Jefferson

Hands Off My Home, My Church, My Business: Be A Founder And End Eminent Domain Abuse, Vote YES On Question 1!

The proposed state constitutional amendment to protect Virginians from the abuse of eminent domain is the most important Virginia Constitutional amendment to limit government power before the voters in years. Ratifying it with a YES vote tomorrow will limit the size, power and scope of state and local government. A government that knows no bounds in taking property can take anything, including  the freedom to worship, to work and to live. Opponents of the amendment have made so many absurd accusations about the amendment's affects, if passed, it's hardly worth dignifying them. One, in a Washington Post editorial recently, said it would be "corporate welfare." Wrong! Corporate welfare is what we have now, with local governments taking private property on the cheap and giving it to developers to build big box stores and malls.

In the same breath, we're told by local governments that the amendment will stifle economic development, for the very reason it won't be able to provide the real corporate welfare (i.e., it won't be able to take land and turn it over cheaply to rich corporations). Isn't government supposed to be the guardian of the little guy? In fact, the best way to spur economic development is to ensure that risk takers and job creators will be able to develop and build their own businesses on their own land without the fear that one day the government will seize it for something it determines will be of better use.

Perhaps the most incredible charge is that the amendment will force higher taxes. Huh? That's a rich argument coming from local governments, which can't wait to hit its citizens with every new fee and tax it can conjure up. All of sudden, these governing bodies, which use our tax dollars as is to lobby against our interests and rights at the General Assembly, are concerned with our tax burden. They claim the amendment's just compensation clause will drive up the costs of acquiring land when a taking truly is necessary. So, what local governments are admitting is that have been cheating their citizens all these years by not paying them the true worth of their lands! In truth, this amendment will make governments choose their projects wisely, prioritize and hold down costs.

The amendment will do four things, only one of which is in the current statute — which itself can be watered down by a future General Assembly if not protected by the strength of the constitutional amendment:

1. It elevates owning property a "fundamental right" which is an elevated status of law in court. It gives the citizen more protection and the condemning authority a higher standard of proof.

2. It offers just compensation, not only for the land taken (barely covered in current Virginia law), but also compensation for lost business expenses and profit, as well as for lost access to a business in the cases where the government alters a property's entrance which causes the loss of business.

3. It allows only for the taking of such land that is needed. This prevents local governments and state agencies from taking excess land for a project and sitting on it then selling it later for a profit, leaving the landowner in the cold.

4. Most importantly, the amendment will prohibit the taking of land for anything other than a true public use — a school or a road, for example — something that the entire public needs and can use, and prohibits the taking of land to give to a private entity. It protects farmers, suburban land owners, small and family business owners, churches (which don't pay taxes and whose properties are jealously eyed by economic development departments always looking to increase tax revenue to grow government), to the inner city home owners, who too often have been victimized by displacement by redevelopment and housing authorities that think they know better what to do with the homes than the owners.

This amendment is important and fundamental to our rights. Virginia's Founders — Madison, Jefferson, Henry, Mason, Washington — enshrined property rights as a basic right of liberty to own property without fear of its confiscation by a despotic government. Unfortunately, over the decades, it's been stripped out. Here is a rare opportunity to restore our liberties and for generations to come, a chance to be a Founder of sorts.

Here are two short videos. In one, Bob Wilson, President of Central Radio in Norfolk, who is being hounded by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority to give up his business for an Old Dominion University commercial plaza, explains the injustice of eminent domain. In the second, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, explains his support of the amendment, what it does and why its ratification Election Day is important (see Virginia Social Conservative Blog).

Property Rights Fight Flashback

As a reminder of just how tough the fight for the most basic right to protect private property was over the last seven years, view this short video of then and now Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) — from 2007. Even though the resolution that year (HJ 723, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell), made it to the Senate floor, it failed to pass because of the efforts by Senator Saslaw and others. Six sessions later, in 2012, he still "didn't think property rights belonged in the constitution."

