Friday, December 30, 2005

More Eminent Domain Abuse

I ask Colts fans going to Sunday's final regular season game against the Arizona Cardinals to take a minor side trip as they drive in. File past the NK Hurst Company's facilities just south and west of the RCA Dome and understand what is happening there.

NK Hurst is a family business. Hurst weathered tough times as the inner city underwent decline in the 1970s. They put their faith in Indianapolis and resisted the temptation to flee to the suburbs, or to other Indiana cities. They remained to this day, and would continue if allowed to.

What is Hurst's reward for their perserverance? A slap in the face. Their land is being stolen by the Stadium Authority, who is using eminent domain procedings to do quickly and on its terms what fair negotiations take a while to achieve and on more just terms. From the Indy Star report:
Company vice president Jim Hurst, who learned of the lawsuit this morning, said he was surprised and offended by the court action because he thought negotiations were progressing.

“Our business is again under direct threat,” he said.

Hurst said that the family needs more land for employee parking and its storage trailers than what the stadium is offering. They've offered alternative ideas to the stadium authority, which have been rejected.The stadium authority acknowledges that they filed this action on the last business day of 2005 to pre-empt any changes the Indiana General Assembly may make in the 2006 session.

Look on it well, especially if you take the position that Hurst is just one small property, and is being served up for the greater good.

Eminent Domain represents a threat to the security of every property owner in our state. No matter if you own a simple residence or a productive business, government can steal your property from you and deliver it to those who would dream up something bigger- usually for the purpose of swelling the tax rolls. Or, in this case, as a political feather in a Governor's cap.

The legislature may put an end to this awful practice in the 2006 session, as a joint committee has been studying the issue in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision. While the legislature should ban all commercial use of eminent domain, such a ban is of no use to the NK Hurst Company. The Stadium Authority filed its motion on December 30, 2005, which means the action is not subject to any subsequent change in the law. From the Star:
And that has legislators furious. Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield, who will likely help sponsor eminent domain legislation next year, said the stadium's actions were "highly suspicious and disingenuous."

The only just recourse would be for the Authority to withdraw its filing. Hopefully Senator Drozda and others who support curtailing eminent domain abuse, such as Rep. Dave Wolkins, will exert pressure to that end.

That is very unlikely to have a significant effect anyway, as the Governor worked so hard twisting arms behind the scenes to make Republican county councilors go on record voting for 1% food & beverage taxes they would rather not have on their records.

So, make sure to file by the Hurst property. Unless and until the legislature of this state acts to end commercial eminent domain takings, your home or business property could just as well suffer the same fate as the Hurst's- theft, and the wrecking ball.

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