OpEdNews.com, 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 congress.

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.