Recent comments made by Mayor McDavid and his cohorts indicate that he and his pals were simply not listening to public outcry regarding their plans to blight Columbia in order to give tax breaks to manufacturing businesses. The Mayor believes that since a blight protection provision was tacked on to a last-minute omnibus bill and recently made law, the misgivings of EEZ opponents should be assuaged.
BOB, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN LISTENING!
Well, maybe not. Part of me feels like this is just some crafty media wrangling. With the specter of blight seemingly removed from the discussion, everyone should be happy with the EEZ plan, right?
The fact remains, with or without blight, that EEZ’s are a waste of time and energy. EEZ’s do not create any lasting economic advancement. EEZ’s only provide short-term gains for the well connected. The EEZ plan is a simple corporate handout, providing huge tax breaks for a small number of businesses while the rest of us go on picking up the financial slack as we feed our hard earned dollars to the plutocratic, government, money-gobbling machine.
But wait, everyone else is doing it, so we have to do it to compete, right?
Somebody (some city) needs to take a stand against corporate prostitution and Columbia is the perfect candidate. Columbia does not need to compete with Centralia’s EEZ. Columbia is America’s Hardest Working City. Columbia has been listed in the top 25 places to live, work, and raise a family repeatedly, by several publications, over the last 25 years. Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in the state and is among the lowest in the country. Columbia is an intelligent and affluent town, fully capable of maintaining and growing an already vibrant economy without working the street corner, selling quick rolls in the hay of tax incentives to middle-aged, morally-challenged corporate Johns.
Here is an interview I gave a local station just this week on the subject. Sadly, much of the media has a limited understanding of the nuances surrounding the EEZ.
It is important to note that the anti-eminent domain abuse provision tacked on to the recently passed law is a giant step in the right direction. However, this law, due to its omnibus nature, is precarious at best due to Missouri’s Hammerschmidt law. Hammerschmidt basically says that any law that is comprised of a pile of unrelated subjects can be struck down if challenged. Rep. Chris Kelly reportedly thinks it will be challenged and struck down. Rep. Caleb Jones, who also supported the bill, thinks it will stand unmolested by the courts. When I spoke with Jones during his appearance on The Gary Nolan Show, he promised to pursue a stand-alone bill that would provide the same protections as the omnibus provision. It also bears mentioning that Sen. Kurt Schaefer, one of the best in Jeff City, sponsored this bill in the Senate.
Isn’t it strange that our state lawmakers are more responsive to the opinions of their constituents than are our local representatives? This fact stands as an indication of the perversion and general corruption that has infected our local house of government.
Kudos to these lawmakers for listing to the large public outcry that was spearheaded by Keep Columbia Free. Thanks to all of you who wrote, called, and spoke publicly against this plan. Thanks to all of you from Occupy CoMo, the Tea Party, the Ron Paul group, Food Not Bombs, etc., who made up a huge crowd of unlikely allies at the Keep Columbia free “Pack The Council Meeting” rally for basic responsive representation at the the local level in the struggle against corporate control of our government.
Here is the video from the City Council meeting that was preceded by the Keep Columbia Free rally. The first 6:30 is the presentation from David Stokes of The Show-Me Institute in which he outlines his preliminary findings from his EEZ study. The second half is a rousing speech from our very own co-founder and former treasurer Mitch Richards. Be sure and watch the very end of the video to hear the rousing applause as Mayor McDavid bangs his gavel in vain.
But… the fight is not over. There hasn’t been much public action lately, but Keep Columbia Free is involved in a discussion with one City Council Person who has drafted an amendment to the City Charter aimed at protecting property owners from blight-based condemnations and eminent domain abuse.
If you have the time, I would encourage you to attend the EEZ Advisory Board meetings as they struggle to design a plan. It is important to keep an eye on the process, speaking up when something is wrong and supporting the things that are done correctly.
Rest assured. When the next opportunity for public opposition to the EEZ arises, Keep Columbia Free will muster the troops. Follow us on Facebook to stay informed.