Missouri Citizens for Property Rights seeks to restore constitutional protection against private use eminent domain.

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Missouri Citizens for
Property Rights

33867 Highway E
Dixon, MO 65459
(573) 759-3585

info@mo-cpr.org

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Donate online or mail your check today to the MO-CPR Treasurer:
MO-CPR c/o Richard Westbrook, CPA
749 Driskill Drive
Richmond, MO 64085


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We will soon be circulating the petition again.

ESSAYS Please Read These!
Read about the historical perspective of American Property rights. (click here)

How should we deal with “blight”? (click here)

Private use eminent domain is one of many types of "corporate welfare". Read about Missouri cases of eminent domain abuse and other corporate welfare in the Show-Me Institute's policy studies. Here.

Sun Set Hills
VIdeo: Sunset HIlls still reeling 5 years later.

Donations are NOT tax deductible
Donate online or mail your check today to:
MO-CPR c/o Richard Westbrook, CPA
749 Driskill Drive
Richmond, MO 64085

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson

Endorsements

The Heritage Foundation
“I endorse the worthy and valuable principals of the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights' proposed constitutional amendment to better protect property rights, and I support the enactment of any proposal like it that prevents abuses of traditional eminent domain powers and provides safeguards against the confiscation of private property for other private uses.” -
Todd Gaziano, Director, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies The Heritage Foundation

Property Rights Alliance
Property Rights Alliance (PRA) commends Missouri Citizens for Property Rights for their efforts to protect private property in the state of Missouri. With the threat of eminent domain abuse looming at the state and national level, it is imperative that organizations and activists work together to protect property owners and small business enterprises from government’s grasp. PRA applauds the work of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights and supports its continued efforts to protect the Missourian property owner.” -Scott A. LaGanga, Executive Director of Property Rights Alliance (PRA)

Reason Foundation
I have looked at a lot of legislation and efforts around the country to limit eminent domain abuse. Most of them are laudable. But the effort of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights stands out from the crowd. Not only are they meticulous about changing the law to confine eminent domain to true public uses, they put real effort into discussing alternatives to eminent domain for cities dealing with blight and economic development challenges. I am impressed by how they combine a hard line on property rights with an effort to address the public policy consequences.“ Dr. Adrian Moore, Vice President, Reason Foundation (Blog)

American Policy Center
The threat to private property is real. Since the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo VS New London, no home is secure. As the battle rages across the country, two approaches have emerged: those who try to appease, consequently doing little for property owner's protection -- and those who are serious about protecting private property from the ravages of Eminent Domain. The effort by the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights takes the no-compromising stand and gets it right.” Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center

The Rutherford Institute
"I commend the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights in their work to protect the rights of private property owners. This is essential legislation and should be used in other states to ensure that what happened in Connecticut by way of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo decision does not happen again."--
John W. Whitehead, President, The Rutherford Institute

The Claremont Institute
Our government officials seem to have lost their way. The primary purpose of government is supposed to be the protection of the inalienable rights of its citizens, including the right to own property, yet all too frequently planning department bureaucrats, with the sanction of both elected officials and courts, view their role as implementing some communitarian ideal, trampling individual rights for what these bureaucrats believe to be the common good. I therefore applaud the efforts of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights
to reinvigorate the protection of private property that the Missouri Constitution has historically afforded, amending the constitution to forestall erroneous interpretations of the long-standing provisions. The restoration of property rights as one of our fundamental rights, deserving protection against tyrannical majorities for all but the most compelling of public use reasons, is an important battle, and I wish you much success.” - John Eastman, Director, The Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and Professor of Law, Chapman University School of Law

Missouri Property Rights -

Defenders of Property Rights-
“Defenders of Property Rights applauds the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights for their effort to restore the traditional, constitutional principles of property rights in the state of Missouri. Considering the recent tragic results of eminent domain abuse, it is essential that organization’s collaborative efforts work towards returning eminent domain to its appropriate use and prevent private property owners from more unjust takings. Defenders of Property Rights commends the determination of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights in defending property rights and will continue to support their efforts to minimize the victimization of Missourian private property owners as a result of eminent domain abuse.” –
Nancie Marzulla, President, Defenders of Property Rights

MEDAC (Missouri Eminent Domain Abuse – Coalition)

Concerned Citizens for Family Farms and Heritage, Doug McDaniel President-

The O’Fallon Old Town Preservation Committee
The O’Fallon Old Town Preservation Committee is proud to endorse the Missouri Constitutional Amendments proposed by the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights.”

