all those Fake jobs. Fake money. Fake Buildings. Fake distributors sell fake beer and fake food and fake clothes and fake gas and fake cell phones and fake stocks and fake furniture. All of which was made by fake people. Yes, that area is blighted. All the fake stuff going on out there, also know as our economy.

    That stretch of Montgomery Co. hosts all sorts of businesses. Your understanding of economics was evidently read from the back of a real cereal box. A fake cereal box would have lied to you. I hope you grow all your own food and make all your clothes and I hope you built your house with your own hands.

    Typical liberal.

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  27. Larkin August 25, 2009 / 7:11 pm
    Blight is obviously in the eye of the beholder. I think the homogenization of America is one of the worst things that’s happened to this country, and “mall culture” is at the top of my list of things that are rotting the soul of this country. But you Gene, are a self-admitted mall crawler, a man who spends his leisure cruising at the Greene. Good for you, America needs your materialistic, acquisitive nature to support its bloated economy. 
    I care about more than money, and that is the chief difference between I and thou.
    Spew whatever you like in response to this, I will not dignify any more of your posts with a follow up … I have better things to do with my time. 
     
     
     

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  28. Gene August 25, 2009 / 7:26 pm
    Again, you have never contributed to this sector of the economy?

    Where did you get that computer you use? What store did you buy that computer from? You are a typical hypocrite liberal. I am right on the money with this one. I exposed your double trouble ways.

    I go to the Greene on occasion, more often to the OD. But our bloated economy is why we have such a high standard of living, which you are a part of and buy into, and then loath the same economy. You are a liberal.

    Spew what… the truth. Gotcha honey. I am right on the money. I exposed your double standard. Now stop buying commercial products and produce your own. Or take an economics class.

    Never been to the Greene yourself, huh? And you loath the Greene. Gee Whiz, wonder who judges a book by its cover. You are no better than your hypocrite President.

    Check and mate.

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  29. Gene August 25, 2009 / 7:44 pm
    Larkin, you bought an MAC at the Apple store, right? Where is that located…. a mall? Or a Dell from Best Buy was it?

    Your cell phone? Food you buy? Have you ever had fast food? NO? Where did you get those clothes you wear? What kind of car do you have? Hmmmmmmm.

    This is too easy.

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  30. Larkin August 26, 2009 / 1:58 pm
    Okay, Gene, this really is the last time. 
     
    I bought the laptop and the iMac online directly from Apple. I bought the Nikon from Amazon. The cellphone came direct from Verizon via FedEx.  Most of our clothes, household goods, etc. some from Goodwill and other thrift shops, because I support their efforts, I love a bargain, and we prefer to use our money for other things (like travel, or supporting the political candidates of our choice, or  theatre tickets or charitable contributions.) Underwear and other stuff one doesn’t want to buy used most often comes from Target, because I prefer their corporate profile to that of Wal-Mart, K-Mart etc.  If I’m looking for something specific (like a cafe racer leather jacket for our son’s upcoming birthday) I look first at eBay. (Where we found the succession of Julian’s cellos– but the bows (the most important part) have come from a violin maker in Akron.) 
     
    I went to the Greene once, to take our son to B.D.s Mongolian Grill (which was horrible, not at all like an authentic Mongolian barbecue) When we drive by the Greene, our kid (almost 15) refers to it as Tinseltown or Disneyland . . . it’s all pretend and ersatz. The only thing genuine is the money. 
     
    We don’t support chain restaurants, and instead go out of our way to eat at independent establishments which range from the dive to the divine. Tacqueria Mixteca is great, and so is Coco’s Bistro, and many places in between. I do occasionally eat at McDonald’s on the road, but no more than once every couple of months. When we’re traveling we use http://www.roadfood.com to help us find the gems in other areas that we would otherwise miss. 
     
