March 31, 2007

Eminent Domain Victors’ Health Forces Sale

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:41 pm

This is sad:

A suburban Norwood couple who won a fight to keep the government from taking their home to make way for a $125 million complex of offices, shops and restaurants said Friday they were selling to developers because of poor health.

“I want everyone to know that we fought our battle because we deeply believe that it’s wrong for cities to force hardworking people from their homes just so politically connected developers can make money,” Joy Gamble said in a statement released by the Washington-based Institute for Justice, which represented her and her husband, Carl Gamble.

“We fought not just for us, but for every home and small business owner in Ohio and the rest of the country,” she said.

The Gambles, both in their late 60s, were forced to leave their home two years ago but always maintained that they planned to return. In July, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the seizure of their home was illegal because eminent domain – the process by which a government takes private property – had been improperly invoked to acquire land not strictly meant for public use.

Both Gambles have been diagnosed with cancer, the institute said, and Carl Gamble has been hospitalized since December with heart and lung problems. The couple agreed to sell their house to Rookwood Partners, the developer whose offer they had rejected, for $650,000 and to drop litigation regarding damage to the home since they moved out.

The Gambles had lived in the home for 35 years.

“The main thing that’s kept us going these past couple of years is the thought of moving back into our home,” Joy Gamble said. “Now, however, Carl will never be able to go back there because of his health, and I just can’t go back there without him.”

This would never have happened but for Ohio’s now-unconstitutional eminent-domain regime. Incredibly and outrageously, under that law, property owners who wanted to contest the taking of their property had to allow the property to be taken, and then sue to get it back. So the Gambles had to move, and therefore couldn’t be there to maintain the property or to keep it from being vandalized. The Gambles could, and by all rights should, be taking comfort and solace in 35 years of fond memories in their own home as they battle their health problems. That they cannot is disgraceful.

But thanks to the Gambles and the Institute for Justice, this “shouldn’t” happen to anyone else in Ohio. We won’t know for sure until the Ohio legislature hammers out new legislation to replace what has been declared unconstitutional and then gets Ohio governor Ted Strickland to sign it. Strickland is on the record as of about a year ago as being against eminent domain abuse.

The Gambles deserve our prayers, and our gratitude.


UPDATE: NixGuy went to the Enquirer story on the Gambles’ situation. It noted that the $650,000 willing-buyer, willing-seller settlement is “$370,000 more than the value a jury had placed on their property in the early part of the court fight.” If the owners of the other 66 properties who sold had been able to stay in their homes and negotiate or resist, instead of having the obvious duress of having to move until they could contest the eminent domain hanging over them, the developers might have had to (read: SHOULD have had to) pony up another $20 million or so to acquire those properties at fair value.

UPDATE 2: Yes, I realize that Mr. Gamble is currently hospitalized. But if he recovers sufficiently, he might have been able to go back to the couple’s original home.

The New ACU Blogad about the Proposed Purchase of Texas Utilities

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:38 pm

If you support your humble servant by clicking on the American Conservative Union ad at the right, you will go to an excellent column by J. William Lauderback about the private-equity purchase of the public utility company Texas Utilities (TXU). The buyers are the famed investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company and another equity investor, Texas Pacific Group. Their intent is to buy TXU and divide it into three separate companies.

Lauderback’s main argument is that the Texas Legislature shouldn’t intervene in the transaction because it’s good for everyone. Fair enough, but I think readers should go read Lauderback’s full column, because he expresses what I think many will see as quite unorthodox reason as to why the deal is going to be so good for everyone.

Believe me, it’s worth a click-through to see what that reason is; it has profound implications if Lauderback is really correct, which is of course debatable. Speaking of debate, all are of course welcome to come back here and comment on Lauderback’s column if they are so inclined.

Steve Forbes Endorses Giuliani

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:50 am

It will not go unnoticed that Forbes’ endorsement studiously avoided commenting on the hot-button social issues that are causing and will continue to cause tension between Giuliani and the Republican party’s traditionalist base.