New Life Evangelistic Center

Concerned Women for America

 

Its time to stop Eminent Domain for Private Gain in Missouri!

INITIATIVE PETITION
to
AMEND the MISSOURI CONSTITUTION!

"The MO-CPR amendments will provide very solid protection to Missouri home and small business owners against outrageous and un-American takings for the benefit of private developments and their political allies."
(Scott Bullock, Mrs. Kelo's lawyer in the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London)

Court Rules in Favor of
Missouri Citizens for Property Rights!

Jefferson City, MO Wednesday, April 20, 2011: Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Green ruled in favor of Missouri Citizens for Property Right's position in the challenge to our eminent domain initiative petition ballot titles.

The judge gave us everything we wanted, including a bench decision. That means he ruled on the spot without taking the typical weeks to hand down a decision.

It was clear that the judge saw how our rights were being abused through misuse of the courts. At one point he even commented, “So Mr. Calzone is the only one here not being paid by government.”

The plaintiffs in the court challenge are headed up by the Missouri Municipal League, an organization funded by dues from towns and cities across the state – dues from taxpayers' pocket books.

As you may recall, the Secretary of State purposely added language different than that which was ordered by the appeals court in our last ballot title challenge. Those six extra words gave the Missouri Municipal League an additional excuse to litigate – it was a malicious act by someone who is supposed to be a public servant and I'm sure the judge saw it that way.

The taxpayers are paying for the litigation being used to keep them from the opportunity to vote to stop the abuse of government eminent domain power!

MML now has ten days to appeal the case to the Western Court of Appeals. I'm confident they will. I am also confident that we will be able to shorten the appeal process even more than we did the circuit court, since we can easily make the case that this is simply a rehash of our court case from 2010.

Stay tuned, we are getting closer to putting petitions on the street!

LEGISLTIVE EFFORTS
For the last four session of the Missouri legislature, we have been fighting to fix some basic problems with the petition process in Missouri.

At first we were fighting against bills that would result in making petitions a tool only available to those with deep pockets at best or even no one at all, but the last couple of years we have been able to go on the offensive, with legislation that would level the playing field – particularly by limiting the length of time a petition can be tied up in court.

Controversy over Proposition B (dog breeders) has killed any positive developments and may even put us back on the defensive. We will continue to fight to protect the People's constitutional right to petition their government for a redress of grievances – your help is always appreciated!


Hre

For Immediate Release:

Petitions Seeking Constitutional Property Rights Protections Approved for Circulation
Petition Proponents Cry Foul Play by SOS

Dixon, MO -- December 15, 2010: Monday, Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, certified Ballot Titles and approved for circulation the eminent domain petitions submitted by Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (MO-CPR).

Approved were two versions of an amendment to Article I of the Missouri Constitution and one petition to amend Article VI. One of the two versions of the Article I petition will be chosen for circulation along with the Article VI petition. Two separate petitions must be circulated because eminent domain is currently mentioned in more than one article of the state constitution. A separate ballot issue must be offered to voters for each article amended.

The Secretary of State has a statutory responsibility to write a 100 word or less Summary Statement of any ballot issue submitted by citizens. That statement, along with a Fiscal Note Summary from the State Auditor, make up the Ballot Title voters see in the voting booth.

BALLOT TITLE LITIGATION KILLED OUR 2010 EFFORT

It was litigation over the Ballot Title that kept us from collecting signatures in the 2010 election cycle. The suit filed by opponents of eminent domain reform, led by the Missouri Municipal League, consumed all but a few months of the limited time allowed to collect petition signatures. In the end, the court of appeals ordered an extraneous reference to “just compensation” removed from the Ballot Title because our amendment did not change the existing requirement for just compensation and to include it could be confusing to voters.

The final ruling from the Supreme Court was rendered in February, 2010. That left only three months to collect 450,000 signatures, so we decided to wait for a fresh start in the 2012 cycle. Our hope was that the litigation would be behind us and we could get an early start.

SOS DRAFTS BALLOT TITLE SHE KNOWS WILL CAUSE LITIGATION

We are not pleased with the Ballot Title the SOS certified on Monday. It includes some of the same “just compensation” language the court ordered removed from the previous Ballot Title, so MML and company will have an excuse to file suit once again.

