Independent Christian Voice

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Imminent threat of eminent domain

Tulsa blogger Batesline.com takes aim at the governor's apparent lack of understanding about the imminent threat of eminent domain…

Today's Tulsa Whirled reports Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry's response to an initiative petition that would limit the use of eminent domain for private benefit, in response to the U. S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London:

"I have great concerns with government using eminent domain powers to take property from private citizens to be used for private development," he said. "I don't think I would ever propose that, and I have great concerns with the impact of that Supreme Court decision."

Henry does not think there is any danger of state or local government relying on the decision to take property for private development.

He said he is open to ideas to prevent that, including looking into the petition being circulated.

"It sounds like it's something we need to be talking about," Henry said.

Our Governor needs to open his eyes. Oklahoma cities have been using eminent domain for private development for a long time. This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly features a current example. The University of Tulsa wants a grand entrance on 11th Street. With the Tulsa Development Authority poised to condemn the property, the owner of the building that houses Starship Records and Tapes has sold it to the University of Tulsa. Holding on to the land was not an option. If the owner refused to sell, the city would have condemned the property and sold it to TU at cost. Condemnation, or the threat of condemnation, has been used to clear homes and businesses to make way for TU's Reynolds Center and the athletic complex between Columbia and Delaware Avenues.

Starship Records isn't blighted. Neither is Wendy's or Metro Diner. Nor were the homes east of Skelly Stadium. There's no public purpose at work here -- just a private institution that wants to use its political clout to expand at the expense of those who lack that clout.

Property owners nationwide had hoped that the Supreme Court would defend our 5th Amendment rights in the Kelo v. New London decision. Since that didn't happen, it's time for action at the state and local level to stop eminent domain abuse.

I agree with Bates' point. My question, though, is how can we be surprised by such a principle of "business interests above private citizen rights"? It's what our current national leadership practices. It's unfortunate that SCOTUS is on the wrong side of this issue too.

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