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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Brighton Residents Safe from Eminent Domain Abuse?

A lot of people in New Brighton have lost their property to eminent domain in the past, but at least the Minnesota Legislature took action to protect us going forward, right?

Wrong!

Apparently our public servants at the state level left a hole in the Minnesota Eminent Domain reform legislation large enough for New Brighton's Northwest Quadrant to fit through. An article in Reason magazine this spring examined the response to the Kelo decision by the states. To my mind the following is the proverbial money paragraph (with added emphasis):
What's more, the states in most need of reform tend to be the least willing to adopt it. Consider the 20 states that have the largest numbers of Kelo-like condemnations, according to data compiled by the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that represented the property owners in Kelo. Thirteen of them have enacted either ineffective legislation or none at all. Moreover, two of the states with otherwise effective reforms exempted the parts of those states where most condemnations occur. Pennsylvania’s reform includes a five-year exemption for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and Minnesota’s exempts the Twin Cities area, also for five years. By then, the political uproar over Kelo will likely have subsided, making it easier to extend the exemptions without much public scrutiny.
This summer at a New Brighton City Council meeting Council Member Doffing questioned the legality of a proposed eminent domain action by the city (surprise, surprise, surprise) under the Minnesota eminent domain reform legislation. Mayor Larson maintained that the proposed taking was legal (he neglected to address the question of it being ethical) as the new eminent domain legislation had an exemption for redevelopment projects already underway such as the NWQ. It is now apparent that the huge loop hole in the "reform" legislation goes even further. This is disappointing, to say the least, to us who believe in private property rights.

It's interesting and instructive to see how our fine public servants at the state level can pass a law that allows them to have it both ways. They can publicly tout their championing of land owner's rights while at the same time behind the scenes assure local politicians like Mayor Larson that they can continue with business as usual.

It will be a while before voters can hold the state level politicians responsible for their actions, but we can, like the tree huggers like to say, "Think globally, act locally".

With respect to the local action, I think Right Hook mentioned that there is an election coming up in New Brighton next week...

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6 Comments:

Blogger Force50 said...

I believe Steve Larson lobbied Senator Tom Bakk, fellow DFLer from the Northeast corner of Minnesota to get the metro area exception. No skin off Bakk's nose, since his district is rural. Remember that Larson loved the Kelo case since it gave him justification for unethical actions against New Brighton businesses.

10/31/2007 10:14 AM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

For a trip down memory lane to see how Mayor Larson feels about eminent domain and the Kelo decision check out this post from two years ago...

11/01/2007 8:39 AM  
Blogger dadebreis said...

When your elected officials mismanage your government assets and revenues, they cannot be allowed to solve the problems that they've created, by seizing your land for so-called economic development.

11/01/2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

Movie time!

An eminent domain story from San Diego that parallels the NWQ treatment of Signation by the New Brighton City Council...

Grand Theft Building

11/01/2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Institute of Justice (see www.ij.org) has an article about the Federal Reserve's grounbreaking report on eminent domains - see Property Right: Eminent Domain for Private Development May Do More Harm Than Good.

Among the points applicable to NWQ -

- 'When the government uses eminent domain to take private proerty for private development projects it usually results in zero-sum gain and may actually hinder the area's development.'

- Nearly everyone's against ED except those who benefit - politicians, developers and planners.

- Reasearch has shown that without property rights, individuals will no longer face the incentive to make the best economic use of their property, be it a business or home, and economic growth will be limited. Potential residents and businesses may avoid communities ... with this record.. because of a greater uncertainty about losing their property to eminent domain.'

- When local government officials abuse eminent domain for private gain the likely result is greater economic inefficiencty and less economic growth. The reason is that even the most well-intentioned policymaker cannot comprehend or replicate the complex interactions of buyers and sellers that occur in free markets.

- Last pararagraph is particalarly applicable to a housing development in the NWQ - housing seems forced because it's a noisy, unappealing place to live.

11/01/2007 6:04 PM  
Blogger dadebreis said...

Right...Right Hook! I have the Grand Theft Building video embedded on my blog sidebar.The Gran Havana story is also mention in Timothy Sandefur's book:Property Rights in 21st Century America.I strongly recommend this book!

11/14/2007 10:42 AM  

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