It is our belief that Secretary Carnahan has not acted in good faith or properly executed her responsibilities. The secretary of state has dual responsibilities when petitions are submitted for circulation. She must protect the interest of the voters, who deserve a fair and accurate summary of the effects of the proposed measure, but she also has a responsibility to facilitate the constitutional right of citizens to use the petition process. (See Mo. Const. Article III, § 49)

The language she insisted on including in our current Ballot Title provides the voter no useful information but it does provide our opponents with an excuse to take the Ballot Title to court and cause delay they know hurts our effort. She included it in spite of our strong objections and amidst a flood of phone calls from citizens.

We are left wondering what her motives are. Monday we served the secretary of state with a Sunshine Records request.

IMPROPER USE OF THE COURTS USED TO SQUELCH THE PEOPLE

When circulating a petition, your most valuable asset it time.

In the last election cycle, an attorney with the firm representing the Missouri Municipal League met with a committee of the Missouri Bar, where she explained the purpose of the lawsuit. She said, “the main objective [was] to delay the gathering of signatures”.

Such use of the courts is illegal and subject to disciplinary action. Although we had an audio recording of the admission and filed complaints, neither the courts nor the Missouri Bar took any disciplinary actions.

Opponents of our petitions have 10 days to file suit challenging the new Ballot Titles.

In the event of the likely challenge, we will ask the court to expedite the case and begin collecting signatures as soon as we have proven ballot titles.

HISTORY OF MO-CPR EFFORT

For over five years MO-CPR has been trying to provide the citizens of Missouri an opportunity to vote on constitutional amendments which would restore the original purpose of eminent domain – that is, for obtaining property needed for publicly owned and publicly used projects, such as roads and sewers. The petitions just approved for circulation are the fourth set so approved for MO-CPR.

Our first effort was for the 2006 election cycle – right after the U.S. Supreme Court's “Kelo” decision. We soon learned that there was too little time to collect the many required signatures and began planning for the 2008 cycle. (Another group circulated an eminent domain petition that year, but did not gain ballot access.)

For the 2008 cycle we raised about $800,000 and a host of volunteers. Between the volunteers and paid circulators, we collected 428,000 signatures on the two petitions. Although we had more than enough total valid signatures to gain ballot access, there weren't enough in the 2nd Congressional District to qualify. The law requires a minimum number of signatures in each of 6 of the state's 9 congressional districts, and excess in one district can't be applied to another district.

It should be noted that all but a few thousand dollars raised in that cycle came from Missouri property owners. Our project is Missouri born and Missouri bred.

We started the 2010 election cycle a lot wiser and better prepared, but so were our opponents. Led by the Missouri Municipal League, they challenged the ballot titles drafted by the secretary of state. All but one minor issue (the language we are presently concerned about) were dismissed by the court, but they managed to tie up the petition until February, 2010, leaving only 3 months to collect signatures.

We chose, once again, to “punt” and prepare for the 2012 election cycle. We are determined to finally achieve success this time

Questions about this release can be directed to:

Ron Calzone, chairman
Missouri Citizens for Property Rights
ron@mo-cpr.org
(573) 759-3585

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Secretary of State Robin Carnahan
Shows No Respect for Appeals Court Order

For Immediate Release:

December 9, 2010, Jefferson City, MO:

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights believes Robin Carnahan is violating the people's rights and showing disdain for the courts with the Ballot Title she is drfating for their eminent domain petition.

For over five years the group has been striving to bring constitutional protection against eminent domain abuse -- the taking of private property for private use.  Ever since the Missouri legislature failed to properly deal with the issue in 2006, they have been trying to take it to a vote of the people through an initiative petition.

The petition process requires the drafting of a Ballot Title by the Secretary of State. That 100 word synopsis is what the voter sees on the ballot.  It must be an accurate, fair and unbiased explanation of what the petition will do, if passed.  After the SOS drafts the Ballot Title, any Missouri citizen can challenge it on those points in a court of law.

That's what happened in the 2010 election cycle.  In an effort to protect the power of towns and cities to take private property and convey it to developers, the Missouri Municipal League sued the SOS over the Ballot Title.  The litigation ate up all but a few months of the 17 months available to collect signatures, leaving MO-CPR with too little time.

On the positive side, the Ballot Title was tested through a complete litigation cycle, ending in an order from the Western Court of Appeals to make a minor change to one sentence.  All the litigation should, then, be out of the way for a fresh start for the same petition in the 2012 election cycle.

