Thursday, June 30, 2005

More on Kelo v. City of New London

Not to worry, says the Mayor of Indianapolis.

"City officials use the power of eminent domain very selectively and very carefully," said Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Bart Peterson, who is also the vice president of the National League of Cities.

"Generally, property is taken only in the context of an overall economic development project that will provide significant benefits to a neighborhood. This usually involves public hearings or some other type of public process," Peterson added. "In addition, the Constitution's 'just compensation' requirement ensures that cities treat property owners fairly, as do state and federal laws that govern the use and limits of eminent domain."

So, in essence, Mayor Peterson is saying, "Trust us. We won't use this newly-enshrined power too often." Yeah, right.

Well, if property owners have nothing to worry about since they will be fairly compensated, why does the state has to use its coercive power to wrest property from private citizens to benefit private developers in the first place? Why don't developers just pay homeowners a fair price for their homes? Why not pay homeowners a little above market value to ensure their cooperation? After all, the developers generally stand to make so much more off the development of property, shouldn't they make it worth the property owner's while? This would be akin to the practice of paying shareholders more than the current value of their shares during a buyout of a publicly-traded company.

Why? Because, in fact, homeowners aren't paid what their property is worth to the private developer. Just who do you think determines the compensation paid to homeowners whose properties are taken? The Keebler Elves?

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