No eminent domain vote on November ballot: St Louis MO Post-Dispatch, 9/13/06

By Steve Birmingham

Supporters of ballot issues that would limit state spending and eminent domain have ended their fight to put the proposals before voters Nov. 7.

Missourians in Charge had appealed a ruling by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan that the petitions submitted by the group were invalid.

The group decided to drop any further appeals when the Missouri Supreme Court decided last week against hearing their appeal of Carnahan's ruling, said Patrick Tuohey, president of Missourians in Charge and a Kansas City-area market research executive.

It means the constitutional amendment will not appear on the ballot.

"It's a real shame to see that these reforms, changes that hundreds of thousands of Missourians wanted a say on, have been blocked by lawsuits from special interests," Tuohey, said in a statement released last week.

"From the start, we have faced a slanted and biased opposition from officials who clearly did not want these reforms on the ballot," he said. "When government bureaucrats change the rules of the game mid-play, the people always stand to lose."

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office ruled the order of petition pages turned in were not in sequence, which made the petitions containing over 220,000 signatures invalid.

Missourians in Charge sued to overturn her decision, but a Cole County judge ruled in July the petitions turned in by the group were not numbered correctly and upheld Carnahan's decision.

Missourians in Charge also complained about the amendment's fiscal impact statement prepared by Missouri Auditor Claire McCaskill.

Tuohey started Missourians in Charge in February in response to the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London decision. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled government can seize property and transfer it to another private owner if the change in ownership is for the "public good."

Tuohey said two different Cole County judges ordered Missouri Auditor Claire McCaskill to rewrite fiscal impact statements she attached to the amendments, which he said was described by the courts "insufficient and unfair."

"Where we disagree is whether the actions of a single corrupt or incompetent state auditor have the ability to stop the efforts of Missourians to petition government, a right guaranteed by the state constitution," Tuohey said.

"The whole point of the petition process is to go around the executive and legislative branches," he said. "If the secretary of state and state auditor can thwart the process through corruption or incompetence, then the people have no such right at all."

Tuohey said he was grateful for the hundreds of thousands of people who signed the petitions to place the question on the ballot.

"I am buoyed by those who have taken up the fight to defend themselves and their property from the abuse of government power—in Ozark, in Richmond Heights, in Kansas City, in Sunset Hills and throughout St. Louis," Tuohey said.

St Louis MO Post-Dispatch: http://www.stltoday.com