"That's not what's happening, though.", said Ron Calzone, chairman of the property rights group. " In a move that disrespects both the Appeals Court order and the citizens' right to the petition process, the Secretary of State, with the blessing of Attorney General Chris Koster, has decided to draft a new Ballot Title with some of the same language the court ordered removed."

Calzone explained, " That leaves an excuse for more litigation of the Ballot Title and more court delays -- possibly so much delay that there will be no time left to collect signatures -- AGAIN!"

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has until Monday to change her mind and respect both the court and the citizens' right to petition.  Calzone is asking citizens to call her right away and tell her to listen to the court and use the exact language it ordered last January.  Monday is the deadline.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan
Phone: (573) 751-2301
Fax...:  (573) 526-3242

Click for Copy of full Appeals Court Order

Questions about this release can be directed to:

Ron Calzone, chairman
Missouri Citizens for Property Rights
ron@mo-cpr.org
(573) 759-3585



Appeals Court order from the 2010 cycle (Page 27 of the Jan. 5, 2010 court order):

" We agree with Plaintiffs and the circuit court, however, that the Missouri Constitution has historically and does currently require just compensation for takings....  The process for determining just compensation may be affected, but not the establishment of such compensation. Consequently, we reverse the circuit court’s revision and modify the summary statement as follows: "

(Phrase in [brackets and red] is what the court ordered removed.)
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:

  • Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;
  • Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities
  • Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for public use [and that landowners receive just compensation];
  • Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking;
  • Permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered to a private entity within 20 years?



New Proposed Summary Statement for the 2012 cycle:

(Phrase underlined and in red is what will provide the excuse for more litigation.)
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:
•    Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;
•    Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;
•    Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use while continuing to provide just compensation;
•    Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking;
•    Permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered to a private entity within twenty years?


March 2010

Court delays were too much for us. It would be too risky to collect signatures with such a small amount of time so we will have to "punt" for the 2010 election cycle.

In the mean time, we must fight to reform the petition process!

In Jefferson City there are bad bills designed to kill the people's right to petition and there are also good bills that would prevent foes of petitions from misusing the courts as pawns to delay signature gathering.

Bad bills:
HB1788- Changes the laws regarding initiative petitions and referendums - Rep. Parson
HJR63- Proposes a constitutional amendment changing the requirements for submitting an initiative petition that proposes an amendment to the Missouri Constitution by increasing the number of signatures required - Rep. Parson

Good bills:
SB818 - Modifies various provisions relating to the initiative and referendum process to prevent unwarranted delays. - Sen. Lembke
HB2180 - Changes provisions governing initiative and referendum petitions - Rep. Nieves

Crowd Swarms to Sign Petition
Petition signing launch at Missouri state capitol on January 13, 2010.

Petition Signing

Eager petition signers lined up several deep to sign. Missourians think it's time to restore real constitutional property rights protection.

Petition Signing


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights Wins Major Court Victory

Another Blow to the Missouri Municipal League

Kansas City, MO - January 5, 2010: Today the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, issued an opinion on the Missouri Municipal League's (MML) challenge to the summaries that appear on petitions and the ballot for two eminent domain petitions. The court ruled exactly as the proponents of the petition, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (MO-CPR), suggested in their court brief, affirming in part and reversing in part, the circuit court ruling.

The court ordered the Secretary of State to certify ballot titles which will allow signature collecting on the two petitions after a full year of court delays. The opinion came just 21 days after the oral arguments - much sooner than the appeals court typically issues opinions.

“This is a huge victory after a year long court battle.”, said Ron Calzone, chairman of the property rights group. “We believe the court's action points out the weakness of the Missouri Municipal League's position.”

The court's decision came on the heels of fresh allegations of misconduct by MML. In an audio recording of a meeting of the Missouri Bar's eminent domain committee, a managing partner for the law firm representing MML stated that their main purpose in bringing the suit was to delay the collecting of signatures. Missouri law and Supreme Court rules prohibit using the legal system for the purpose of causing delay or unwarranted expense to opposing litigants, and provides for the awarding of damages to injured parties.

On December 14th, MO-CPR served MML with a motion for monetary sanctions to help make up for the additional expenses that will result from a diminished time frame to collect the hundreds of thousands of required signatures. MML has 30 days to respond to the motion before the court gets involved and decides whether or not to order sanctions.

