Agenda Highlights: Don’t Get Taken On Election Day

AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS

#7 Consent Item: Eminent Domain

This item concerns the resolution of eminent domain litigation in Lawton. The location the city is trying to take using eminent domain looks like a strip of 38th just off the road for the purpose of widening it. Here’s the definition of eminent domain, for any who need it – via Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

 “a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction”

 
This litigation began in 2010 and is only unresolved because K-Mart has not accepted the city’s offer of $12k for their part of the property. Indeed, the city has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the numerous property owners involved in this case, but for some reason K-Mart is holding out.
 

THE PROBLEM WITH THIS

I see two main issues here. First, as we recently saw, our city has many drainage/sewage issues that need to be taken care of before worrying about new roads or additions. Plus any general repair needed on the many roads already in use.
 
Second, eminent domain is a horrible legal construct. No government should be able to force individual property owners off any part of their land just because they want to build something. It doesn’t matter what they want to build. It could be necessary infrastructure, it could be a carousel – it doesn’t matter, it’s not a right of government to steal land, nor should government consider itself a property owner.  All the power they have we gave them, and I doubt we handed it over with foolishness like eminent domain in mind.

#27, 28 New Business Items: More Regulations on the Food Service Industry

These two tandem items work to regulate the food trucks that are popping up around town, or any mobile food service.  The state already has regulations for this (because our state legislators get to work full time spreading the misery, perhaps?), and these items in part adopt that language within our city limits.  That alone probably changes nothing for food truck owners, except that perhaps when the law was just a state law, it’s enforcement might have been infrequent.  But this act also intercepts the money paid into these fees/permits for the city government, where it would have gone to the state government before.

My two cents, let people alone.  When someone wants to start a business, let them work out the details voluntarily with any parties concerned.  The government has no claim to their money.  If they screw up their business will suffer, but let them try.  Our council has repeatedly stated how vital it is that we attract commerce, yet consistently vote to add more regulations.

Right now any kind of food service business has to pay for a permit from the city, a food license from the health department, a food handler’s permit for each employee, and if you sell food you don’t prepare in the truck, you need an identification badge that comes with a background check (this applies mainly to icecream trucks right now, I’m sure you can understand why).  All these fees add up, and I have to ask – are they necessary?  Don’t restaurants have the biggest motivation for staying clean and providing good service?

What about the effectiveness of such regulations?

We all know places in town that make people sick, even if just a little, but often enough to have a reputation.  I used to love China Wok!  My family would grab food there often.  I saw a mouse running along the floor in the back one time, and I didn’t care.  It didn’t mean they were cooking and serving mice, and I liked the food.  I finally stopped going, but only after recognizing that my stomach was messed up every time I ate that food.  They did and still have all those permits, but the city hasn’t caught them using that old produce yet (my suspicion only), because government can’t enforce every law they make.  They can’t enforce any of them all the time, and that should make us question this habit of writing laws in response to every little problem that arises in society, or in some cases problems that haven’t come up but could.

What if instead of hampering business or simply mirroring every unnecessary law the state dreams up, our city council actually protected local businesses from those government controls so that commerce could flourish?  Let the market, or in other words, us, punish badly managed businesses by spending our money elsewhere.  If someone is harmed by a product or service, which happens even in a highly regulated environment, they can sue for damages.  There’s no reason the government should be getting all this money from productive members of society (or anyone at all).


#29,30 New Business Items: More Regulations on Individual Residents

These two items work in tandem to regulate where and how long people park their larger commercial and recreational vehicles.  You will be able to buy a permit to park your vehicle in your driveway or curb, but only temporarily.  If you happened to have spent money on a driveway improvement specifically for the purpose of parking such a vehicle, you can get a permit that lasts until you move or the house transfers ownership (like you passing it to your children when you die, who will then have to find somewhere else to park said vehicle).

This could dramatically impact the lives of people like landscapers, delivery drivers, and others who, after a long work day will have to find somewhere other than home to store their commercial vehicles.  This will essentially subsidize the storage businesses capable of handling these vehicles.  It will also likely suppress the rate at which businesses who sell recreational vehicles make sales.  But the bottom line is this….

Is it any of the governments business what you put in your driveway?  Property aesthetics and subsequent values should not trump property rights, and neighbors are entirely capable to solving disputes between themselves without the force of government coming to bear on peaceful folk.

About the Author

JWDRhymes

Grew up in Jackson, MS. Moved to Lawton in ’92, went to Tomlinson, then Lawton High, then back to Mississippi for some community college. Finished a degree in politics, economics and philosophy back in ’05ish. Haven’t used it since.

There’s much more to anyone’s story, of course, but for that you’ll have to ask.

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