“Help protect personal property rights”

The following article appeared in The Olathe News.

“Help protect personal property rights”
Benjamin Hodge
Letter to the editor
The Olathe News
August 23, 2005

I encourage Olathe residents to contact Johnson County commissioners to ask that commissioners open up debate on eminent domain and on the protection of property rights within the county. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision now makes it fully legal – for the first time in American history – for a city or county government to take the private property of one person and transfer it to another person, merely because this transfer of property will create additional tax revenue.

On Thursday, I proposed an amendment to the county charter that would limit the county government in its ability to use eminent domain, and I need the help of Olathe residents to make sure the ball gets rolling. An amendment would require the votes of six out of the seven county commissioners and a vote by the people of Johnson County. The hard part will be convincing six commissioners on the merits of this issue.

The use of eminent domain should be used only for true “public uses” – such as schools, roads and airports. However, it is now possible for the Olathe to take a row of homes and sell the property to an apartment complex developer because of the property tax benefit. Or, the county may now take a gas station and sell it to a Walgreen’s because of a sales tax benefit.

This is not what the country’s founders intended. Please contact the county commissioners and ask that they support an effort to protect the rights of private property owners.

Benjamin Hodge
Trustee, Johnson County Community College

PDF link: 2005 August, Olathe News, ‘Help protect personal property rights’