In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 4, 2005 / 28 Tammuz, 5765

A citizen by force is not a true citizen

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On July 1, Oakland took possession of two properties that housed two viable businesses — Revelli Tires and Autohouse, which provided the livelihoods of John Revelli and Tony Fung — by eminent domain so that a private developer can build apartments in the redevelopment zone.

On Aug. 1, Oakland took possession a parking lot about one block away — on which owner Alex Hahn says he wants to build housing — so that Sears can relocate its Auto Center on that lot.

If you had to re-read the above paragraph, it is because this story makes no sense. Oakland, you see, is using government's supreme power — the ability to seize citizens' private property — so that bureaucrats can trade years of sweat and dreams as if they were property cards for a Monopoly game board. Except Oakland pols view all properties as if they are inexpensive purple ones, Baltic and Mediterranean.

"When my clients first contacted me with this story, I didn't believe them," wrote attorney Wallace Smith, who represents Hahn, in an e-mail to me. But it's true. Oakland used its big-gun power to take property for public use — and in this case, the public use was giving the land to Sears. Director of Redevelopment Dan Vanderpriem told the City Council in October that the city needed other land owned by Sears. In order to get it without exercising eminent domain, the city agreed to find a lot that would allow Sears to relocate its Auto Store within a block of the main store. So Oakland used eminent domain on Hahn.

Don't expect the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn this scheme. In June, the Big Bench issued a 5-4 ruling that affirmed government's right to treat economic development as a "public use" that would justify government takings (the Kelo case).

That decision sparked public outrage. Now, liberals and conservatives are working on state laws to limit "public use" to, well, public use — that is, roads, transit lines and other infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, Oakland is operating in the pre-Kelo era, when cities grabbed what they wanted and no one paid much attention. A tape of a November City Council meeting, before the council voted 6-1 to seize these properties, tells the story. Fung, Revelli and Hahn protested that the city didn't need to seize their land. (Oops, Vanderpriem doesn't like the word "seize.")

They don't believe the replacement projects — apartments built by another developer — qualify as public use. The Oakland Three also said they were not offered either enough money or a good relocation option. The City Council then voted 6-1 to take their property.

It's not for me to say whether the city offered a good deal or not. Be it noted, however, that because their properties aren't blighted, they should be able to say "no" to the city. And you have to figure these entrepreneurs would grab a good deal rather than pay private lawyers to fight the government's better-financed lawyers.

Former Oakland Councilman Danny Wan made a good point. He noted Oakland's strong interest in keeping Sears in Oakland. If Sears ever leaves Oakland, blight will move in, and everyone loses.

Then Wan scoffed at Fung, Hahn and Revelli for having benefited from redevelopment efforts. That's right, they risked their capital buying in downtown Oakland, then they made a profit — and for that they earned a city pol's contempt.

Councilman Larry Reid, the lone "no" vote, noted, "There is no public benefit for the taking of the Hahn's property other than to accommodate Sears." Reid added that if he were a judge, he'd likely rule against what Oakland redevelopers were doing. (Both sides agree that if this goes to court, legal bills will approach $200,000.) Reid also talked about what, as a student, he thought government should do: It was "our responsibility to make sure that those businesses" — those that exist, and might exist — "have a right to exist and to thrive."

Tell that to the rest of City Hall. Mayor Jerry Brown called me Wednesday to repeat his pledge to take care of the Oakland Three. The goal of these projects, he noted, isn't to throw people off their land, but to renew a blighted city. And: "We're helping little people get into a house."

Vanderpriem of the redevelopment agency struck the same note when he stressed, "We do everything we can to avoid using eminent domain. We have to work face-to-face with people for years."

Vanderpriem also told me that the city offered the Oakland Three $80 per square foot, which is $10 less per square foot than Sears got. Wallace said Sears can settle for $90 per square foot for because it will get Hahn's land — which is worth "substantially more" than the city offer.

For their part, city solons wonder if columns like mine will jack up the price of what the city has to pay to complete a project that is supposed to revitalize downtown Oakland.

Donate to JWR

Of course, if that happens, it will be in part because in the pre-Kelo world, the city failed to think about the rights of good citizens who don't want to sell. They didn't try to accommodate their own constituents as much as a private developer would have to bend to accommodate red-legged frogs and endangered snakes.

In the post-Kelo environment, governments are going to have to increase their respect for homeowners and business owners.

One redeveloper noted that redevelopment is a wonderful tool where cities take from a few people and make life better for everyone.

Another word for that scheme is: communism. In a free country, where individual rights are supposed to be paramount, a city can revitalize itself without seizing the land of dissenting law-abiding taxpayers.

And if it can't, it has no concept of what it means to represent citizens.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2005, Creators Syndicate