Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eminent domain extortion

Radley Balko describes an outrageous case of eminent domain extortion in Port Chester, NY:

With the blessing of officials from the Village of Port Chester, the Village's chosen developer approached [entrepreneur Bart] Didden and his partner with an offer they couldn't refuse. Because Didden planned to build a CVS on his property--land the developer coveted for a Walgreens--the developer demanded $800,000 from Didden to make him "go away" or ordered Didden to give him an unearned 50 percent stake in the CVS development. If Didden refused, the developer would have the Village of Port Chester condemn the land for his private use. Didden rejected the bold-faced extortion. The very next day the Village of Port Chester condemned Didden's property through eminent domain so it could hand it over to the developer who made the threat.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this extortion under last year's Kelo eminent domain decision. The court ruled that because this is taking place in a "redevelopment zone" they couldn't stop what the Village is doing.

The case will be considered for review by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 5, 2007, and Didden's side is being supported by the Institute for Justice.

By the way, if you are considering any last minute end-of-year charitable donations, I highly recommend giving support to the Institute for Justice. They have received 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator for five years straight, they regularly win critical civil liberties cases in the courts, they do a great job of keeping donors informed of what is being done with their money, they don't continually pester you for more, and they have a strong record of acting in a principled manner. IJ holds regular entrepreneurship workshops, and operates state chapters in Arizona (the first IJ state chapter), Minnesota, and Washington.

No comments: