Here is a story of eminent domain abuse that has gone on far too long, but which only now is getting adequate media attention, and it took a national news organization to help shine the light on it. The story concerns Bob Wilson, of Norfolk, who owns Central Radio, a 50-year-old business that supplies communications equipment to the U.S. Navy. It is an incredibly successful business that employs 100 people in high paying, highly skilled jobs. But the city of Norfolk wants to take his property and give it to a developer to put to do who-knows-what but something the central planners believe will be “better” for the community because they know best.
Even if this in and of itself was not morally repugnant, his contract with the Navy requires his facility to be within a certain radius of the base. There isn’t adequate property that meets his contract’s requirements within the price range the city is willing to pay him. Effectively, if the city is successful in taking his hard-earned land it will put him out of business. The fact is, if a city or county wants to build a solid environment for economic development, it should respect property rights. Nothing more will establish economic growth than the security of knowing that a large investment will be protected.
More curious is the local government’s response that the proposed constitutional amendment will “increase taxes.” Sure, if they vote to do so. But no one is holding a gun to their heads. But the thinking by local governments, which use our tax money to lobby against or rights, is that paying someone for the worth of their land and lost profit and access, instead of on the cheap, is an expense rather than the a moral obligation to its citizens, demonstrates their thinking that citizens should serve government and that all we have and earn should always be available to government. The tax argument is an extremely arrogant threat that treats citizens as subjects rather than the sovereign. Fox News Channel reports:
This is one in a series of abuse cases we will highlight that make clear the case for the constitutional amendment to restrict eminent domain this November. It will be question one on the ballot.