Tag Archives: Dave Roland

Hoppe Responds to Keep Columbia Free

Hoppe

Sunday evening I received an email from Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe in response to my last post on this site regarding her grumbling about Mark Jones being a spoiler. Read that post HERE.

The section from that post that prompted her response reads as follows:

But the local Columbia leftists won’t stop spitting sour grapes all over social media. Even liberal icon Barb Hoppe, who – by the way – voted to expand Downtown government surveilance and voted for the EEZ every time until REDI told her not to, got in on the action, chiming in on a post on her hubby Mike Sleadd’s Facebook wall amidst a throng of “Jones was a spoiler” rants.

Hoppe responds:

Hi Mark, Mitch and Dan, and Keep Columbia Free,

I just saw a post one or all of you did on Keep Columbia Free and it’s facebook book page.
I want to set the record straight on two things that you were totally wrong on about regarding my position and votes.

You stated:
“Even liberal icon Barb Hoppe, who – by the way – voted to expand Downtown government surveilance and voted for the EEZ every time until REDI told her not to, got in on the action, chiming in on a post on her hubby Mike Sleadd’s Facebook wall amidst a throng of “Jones was a spoiler” rants.”

1. I was not in favor of the downtown cameras and voted against them every step of the way and also spoke against them at the Keep Columbia free forum at the Blue Note before the public vote. After the City wide vote in favor of the cameras, I did vote to FUND the cameras, but only after they were approved by the public ballot process. I also made it clear when I voted for the funding, that I did not personally support them and the majority of the 6th ward did not support them either.

2. EEZ- The EEZ first vote came up very quickly, with only a few days notice before the council meeting.  I and Helen Anthony had many questions about the EEZ and  raised them as quickly as we could given the short notice, but in retrospect we were not provided accurate or full  information at the time of our first vote. Thereafter, I worked very hard to get additional answers to questions and concerns that I had, as well as those the public had.  I worked vigorously to get City staff, Council and the Mayor to have more dialogue and hear concerns from the general public who had been left out of the process. I worked to and voted to rescind the first EEZ Board and worked behind the scenes to get new members on that board who would ask tough questions and represent the public.  I attended many meetings with the public and continued raising concerns and questions, publicly and in many private meetings. I  was responsible for help opening up the process for dialogue and community involvement, that ultimately led to REDI asking Council to rescind the EEZ Board and not pursue EEZ’s further. Your statement regarding this is ridiculous and unfounded. You are either uniformed or untruthful. I would like to think it is the former rather than the later.

Sincerely,
Barbara Hoppe

So let me explain why I still stand by what I wrote.

In a nutshell, claiming to be against something but voting in favor of it multiple times is a problem.

Let’s take a look at the first point from Ms. Hoppe’s email — government surveillance of peaceful citizens in Downtown Columbia.

It is true that she spoke against the camera plan and it is true that she voted against the camera plan when it first came before the council prior to being placed on the ballot for voter approval. Thanks for that.

What we must remember is that Proposition 1, the camera ballot initiative, merely authorized the Columbia Police Department to place cameras downtown. The CPD could have made this request at any time and were already authorized to do so. The ballot initiative, as successful as it was, did not mandate that the council provide funding for such a plan. In fact, all the council really could have done in any case is vote to fund the project and Ms. Hoppe voted to do exactly that.

In fact, Ms. Hoppe not only voted to fully fund the original plan for government surveillance in Downtown Columbia, she voted to expand the camera system with a remote control upgrade. Heck, even Fred Schmidt had the guts to offer a protest vote against the expansion.

I also find it alarming that, as Ms. Hoppe states, “the majority of the 6th ward did not support” the camera plan, yet she voted to fund the project. She was, after all, elected by the voters of the 6th Ward to be their representative.

Voting to fund a project that your constituents are against and that you have spoken against is like admonishing one’s alcoholic uncle for drinking too much and then giving him $20 with which to go to the liquor store.

Now let’s take a look at the second part of Ms. Hoppe’s email — the EEZ.

Yes, the original vote was thrust upon the council with very little supporting documentation and no public input. I will concede that she made a mistake that anyone could have made. I will also concede that when a grassroots groundswell of opposition arose against the EEZ, Ms. Hoppe attended public forums and worked to dissolve the original ordinance which allowed for some public comment. She also helped get Anthony Stanton and Jeremy Root on the new EEZ board.

In reality, this did nothing. Ms. Hoppe voted to establish the original EEZ board, voted to dissolve that board alongside the most fervent EEZ supporters, and then immediately ignored the public and voted to re-establish the EEZ board after hearing volumes of public testimony from the citizens of Columbia and several renowned experts including attorney David Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri and David Stokes, a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute who specializes in tax incentives, specifically Enterprise Zones.

Voting to allow public input and then ignoring public input is not representative government — it is political theater.

This might all have something to do with the fact that Ms. Hoppe was in a difficult and rather dirty race against the extremely cantankerous Bill Tillotson. During the campaign, she hopped on the anti-EEZ wagon and cooperated with and listened to the EEZ opposition. After she defeated Tillotson, she went right back to voting in favor of the EEZ plan.

I had a feeling it would happen exactly this way. Here is an excerpt from an email I wrote to the CiViC email group in April of 2012:

It seems likely that the original resolution will be rescinded at the next Council meeting, but I have little doubt that a new map will be ushered in via ordinance. While the new blight map will likely be smaller than the original, any blanket blight designation is too much.

While the map was never finalized, it is true that the council rescinded the original EEZ resolution, allowed for a couple of weeks of public comment, promptly ignored that public comment, and created a new EEZ board within weeks.

It is also true that the council, including Ms. Hoppe, only voted to finally dissolve the second EEZ board when REDI made the request.

In her recent email to me, Ms. Hoppe also claims:

I was responsible for help opening up the process for dialogue and community involvement, that ultimately led to REDI asking Council to rescind the EEZ Board and not pursue EEZ’s further.

Is she kidding?

Does she really think that she helped defeat the EEZ by voting for it —- TWICE?

Ms. Hoppe, your pressure on the council did lead to some public input, but ultimately, the EEZ process was simply renewed, and you voted for it. What “ultimately led to REDI asking Council to rescind the EEZ Board and not pursue EEZ’s further” was the hard work and relentless dedication of folks like Linda Green, Monta Welch, Mary Hussman, etc. who kept the pressure on the EEZ Board and REDI. I have no doubt they would have done the same had the original EEZ Board been left in place.

Ms. Hoppe, please put your money – and your vote – where your mouth is.

Mark Flakne

Share

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.

——-

——-

——-

——-

 

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.”

 

 

 

Share