In a recent five-year period, according to the New York Times, "there were 10,000 reported cases of cities and states condemning or threatening to condemn homes and businesses to make way for private companies to expand."
"Unfortunately," the Times says, "the victims ... are most often the elderly, the poor and minorities. They lack the money and political power to persuade the government to respect their rights."
General Motors Corp., for example, once persuaded the city of Detroit to condemn a neighborhood called Poletown and sell it cheap to GM to build an auto factory.
The city of Merriam, Kan., condemned a Toyota dealership so it could sell the land to a BMW dealer.
A frequently cited example of the ability of corporate lobbyists to convince cities to give them someone else's land involves billionaire Donald Trump. He convinced Atlantic City, N.J. to condemn an elderly widow's home so he could build a limousine parking lot.
The basic argument of corporate lobbyists is that the public good will be served. The underlying motivation for cities to respond favorably is that the new occupant of the property will increase the city's tax base.
Several organizations are fighting eminent domain abuse across the country. Bruneau's bill will be a strong weapon in the battle here. It has been filed early. We hope it will be passed quickly - and that the constitutional change will be made in a timely fashion.
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