The parliamentary gimmick employed in the video was one of many used throughout the years. It was tried this year, as well, and almost worked (more about that in a future post). The truly galling aspect to this is that in 2011, in an election year, Senator Saslaw and several opponents voted for the resolution and it passed the Senate 35-5. Of course, with it on the line and three more years until the next Senate election, he and the others reverted to form and nearly defeated it in the crucial second-year vote all constitutional amendments must pass.

Senator Saslaw, local government and special interests for seven years doomed property rights protections. The wall of resistance broke the last two years. Saslaw: "I don't believe property rights belong in the Constitution." Guess he never heard of Mason, Madison, Henry or Jefferson and that they put them in our original Constitution. 

Moldy Oldy Wayne Newton

Last week, on February 2, old-school crooner Wayne Newton made his way to the General Assembly to testify on behalf of a bill to recognize a Virginia Native American tribe (see Washington Post article and video), to which the Virginia native belongs, in the House Rules Committee. Women staff and lobbyists alike swooned and several got pics and pecs with and by him. Three days later, however, reports the Detroit Free Press, "Mr. Las Vegas" got stuck with a $61,000 bill for abandoning his plane more than three years ago at an area airport and leaving it to rot and gather mold. Ewwwwwwwwww . . . and they kissed him!

Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Henry, Randolph and a host of legends once met in Richmond to discuss the great issues of the day. But, hey: These days we'll take our celebrity witnesses where we can get them. We're just glad Mr. Newton left his plane in Detroit to rot, and saved for that city something more than just a little symbolic given that area's rapid decline and near 20 percent unemployment.

Art In The Age Of Obama

Thanks to the alert by our friend Tea Party Jim, we now know the winner of the Public Option Please propagandagraffiti, Obama adoration, uhh, "art" contest. As Jim writes us:

The sickness of this kind of thinking is what is destroying this country. The thought that Washington, D.C., is the lifeblood of the nation is simply idiotic, but not surprising.

And apart from the misattribution of the quote, the doublespeak of the supposed Jefferson quote is nearly hilarious. "Without Liberty no happiness can be enjoyed by society" as the money quote to sell government rationed health care is simply Orwellian.

I can't add much more to that. Well stated, Jim. Gabriel Malor has something to say, too, at Ace of Spades HQ.

The winners are (although we thought liberalism doesn't have winners and losers, and that it makes everyone equal and happy):

First place and People's Choice winner, to an Amy Martin, with the perfectly understandable idea that our country is great because of Washington, D.C.:

publicoption1

Second Place, to Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (there's always a Tatyana involved in socialism, isn't there?), but lacking nothing in staged propaganda heart strings, and a bone to underappreciated photographers out there:

publicoption2

Finally, a disappointing, I'm sure, third place to the POTUS, represented by a Michael Cuffe, but it's my personal favorite, as well, and takes second to nothing in human adoration, if that's any consolation to him. After all, the bronze here is better than what he got at got at on his Olympics bid:

publicoption3

Tea Party Redux

We were so overwhelmed by pictures and video of the almost two dozen official Tax Day Tea Parties last month, that we haven't been able to post all the great sights and sounds from them. We got some of them up — from Richmond, Woodbridge, Virginia Beach, and even Chicago. We pledge to get more highlights up as we approach July 4, when more are planned across the country, as a follow-up and a reminder not to let this fire die. Below is video of John Taylor, president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy and Tertium Quids, at the Richmond Tea Party, where he addressed an estimated 5,000 people as one of the featured speakers. (He also spoke in Charlottesville that day.) A combination of intellect and inspiration, he covers a lot of ground. But it's well worth a look and listen. The applause at the  conclussion of his speech doesn't do justice to the actual level of noise and approving enthusiasm he received.

"In a sentence in a half . . . Jefferson . . . set forth a new world order for the ages. ... The role of the sovereign would be performed by the people." 

"We know what our Founders stood for. Do we know what we stand for?" Freedom is something "no good man surrenders but with his life."