Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eminent Disdain

                There are times when I wonder if this is still America.
A nearby city, a suburb in a major metropolitan area, has announced that it is considering forcing 18 families to leave their homes in order for a road to be rebuilt. According to city officials, the newly re-done road would be wider, “prettier and friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists.”
                It certainly isn’t going to be friendlier to existing homeowners.
                “Prettier, too?”  And I was worried  these families might be evicted from their land for frivolous reasons! I’m always the skeptic.
                Some of these folks have lived in their houses since the 1950’s. Back then it was considered by many city folk to be on the edge of nowhere. Cornfields were visible. Now it’s an ‘inner ring’ suburb, more urban than suburban in many respects.
                Of course, the displaced families would get ‘replacement value’ for their properties. But how do you ‘replace’ the sweat equity, or put a value on  memories of  family gatherings, romantic nights, and playing ball with your kids in the back yard? According to several residents, “none of us want to move.”
                They may have to. In a matter of days the city council will vote on the plan to demolish those 18 homes. The road project is the culmination of years-long collaboration between the city, county and federal government. Nice to know the feds are involved in a plan to rebuild a 1-mile stretch of road in a small city in Anywhere, U.S.A. A road that I lived near or on for 13 years.
                Oh, well. Hit the bricks folks, and don’t let the door hit you on your behind on the way out.

                (The concept, and practice, of ‘eminent domain’ has been with us for many decades. Originally a limited power given only to the federal government, it has been expanded to include state and local governments, as well. The bar was set quite a bit higher for its usage in the past.
                Abuses abound in the modern era. This would be one of them).



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