Tag Archives: Columbia

Picking Winners and Losers: Karl Skala and Downtown Development

Buried deep in the Columbia City Council agenda for the upcoming April 21st meeting is an interesting item added to the agenda at the request of 3rd Ward Councilman Karl Skala.

B116-14 Authorizing a right of use permit with BMT of Columbia, LLC for installation, construction, improvement, operation, use, keeping, maintenance, repair and replacement of approximately 350 lineal feet of two-inch PVC sewer force main to extend in portions of an alley right-of-way located north of Broadway, between Tenth Street and Short Street; authorizing a right of use permit with BMT of Columbia, LLC for construction, improvement, operation and maintenance of private storm sewers in portions of the Tenth Street and East Broadway (1007 E. Broadway) rights-of-way. [Intro & 1st Read/Skala Memo]

At first glance, it looks like basic infrastructure — the type of drudgery that is usually ignored by most of the public, especially late in what is sure to be another marathon council meeting. But further investigation — ahem — reading the supporting documentation — ahem — reveals that Mr. Skala is proactively pushing for a new downtown, 5-story, mixed-use building that will house 36 beds and no additional parking. Residents will use the city-built and city-funded Short Street Garage.

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Karl Skala

Wait, our City Manager Mike Matthes told us that without a TIF for infrastructure, Downtown development would stop.

Without a TIF, downtown development stops. “Plan B is no development downtown,” he [Matthes] said.

As we all know, this was untrue because only days after the TIF plan was rejected, the City approved two student housing projects totalling over 600 beds and tabled another 700-bed project. This, of course, prompted an initiative petition to repeal the ordinance from the folks at Repeal 6214, but that’s another story that most readers are familiar with already.

Mike Matthes

Mike Matthes

The interesting piece here is that Skala voted against each of these proposed downtown developments, despite the fact that both of them met current zoning ordinance requirements. Skala seems to have since changed course and is now spearheading support for a separate 5-story development proposal which is apparently more to his tastes.

Mr. Skala, a self-described statist, is obviously throwing a proverbial bone to a “local” developer, but why? He’ll probably claim that he is merely supporting the “type” of development that citizens want. He’ll likely claim that existing infrastructure, infrastructure that we’ve been told is hopelessly maxed out, can handle a new 5-story building.

The reality is that this bone is likely a meaty bone of political expedience. Skala is giving a nod to a local developer, attempting to allow BMT to cut in line ahead of 2000 legal beds that came down the pipe of public permission first. Perhaps this move will help fund Skala’s reelection campaign. At least it will allow him to claim to be pro-development when he is labeled as the opposite due to his voting against other projects.

Keep Columbia Free believes that, in a perfect world, the government would not tinker with the free market. Unfortunately, the world we live in is not perfect and the market is not a free one. What is clear is that in the world we’ve inherited locally the best thing for the council to do is simply level the playing field and let the chips fall where they may. If we need infrastructure, build it instead of spending our money on projects like parking garages, historic homes of unknown musicians, and useless “safety” cameras. It is unacceptable for a councilman to handpick which private developer will profit and which will not, regardless of how that choice might affect his reelection chances.

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Small, Homey College Towns: Columbus, Ohio and Columbia, Mo Have Armies? But Why?

This post originally aired at The College Fix.

We should be asking the Columbia, Mo City Council why it feels the need to militarize its police force. Hopefully the University of Missouri refrains from purchasing an “urban assault vehicle.” But who knows. Those college students can be a rowdy bunch. Maybe a gun turret blast into their dorm rooms will quite them down.

While some universities, in attempts to keep a lookout for lone-wolf shooters, have spent millions of dollars on a vast array of campus security cameras, other campuses have considerably beefed up their police force tools with urban-warfare tanks—in effect creating little armies.

Ohio State University and Columbia, Mo., home of the University of Missouri, are two such examples.

The Daily Caller reported that the Ohio State University campus police recently obtained what appears to be a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle to add to their security detail. Critics of campus security ask why such a tank-like vehicle, built primarily for urban warfare, would ever be needed in a small college town, let alone on a campus.

