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(Non)property rights in Texas; it didn't take long!

by Paul C / June 26, 2005 11:38 PM PDT
South Texas city moves to seize land for marina citing Supreme Court New London, CT decision:

With Thursday's Supreme Court decision, Freeport officials instructed attorneys to begin preparing legal documents to seize three pieces of waterfront property along the Old Brazos River from two seafood companies for construction of an $8 million private boat marina.

The court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that cities may bulldoze people's homes or businesses to make way for shopping malls or other private development. The decision gives local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.

"This is the last little piece of the puzzle to put the project together," Freeport Mayor Jim Phillips said of the project designed to inject new life in the Brazoria County city's depressed downtown area.

Over the years, Freeport's lack of commercial and retail businesses has meant many of its 13,500 residents travel to neighboring Lake Jackson, which started as a planned community in 1943, to spend money. But the city is hopeful the marina will spawn new economic growth.

"This will be the engine that will drive redevelopment in the city," City Manager Ron Bottoms said.

Note the date of the story: Jun 23rd - the date that SCOTUS issued this decision. It might have nice had the folks in Freeport, TX at least waited for the ink to dry on the decision before making their land grab. Sad

I'm sure that the fact that a private marina and three hotels will pay far more in taxes than do two seafood companies had nothing to do with this move, right?

That this happening is no surprise; that it's happening so fast is testimony to the greed and arrogance of local pols - and to the utter moral and legal bankruptcy of the Supremes in this case!
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(NT) (NT) yup it sucks
by Mark5019 / June 26, 2005 11:39 PM PDT
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by Evie / June 26, 2005 11:43 PM PDT

Perhaps it is time to re-establish the balance of power in the Federal Government. An Amendment or whatever is required to give the Congress a right to override Supreme Court decisions.

I hope some property rights group will give this case a good legal team and bring it on. Then hopefully the Supreme Court will reverse themselves (as they did for the Sodomy case recently) realizing the wisdom of the dissenting opinions in the New London case.

Evie Happy

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Stronger words than *SIGH*, Evie!
by Paul C / June 26, 2005 11:56 PM PDT
In reply to: *SIGH*

Of course, those about to lose their jobs at those seafood plants weren't consulted. Sad

Actually, the SCOTUS in its decision did allow for states to write legislation strengthening property rights in the several states and said that this decision only applies in the absence of such legislation. Perhaps a nice letter or e-mail to your state representatives may be in order; mine are already sent.

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City Money for Sale
by James Denison / July 3, 2005 1:38 PM PDT

Look at all that money the city is willing to loan to some outsiders to come in there and "develop" the area. How much were they willing to loan these and other local businesses that have been there already over the years? When did it become a crime to be less endowed financially than some other individual or company?

What's it going to take to disabuse towns and cities of the notion they can now take anything they want? Violence? Riots? More Tim McVeigh's?

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also, may not see property taxes for many years
by Dragon / July 4, 2005 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: City Money for Sale

from these new businesses. It seems they are just interested in new employment.

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(NT) (NT) Actually amendments are the court override mechanism
by Roger NC / June 27, 2005 7:31 AM PDT
In reply to: *SIGH*
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Interesting situation ...
by Evie / June 27, 2005 7:51 AM PDT

... I was actually talking about an Amendment to put into place a legislative override like the President has with the veto and Congress has to override the veto. After all, it was a high court decision that "decided" the SCOTUS would be the "final arbiter" on matters Constitutional. But that's no different than had a President issued an Executive Order that HE is instead. So I don't know if Congress could jsut pass a law outlining a mechanism to override SCOTUS decisions or if an Amendment would be necessary.

Actually, there IS an Amendment that should protect these "little guys" from the government seizure of their property which is what makes this so outrageous. Five justices have actually rewritten the Fifth Amendment to include any possible public benefit under the pretty straightforward term of "public USE". It shouldn't require rewriting the Amendment to say what it was meant to say!

People have long ignored the escalating practice of using eminent domain to cordon off huge chunks of property for "public use". In doing so, millions of taxpaying owners and businesses were removed from the roles thereby increasing the tax burden on remaining residents, not to mention funding the state now requires to maintain the properties. It was done in the honorable name of nature preservation so many were hooked by the "do good" nature of this abuse of government power. This case is only a small increment further, really. One has to wonder if the 5 "Yay" judges didn't really think about the weight of this ruling or public reaction to it or the implications, because we've silently gone along with almost as much for decades now.

Evie Happy

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There's a Constitutional Amendment being proposed

to limit this, Paul (Texas Constitution, not US) -- unfortunately, the Legislature is in Special Session (not regular), so the Governor has to add it to the "call" for it to be considered. otherwise, 1? years until next regular session Sad

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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well you dodnt think it will pass
by Mark5019 / June 27, 2005 3:46 AM PDT

as this puts money in the politicians hands

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Actually, it probably will, Mark
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / June 27, 2005 3:50 AM PDT

because it puts money in the hands of the local governments, while the Amendment is voted on by the state-level represenatatives (who wish to please their constituents more than the mayors), and then must be ratified by a majority of the voters.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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(NT) (NT) Who are majority Republican as well ;-)
by Evie / June 27, 2005 3:52 AM PDT
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(NT) (NT) no it puts the money in the politicians coffers
by Mark5019 / June 27, 2005 3:53 AM PDT
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Sorry I forgot to get the link for this:
by Dragon / June 27, 2005 3:40 AM PDT
I experienced a real eye opener while giving a speech to a homebuilders group in the Portland, Oregon area. I was railing against Oregon?s oppressive land use system, which is probably the worst in the country, when a well-dressed builder, who looked to be in his thirties, stood to his feet and said, as best as I can remember his words:

Mr. Sizemore, the West was settled by rugged people who crossed the plains and mountains and endured extreme hardship, all in the hope of homesteading a piece of land and someday calling it their own. Property rights were important back then.

But today, he said, the West is settled and times have changed. Today, the very idea that any individual should own a piece of private property is an obsolete one. It is time we began viewing property in more of a community sense, rather than a private sense.

Such a statement may sound shockingly un-American to you. Indeed, it is. Regretfully, however, it is increasingly becoming a common view in this country.
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A developer objects to "property wrong" decision
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Good article. Good points.
by James Denison / July 3, 2005 2:39 PM PDT

But it won't cure "blight" since that's caused by people and business that are "poor". All it will accomplish is to keep pushing out the poor in an effort to find some new place where they can afford to be or exist without persecution until the next time someone wants to push them even further away.

This decision by the Supremes makes it a crime to be poor as an individual or a struggling business in America today. It also tells everyone that you no longer have the right to invest in a property that a city or their favorite developer may have a future interest in seizing from you.

If you are poor in America, you now have less property rights in the courts due to the new Supreme Court bias concerning private property rights. The rich, the developers now have more power from government over the final disposition of that which is rightfully yours than you do.

How terribly this contrasts with the America that is supposed to be.

Deuteronomy 15:11 - For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Proverbs 28:6 - Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Isaiah 10:1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; 2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!

Ezekiel 46:18 - Moreover the prince shall not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession.

My Favorite Example of Eminent Domain in Action.

1 Kings 21

1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. 9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. 11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 17 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. 19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. 20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, 22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. 23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. 24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

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