Calzone says the challenge to the ballot titles has added tremendously to the cost of collecting signatures. “Not only have we lost many months, we've lost the best months to collect signatures. Now we have only four months – four months when cold and wet weather are likely to prevail.”

Bruce Hillis, a member of the MO-CPR board explained their frustration, “Although we respect the right of a citizen to challenge an unfair ballot title, it's just not right to use the courts to thwart the people's right to vote on a public policy measure. In Article III, section 49 of the Missouri Constitution, the people reserved for themselves the right to use the petition process. We think MML has been maliciously trampling upon the most basic rights of Missouri voters.”

MO-CPR has also filed a complaint with the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC), the agency of the Missouri Supreme Court responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by lawyers where a lawyer’s misconduct poses a threat to the public or to the integrity of the legal profession.

Throughout the process, MO-CPR has complained about municipalities, through MML, using taxpayer resources to keep citizens from voting on a public policy issue. They will begin collecting signatures in the next few days.

The CaseNet numbers for the cases are WD71224, WD71230.

Click the following links for documents relating to this case:
Summary of the appeals court decision.
Complete appeals court opinion.
Motion for sanctions against the Missouri Municipal League.
Audio recording of statement that the main purpose of the suit was to keep MO-CPR from Collecting Signatures.
(The statement is about 4 minutes and 20 seconds into the recording.)
Letter to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC).

Now is the time!

Please donate now!

Please volunteer now!

 

December 16, 2009:
Oral Arguments went great yesterday. The court obviously was not impressed with the trumped up arguments from MML.
We may get a decision very soon.

Listen to Paul Jacob's Common Sense syndicated radio spot about the squelching of petition efforts (including ours) in Missouri. Click Here

On TownHall.com Paul Jacob reports that Eminent Domain Abuse leads to other abuses of power.

Dave Roland also blogs about the abuse of power in St. Louis.


Feb. 2009: Can you believe it? The Missouri Municipal League is using taxpayer dollars to keep the taxpayers from voting on a public policy matter!

07/09/2009: SOS and MML have both appealed the circuit court decision on the ballot title. This delay tactic can be nothing less than an effort to run us out of collection time.
(Go to press release.)

What will the proposed constitutional amendments do?
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Ballot Title Challange - Court Rules on June 30, 2009

(Click for June 30, 2009 press release.)

Nearly 8 months after we began this process, we finally have a circuit court ruling on the challenge to our ballot titles and it is good news for our project! (Here's a copy of the decision.)

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that only one sentence be removed from the Article I ballot title. Bullet point three was fine as written by the Secretary of State, but it is not really that important to our effort to inform the voters about the affects of the Article I amendment. We're happy with the ballot titles with or without that one sentence. Since we have not yet begun to circulate the petitions, the court's ruling does not invalidate any voter's signature.

That does not mean the challenge to the ballot title has not done damage to our effort. As the Missouri Municipal League's Challenge to the ballot titles progressed, it became more and more obvious that they had no real substantial argument against the ballot titles. Their goal has been to delay the start of our signature gathering and they have been successful at that.

The question now is, "Will they continue to use taxpayer dollars to keep the taxpayers from the opportunity to vote on a public policy measure?"

ACTION NEEDED: Call the officials of your city and tell them to instruct the Missouri Municipal League to stop their effort to keep the people from voting on a public policy measure!

NUTS AND BOLTS (For those interested in the details of the decision.)

The court upheld both of the Fiscal Notes and Fiscal Note Summaries as well as both Summary Statements, except bullet point three of the Article I statement, which he simply removed.

Here's the Article I Summary Statement:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:
  • Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;
  • Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;
  • Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use and that landowners receive just compensation; (removed)
  • Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking; and
  • Permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered to a private entity within 20 years?

The decision to remove bullet point three was based on the court's opinion that "the third bullet point suggests that restrictions on takings without just compensation or without a public use would be added to the constitution."  Since those provisions have been part of the Missouri Constitution since 1820, the decision says, the voters would be mislead into thinking the amendment provided a "new" protection.

Related information:

Copy of the circuit court decision.

Missouri Municipal League website

List of MML Diectors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Secretary of State and Missouri Municipal League
Appeal Eminent Domain Ballot Title Decision

Jefferson City, MO - July 09, 2009 : Appeals to the Cole County Circuit Court ruling on the ballot titles for the eminent domain petitions were filed by both defendant Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, and plaintiff Missouri Municipal League this week. These actions will further delay the circulating of two petitions aimed at stopping eminent domain for private use.