The massive vehicle is capable of holding 10 passengers within its bulky frame. It is also armed with a turret, gun ports and a battering ram for those hard-to-get-into dorm rooms. Needless to say, that is a lot of artillery for a small town police department tasked with the unenviable job of corralling young college students.

Not to be outdone, Columbia, Mo.—a small town compared to most other expansive cities with large SWAT forces–picked up its own $200,000, ground-pounding behemoth this past April. The vehicle is called a “Bearcat” which is an acronym for “Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.”

To that point, universities and college towns are, under the guise of safety, taking security several steps further, opting to step up the full militarization of their police forces; it remains to be seen whether or not the increasing militarization of the police is an effective tool to use to combat episodic shooting tragedies.

The Daily Caller contacted OSU media director Gary Lewis who bragged that “OSU’s campus cops are the first agency in the state to acquire such a vehicle.”

The vehicle may be used for officer rescues, hostage scenarios, bomb evaluations or campus shootings, according to campus officials.

After Lewis’ comments, and Reason Magazine’s investigations on the story, OSU and its PR department shut out all media inquiries, admitting to reporters only that the university has borrowed other law enforcement vehicles in the past. The admission appears to contradict Lewis’ claim that the OSU campus police were the first in the state to own an urban assault vehicle.

In the same vein, Lt. Geoff Jones of Columbia, Mo., SWAT told The Fix that the Bearcat was meant to replace the police department’s older armored response vehicle that had become aged and worn-out. “The vehicle needed to be replaced,” Jones said. He refused to justify why the police department needed an armored vehicle at all, only saying that it can be used in hostage situations and to break up riots.

As if the “Bearcat” was not enough to keep the crime in check, the Columbia city council in early September filled out a purchase order for more than 40 M4 Semi-Automatic rifles and a set of 25 night vision goggles, according to City Council documents. Again, the purchasing of the rifles and an armored vehicle prompted some to question the city council’s decision to arm to the teeth the city’s police department.

After the 2007 Texas Tech shootings, many universities have acted quickly, and, some say, too hastily to protect their students from episodic acts of violence—forgetting that schools are schools, not warzones.

One of the most outspoken critics of the militarization of all police forces, not just campus police departments, is former Reason Magazine editor Radley Balko.

Balko told The Fix that “schools and police officials will cite Virginia Tech or Columbine as reason for needing SWAT teams or armored vehicles, but the average campus can expect to see a homicide once every several thousand years.” Moreover, Balko said, once these Columbine/VT incidents do not transpire, which they rarely ever do, they then can use these militaristic vehicles for more mundane purposes.

In short, police departments appear to use the public’s fear of lone shooters as a way to acquire armored toys.

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Kespohl Lies About The EEZ

In response to a recent press release issued by Keep Columbia Free warning the council that they could possibly face recall if they vote in favor of blighting Columbia to insure corporate welfare via the EEZ, Councilperson Gary Kespohl made an interesting comment. Councilman Kespohl has been known to stretch the truth to get what he wants, as evidenced by the unprecedented negative ad campaign that helped him edge out Karl Skala in 2010, but his comment in this interview was more than a stretch; it was an outright lie. 

During the KOMU interview Kespohl stated that, “the city council gave citizens the opportunity to submit names of whom they would like to serve on the advisory board, but received no suggestions.” Watch the KOMU story HERE

Oh really, Mr. Kespohl? 

It just so happens that the one and only, former-councilperson Karl Skala, a member of CiViC (Citizens Involved and Invested In Columbia), a group formed in opposition to the EEZ proposal, submitted a list to Mr. Kespohl and the rest of the council five days prior to this interview. 

 

Click HERE to view the attachment Karl attached to his email to Mayor and Council. 

So why did he lie? I guess we all know why, but fellow councilperson and Chamber-endorsed running mate Daryl Dudley summed it up the best. Near the end of the KOMU video, Dudley is quoted as saying he’s “willing to do whatever it takes to get the EEZ plan up and rolling.”

