The Takings Trap: Kelo and Oregon's Measure 37

Exploiting the unpopular Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court decision, far-right ideologues are pushing a number of nearly identical ballot measures in dozens of states across the country as reforms to "protect our homes." The backers claim that their efforts will prevent big corporations from using eminent domain to seize people's homes. In reality, these faux populist measures -- backed almost entirely by one rich New York City developer -- will leave cities and counties powerless to protect the environment and strengthen communities in the face of sprawl development.

Undoubtedly, there have been abuses of eminent domain, but that doesn't mean commonsense reforms should be a vehicle for right-wing ideologues to eviscerate local citizens' power to rein in sprawl and encourage community revitalization. Sadly, that's exactly what's going on - the debate over Kelo has been hijacked by rightwing campaigns, backed almost entirely by one wealthy right-wing billionaire, that are designed to benefit fat cat developers at the expense of local citizens' right to govern their own communities.

But the rightwing campaign doesn't stop with restricting eminent domain, but includes a Trojan horse, additional anti-environmental provisions smuggled into ballot initiatives under the guise of "Kelo reform." Modeled on Oregon's disastrous Measure 37 (and model legislation from ALEC), these proposals play directly into the hands of large developers, while claiming to be populist proposals to fight the "special interests" ”“ special interests that are cynically funding these exact ballot measures.

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