Friday, September 16, 2005

The lesser of two evils

St. Paul is about to close down the last adult video arcade in the city. It is doing so thanks to the Kelo decision. The arcade and adjoining liquor store were not well liked by the city fathers, who wanted to clean up that corner of the city. The arcade and liquor store had followed city codes and rules, though, making it tough for the city to shut down. The arcade owner was set to sell the property & liquor license for well above the value of the real estate, but that wasn't enough control for St. Paul. They have voted to condemn the property so another company can build a 21,000-square-foot retail establishment in its place.

As much as I hate to say it, the adult video arcade is the lesser of two evils here. This is how municipalities can succesfully create cover for actions made possible for them by the Kelo decision. Start by condemning something that the public will not be upset by, in this case a seedy adult establishment, and then turn it over to the commercial entity of your choice. Then when you want to condemn a neighborhood in the future to allow a company to build a mall or some corporate offices, you have people right where you want them. Because they did not stand up for the guy who owned the dirty movie store, the property owners of the city have just weakened themselves against future land grabs. I expect to see more cities gradually expand their new eminent domain powers in this way.

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