If it takes a few public lies and distortions, I guess Kespohl is willing.

For a more in-depth story, visit the KMIZ video by clicking HERE

Click HERE for the Missourian story regarding the potential recall.

Click HERE to read the Missourian’s in-depth report on the issue

Contact the council today and tell them to stop lying and stop the plan to blight Columbia. Click HERE for City Council contact info. 

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Call For Council Recall

Due to the overwhelming public outcry resulting from the City Council’s plan to declare large areas of Columbia “blighted” and create an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, Keep Columbia Free is asking for volunteers to step forward and take action to recall any and all current City Council representatives who choose to ignore the wishes of their engaged constituents and vote in favor of establishing an EEZ board.

Blight-based eminent domain abuse is common in Missouri, as Missouri law provides little to no protection for property owners. Blight designations and the resulting condemnation proceedings have repeatedly been used to take property from low-income and minority populations across Missouri. This outrageous abuse of government power ignores the most fundamental property right protections enumerated in our beloved Bill of Rights and threatens the very Liberty around which our great country was founded.

As an organization dedicated to protecting and upholding the free market, Keep Columbia Free opposes tax abatement schemes, corporate welfare, TIFs, EEZs and public/private partnerships that use government regulation to distort the market and limit competition. As proponents of limited government, we call upon fiscal conservatives to stand against these perverse ploys and demand real economic freedom for all citizens.

Considering that Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in Missouri, was recently voted the hardest working town in America, and is likely the best place to live in Missouri – if not the entire Midwest – declaring large portions of our city blighted is nothing short of fraud.

Anyone interested in volunteering to collect the small number of signatures required to force a recall vote or interested in running to replace a recalled council member should send contact information to kcf@keepcolumbiafree.com or call 573.808.4770.

For more information please visit www.KeepColumbiaFree.com, email kcf@KeepColumbiaFree.com, or call Mark Flakne at 573.808.4770, Abhi Sivasailam at 636.675.2917, or Mitch Richards at 573.777.2306.

For background info, please read the recent story by Columbia Missourian reporters Hannah Cushman and Madeline O’Leary.

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When Bureaucrats Attack

If you follow Columbia politics you’ll know that, at the behest of REDI, the Columbia City Council recently passed a resolution declaring 60% of Columbia as “blighted” according to state statute. Being passed by resolution instead of ordinance effectively removed all public input from the process. A large, loud opposition quickly arose in opposition to this nefarious blight decree, the criminal process by which it came to fruition, and the tax abatement scheme it precedes which smacks of crony-capitalism. There has been much written here on this Keep Columbia Free blog and on Mike Martin’s Columbia Heartbeat blog.

While it is painfully difficult to discern whether the discussion is driven by simple, immoderate ignorance or planned, overt obfuscation on the part of REDI’s Mike Brooks, Mayor McDavid, City manager Mike Mathes, and City Attorney Fred Boeckmann, there seems to be a problem differentiating between the state statute governing the creation of an EEZ and the state statute defining the blight designation which is a legal prerequisite for forming an EEZ.

City staff, REDI, and members of the EEZ Board continually point out that the EEZ statute does not grant the city extra eminent domain powers and that the size of the original EEZ proposal has been winnowed down to a much smaller area. What they fail to realize is that the original map declaring 60% of Columbia blighted is still in place and is separate from the EEZ map. It is blight and not EEZ that opens the door for the abuse of eminent domain that has plagued many Missouri cities in recent years.  This is important because when the DED or REDI says that the EEZ does not use eminent domain, they are telling the truth. Most voters then look the other way and go back to watching American Idol without exploring the secondary dangers posed by a blight designation.

It is also true that the city can use its eminent domain powers without having declared a property blighted. What City Manager Mike Mathes is referring to when he says that the city can use its eminent domain powers without a blight designation or EEZ is the legitimate use of eminent domain for needed public projects. In these cases, the city must show a legitimate need for the taking of private property. When blight is thrown in the mix, removal of blight becomes a blanket justification for taking property and handing it over to private developers to expand the tax base. That is what we call eminent domain abuse and it stems from blight. It has happened time and time again in MO over the last few decades and is happening today.

