LA: More Eminent Domain Corruption

Despite the loud public outcry against the use of eminent domain where one business is favored over another, local governments continue to strip individuals and businesses of their assets. From the LA Times:

A year after Los Angeles seized three acres from a private company to construct a public building, a city councilman wants to sell the land to another private firm for a commercial development.

Both companies are furniture manufacturers. But executives with the company that would buy the land have political connections and have made $17,600 in campaign contributions to key city leaders.

Critics of the proposal say it’s wrong for the city to use its power of eminent domain to take property from one business for a public purpose and then sell it to another business.

“It strikes me as an extraordinarily blatant abuse of eminent domain,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

While the city already owned suitable property a block away, they decided to steal anyway:

Under the deal proposed by [Councilman Bernard C.] Parks, Cisco Bros., a furniture design and manufacturing firm, would acquire the site in the 5900 block of South Western Avenue to expand the adjacent L.A. Design Center. The animal shelter would be built a block away on city-owned land at 6000 S. St. Andrews Place.

It is now anticipated that the city council will take up a motion to make the switch from an animal shelter to the new furniture factory on January 24.

One councilperson seems to have some concerns about the taxpayers:

“I really do feel uncomfortable about it,” said James W. Odom, a member of an oversight committee set up by the city to make sure it properly spends the money from its animal shelter bond issue

If the city decides to change the property’s use, Odom said, he will fight to make sure the animal shelter bond money is paid back.

“That’s my taxpayer money,” he said.

To prove he is no hypocrite pertaining to property rights, Odom will also have to advocate full compensation to Vaughan Benz (the original property owner), as well.

The moral of this story is that if you want to steal someone’s land, simply make a few campaign contributions to the right players.

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