It’s been one year since the Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo decision, and it looks to be about one week until we have certification of the million signatures submitted in California to qualify our own November “court hearing” on the matter.
The signatures are coming in at about 79% valid, according to Assemblywoman Mimi Walters’ office, signaling a nice cushion over the nearly 600,000 needed for qualification.
Walters, of course, as a first-term Orange County legislator, had the smarts to become the honorary chair of the Protect Our Homes Initiative, California’s response to the Supreme’s astounding decision to tell all of us that government knows better than we what is best for our property. Heading up an effort, by the way, that raises $2.2 million and garners a million signers in 100 days will do something for a career, more so than the stature a few pieces of legislation will typically get you as a minority member. Coincidence perhaps, but the Democratic Party couldn’t even raise a suicide candidate to take her on in her re-election bid, and the Libertarian candidate actually signed Mimi’s nomination form (it wasn’t counted, of course).
“The Supreme Court’s decision was a monumental blow to the protections we enjoy as homeowners,” Walters said yesterday, marking the one year anniversary of Kelo. “If a property can be taken from one person only to be given to another more powerful person, every homeowner is vulnerable. The right to own your own home and not have it taken from you should not be limited to the few, powerful elite.”
Well said. Mimi’s personal success on this issue aside, there’s nothing like keeping the momentum alive as we start the Summer and head toward the Fall of our discontent over eminent domain. So, what are the prospects for success in November? Will Californians tell the Supreme Court we want to write our own destiny when it comes to the taking of private property, and that starts with individuals making decisions for themselves, instead of the government doing so?
If June 6 was any indication, the prospects are good. Measure A, prohibiting Orange County “from exercising the power of eminent domain to acquire property from a private owner, without that owner’s consent” just squeaked by with a whopping 76 percent yes vote. A similar ordinance in the much less conservative Chula Vista, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, passed with nearly 74 percent.
The bottom line is that folks may not recognize the name “Kelo vs. New London” without being reminded, but they do know the power of government scares the heck out of ‘em. Their property – our property – is quite simply the last bastion of protected space that we ever thought some bureaucrat or politician could reasonably get their claws on. That simple belief goes across the grain, across beliefs and philosophies, across the partisan divide.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t see a Democratic legislator who would vote against this kind of thing in committee (such as with Walters’ AB 590 and AB 1990, both failed on the same 2-5 line-up in Housing and Community Development) actually leading a charge against an initiative, certainly not without being under the usual cover of darkness afforded by Sacramento. And, rest assured, the Phil Angelides camp is ruing the prospects of Protect Our Homes being on the November ballot.
Yet, some of the usual suspects did oppose the legislation – and likely will the initiative: American Planning Association, California Redevelopment Association, Western Center on Law and Poverty, League of California Cities, and cities like Los Angeles. Remaining to be seen are what kinds of resources will be put together by planning, redevelopment, city interests and self-anointed do-gooders in general to oppose the initiative. Any of them will be fighting quite a battle against Americans for Limited Government and other private property advocates.
Lastly, what of Arnold? Has he been quiet on the matter, too quiet, even if he may be in support? As Dan Schnur so aptly penned in March, "protecting property owners against the intrusion of local government is ideologically consistent with the populist/reformer image that he rode to the governor’s office in 2003. We haven’t seen much of Arnold the Outsider lately. Walters may be providing him with an opportunity to reclaim that mantle."
Even with many Democrats likely supporting a November Protect Our Homes ballot measure, Arnold’s support for such an effort won’t be enough to convince them of anything besides Angelides. Yet, the governor’s strong support would do something to energize a disillusioned base and swing a number of Independents. Even Libertarians – perhaps like the candidate who sees a good thing in Mimi Walters – know enough not to throw away their vote when a Republican is actually standing for something.
So, Governor Schwarzenegger, let’s stand for this.
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The Protect Our Homes Initiative would prohibit local governments from abusing eminent domain to take a private landowner’s property only to sell it to another private entity. To find out more about the Protect Our Homes Initiative, please visit: www.ProtectOurHomes2006.com
Other FR Posts on the Issue:
The Problem with Kelo, by Jennifer Nelson
This Land Was Your Land, This Land Is My Land, by Jennifer Nelson
Keep government away from your land, by Congressman John Campbell
Imminent Dumbing, by Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa
Protect Our Homes Coalition to turn in 1,000,000 signatures around CA today!, by Jon Fleischman
Halleluiah! Salvation for Long Beach Church Has Arrived, by Mike Spence
Mimi Walters Spearheading Eminent Domain Initiative for November 2006 Ballot, by Matthew Cunningham
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