Attorney and eminent domain abuse expert Dave Roland,  Director of  The Freedom Center of Missouri, explains how Columbia’s EEZ blight designation can lead to eminent domain abuse in this video.

When you hear… “EEZ’s don’t require eminent domain” or “The City has the power to use eminent domain,” I believe you are hearing open obfuscation. It’s like we are not even having the same conversation yet the media keeps printing and airing these verbal head fakes.

These are important distinctions to understand and share.

This video from a recent City Council meeting demonstrates either the City’s deep misunderstanding of the subject or the City’s desire to openly misinform the public.

 

 

This video brings to light another terribly troubling aspect of our city government. Notice how a paid, un-elected, city bureaucrat, City Manager Mike Mathes, effectively squashes a motion made by Helen Anthony, an elected City Councilperson and representative of we the people, while the Mayor, the rest of the council, and City Attorney Fred Boeckmann (another paid, un-elected city bureaucrat on whom we rely for legal advice) set idly by. 

Are we living under a Mathes Monarchy?

Why are these city staffers given veto power over our elected officials?

Why are bureaucrats, with lucrative salaries funded by our tax dollars, allowed a bully pulpit from which they circumnavigate the sacred democratic process that lies at the heart of our once free society?

When will the citizens of Columbia rise up and take back the reins of government from the corporatist rapscallions who grant themselves personal largess from public funds belonging to the hardworking taxpayers of Columbia?

The time is NOW!

Get involved with CiViC, Citizens InVolved and InVested in Columbia.

Call and email the City Council representatives who can influence this process.

Write letters to the editors of our local newspapers.

Call all media outlets and demand fair coverage of the issues.

Come to tomorrow’s City Council meeting, 4.16.2012 at 7pm, to stand and be counted! 

Speak up and speak out  or enjoy servitude.

 

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Letter to Tom Bradley

Following an appearance by Dave Griggs and Mike Brooks of REDI on the 93.9 Tom Bradley Show,  I sent Tom the following email.

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Tom,

I listened to today’s segment featuring Mike Brooks and Dave Griggs from REDI and I feel it is important to clarify a few of the significant statements they made regarding the EEZ proposal and blight prerequisite. I know you are a reasonable guy so I hope the information I provide herein will allow you to give your listeners a more complete picture of this matter. I also hope the evidence I have cited below will help you to see that the uproarious negative reaction from a large cross-section of the Columbia citizenry is far from knee-jerk.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Flakne

President – Keep Columbia Free

573.808.4770

 

 

EEZ:

I would argue that tax abatement schemes like the EEZ designation are merely crony capitalism which allows the government to pick winners and losers. This type of activity tips the playing field and distorts the market.

When one company’s taxes are abated, the government does not simply run on less money. When the government can’t get its money from one avenue, it simply gets it from another. Other businesses and individuals (you and me) pick up the slack. Really, when was the last time our gluttonous government ever trimmed its budget? If we really want to allow businesses to create jobs, taxes should be lowered for everyone and government red tape hurdles to entrepreneurship should be removed. Targeted tax abatements are simply unfair.

While the REDI representatives are correct when they list the number of EEZ zones across the state and the number of businesses benefiting from the tax abatement offered by these zones, there is no proof that the EEZ designations actually “created” jobs. While companies do look at their respective bottom lines, these abatements generally represent a small fraction of the overall operating budget. Are these tax abatements merely going to companies that would have located in these areas anyway? One thing is for sure, there is no evidence that the EEZ designation was responsible or will be responsible for job creation. Any claims made by REDI regarding the success of EEZ’s are pure conjecture.

Look at what California has learned about tax abatement for redevelopment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3wXHjUyqLw&sns=em

Blight:

Regardless of what Griggs and Brooks claimed to “believe” on your show, blanket blight designations can be and are used to take private property in Missouri. While the folks at REDI continue to point to HB 1944 as evidence of the eminent domain abuse protections provided individuals by the state, a mere cursory perusal of the law will demonstrate its impotence. Mike and Dave noted that Missouri law requires that property must be blighted individually and cannot be taken under blanket blight designations like the one needed for the EEZ. While the law does say that, their statement is only partially true. Good propaganda indeed. Here is what the law says.

