Thursday, March 17, 2005

Eminent Domain in Freeport Texas

Updated March 17, 2005

Before I get into the topic of eminent domain, it would be helpful to understand something about how Americans view ownership of property. We believe that the right to ownership of property exists and that laws were instituted to protect those rights. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that many of our representatives in government would prefer that citizens did not have property rights; believing instead, that government holds claim to all property and that citizens have temporary custody at best.

To provide proof of my claim that government believes that they hold title to all property is a simple matter of looking at property tax laws. Other than providing a regular source of income to support local government and school districts, these tax laws also serve to remind us that just because a piece of property has been paid for, referring only to the agreement between one citizen and another over an agreed transfer of use privilege, does not preclude the on going and never ending tax burden for the “right” to continue in the delusion that the property is actually owned by anyone other than the government. Whew, I might have been a lawyer except I have to breathe at the end of each sentence and regain a regular heart beat. The point is that the tax burden associated with any property leaves final title holding ability to the government, not the citizen.

All that being said, most citizens still would argue that property rights are sacred to Americans and that we will “fight” to keep those rights. That sounds wonderful; but, tell me, how is that going to happen?

In Freeport, Texas there is a shrimp company business that “owns” (remember the definition of property that I just explained) a prime piece of real estate along the Gulf coast. The company has been in operation for a very long time, going out to catch the shrimp, bringing the shrimp back to port for processing, selling that shrimp and then repeating the process over and over. There is another private interest who would like to use that very same piece of prime real estate; except they want to build a marina. They offered to buy the property and were turned down. Instead of looking elsewhere for a different piece of property they decided to convince the Freeport City Council to expand the power of eminent domain in order to obtain the shrimp company’s land. I don’t think I have abused the privilege of over simplification with my short version of the facts.

I know a lot of you are feeling the veins swell in your neck, shouting vague obscenities about how terrible or rotten those no good … "Just let those no good so’s and so try to take my land… you just try!” Since this piece of editorial is to be published I have used the “no good so and so’s” rather than something more natural for me. I hope you will understand my true feelings have been repressed in this matter. Well, you have a chance to stand up against those no good rotten so and so’s.

There is an election in Freeport on May 7th where you can decide who is going to represent your side of “property rights” and how the power of eminent domain will be used. Will you vote to have property rights further eroded by permitting the current City Council steal your neighbor’s property; only to hand it over to yet a different group of citizens simply on the notion that the second group of citizens has a better idea for how to use that land? I say, “Vote the scoundrels out of office on May 7th and make sure they understand why”. Scoundrels is still too nice a word; but, I think you get my drift.

You might ask, “Why is someone in Houston, Texas so interested in what goes on in a small town like Freeport”? Glad you asked. The abuse of eminent domain as a power by one governmental agency to determine user privilege of land based on arbitrary whims; if permitted to go unchecked or challenged affects every American citizen.

The Supreme Court of the United States has so many activist judges sitting in their black robes; appointed for life with no real strings to attach them to the citizen’s whose lives are affected by their decisions, and interpreting “their feelings” rather than interpreting “constitutional issues”; that they have become unreliable as a source of justice. We, as citizens who hold the foundations of our country to be sacred, need to hold our elected officials feet to the fire at every opportunity. When we find that they no longer exhibit our shared basic beliefs; vote them out and replace them with someone who does. We cannot expect to win any battles in the court system, a system that has been corrupted and has very little hope of returning to the originally prescribed course, at least no time soon. We are depending on the good citizens of Freeport Texas to draw a line in the sand, no different than the one drawn in front of the Alamo. Now get to it!

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Here are a couple of links to privious Eminent Domain Blogs:

But the BEST source for information about the issue is the Institute for Justice. Try this:

Thanks to all who have jumped in with their help.

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