Fair enough, but there is no disputing that Giuliani has a proven record of being in charge of a government and practicing the fiscal principles of Ronald Reagan, with predictably outstanding results (bolds are mine):

Mr. Giuliani entered office in 1994 with a $2.3 billion budget deficit handed to him by his predecessor, Mayor David Dinkins. Liberal conventional wisdom held that the only way to close the gap was to raise taxes while cutting back on basic city services such as sanitation. The new mayor rejected this advice–in fact, he famously threw the report recommending tax hikes in the trash!

Instead, he set out to restore fiscal discipline to the “ungovernable city”–and achieved results that Reagan Republicans can applaud.

In his first budget address Mr. Giuliani explained that he would “cut taxes to attract jobs so our people can work.” While lots of politicians make promises about cutting taxes Mr. Giuliani delivered, overcoming the initial resistance of the overwhelmingly Democratic City Council. He ultimately prevailed 23 times, including cuts in sales, personal income, commercial rent and hotel occupancy taxes. He understood that these taxes were not revenue producers, but counterproductive job killers.

When he left office after eight years, New Yorkers had saved over $9 billion, while enjoying their lowest tax burden in decades. The private sector, which had been hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs in the years before he took office, produced over 423,000 new jobs. Meanwhile the unemployment rate was cut in half. Businesses responded to Mr. Giuliani’s reforms by returning to the center of city life.

So when he talks about his belief in supply-side economics, its not just theory, it’s a plan he has already succeeded at putting into action. He’s seen the results of supply-side economics first hand–higher revenues from lower taxes.

(Giuliani’s) first budget cut spending for the first time in the city since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s–and over the course of his administration he controlled the city’s spending while federal government spending grew by over 40% and average state spending ballooned by over 60%. Mr. Giuliani always made fiscal discipline a priority: instructing city commissioners to cut agency budgets even when the deficits had turned to surpluses.

Mr. Giuliani set out to cut the size of city government, insisting that New York should live within its means. New Yorkers saw their quality of life improve with more effective delivery of services while the bureaucratic ranks were being thinned by nearly 20,000–a near 20% decrease in city headcount, excluding police officers and teachers. He increased the number of cops and teachers because he understood that public safety and quality education are what we expect in return for our tax dollars, not partisan job protection or union featherbedding. As mayor, he proved that government can be smaller and smarter–more efficient and more effective.

Rudy Giuliani can unite the Republican Party and restore our traditional claim as the party of fiscal conservatism. He has already proven he can stand up to liberal special interest groups and achieve tax cuts, even with a Democrat-controlled City Council. That’s the kind of leadership we need in Washington. That’s the kind of leadership that will inspire the next generation of the Reagan Revolution. And that’s why America’s Mayor should be America’s next president.

I’m left wishing Rudy could spend about six months fixing the fiscal, crime-laden mess in Cincinnati first.

Positivity: Pair Nabs Cuffed Man

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:49 am

From Chillicothe, OH:

A man served a warrant at Chillicothe Municipal Court failed in his escape Thursday afternoon when bystanders banded together and successfully caught him.

Peter Ziskowski, 23, of Cincinnati, said he and his friends were at Gourmet Grounds, 23 S. Paint St., when they saw Robert Wright, 37, of 188 Sycamore St., run out of the Ross County Courthouse with handcuffs on.

“It was kind of crazy,” he said. “There was an officer chasing him and he slipped and fell. Before he got up, (Wright) was already at the corner of Main and Paint.”

Ziskowski said that was the point when he took off running, cutting Wright off about two blocks up Main Street.
Justin Lynch, 17, of Chillicothe, was on Ziskowski’s heels during the pursuit. He said he also saw the officer fall.

“As soon as I saw him, we both started running at the exact same time,” he said.

Ziskowski said a driver also offered assistance.

“There was a guy in a pickup truck turning into the alley. When he saw me running, he backed up to stop him,” he said, adding he pinned Wright between himself and Lynch and the truck.

Lynch said he was glad he helped.

“It was a pretty interesting day. It was pretty exciting,” he said. “It’s not an everyday thing.”

Law enforcement arrived a few minutes later at about 1:47 p.m.and transported the man to the Ross County Jail.

According to Chillicothe Police Chief Jeff Keener, Wright was at the court for a pre-trial. When officials detained him on the warrant – which was for falsification – he ran from them.