HB 1944 523.274.

“Where eminent domain authority is based upon a determination that a defined area is blighted, the condemning authority shall individually consider each parcel of property in the defined area with regard to whether the property meets the relevant statutory definition of blight.  If the condemning authority finds a preponderance of the defined redevelopment area is blighted, it may proceed with condemnation of any parcels in such area.”http://www.eminentdomain.mo.gov/documents/HB1944T.pdf

So if you are in a blighted area, your house can be taken regardless of the condition. Here is how the State of Missouri Ombudsman for Property Rights explains it.

“Under the new Missouri law, each parcel of land must be considered individually as to whether each meets the relevant statutory definition of blight. However, the area will be considered blighted if the condemning authority finds a preponderance of the defined redevelopment area is blighted. This means that you may have the nicest home in the state and still be in a blighted area and therefore be subject to condemnation” http://www.eminentdomain.mo.gov/faq.htm

But even if you are protected by law, you must be prepared for a lengthy and expensive legal battle. Most property owners, especially in lower income areas, don’t have the means to fight a blight-based condemnation and taking. The deep pockets and coercive power of government often wins, regardless of the legality of the proceedings.

Another point that is often emphasized by REDI and other EEZ proponents is the notion that Missouri law prevents eminent domain condemnation for private use. Again, these proponents site only part of the truth in an attempt to influence the public. Here is what HB1944 actually says.

HB 1944 523.271.

“No condemning authority shall acquire private property through the process of eminent domain for solely economic development purposes. For the purposes of this section, ‘economic development’ shall mean a use of a specific piece of property or properties which would provide an increase in the tax base, tax revenues, employment, and general economic health, and does not include the elimination of blighted, substandard, or unsanitary conditions, or conditions rendering the property or its surrounding area a conservation area as defined in section 99.805, RSMo”

Notice the word “solely.” Since the famous Kelo case, no eminent domain condemnation based on blight has ever been “solely” for private economic development. In fact, “the elimination of blighted” conditions is enough to make the taking of private property legal. And remember, your property doesn’t have to be technically blighted. It only needs to be in a blighted area to be subject to condemnation and “redevelopment”.

What I really find odd is that there is evidence that our Mayor, Mike Brooks, and REDI do understand the dangers of blanket blight designations. On Feb 27th, 2011, Mr. Brooks emailed State Representative Chris Kelly, urging him to change the state statutes regarding the blight requirement for EEZ formation. While changing a state statute, even if Kelly tries, is a pipe dream, this email indicates that REDI understands the danger and is mounting a propaganda campaign which misrepresents these dangers.

From: “Michael Brooks” <JMBROOKS@GoColumbiaMO.com>

Date: February 27, 2012 12:24:51 PM CST

To: “Chris Kelly” <chris.kelly@house.mo.gov>

Cc: “Dave Griggs” <dave_griggs@carpetandtile.com>, “Bob McDavid” <bob.mcdavid@gmail.com>, “Bernie Andrews” <BKA@GoColumbiaMO.com>, “Fred Boeckmann” <FAB@GoColumbiaMO.com>, “Michael Matthes” <MEMATTHE@GoColumbiaMO.com>

Subject: Proposed Changes for Enhanced Enterprise Zone statutes

Chris

Thanks for your concern with this issue.

I have attached two documents to this email with proposed language/changes for Chapter 135, and are highlighted below.

In Section 135.953, I would request adding this language

(5) A finding of blight under Chapter 135 cannot be used to meet the conditions for blight under any other state statute.

In Section 135.960, I would propose eliminating under 135.960-2: (1); (2); and (6).  I would guess that these points were part of the original enterprise zone legislation and they are not germane to the existing program and add confusion to people who are trying to understand the program. May give some reason for the concerns being expressed regarding what can be done with the finding of blight under the program!

