Thursday, February 24, 2005

Your home is your castle - until the city says it isn't

The U.S. Bill of Rights, written in the wake of abuses by British colonial officials, provides that property can't be taken for public use without just compensation. Historically, that meant private property could be taken to build a road, a school or other publicly owned facility - as long as a fair price was paid for it.

"Public use" was redefined as "public purpose" and later as "public benefit." Now that has been twisted to mean that real-estate promoters with enough political clout can get government to do the dirty work of running off middle-class home and business owners in the way of their plans promising higher property-tax revenues.

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