The other party in the suit, the proponent of the petition, was happy with the original court ruling.

The Missouri Municipal League had challenged several aspects of the SOS's ballot titles, but in his June 30th ruling, Judge Richard Callahan only deleted one bullet point, rejecting all the other claims.

The change was relatively minor, indicating that the judge thought the majority of the ballot title did a fair and accurate job reflecting the effects of the petitions. Judge Callahan's stated reason for removing the one sentence was that it summarized things that were already part of the state constitution rather than changes to it.

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (MO-CPR), the proponent of the petition, began their current petition process on November 5, 2008 – the first allowable day to submit a petition for the 2010 election cycle. Delays resulting from decisions by the Attorney General and court challenges from the Missouri Municipal League have kept them from collecting signatures for several months. The deadline for turning in the requisite number of signatures is May 2, 2010.

“News of the appeal by the Municipal League is no surprise, but it's incredible to think that the Secretary of State would further muddy the water with an appeal of her own.”, said Ron Calzone, chairman of MO-CPR. “They successfully defended all but a minor detail of the ballot title she wrote, so why not accept the judge's decision and let the people exercise their constitutional right to the initiative process?”

Calzone is concerned that both local and state governmental authorities are trying to run them out of time to collect signatures – one through the Municipal League and the latter through the Secretary of State and Attorney General. He said that these actions underscore the need for their petition, “The first section of the Missouri Constitution clearly states that any power government has was given it by the people – now the people's own power is being used to keep them from voting on a public policy measure. Does anyone wonder why we think the power of eminent domain should be reined in?”

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights has been working toward a constitutional amendment to stop private use eminent domain since the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London. In 2008 they collected 428,000 on their two petitions, but ran out of the time needed to collect the last few thousand in one congressional district.

Go to http://www.mo-cpr.org for this release, the court decision, and other information about the project.

The CaseNet numbers for the two cases are 09AC-CC00026 and 09AC-CC00051.

Contact:
Ron Calzone, chairman
Missouri Citizens for Property Rights
33867 Highway E
Dixon, MO 65459

www.mo-cpr.org
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cole County Judge Makes Minor Change to Eminent Domain Ballot Title

Jefferson City, MO - June 30, 2009 : After several months of litigation and a hearing thirty four days ago, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan deleted one bullet point from the summary the Secretary of State wrote for an initiative petition designed to stop private use eminent domain. Judge Callahan rejected all the other claims by the Missouri Municipal League, the plaintiff who challenged the SOS's ballot titles.

By law, Ballot Titles consists of a Summary Statement of up to 100 words and a Fiscal Note Summary with a 50 word limit. These summaries are what potential signers of a petition see, as well as the voters if the measure makes it to the ballot.

“The court's ruling is just fine with us.”, said Ron Calzone, the proponent of the petitions. “Although I don't think there was really anything wrong with the sentence the judge removed, its value to the summary is arguable - it's not really needed to convey the effects of the amendment to the voters.”

He thinks the court's minor change to the ballot title is not an indictment of the Secretary of State's effort to draft a fair summary. “It's not easy to sum up an entire constitutional amendment in just 150 words – I don't think there is any evidence of malicious intent on the part of the SOS.” Calzone said.

He went on to say that what's more important to the group he represents is a timely resolution to the court challenge, “It's an awesome job to collect the better part of half a million signatures, and less time to do it increases the cost and decreases the likelihood of success. An appeal by the Secretary of State will only serve to further delay our signature collecting – I would have to interpret an appeal as antagonistic to our effort.” Parties in the suit have 10 days to appeal the circuit court decision.

In 2007 & 2008, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (MO-CPR) collected more than 428,000 signatures on petitions that would place two proposals for constitutional amendments relating to eminent domain on the November 2008 ballot. The amendments, like the current ones for the 2010 ballot, restricted the use of eminent domain to its traditional uses, that is, publicly owned and used purposes like roads and sewers, and prevented using eminent domain for private projects, like shopping centers.

Although the effort resulted in collecting about 20,000 excess “good” signatures in five of the required six congressional districts, there were a few thousand too few in Congressional District 2 and the measures did not make the ballot. “We were up against a fixed deadline – one more week and we would have been on the ballot and the people of Missouri would have had the opportunity to stop eminent domain abuse.”