Thanks

Mike

J. Mike Brooks

President

Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) 500 East Walnut Street Suite 102 Columbia, MO 65201 Main Phone Number: 573-442-8303 Phone Direct: 573-441-5542

Cell: 573-355-0643

Email: jmbrooks@GoColumbiaMo.com

Web Site: https://www.columbiaredi.com/

If you’d like to hear and present to your listeners the other side of this issue, Jeff Rowes from The Institute for Justice would be a good guest for your show http://www.ij.org/clinic/?option=com_content&task=view&id=626&Itemid=165

I’d also highly recommend Dave Roland from the Freedom Center of Missouri http://www.mofreedom.org/about/ He has been in the 93.9 studios several times. Ferguson knows him and Nolan likely does as well.

Below is the text of a letter Dave wrote in response to this piece in the Tribune http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/mar/03/eez030312/

Mr. Barker,

My name is Dave Roland and I am the director of litigation for the Freedom Center of Missouri, a non-profit, non-partisan law firm that has a particular focus on the constitutional protection of property rights.  My wife and I formerly worked for the Institute for Justice, which litigated Kelo v. New London and many other important eminent domain cases over the past fifteen years.  I was part of the litigation team that fought on behalf of Ms. Kelo and her neighbors, and my wife was IJ’s legislative affairs attorney, tasked with helping state legislatures all over the nation work to protect their citizens from the threat of eminent domain in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo.  We have extensive, first-hand experience with the way that cities and states have used blight designations to erode their citizens’ property rights – and we also have experience in helping citizens fight back.

I’m glad you are interested in exploring how blight designations may be used to enable the use of eminent domain.  I’m afraid, however, that your article in today’s paper was not complete.  While you did accurately describe the statutes that should afford some protection for Missourians, the truth is that statutes mean only what courts say they mean – and at least one appellate court has already eviscerated the requirement that cities must look at parcels individually to determine if they are blighted, as well as the requirement that a preponderance of the targeted area be blighted.

In Allright Properties, Inc. v. Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City, 240 S.W.3d 777 (W.D. App. Mo. 2007), the Western District Court of Appeals ruled that the statute at issues did not require municipalities to evaluate whether each individual property in an area was blighted.  The court also ruled that when the statute referred to a “preponderance” of the targeted area being blighted, it was referring to square footage, not to the number of properties.  Here are the quotes directly from that case:

“Allright argues that the General Assembly intended for the requirement in Section 523.274’s first sentence to mandate that the condemning authority make a specific finding as to whether or not each individual parcel is blighted. Under this interpretation, a blight study would be flawed if it did not contain a list of the parcels and specific findings as to whether or not each parcel was blighted. Although the statute requires a condemning authority to evaluate each parcel, we see nothing in the statute that requires the authority to make a specific finding for each parcel. The General Assembly mandated that the condemning authority “consider” each parcel in making a finding that the entire area was predominantly blighted-not that an individual parcel was blighted. If the General Assembly wanted the condemning authority to make express findings for each parcel, surely it would have used the term “finding” or its equivalent in the first sentence. Although the condemning authority is not required to make an express finding for each parcel, it still must consider each parcel and evidence must establish that it do so… 

“The second sentence of Section 523.274 declares that, “[i]f the condemning authority finds a preponderance of the defined redevelopment area is blighted, it may proceed with condemnation of any parcels in such area.” Allright argues that this sentence means that the condemning authority can proceed with condemnation only if it finds that a preponderance of the individual parcels is blighted. TIFC, on the other hand, contends that the sentence means that the condemning authority can proceed only if it finds that a preponderance of the overall area is blighted… [W]e agree with TIFC that the General Assembly wanted the condemning authority to determine whether or not the defined redevelopment area was blighted by considering its total square footage and not whether a preponderance of the individual parcels were blighted.”