    We still have a ’98 Volvo V70 wagon (240,000 miles) in storage in Montana. We bought it used in 2004. We have a ’99 Suburban that we use very very occasionally for going to dog shows, which we bought (for $7K) in 2006. The car we paid the most for is our Saab 9.3 that we bought as a lease-return from a dealership in Utah as a certified pre-owned car . . . a $40,000 car for less than half that.  (They’re so delicate, you wouldn’t want to buy one without a warranty.) It now has 200,000+ miles. Our newest car is ten years old. 
     
    That’s the extent of our toys. (Well, we do have a Wolf range, but it came with the house, as did the grand piano.) We do support local businesses by going out to eat, buying groceries (at a variety of places including Brunk’s, Far East (the Chinese grocery), Dorothy Lane Markets, Dot’s Market, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and when we have to, Kroger. 
    I went into the Dayton Mall when I was looking for a mattress when we first moved here and we checked out the sleep number store. I went to Fairfield Commons once to visit Godiva (now gone, I understand.) In the last twenty years, I haven’t been in a mall anywhere ten times.  It’s just not the way I shop. I want my dollars to go as far as they can. Just found a 100 percent cashmere sweater  (with tags attached) from Banana Republic for $3.79. You’re not going to touch that even at a Banana Republic sale. 
     
    So  yes, while consumerism is important to keep the wheels of the economy greased, there are better ways to do it than supporting the box stores that line the gasoline alleys of this country. 
     
     
     
     
     

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  31. Gene August 26, 2009 / 6:31 pm
    Basically you are like most Americans. Scary isn’t it?

    You try like hell all your life to be different and in your own words you describe yourself as most Americans are, for your age and sex.

    I know it hurts a little but you are……. normal. And with a tweak here and there with your description of yourself, you described me. Local restaurants mainly, rarely fast food, Volvo, SUV, thrift stores and saving money and travel, I could go on and on. Scary that we are so similar.

    Now you can go cry knowing you are not that much different from a middle aged/upper middle class “happy” man who is a libertarian. And you once mention you like Pinot Noir – WOOOOO!!! – SO DO I !!!!

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  32. Larkin August 26, 2009 / 10:12 pm
    Gene, I have not “tried like hell all (my) life to be different.”  I am different. I am not defined by my shopping habits, the car I drive or the wine I drink. (Your challenge was specifically about how I spend my money.) 
     
    There are plenty of places where I have defined myself in a few sentences (on the blog referenced here, on  youtube and facebook profiles) none of them have anything to do with shopping. 
     
    Finally the chief difference between us is that one of us has compassion for her fellow human beings. And that compassion even extends to you, Gene.  Have a good night. 

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  33. Gene August 26, 2009 / 10:36 pm
    I have a lot of compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters, how can you say otherwise? We are so much a like it scares you.

    You are not all that different. You really aren’t. I know a lot of people like you. Yes, you have differences here and there (like all of us) but it is not as if you are some angle sent from the heavens.

    Sure you are not defined by those things – but any definition of you surely would footnote your daily habits and likes and dislikes. You can’t hide behind that, no one can.

    You are smart. Compassionate. Never said anything to the contrary. Just pointing out your slight hypocrisies and smart adults would admit they have them, just like myself. The difference is that we have entered an arena (shopping/commercialization/malls/materialism) that you loath but are a part of, for better or worse. Don’t take it too personal, everyone in our society is joined to this ridiculous appetite to consume crap and have more and be damned if we live with less. I am a part of it and it upsets me daily. That is why I always try to scale back, as I am sure you do. But (not me) some of us find it hard to put down the jelly donut (just not my thing, but you follow.)

    Compassion comes in a lot of forms, and if you think my criticism is bad then why do I live with “them”, the ones I criticize? It is bc I DO CARE and help out and donate time and money and lead by example. I shop and dine and spend time among those I criticize, I help them. And when in direct contact I help them by telling them to take responsibility, seek help, be generous, try to make a better life for himself, and with time and sometimes a little money. Honestly, they bring it up (how bad their lives are) and they like my advise. I am real nice about it.

    Peace.

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  34. Larkin August 28, 2009 / 1:16 am
    Gene, 
    Wishing you the same. Maybe we’ll actually sit down for a glass of pinot noir one of these days.  
     
    Larkin

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