Originally Published: August 31, 2000 7:15 p.m.
Council goes the way of King George's excesses
Honesty in public policy debate requires us to examine recent actions by the Prescott City Council detrimental to property rights in this community.
During the late "open space" tax increase election Mayor Steiger (on television) and Councilman Behnke (in this paper in a response to an article from this Institute) assured voters that no condemnation actions of private property for open space would take place. To quote, "we will never condemn for open space. Period."
Now, of course, voters learn that the very first purchase of open space will take place through condemnation under eminent domain proceedings.
The tax election carried by a margin of 152 votes, that is 76 voters. Had those votes gone the other way the issue would have failed. We ask, did the emphatic "no condemnation" pledge sway those voters? If so, did those 76 vote based on a false promise? Would those same individuals vote that way today?
Having voted to condemn for a legal – albeit dubious – purpose, the council has set a clear and dangerous precedent. Property owners throughout the city and beyond must ask, "How secure is my property should it become the object of public lust for open space?"
No land within the grasp of the city fathers is safe should they gaze on it. Undeveloped land along Highways 69 and 89 soon will garner their attention and the council is already under intense political pressure to act similarly again. Similar condemnation actions may well result. Fifteen years of taxation is too great a temptation for this and future councils to resist.
The most enduring and pervasive of all grievances engendering the American Revolution were the Crown's violations of property rights. Consider for a moment the property rights violations of seizure, impound and regulation. Council use of condemnation proceedings together with increasingly stringent zoning overlays and codes amount to nothing less than more eloquent versions of two out of three British sins.
The Arizona Property Rights Institute warned that with millions of tax dollars to finance the "open space" scheme, condemnation and other more extreme violations of individual property rights would follow. Once again we must issue that warning.
Frederick Bastiat defined immoral laws as those which "benefit one citizen or group of citizens at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself could not do without committing a crime." How should we define this condemnation action?
Having seen the value of council assurances and good intentions, we can see plainly where the well-paved road is leading.
Arizona Property Rights
Editor beats up Blewster, babies Binder's bashings
Your Aug. 27 Blewster-bashing editorial "Blewster blackout will test voters' IQs" insulted the voters (again) by implying that if they dare vote for Blewster (which means against your agenda) that they will "flunk" your "intelligence test."
I agree with you, there is a "blackout" of information to the public. However, the Courier is the source of the "blackout" … not Rep. Blewster. The Courier decided that the public doesn't need to know that Rep. Blewster has the endorsement of the entire Arizona House leadership. The Courier decided to report the number of candidate forums which Rep. Blewster missed and speculate on why she was not there; yet the paper did not report the number of forums which Rep. Binder "The Big Spender" has missed (so far two more than Blewster), nor speculate on the reason. What motivates you to "black out" this factual information?
The Courier has reported rumors and gossip as news when it paints Rep. Blewster in a negative light. But, when there is real documented news, such as Rep. Binder's July 15 comment in The Mohave Daily News that Mormons are "Kool-Aid Drinkers" (a reference to the cult members of the Rev. Jim Jones of Guyana who drank poisoned Kool-Aid), you don't report that as news.
Is it too much to ask your writers to investigate Rep. Binder's published statement that the "far radical right obstructionists" forces the Legislature to celebrate Joseph Smith Day? Ask anyone of the Mormon faith, and they will tell you, there is no such thing as Joseph Smith Day. Why hasn't the Courier criticized Rep. Binder for lying? Do you condone lying?
Mr. Hansen, inquiring minds want to know why you have not focused on Rep. Blewster's voting record, or for that matter on Rep. Binder's – "The Big Spender" – voting record? It is how our elected representatives vote that impact our lives. Shouldn't you report that? An example: why have you not told the public that Rep. Blewster, in her first year at the State Capitol, was named, "Best Friend of the Taxpayer" by the Arizona Foundation of Taxpayers?
Now, regarding the intelligence quotient of the average Prescott voter … we're intelligent enough to recognize a schoolyard bully when we see one, and Mr. Hansen, we see one in you.
Blewster talks to people who count – the voters
I am a 20-year subscriber to the Courier. I have watched the editorial policy of this paper evolve into something I do not like. It seems that of late, when you decide you do not like someone, you get downright vicious. The Sunday Courier editorial and cartoon about Representative Barbara Blewster was outrageous. No wonder Rep. Blewster refrains from talking to the media.
I tend to let my legislators know how I feel on issues they are voting on. In years past, I found that District 1 legislators were very good about returning calls, letters or e-mail communications. These past two years, however, I have not had even one response from Senator Ken Bennett nor Representative Linda Binder on one single issue that I contacted them about. The only District 1 legislator to communicate back to me was Rep. Blewster. Maybe she does not communicate with the media, but she does communicate where it counts, with her constituents. That is more than I can say about her other District 1 legislators.
I know all the statements attributed to her that have gained attention. How many of us would like for someone to go around quoting everything that comes out of most of our mouths? I do know that Rep. Blewster stands for lower taxes and Second Amendment rights, and she has kept her word. I cannot say that about any of her opponents, many of whom have not said what they stand for.
Robert A. Palmer, Ph.D.