As someone who has negotiated land use rights for a living, I have always has a certain professional nose to look down on for those negotiating on behalf of governments. It has everything to do with the fact that those I approach with a proposal can slam the door in my face if they choose. Government negotiators can have the door bulldozed sometimes. Just ask the good folks at NK Hurst.
Thus, it was interesting to read a recent article in on Reason Magazine's website, which demostrates that dynamic, using Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson as the dark example. From Jacob Sullum's article:
"Cities use eminent domain most often as a negotiating tool with property owners," explained Peterson, who was speaking for the National League of Cities. "Just having the tool available makes it possible to negotiate with landowners." Sure it does—in the same way just having a gun available makes it possible for a bank robber to negotiate with a teller.
Im my acquisitions, it was always possible to negotiate with landowners. You had to bring a lot of dollars to the table to trade, but more importantly, you had to convince the opposite party that they wer getting value equal to or greater than what your client would be getting. Demonstrating value to the other party isn't even on the radar in eminent domain cases. Eminent Domain isn't trade. It's force. That's why private negiators look down their nose at government counterparts. Brute force requires very little application of skill.
By the way, Reason has a great blog, called Reason Hit & Run. I keep a permenant link at the right. The comments are a delight.