The Missouri Municipal League (MML) filed legal challenges against the 2008 petition as well as the current ballot titles. MML is a association of hundreds of municipalities around the state. Those municipalities pay dues and sometimes make special contributions to MML political projects. Calzone is particularly upset about taxpayer's money being used to thwart their effort. “All our petition does is put the measure on the ballot so the voters of Missouri can decide whether to stop private use eminent domain. I can't believe that, in America, the voter's own money can be used to keep the voters from voting on a public policy issue.”

MO-CPR is asking that citizens call their own city leaders and tell them to instruct the MML to stop misusing the dues ultimately paid by the taxpayers.

Go to http://www.mo-cpr.org for this release, the court decision and other information about the project.

The CaseNet numbers for the two cases are 09AC-CC00026 and 09AC-CC00051.

Contact:
Ron Calzone, chairman
Missouri Citizens for Property Rights
33867 Highway E
Dixon, MO 65459
ron@mo-cpr.org
www.mo-cpr.org
(573) 759-3585

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Why did the city of Arnold want to take Dr. Tourkakis' dental practice? City counselor says its a matter of decor!

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the city of Arnold could, in fact, take Dr. Homer Tourkakis' dental practice by eminent domain and make it part of a privately owned retail shopping center.

The dentist's property is in perfect repair and is not in the way of development - it only slated to be an open space - an "out lot". If the city doesn't need the land for the development, why do they want the dental practice leveled?

In a candid moment on video, Arnold City Counselor, Robert Sweeny, revealed the truth. He said, "His retro fit two bedroom house is not compatible with a 21st century commercial development,"

(See the Jan. 17, 2008 story and video <here>.)

There you have it - it was a decorating decision! The American institution of private property rights is made to give way to decor!

Next time you see some improvements in YOUR neighborhood, don't rejoice too soon - those improvements might make your home or business "incompatible" with the new decor and a target for eminent domain!

 

March 18, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MO-CPR Says High Court Decision Shows Need for Constitutional Changes

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights' chairman Ron Calzone made the following statement regarding the Missouri Supreme Court's decision in the case of Arnold vs. Tourkakis:

"My heart goes out to Homer and his wife, who are now a step closer to having a quarter-century of hard work destroyed by city bulldozers. The high court ignored the clear statement in Article I, Section 28 that 'private property shall not be taken for private use with or without compensation' as Missourians' fundamental protection against private use eminent domain."

"The court instead stretched the application of Article VI, Section 21, despite plain language limiting those powers to chartered cities. This illogical decision puts hundreds of thousands of Missourians' property rights in greater danger."

"That's not the worst of it, though. In the majority opinion, the court wrote, 'Unless limited by the constitution, the legislature has the right to authorize the exercise of the unlimited and practically absolute sovereign power of eminent domain.'"

"Like the US Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision, this decision proves that we cannot rely on the courts to protect our property rights. Only our ballot initiative, which unequivocally outlaws eminent domain for private profit, will reverse the Supreme Court's wrongheaded decision and give property owners the protections they deserve. We are grateful that in the midst of his legal battle with the city, Homer has found the time to support our effort to gather the signatures to put these amendments on the ballot. Homer's determination to fight for not only his own property rights but those of his fellow Missourian's is a real inspiration."

Link to the court decision

Link to Institute for Justice press release

MO-CPR page for this case

Go to THIS PAGE to read the stories of some fellow Missourians who are fighting eminent domain abuse.

This video is a short explanation of the problem built into the
Missouri Constitution - the very problem that needs to be fixed.

HOT OFF THE PRESS! The Wall Street Journal reports a new study from the Institute for Justice which reveals that eminent domain reform does NOT hinder economic development.

Eminent Reality (Wall Street Journal)
January 30, 2008 -- Does restricting "eminent domain" -- the power of government to seize private property -- harm economic growth? A new report from the Institute for Justice looks at the evidence and concludes the answer is no. <more>

Click here For the Institute for Justice study: "Doomsday? No Way - Economic Trends and Post-Kelo Eminent Domain Reform"

SELECT VIDEO

(Fox-2-StL) Jan. 22, 2008: Sunset Hills, Mo. -- You Paid For It: Eminent Domain
Fox 2's Elliott Davis continues to shed light on the private use eminent domain issue. Here he reports on the Ballot Initiative.

