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October 2, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: On Sept. 29 the House approved a bill that
can only be described as a direct attack on local community land
control. The bill was heavily promoted by the many corporate
interests that make up the sprawl industry, particularly home
builders, land speculators and sprawl developers.]

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

An amazing 37 House Democraps voted in favor of HR 4772 Private
Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 that passed on September
29. Considering the many other toxic political events, this little gem
of our MISrepresentatives serving corporate interests received little
attention. In a nutshell, the legislation serves corporate interests
with significant financial resources who are unhappy with unfavorable
local zoning decisions. The bill allows them to strong-arm local
governments that cannot afford to litigate every zoning decision in
federal courts.

By the way, 27 Republicrooks voted against the bill. And the bill
would have passed anyway without the support of the Democraps. There
simply is no logical explanation for voting for the bill other than to
please corporate interests.

Jerry Howard, executive vice president and chief executive officer of
the National Association of Home Builders said: "We commend House
Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for bringing this bill to a vote
and Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) for bringing it out of the
House Judiciary Committee. I want to thank Representatives Steve
Chabot (R-Ohio) and Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) for introducing the measure
and helping to bring strong bipartisan support."

The bill is a direct attack on local community land control. It was
desired by many corporate interests that make up the sprawl industry,
particularly home builders, land speculators and sprawl developers.
The bill is aimed at making it difficult for municipalities and zoning
boards to control large developments or enforce their environmental or
safety regulations.

The Congressional Budget Office said that it would likely impose
additional costs on the federal government by increasing both the
number of cases heard by federal courts and the number of claims
brought against the United States.

Corporate interests have been hurt by the national smart growth
movement and the attack on uncontrolled suburban sprawl. They want
federal courts to rule. Whatever happened to minimizing the role of
the federal government among Republicrooks? The bill would prohibit a
federal district court from refusing to hear claims of takings by
states and localities until a final decision has been rendered by a
state court. The bill also would make other changes to existing law
applicable to takings claims, such as defining "final decision" for
the claims, thereby relaxing the standards by which such claims are
found ripe for adjudication in federal district courts or in the U.S.
Court of Federal Claims. This is legalese for saying that corporate
interests could bypass local and state authorities.

Word is that the Senate will not consider the bill this term. But who
knows what tricks the Senate Republicrooks might pull. House Democrap
Jerrold Nadler said: ""Nobody's going to be able to go to their local
zoning board and complain. They'll have to go to the Supreme Court,
which won't have time for them."

The Sacramento Bee editorialized: "Courts no longer would be able to
look at the 100-acre parcel as a whole, but would have to look at each
lot. So, local government would have to pay developers not to build on
every inch in the 100-acre parcel. Taxpayers would pick up the tab for
this extortion. If developers didn't get what they wanted from local
zoning boards, they'd be able to bypass state courts and go to federal
court. Judge Frank Easterbrook, a Reagan appointee in the 7th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, dismissed such special pleading in a 1994
case. 'Federal courts are not boards of zoning appeals,' he wrote.
Those who 'neglect or disdain' their state remedies should be thrown
out of court, period."

So if you care about sprawl and local government authority -- and
corporate corruption of our government -- pay attention to this
corporate attempt to screw we the people. Even if the Senate does not
consider it this term, watch out for what happens in the next

Author's Website: www.delusionaldemocracy.com

Authors Bio: Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy
- Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. His current
political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior
staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the National Governors
Association. He advocates a Second American Revolution.