End this sorry saga that highlights government's abuse of eminent domain

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by freeandfun1, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    This is an editorial on a Las Vegas situation, but this is going on all over the country....

     
  2. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    Happening here in texas also.

    kiss your house goodbye by Neal Boortz

     
  3. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    How many people are going to denounce this one?

    George Bush and eminent domain


    The baseball team the Texas Rangers are bidding vigorously for the honor of donating land for the eagerly anticipated George W. Bush Presidential Library. According to this article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers and "Arlington leaders" are offering a choice of sites from more than 100 acres surrounding the Rangers ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

    This is thrilling, because it gives me an opportunity to re-tell the great old story about how George W. Bush made a fortune by stealing land from hard-working, honest Texans.

    For example, one site the President might consider for his library is a ten-acre spread purchased by hard-working, honest Texans in 1942 to raise thoroughbreds. In 1991, the city of Arlington seized the land from the purchasers' grandson, Bucky Fanning, and gave it to the Texas Rangers.

    There were winners in the deal, he [Mr. Fanning] says -- among them George W. Bush and his partners, and Tom Hicks, the wealthy real estate developer they sold the team to -- and there were losers.
    He was one of the losers.

    "Anybody who was in their way, they just ran them over," says Fanning, a soft-spoken man whose anger rises as he talks about the ballpark. "I used to be a Rangers fan, but then they stole my property."

    Fanning's grandparents bought the 10-acre spread in 1942 to raise Thoroughbreds. Now it is a little-used parking lot on the east side of the stadium. "Bush didn't need our land for a ballpark," Fanning says. "He wanted it for his own personal gain." ["Broken Promises Plague Parks," The New York Daily News, October 12, 2002]


    But the story of Bucky Fanning and his lost ten-acre spread was only a small part of a big and sordid scheme that earned Mr. Bush $14.9 million on an investment of $600,000. (And most of that $600,000 was borrowed. He repaid the loan through sale of his Harken stock, a transaction that had the appearance of insider trading but for which the SEC gave Bush a pass, possibly because his father was President of the United States at the time.)

    Here's the story: Once upon a time, before he got into politics, George W. Bush paid $600,000 for 1.8 percent of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Then, Bush and his team-owner cronies persuaded the city of Arlington, Texas, to:

    Pass a half-cent sales tax to pay for 70 percent of the stadium;

    Use the government’s powers of eminent domain to condemn land the Rangers couldn’t or didn’t want to buy on the open market;

    Give the Rangers control over what happens in and around the stadium;

    Allow the Rangers to buy the stadium (which cost $191 million to construct) for just $60 million. [Robert Bryce, "Stealing Home," The Texas Observer, May 9, 1997]

    After 12 years of paying rent to the City of Arlington, the Rangers took title to the most expensive stadium ever built in Texas. In exchange, Arlington received only the $60 million worth of rent and upkeep the Rangers paid the city over the 12 years. Such a deal.

    But it's the second point on the bulleted list above that concerns us today.

    A sweetheart arrangement between the city of Arlington and the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority (ASFDA; i.e., in Molly Ivins's words, a "quasi government front" for the Texas Rangers) allowed ASFDA to condemn property (such as Bucky Fanning's ten-acre spread) and either seize it or acquire it at bargain-basement prices.

    According to Eric Alterman ("The Scandal No One Cares About," MSNBC) several landowners -- mostly homeowners and farmers -- refused to sell for what the Authority was offering. "The Authority condemned their land and expropriated it by force of law," wrote Alterman. "It did this with 270 acres of land, even though only about 17 acres were needed for the ballpark. The rest was used for commercial development that made Bush and his friends rich."

    For example, ASFDA also desired three parcels that were part of trusts to benefit the heirs of television magnate Curtis Mathes. ASFDA offered to purchase the land, nearly 13 acres, for $817,220. This was far below what even the ASFDA's own appraisers said it was worth. The Mathes family refused to sell, and the ASFDA seized the land through eminent domain. A jury later awarded the Mathes heirs $4.98 million, plus accumulated interest, for the parcels.

    ASFDA decided the city of Arlington should be responsible for the $4.98 million, even though by then the land was in private hands. Both the city and ASFDA refused to pay.

    Bush said more than once that he was unaware of the details of ASFDA's little land grabs. However, Tom Schieffer, president of the Rangers, testified that he kept Bush abreast of the purchase of the parcels.

    After Bush was elected governor of Texas in 1994, he put all of his assets into a blind trust except his general partnership interest in the Texas Rangers. Thus in 1998, while he was governor, he was able to sell his part of the Rangers ownership, and from this sale he earned the $14.9 million profit. Bush owes that nearly $15 million profit to the value of a stadium built by Texas taxpayers, and on land obtained by using government power to benefit private business interests. And don't get me started on the Harken thing.

    But it's just too, too delicious that the eventual George W. Bush Presidential Library might one day be built on land stolen by the Texas Rangers and then donated back to Bush. It doesn't get any slicker than that.
     
  4. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    Did Bush still own the Rangers in 1991? I thought he didn't......

    I'm wrong. You're right. It is wrong no matter WHO does it. Now, you must admit that Bush was GM of the TEAM and only had a 1.8% stake in the team as a whole. I am not sure if this would have fallen under the dictates of the GM, but if it does, then he was wrong. period.
     

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