This report from Fox 4 in KC explains the issue VERY well. Be sure to watch the video. (Click Here)

(Click here for a list of News Reports)

LANDMARK MISSOURI SUPREME COURT CASE
DECISION DUE LATE WINTER OR SPRING OF 2008

Missouri Supreme Court Heard Oral Arguments in Landmark Eminent Domain Case
on
Thursday, January 17, 2008

The city's lawyer makes wild claims about the effects of a ruling in favor of Property Rights and obfuscates the issue. An analysis of the case is forthcoming, but you can listen to the oral arguments and read the court documents by clicking here.

Old News: MO-CPR helps Arnold, MO businesses man score a huge victory in court. Property owners in non-chartered cities across the state benefit. <more>

Flash video Petitioner's Guide
Turn your speakers up and watch this easy to understand guide to collecting signatures: Start Here

History! Click here to watch a Flash presentation about the history of property rights in America. Turn your speakers on and find out how the War for American Independence relates to eminent domain abuse. Click Here

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Click Here to Volunteer

What will the proposed constitutional amendments do?

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights is not proposing that we do anything new or revolutionary – we simply want to restore the traditional, time tested, concepts of property rights. We believe that the primary role of government is that of protecting property rights and that eminent domain should be used only rarely and only for truly public uses, such as roads and sewers.

Eminent domain has traditionally been called “the despotic power”. When it must be used for a truly public use, every safeguard to the rights of the one losing his property should be employed. He should have the right to due process prior to losing his property and should be well compensated for his loss. After all, if the public use will truly benefit the masses, the rest of us should be willing to each chip in a little to minimize the suffering of the one making the sacrifice.

Perhaps of greatest importance, Missouri's constitutional provisions for protecting property rights should protect everyone's rights equally. We should accept no less than “justice for all” whether they be rich or poor, home owners or businesses, urban or rural. And the state's awesome power of eminent domain should never be conveyed to private entities for their personal profit!

Here are some details about the proposed amendments to Missouri's constitution:

THE FIRST PETITION

Ballot Title (Written by the Secretary of State)
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to restrict the use of eminent domain by:

  • Allowing only government entities to use eminent domain;

  • Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;

  • Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use and that landowners receive just compensation;

  • Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking and permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered for sale within 20 years?

Article I, Section 26 Explanation

  1. Limit eminent domain authority to the state and its political subdivisions.

  2. Require just compensation when property rights are “taken” or damaged indirectly..
  3. Limits the use of eminent domain to situations in which it is necessary to use that power.
  4. Allow normal appraisal methods to be considered in determining “just compensation”.
  5. Require due process before property can be taken or disturbed by the taking authority.

Article I, Section 28 Explanation

  1. Prohibits the use of eminent domain for “private use, private ownership, or other private rights” and ensures that those uses are not considered “public use”.

  2. Discourages the government from “hoarding” or speculating on property through eminent domain for longer than 5 years through a buy back provision.
  3. Discourages a feigned public purpose at the time of taking and subsequent conveying to a private party by allowing the original owner an opportunity to buy back his property if the government attempts to sell it within 20 years.
  4. Ensures regulated utilities and electric cooperatives the ability to provide their services, but a government entity must use eminent domain on their behalf and the title remains in the original owner, “subject to the use for which it was taken”. Privately owned utilities will no longer be able to directly wield the people's power of eminent domain.
  5. A “notwithstanding” clause to keep Art VI, Sec. 21 from “trumping” these provisions.

THE SECOND PETITION

Ballot Title (Written by the Secretary of State)
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the power of the General Assembly and constitutionally chartered cities or counties to:

  • Prohibit the use of eminent domain to acquire and resell property found to be blighted, substandard or unsanitary for the purpose of clearance, redevelopment or rehabilitation; and

  • Allow them to require owners of property found to be a public nuisance to abate or clean up the nuisance and, if the property owner fails to do so in a reasonable time, allow the local government to pay for the abatement and impose a lien to recover the cost?

Article VI, Section 21 Explanation

  1. Provide a remedy for “blight” and other public nuisances, but shift the role of the government to that of protecting the property rights of the neighbors of those conditions rather then punishing the responsible property owners along with the abusers.

  2. Limits those nuisances to those historically considered so, that is, only conditions that negatively affect the property rights of another.
  3. This change reestablishes the appropriate distinction between police powers and eminent domain powers.
  4. Provide for a reasonable opportunity to abate the nuisance before action is taken.
  5. Permit the expenditure of public funds to protect the neighbors and prescribes the due process protection for the “offending” property owner.

Amendment Language PDF