Kelo

When A $15,000 Government Bill Costs Taxpayers $505,000

"We're from the government and we're here to help." Usually used as a line in a joke, that expression actually applies far too often — as in the government trying to help, but instead turning a situation pear-shaped. A recent example involving VDOT and a Wythe County farmer is the latest example, for only In Virginia can a government agency turn a $15,000 cost into a $505,000 bill for the taxpayers. But it's not simply the money. We often lose rights in the process, which makes perfect sense of  these situations to government bureaucrats.

This issue resulted from the Virginia Department of Transportation's refusal to pay a landowner $15,000 to clean up debris from construction work on property it seized with the power of eminent domain to expand a highway (see Roanoke Times). Years later, a court decided in favor of the property owner, a decision that ended up costing Virginia — that would be you and I, the taxpayers — more than $500,000 in attorney fees, reparations to the property owner and other costs.

This November, you can help address this major problem by voting YES! on Question One, a constitutional amendment protecting your property rights, as well as your wallet.

The government's power to take property for "public use" was expanded by the U.S. Supreme Court, in its deplorable 2005 Kelo decision, to include increasing tax revenue — a threat not only to private landowners but also to churches and religious institutions. After all, religious organizations don't pay property taxes. Replacing those buildings with strip malls or big box retailers that pay taxes and feed local coffers is a temptation some local government officials simply can't control. In addition, government often doesn’t compensate landowners for their actual financial loss when their property is seized or when access to their property is infringed upon.

The court inflated the legal term "public use," meaning a school or other necessary facility used by the public at large, to a new term,  "public purpose." This new term gives state and local governments wide latitude for concocting reasons for which it could seize private property — including, mist commonly, turning one's property over to a corporation that will develop it to increase tax revenue for the government to use for whatever broader purpose it wants under the guise of "economic development."

To address this, after seven years of debate, effort and inaction, even as many states rectified Kelo within a year, the 2012 General Assembly finally passed legislation putting a property rights constitutional amendment on the ballot. While support for property rights is strong, a coalition of organizations that support property rights, including The Family Foundation, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and others, are working to make sure Virginians understand how important it is to support this crucial ballot initiative.

The protection of property rights was a principle critical to our Founders' vision of America. Unfortunately, as with many of our Founding Principles, it's up to the citizens to remind government that we still believe in and want those principles to be enforced.

"Vote YES!" yard signs will be available soon at our field offices. Contact a field representative in your area to reserve a sign today:

Fairfax/Alexandria

William Zimmerman: (T) 703-568-4093 (E-Mail) william@novafamily.org

Edward Newland (T) 515-505-5383 (E-Mail) Den81590@alumni.marymount.edu

Prince William

Willie Deutsch/Bill Pfister (T) 515-505-5209 (E-Mail) willie.deutsch@gmail.com

Metro Richmond

Ron Gallagher (T) 804-591-5909 (E-Mail) FFA.Gallagher@gmail.com

Greg Culbertson (T) 505-515-5280 (E-Mail) greglc7@gmail.com

Peninsula

Tim Pogge (T) 515-505-5224 (E-Mail) timpogge89@gmail.com

Virginia News Stand: September 29, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  The Return Of The Editorial Comic/Twisted Tax Logic

When a friend sent me a comic today today, I thought it would make a good addition to the blog. Then I remembered that I used to provide a link to one or more editorial comics each week. So, enjoy. You don't even have to click a link to get to it.

The big news in the campaign today is Democrat Creigh Deeds' continuing saga of twisted tax logic. He put up a television ad, then pulled it because he realized it didn't make much sense for Mark Warner to talk about Deeds lowering taxes yet continuing his (Warner's) policies (which raised them considerably). Yes, not too clear (see here).

Nationally, the Supreme Court will hear a case about Crosses in the Mojave desert. In Commentary, we have the excellent Thomas Sowell writing on the Obama administration's reputed brilliance, Bobby Eberle about the same's indoctrination of our children, and Bart Hinkle about property rights (or, the government trying to take them away). But, in what may be the most entertaining piece today, aside from the comic, is an article from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot about socialists — who say they are misunderstood. Let them talk to the Obama administration.

News:

GOP candidates tout controlled spending, budget reform (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Jindal boosts McDonnell; Linwood Holton backs Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Howell decries Deeds' tax plan for roads (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Deeds New Ad Makes Mark Warner a Liar, Quickly Takes it Down (BearingDrift.com)

Deeds gambles on riding Obama's coattails (Washington Times)

Campaign issue No. 1 (Virginia Business Magazine)

House candidates face off during evening forums (The Daily Press)

Socialists say their true beliefs are being misconstrued (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

National News:

The Old Secular Cross? (Washington Post)

Public plan debate could pit Democrat vs. Democrat (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

Roanoke: Eminent-Domain Case Looks Like Kelo Redux (Bart Hinkle/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Brainy Bunch (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

O.K. kids . . . Today's lesson: Sing Praises to Obama (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Editorial Cartoon:

lying pols