Whose eminent domain is it anyway?

k streetSo if you’re a registered voter you’ve probably received your pamphlet for the upcoming June 3 primary election. First of all, they probably should have come up with a better name than “primary election,” it’s so played out, what with the other primary election we had less than 90 days ago. (Sure fine, one was a presidential primary and this one is statewide.) But more importantly, your pamphlet for this election contains 2 things: Propositions 98 and 99. Which — without boring you by actually doing any research into the props — are for all practical purposes opposing pieces of legislation. Both descriptions contain language to the effect that if this one passes the other one most likely won’t take effect. This is where things get interesting.

It strikes me that this is quite possibly the most Titanically absurd ballot in the history of democracy. Sure, there is the much-discussed mayoral race, and a bunch of other state and local races. (Many of which have one candidate running unopposed.) But these propositions concern the same topic, Eminent Domain, and each for all practical purposes cancels the other one out.

I am told that Prop 98 is pure evil, the dream of the eeevil developers and their stinking money and backed by a shadowy multi-national corporation or somesuch, and that Prop 99 is sort of a lesser evil that exists merely to prevent Prop 98’s evil from killing us all. One wonders why the folks behind Prop 99 bypassed the much easier and probably more effective tactic of just putting money into getting people to vote down Prop 98. Oh, I’m sure there’s some boring reason.

This is a weird topic for sure, because next to Free Speech nothing is as sacrosanct as voting rights in a liberal democracy such as ours. So I suppose it is only the irresponsible contrarian in me who thinks that this whole initiatives business in California is getting ridiculous. WTF is your average, relatively plugged in, not-really-enough-time to research topics that aren’t life-or-death like eminent domain voter to do with these 2 pieces of legislative crap that have arrived in the mail?

Well, the answer is obvious: No on both. Send them a message, stick your bullshit double reverse initiatives where the sun don’t shine. However, I wouldn’t be CoolDMZ if I didn’t offer you a more daring alternative…

Vote yes on both of them. Show those bastards (whoever they are) that we see their crap and raise them a big fat pile of disinterest. Why? Because screw them, that’s why. I think this Prop 98 and 99 fiasco makes it transparent that the initiatives process in CA is not about what the people want. Maybe it was at some point. But this is literally just 2 “special interests” (not my favorite term) fighting each other to force us to choose which one we like better. Do we want to bar state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property for private uses (98) or would we rather bar state and local governments from using eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence, as defined, for conveyance to a private person or business entity (the other one)? The pro and con arguments in the voter guide, and their corresponding rebuttals, are hilariously written by the same matrix of folks.

Both!! Do it! Now!! Vote yes on both! Yay Democracy!!

Note to potential commenters: I think it is pretty obvious that I do not have the interest level required to actually read and determine what these props do. I know the proposals are different but: I just don’t. Care. So please, I am leaving myself open to being called an uninformed clod, and I urge you to confine your responses to helping me make sense of this ridiculous ballot.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

20 thoughts on “Whose eminent domain is it anyway?”

  1. The only initiative I will support is the one to end initiatives. The process has gotten completely out of control.


  2. You’ve left out how Prop 98 also does a lovely job of phasing out rent control. Which, I’m assuming some people want/need to keep. Also, as I understand it Arnold is anti 98 and pro 99 because there’s a dam he wants to build somewhere, and 99 lets him build it while 98 doesn’t.

    And, I’m with Jennyo on the issue of initiatives. I don’t like that bills are passed, so that one small group on the other side of the state can get their way on some issue, but then there are far reaching consequences for everyone else.


  3. This is one issue I would urge people to vote on, though I generally agree with jennyo regarding the problems with initiatives. Prop 98 could be the next prop 13 in terms of impact on local governments–and prop 99 is sponsored by local govt associations, btw. Depending on your opinion of the effects of prop 13, you may want to register an informed vote. I would vote no on both before allowing 98 even a glimmer of hope of surviving.

    Incidentally, the legislature couldn’t get its act together to put its own eminent domain reform package together. Which may or may not give support to the idea that we ought to consider redistricting reform. Which was, of course, an initiative in a past election.


  4. Personally, I think a better way to demonstrate the “screw initiatives” mentality is to vote NO on them all.

    Prop 98 is a government nightmare waiting to happen. Take a look at the effects of a similar measure passed in Oregon, it has cost the state billions of dollars. And that’s just little Oregon, the impacts in California would be enormous.


  5. My brother in law is an Australian citizen and he has to pay a fee if he does not vote..wonder how that would go over in the US. Or has that been tried and deemed bad and evil.


  6. By virtue of odd language in the the state constitution (Article 47, Section XCVI, subsection 4.D.1(f)), if competeing and incompatable props both win, everyone in California gets a new Hummer and a lifetime supply of gas. But they can only park the Hummer on the Capital’s grass, or in Lake Tahoe. Weird the way govt works…

    Voting is a right, not a mandate. Or do you want eveyone to also own a gun? Maybe if you make qualifying for voting harder, more people will want to, and actually do it.


