Eminent domain is supposed to be used for the greater good, such as when a building is falling down and endangering people but the owner refuses to take care of the problem, or when a road is needed and there’s no choice but to take out buildings that stand in the way.
It’s not supposed to be used to bulldoze an auto repair business to make room for an art gallery.St. Louis is rife with stories about homes and small businesses being bulldozed to make way for Lowes and other big-box stores. Never mind the Missouri Constitution prohibits seizure of private land for private use. In St. Louis and its suburbs, we never let laws stand in the way of progress.
Republicans love it because they love big business, and Democrats love it because they see tax dollars. It’s ridiculous. People came to the United States from Europe because you couldn’t buy land unless you already had land and money. Now, unless you have a certain amount of land and money, it’s getting to be difficult to hold on to what you have (and don’t expect to get a fair price for it either).
Now we have a former mayor, Vincent Schoemel, deciding that the city needs an arts district, and Jim Day’s independent garage, which has stood there for 20 years, making a profit, paying taxes, and serving its neighbors, stands in the way. A year and a half ago he was offered $125,000 to sell out. He declined. That’s a generous offer for the land but it’s not enough to allow him to relocate his business.
Two months later, he received a counter-offer, which is still on the table: $67,500, which is nearly $13,000 less than the city says his land is worth.
Sometimes Schoemel only offers $1.
When the mafia does things like this, it’s called extortion. But when Schoemel does this, it’s called progress. That’s funny. I don’t see any difference.
Let’s give Schoemel a dollar to slither back under a rock and stay there.