Saturday, July 09, 2005

Kelo v. Loudoun County? Not if our Board can help it

A few days ago, I wrote about my thoughts on what the residents of New London, CT should be doing with regard to their elected leaders. (Simply put: recall them.) I also made clear what I would do if I ever found out that Loudoun County, VA's Board of Supervisors were going to try a similar stunt. Apparently, our Board's got a lot more common sense than the New London crew. Our local newspaper doesn't post its most recent edition on-line, so I can't give you a link, yet, but there's a front page story in the Loudoun Easterner dealing with our County leadership's reaction to the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo. They disagree with it.

Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) said, "It just completely erodes the concept of private property and it can go the other way. How long before someone says property with houses on it might better serve the public good by being cleared, because it might save money through services or the reduction of capital services? It cuts both ways."

Excellent point. In New London, they want to bulldoze a neighborhood so they can build new things. Why? Because they need more money than the residential taxes can provide. Ah, but why do they need the money? Obviously because they have services they want to fund. But there's 2 ways to get those funds. One is to increase their income, which is what they're trying to do by kicking legal property holders off their land. The second is to cut spending elsewhere, like the rest of us have to do when we want to buy something outside our income limits. So if it's a legitimate public use to level someone's home to increase tax revenue, how could it not be a legitimate public use to level a home to reduce required government expenditures?

Staton has proposed that our Board approve a policy that eminent domain cannot be used in Loudoun County for private economic development. This Board is badly fractured after 5 of the previous 9 Supervisors were swept from office in 2003. Our voters here were plenty ticked off at the previous Board's actions and 5 Democrats got handed their walking papers while 5 Republicans got invited to have a seat. Going from an 8-to-1 majority to a 6-3 minority hasn't sat well with the "surviving" Board members and they haven't been quiet about their feelings. When this issue was raised by Staton, it appears that the Board was unanimous in their indication that they'd vote to approve such a policy. The policy is due to be brought up at the 19 July meeting, so we'll see how their stance is when the chips are down.