Tuesday, February 09, 2016

On Eminent Domain, Trump is right, Bush and Rubio are wrong: just follow the political money in Florida to know why ... by gimleteye

In the final GOP debate before the NH primary, Jeb Bush attacked Donald Trump for his support of eminent domain, which allows governments to seize private lands for projects for the public good. A day later, Marco Rubio repeated Bush's complaint.
Interesting, because as attention turns past New Hampshire, Trump could use eminent domain against Bush and Rubio in Florida.

Right now, coastal residents -- in mostly Republican areas of the state -- are up in arms, furious that the value of coastal real estate worth billions is being trashed because Big Sugar has blocked the buyout by the state of lands adequate to the purpose of storing and cleansing its pollution.

It is the state's worst kept secret: Big Sugar counts on elected officials to continue shifting most of the cleanup costs away from its profit margin and to taxpayers and property owners on both Florida coasts.

Historic rainfalls -- as much as five times the average -- in the region have caused the state's liquid heart, Lake Okeechobee, to rise so fast and so high that the state and US Army Corps of Engineers have had to resort to the formula that benefits Big Sugar first and foremost by releasing hundreds of billions of heavily polluted water into Florida's estuaries and rivers as an escape valve.

There is a solution, and it is exactly what Trump supports in principle: eminent domain to provide desperately needed surface water storage and trap this excessive rainfall.
Solving the impasse both north and south of Lake Okeechobee could have been resolved decades ago through eminent domain. US Sugar in 2008 actually entered into a deal to sell its lands, but its competitor -- the billionaire Fanjuls -- hold key pieces of property and have been steadfast in their refusal to sell. In fact, the Fanjuls threw their complete support to Marco Rubio in his single victory to win a US Senate seat in 2010 because his opponent, Charlie Crist, had the temerity of starting the state down the road of buying sugar lands for flood control and cleansing marsh purposes.

Eminent domain is a frequent target of criticism from conservative and anti-government groups. Both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio toed Big Sugar's line: don't use eminent domain under any circumstance to solve "environmental" problems like the Everglades. Of course it is not just the Everglades that need help: there is the Miccosukee Tribe and property owners along the St. Lucie, the Indian River, the Caloosahatchee and any business owner whose livelihood depends on tourism.

Archival photo of water release from the Lake.
Eminent domain is controversial in Florida, thanks to the influence of major landowners like Big Sugar, dairy farmers, and land speculators. Florida’s Constitution recognizes a landowner should not be put in a worse position after a condemnation than before. Full compensation, as the Constitution requires, includes attorneys fees.

So, no crocodile tears are due if elected officials decided to use eminent domain in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Bush said in the debate, "What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong."

Here is what is downright wrong: that Jeb Bush as governor of Florida was too afraid of Big Sugar to do anything to alleviate the conditions that have rematerialized this winter in Lake Okeechobee watersheds and the disastrous disposal of hundreds of billions of gallons of polluted farm runoff into the St. Lucie River, Indian River and Caloosahatchee. Marco Rubio, when asked, points to his experience in the Florida legislature defending property rights. Neither will admit that their refusal to entertain the necessity of fixing the pollution crisis in Florida through eminent domain has cost taxpayers and the environment billions of dollars already.

Trump said that eminent domain was “a good thing” and was necessary to building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. “Certainly, it’s a necessity for our country." He was right. He added that the GOP supporters of Keystone Pipeline understand perfectly well that the pipeline they support could never be built without eminent domain.

As the GOP campaign focus turns to Florida, Trump should emphasize to voters the value of eminent domain and especially how both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio will not bite the sugary hand that feeds their ambition.


Anonymous said...

Florida politicians are cowards on eminent domain for environmental purposes. For seventy five years they sat on their hands and did nothing. Not just Republicans. Democrats, too.

Karen Esty said...

It's unfortunate that most politician do not recognize what the park really is: It's Everglades National Park". The word "National" is being forgotten. Everglades National Park is one of the United States most treasured wetlands in the park system and big business is treating it like a ask tray And our politicians are allowing it. Year, after year after year!- we taxpayers get the clean-up bill.

Gayle Ryan said...

Right now, coastal residents -- in mostly Republican areas of the state ????

Thank you for posting my event today but we are DEMOCRATS

thank you for your coverage

Mark said...

Trump is still wrong in the sense that he's comparing taking a woman's home to build a parking lot for his casino to an environmental issue to what you described. Trump wanted to use a form of eminent domain in Scotland for his golf course..not exactly a pressing public issue. Personally what I wish would happen is that Trumps properties in foreign countries are confiscated and he's only offered below market value and then we'll see how OK he is with government seizing private property

Anonymous said...