  7. Voting is not a right, it’s a responsibility. Many countries – actual direct democracies like Australia and New Zealand among them – fine folks who don’t vote.

    Of course, that does have the end result of a lot of folks writing in Mickey Mouse or what-have-you…


  8. Where in the world did anyone get the idea that “voting” is a responsability? Any more than owning a gun is a responsability? And when you are able to “select” between… I dunno, a douche and a turd, why should anyone vote? What about the option to vote, but when you honestly don’t understand the issue?

    “Voting” as envisioned by the Framers was restricted to people who 1) had a direct interest (usually determined by holding land within the state*, or by being taxed on an issue), and 2) were thought to have the ability to make decisions balancing the wants of the individual with the needs of the state*. The reason: You don’t want everyone voting themselves a new horse and buggy.

    So before claiming that “everyone should vote”- please tell me why it is inherently “good” that everyone gets a vote? Even the insane? Even those who don’t want to earn a living, and are content to live off the public dole?

    * “State” meaning the governmental entity.


  9. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Owning a firearm is a right–but consequent to that right is the responsibility of not misusing it, and serious consequences for those who misuse it. Similarly, freedom of speech is a right, but that’s also a right that can be misused, in the form of slander and libel. The point is that the citizen has the power, not the government, to decide. In an environment of freedom, people learn both their rights and their responsibilities, rather than having the powers that be decide for them.

    “Voting” as envisioned by the Framers was also restricted to people who were white and male. Certainly even Turty Squirp would agree that the right to vote shouldn’t be restricted that much!

    The right to vote carries the responsibility of carrying some of the burden of decisions of state. Everyone who lives in this country has a stake in how it is run–not just those who own real estate, have reduced melanin, or have Y chromosomes–so everyone should have a voice.

    As far as votes for the insane and those who live off the public dole, yes, I think that even oilmen and Halliburton employees should have a vote. Despite the fact that they’ve voted themselves some pretty swanky horse and buggies.


  10. My 6 year old was thrilled to read your analysis, and is literally bouncing in her chair awaiting implementation of your well-conceived plan.


  11. Stickie, jlt, wburg et al: Make sure you read the sentence where I suggested voting No on both and not just the funny part where I said you should vote Yes on both.

    However I should note it is only funny in the sense that it is perfectly reasonable. I still might actually do it. 🙂


  12. CoolDMZ: Your snark is acknowledged, sir, and ignored.

    Prop. 99 is a “poison pill” initiative to stop Prop. 99 should it pass, so by voting “yes” on both you’re actually voting “yes” for 99. This happens once in a while, because often it is a more successful strategy than simply contributing to the “Vote No on the Dumbass Initiative” fund. Why do they do it? Because it works!

    There are also some important differences between 98 and 99, such as the fact that Prop. 98 would end rent-controlled housing in California.

    From http://www.sftu.org/ :

    Proposition 98 on the June ballot is disguised as a measure to reform eminent domain laws. The measure’s real target, though, is rent control. It would repeal and ban any rent control, as well as other measures promoting affordable housing such as inclusionary affordable housing laws. The competing measure to save rent control–Proposition 99–lets voters choose real eminent domain reform, without any hidden agenda like rent control repeal. Proposition 99 also takes the eminent domain reform issue away from right-wing groups, which have been trying to use the eminent domain reform issue as a mask to attack consumer and environmental regulations. Plus Prop 99 has a poison pill, invalidating the rent control repeal measure if 99 wins.


  13. Also the Voter Information Guide says about Prop 98 that

    If this measure were approved by more votes than Proposition 99, the provisions of Proposition 99 probably would not take effect.

    So you probably want to look into that.


  14. Is there a proposition that makes Mo Mohanna go away? Maybe one that trades him a Death Valley ghost town for all his property on K Street? I mean, ghost towns need EXACTLY the kind of redevelopment Mo specializes in. That’s the prop I want to vote for.

    Sorry if the Mo discussion is either passé or verboten. I don’t stop by very often, and you *did* put a picture of his lovely redevelopment work on this post.


  15. Mo’s Law, I like it.

    Alls I know is I hope you all look carefully at the text of Prop 99 (http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/06/03/ca/state/prop/99/#text) and don’t just believe what renters groups tell you. For example here is one of the changes the Prop would make to the state Constitution

    Private property may be taken or damaged for a public use *and only* when just compensation … has first been paid to … the owner.

    “And only”?? WTF? That is terrible. At best, it is shitty writing, and at worst it is a sleeper cell that turns into a loophole later.

    Also– I’m not the best at deciphering legalese but the rest of the changes to the Constitution seem like they will actually make it easier for the state to use eminent domain because they mostly insert conditions into the original, which is pretty succinct language. Also it introduces language that could be construed to mean that the state is only prohibited from seizing owner-occupied properties, i.e. small business is fair game.

    Read it yourself and tell me if I’m wrong. It just sounds like a convenient way to get eminent domain rules rewritten the way a certain group wants them, by taking advantage of the confusion.


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