Old Dominion University

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).

Central Radio Eminent Domain Case To Be Appealed To VIrginia Supreme Court

In what could be a landmark property rights case, it looks like the Central Radio eminent domain lawsuit against the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will enter a new phase. Attorneys for the 78-year-old company, which does vital work for the U.S. Navy and employs more than 100 people, on Thursday will announce they will appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court to stop the condemnation of Central Radio and other properties for private economic development at Old Dominion Village. (The news conference is set for the company's offices in Norfolk at 3:30. Attorneys from the Norfolk law firm Waldo & Lyle will provide details of the appeal.) The NRHA, which has hounded Central Radio for years, and RHAs around Virginia have been a particular menace to private property owners in the commonwealth for decades, swiping land from hard working family-owned and small business owners in order to fulfill their centrally planned ideals that often include turning the property over to larger private entities and developers. (Hampton Roads area governments have been particularly lustful of others' property.)

But this case is particularly heinous because not only does the NRHA want to forcefully take Central Radio's property to hand it over to another private concern that it says will develop the land better, it knows it will put the company out of business because its contract with the Navy stipulates that it is located within a certain distance of the Navy's facility — and it has been at its current location for 50 years.

Adding further insult, the City of Norfolk is attempted to silence Central Radio's free speech rights with a threat to fine it $1,000 a day for hanging a banner from its building informing the public of its fight with the NRHA. The city says the size of the sign exceeds city a ordinance. Oh, by the way, Old Dominion University, which a beneficiary of the property taking, routinely displays signage of equal dimensions in the same neighborhood.

The fight on the additional legal front means more expense and hassle for Vice President and Co-Owner Bob Wilson and Central Radio, when it could be using that money to reinvest in the company (which he and his employees did build). Nothing like government of the government, for the government and by the government. (See Norfolk-Virginian Pilot op-ed by Steve Simpson and Erica Smith, attorneys at the Institute for Justice and an earlier news account by the same paper, here.)

In addition to Central Radio's attorneys and Mr. Wilson, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will speak at the news conference to discuss how the abuse of eminent domain power against private property owners across Virginia dramatizes the need for the constitutional amendment on property rights that will be on Virginia's ballot this November. It is, of course, opposed by local governments, who will use our tax money to defeat a measure to guarantee our rights. However, come November, on Question One, Virginians will have the opportunity to restore in some measure government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Governor Bob McDonnell signs legislation authorizing the vote this November for Virginians to ratify the proposed state constitutional amendment to protect private property rights from state and local government's power of eminent domain. Sitting, on the left, is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Standing behind him, from left, are the legislation's patrons, Delegate Rob Bell, Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Johnny Joannou. Standing, front row, on the right, is Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb.

Governor McDonnell Town Hall Schedule

Earlier this week Governor Bob McDonnell announced a statewide town hall tour to get feedback on the big government reform initiatives his administration has been studying (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). The primary topics will be his proposal for privatizing ABC sales, state government reform and job creation. His Government Reform and Restructuring Commission earlier this month wrapped up its own series of town hall meetings around the commonwealth. As with that tour, we encourage you to get to one and participate in the shaping of your government.

Virginia Speaks: A Conversation about Jobs, Government Reform and Our Future

August 4

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Roanoke County Administration Center, Board of Supervisors Board Room, 5204 Bernard Drive, Roanoke

August 9

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Old Dominion University, Webb University Center, Hampton/Newport News Room, 4201 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk

August 19 

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Cultural Center of India, 6641 Ironbridge Parkway, Chester

August 24

7:00-8:30 p.m.

University of Mary Washington, Lee Hall — Room 412, 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg

August 25

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Fairfax, Northern Virginia Technology Council Auditorium, 2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 300, Herndon

August 26

7:-8:30 p.m.

James Madison University, East Campus Dining Hall — Montpelier Room, 800 South Main Street, Harrisonburg

August 30

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Great Hall, 150 Slayton Avenue, Danville

August 31

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Bristol Public Library, J. Henry Kegley Meeting Room, 701 Goode Street, Bristol

Family Foundation's Bishop Earl Jackson To Address Freedom Fest 2010 This Sunday

If you have never had the opportunity to hear Family Foundation and Pastors For Family Values chaplain Bishop Earl Jackson speak, you are missing one of Virginia's great modern day speakers and thinkers. He is a wonderful addition to our team and is wowing people of all types all over the commonwealth. Bishop Jackson, a challenging and gifted orator, is quickly becoming an in-demand favorite at events and rallies around Virginia.   One such event is later this week, where Bishop Jackson will join former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former U.S. Senator George Allen and others at Freedom Fest 2010 in Norfolk. Billed as a "Tribute to our military and first responders," Freedom Fest 2010 will take place Sunday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m. at Old Dominion University's Convocation Center. Tickets start at $45, but you can enter the promotion code "church" when purchasing tickets and receive a 20 percent discount on the ticket price.

For more information and tickets go to freedom1650.com. To get a sample of Bishop Jackson, see the video below.

"We don't do politics. . . ." A small sample of Bishop Earl Jackson shows why he is one of the most in-demand public speakers in Virginia.