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"Drop-kicked by eminent domain"

The Chicago Tribune has a story today on the use of eminent domain in Arlington, Texas.

Some salient facts:

  • A constitutional amendment forbidding the use of eminent domain for the purpose of "economic development" recently passed the Texas House 132-0. But a bill in the Texas Senate has a grandfather clause protecting the Cowboys' stadium proposal "to attract enough votes for passage."
  • 141 properties must be transferred to the city of Arlington under the stadium plan. So far, only 35 owners have accepted for the city's price for their property.
  • 65 jobs will be lost when a hotel is torn down to build the new stadium. [Hmmm... were these accounted for in the economic impact statements?]
  • The stadium proposal - heavily promoted by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - was approved in last fall's election with a 54% majority.

I'm not a Bush-basher, but the prior stadium episode in Arlington might have more dirty laundry in it than any medical records from his National Guard days:

How domain helped Bush

Bush, in fact, partly owes his fortune to the best-known previous use of eminent domain in Arlington--the acquisition of land for the Ameriquest Field complex, the Rangers' ballpark.

The stadium, owned by the city and leased to the team, as well as additional land the team's owners acquired through eminent domain, helped boost the franchise's value. Bush, who bought his stake in the Rangers in 1989 for $600,000, sold it in 1998 for more than $14 million.

Conservative activists now hope Bush will nominate a strongly pro-property-rights justice to the Supreme Court who might be inclined to reverse the recent decision.

People whose homes and businesses stand in the way of the planned football stadium are not encouraged by what happened with the baseball stadium. Members of the Mathes family, who thought their 13 acres were worth $7.5 million, were offered $817,000 to make way for the baseball stadium. After many years in court and substantial lawyers' fees, they got the $7.5 million.

That last set of facts - an offer of $817,000 for a $7.5 million property - suggests the nature of what we're up against. It looks like grand larceny to me.

The Kelo decision has alerted people to these shenanigans. With that impact in mind, I wonder how effective the Cowboys' propoganda machine would have been, had the Court's decision come last year rather than last month. Would the Arlington stadium proposal have garnered a majority if the vote had come post-Kelo?