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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Knox news column

I Did a column for the Knoxville news sentinel on eminent domain pro/con I did the con side of the argument. I will post it below if you want to read it or you can check it out at www.knoxnews.com and then click the opinion section . I will also be on George Korda's radio show on FM 100.3 or on the internet www.newstalk99.com today from 12 till 2 talking about the same subject.

When I introduced legislation during our last session to stop eminent domain abuses, I quickly met with opposition from the Tennessee Municipal League and other legislators who felt that the interests of strip malls and sports stadiums exceeded those of an average, everyday Tennessean. While I fully understand the concept of "public use" with regard to eminent domain seizures such as for schools and roads, stretching the boundaries by changing the terminology to "public benefit" has a limitless potential for abuse.

The recent Kelo v. New London decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has touched off a firestorm of opinions across the state of Tennessee. Prior to the Magna Carta, it usually took physical strength to protect against the lawlessness and abuse that ruled the day. Our forefathers risked everything to embark upon a bold experiment that would leave the lords and serfs of a feudal system behind, and instead built in individual property rights as a cornerstone of liberty in our new society.

The American dream of owning your own land, home or business is now threatened under the Kelo shadow-for it plants seeds of insecurity and doubt when no one knows if their property may be subject to seizure for the "economic good" of the community.

Such action returns us to pre-Magna Carta times, except the battles for property will not be won by the physically superior, but rather by the wealthiest or most politically connected.

The Kelo decision has served to highlight an encroachment on personal rights; however, the firestorm of the Kelo decision was started by numerous smoldering cases in local communities all across Tennessee and this nation. Sometimes, as in the case of elderly Knoxville resident Dan Hale, the seized property is resold before the owner has ever moved out.

Most victims of eminent domain seizures have been too scared or financially unable to legally challenge such seizures in the courts of law as well as public opinion.

Many residents of Knox County take pride in the local flavor of its businesses, in the small town feel of some its communities. Kelo offers no hope for smaller independent businesses, only fear. Churches as well as other non-profit agencies are especially vulnerable to seizure. If such organizations fail to abide by the political agenda of those in charge of economic development, such organizations might someday find themselves the victims of such abuse. The very fact that these institutions seldom produce much tax revenue for cities and counties highlights their vulnerabilities.

The list of vulnerable citizens is long-from farmers, to the elderly and poor, to churches and non-profits, to the corner deli, to unsuspecting families in their dream homes. No one is immune.

We should be extremely careful not to value one person over another. We should constantly remind ourselves of the words written over 200 years ago by our founders, that "all men are created equal."

We don't want to look back and say "when they took the property from the businesses on Western Avenue I did nothing because I wanted a grocery-store. When they took the property on Jackson Avenue I said nothing because I wanted condos. When TVA resold the seized lakefront farmland for millions I said nothing because it was never my land. When they took the small corner church I said nothing because I didn't go there. When they came for my 3 bedroom, 2 bath stucco house I tried to get help to stop them but no one was left to help me."

It is not too late however. There are still precautions, guidelines, and blockades we can build into our state government. I am optimistic that the amount of interest by my constituents and by fellow Tennesseans from across the state can serve as a catalyst to legislative action in our next session.

It is time to tell your state legislator to stop this greasy slippery slope--of justifying the seizure of your private property for "public benefit" . It will surely lead to more infringements on your life and liberty in the name of public good. Ask your legislator to take an active role in this issue before we create a cynical, hopeless society that looks back to the lives of our ancestors as the good ole' days when we all had equil rights.


  1. Stacy, I am with you 110%in this. Please tell us more about how we can help.

  2. Stacey, I loved your posting on Kelo, so much that I blogged about it at Blogs for Bush

    This issue will not go away. It will cost Harold Ford and others who supported Kelo from the very start.

    B4B and GOP Bloggers

    p.s. One of these days I would like to do an interview with you, we can do it by email if you like and publish that interview on GOP Bloggers. Let me know if you have an interest level

  3. Well, even some on the dem. side are with you on this one.

    Even if your bill had passed, wouldn't the Kelo decision make it null? (not being a smartass, I am just curious)

  4. Rep-
    Kelo is only acceptable to those snorting kilos. My understanding is that these goodly developers would seize property in order to create more tax revenues. If this is the honorable intent of these fine groups then I'm sure that they would be happy to consider those whose land they take as business partners. Developers come with the funding and know-how and the land owner provides the property. It only seems natural then, that the profits of these public-minded philanthropists be split down the middle with the citizen goodly eough to invest his land in the joint venture (done for the "good of the community" of course). So essentially when a land developer, in it only to help the communities tax base, comes for the field my wife and I set our trailer home in I reckon they shouldn't only give us fair value for a trailer lot, they should give us fair value for a strip mall correct? Legislation in Tennessee forcing corporaions to make such a split would halt that train in it's tracks 'for it ever got started. Would legislation of this type be possible?

    Just thinkin' (I reckon you can smell the smoke)

  5. kirazalan.net says - I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter –skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.

  6. IF and not when eminent domain is addressed, change the law to ban takings for private development period.

    The issue of fair compensation needs to be addressed thoroughly.
    If you voluntarily invest your assets in a business then you expect to receive a return.
    If you as a property owner are forced to invest your property for a "public use" that will generate revenue, then you as the forced upon property owner should receive a percentage of that revenue as payment on the future value of the property. Treat it as a royalty payment.

    This would be equitable for such public use projects as sports complexes and prime river front development property. The payment to the victim of eminent domain should come straight off the gross to avoid creative accounting methods that could limit the royalty to zero if based on profit.

  7. I love your blog! You did an excellent job! I have a blog on free online credit report reviews if you would like to come and comment on it!

  8. Stacey, your clear, cut-to-the-chase, fearless vision on so many issues is welcome and refreshing.

  9. All good ideas,keep it up .I have a few bills allong these lines but more is better .

    66 one of my strongest supporters on this bill came from the FAR other side of the isle in Henri Brooks of Memphis. she spoke out against others in her party to support my bill (she also supported the students bill of rights to her credit.)Although we differ on a great many issues she at least is open minded and will do what she thinks is best, party or no. I respect that in her.

    The only good in the Kelo decision was that it left the door open to allow states to pass their own laws on this issue.

  10. I thought you did a good job on the Korda program. It concerns me to see the Pro Kelo viewpoints. It was not a great shock to see a UT professor that is Pro Kelo. A disappointment but not a shock.

    This is one of the most important issues of our time. We need both State and Local legislation to protect against Kelo.


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