In the wake of this case, a municipal government can condemn someone’s property – even if the property itself is immaculately maintained – as long as the city designates the property as part of a larger “blighted area.”  Additionally, cities have almost completely unfettered discretion when it comes to deciding what constitutes “blight,” and courts simply refuse to reconsider these blight designations.  Only once in the entire history of this state has a Missouri appellate court reversed a city’s determination that a property or area is blighted – and that was because the city of Clayton neglected to include one perfunctory finding when it tried to declare blighted a well-maintained, fully-occupied, tax-generating downtown office building that the Centene corporation wanted removed to make way for its new headquarters.  In other words, had Clayton merely dotted its “i”s and crossed its “t”s, the condemnation would have been permitted.  Once a city has made a finding of blight – no matter how absurd or specious! – it is virtually impossible for property owners to defend themselves against an eminent domain action that the city may later conclude is desirable.

I would be happy to discuss these matters with you (or anyone else there at the CDT) at any time.  I have attached for your consideration a copy of a brief that Jenifer and I authored discussing the use (and abuse) of “blight” and eminent domain in Missouri; it provides a useful overview of this subject.  I am actually planning to be in Columbia on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week – perhaps there would be some interest in setting up an editorial board meeting?  If so, please let me know and I’ll be happy to put it on the schedule.

Sincerely,

Dave Roland

Director of Litigation

Freedom Center of Missouri

Invest in Liberty!

Here are a few more links of interest.

Don’t forget that Vicky Russel, publisher of the Tribune, sets on the REDI board. http://www.keepcolumbiafree.com/blog/beata-of-blight/

This is Ron Calzone’s group, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights http://www.mo-cpr.org/victims.html

Owners Council of America http://www.ownerscounsel.com/Eminent-Domain-Condemnation/Private-Redevelopment-and-Blight.shtml

Eminent Domain and Blacks http://www.castlecoalition.org/pdf/publications/Perspectives-Fullilove.pdf

The Castle Coalition http://www.castlecoalition.org/

Let There Be Blight – Dave Roland http://issuu.com/davidroland/docs/let_there_be_blight?mode=a_p&wmode=0

Dave Roland Eminent Domain Video http://www.mofreedom.org/2011/03/eminent-domain-abuse-in-missouri/

Missouri Western District Judge Harold Lowenstein on Blight http://law.missouri.edu/lawreview/docs/74-2/Lowenstein.pdf

I just heard from Harold Lowenstein, the retired Missouri appellate court justice who wrote the law review article I quoted at our first meeting.

He is careful to separate the Blight Decree from the Enterprise Zone, noting that legally, they are separate entities.   As redevelopment tools, he says he has heard very little about EEZ or its effectiveness.   He has more experience with TIF.

“A declaration of blight is not a compliment, and such a governmental finding would probably not increase land values,” Lowenstein told me.   This comment rebuts a note by REDI chairman Dave Griggs, who told the Council the EEZ would probably increase property values because of all the opportunities it might open.

Justice Lowenstein also says that in all these programs, from TIFs to EEZ to Land Clearance, etc., what “scholars have decried” are two primary things:  the declarations of blight;  and a slide in property values that occurs after the declaration or an announcement of any possible takings, i.e. eminent domain.

“Using market or arms length transactions (the market value method), the fact that when the announcement happens, it makes any future sale not possible,” he says, to anyone but the government or the private developer with the initiative (TIF, EEZ, Chapter 100, etc.).

Finally, the scholarly take on blight decrees is that they are a bad deal as presently configured under Missouri law.

“As you will note, my article and the sources cited in it are unhappy about the definitions of blight used by those who want to ‘rehab the land,'” Lowenstein explained.   “You will also note that many folks also want to give the courts more authority to look into government declarations of blight.”

 

 

 

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Rick Santorum v. Mitch Richards

Keep Columbia Free’s own Mitch Richards challenges Rick Santorum’s grasp of our beloved Bill of Rights as he asks how denying cancer patients medical cannabis fits with the 9th Amendment. 

Check out the Keep Columbia Free endorsement of the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation initiative.

Check out the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation website. Sign the petition, donate some money, donate some time, and help end the violence and racism that are at the heart of modern prohibition. 

 

 

Mark Flakne

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