Monday, January 02, 2006

Exactly Backwards

That's how the Indianapolis Star got it in this morning's editorial. Link.
Let's not make it, as critics have tried to do, into something more than that. It's not a romanticized clash between a small family business and a callous state government.

The Stadium Authority is the callous government running roughshod over a good family business. The NK Hurst Company is a victim of a political decision made with making of Governor look good placed above every other concern. NK Hurst's land belongs to NK Hurst. Period. Trying to defend their right to their property is unfortunately something to belittle in the eyes of the Star's editorial writers.
The building authority has offered the Hurst family $3.7 million and a chance to keep the factory at its current site in exchange for about four acres of land near the stadium. It appears to be a reasonable offer, but the Hurst family has every right to continue pressing for more money or other concessions.

That's called a negotiation.

The Stadium Authority isn't negotiating by running to eminent domain. By filing for eminent domain proceedings, it has ended the negotiation. The state isn't merely stepping away from the table. It has taken the table away, dismantled it, and burned it.
It's not even about the abuse of eminent domain. The courts have consistently agreed that taking land for a public stadium, which in this case will be the site of scores of events each year, is a legitimate use of eminent domain powers.

Would the Star have justified slavery? Certainly that was legal, and the courts upheld it for years. There is a parallel. Slavery is the theft of one's freedom and productive output. The right to own property is one of the key American freedoms, and this property represents the NK Hurst Company's ability to produce.

There are legitimate causes for eminent domain takings- genuinely public uses, such as the building of roads, bridges, or sewers. But, for the creation of a VIP parking lot?

Socialized football is wrong. Governments do not belong in the business of owning sports arenas and playing landlord. Stealing property from the Hurst family for a parking lot on a property that is really representative of a huge transfer of wealth to the Irsay family is positively disgusting.

It should be an embarrassment to a Republican governor who dares site libertarian influences.
It should be an embarrassment to a Republican senator who advises the Stadium Authority and considers himself a fiscal conservative.

Really, I wish I had an extra $20 million lying around. I'd form a company, line up investors, and file an intent with the City to build a 4-star hotel on the Indy Star's site, a la the Lost Liberty Hotel. Inside, I would rent space to a franchisee of the Just Deserts Cafe- but only if the land could be acquired by eminent domain. I would then be interested to see whether or not the Star's editorials came to the defense of the property owner... Or would that be the mere romanticization of a routine business transaction into a David v. Goliath story?

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