I'm with Jen

...and Beth, Mike and Terry.  

GA would have voted "NO" on the City Council's right to declare eminent domain- the seizure of private property for public use with the payment of compensation.


Putting eminent domain on the table yesterday was a brilliant tactical move by Mayor Zimmer,   a game of brinksmanship with her truculent opponents on the City Council.  The move laid bare Timmy's lack of understanding of both reprogramming the $3M grant money and the difficulty of securing land in the 4th Ward for a park.

The problem?  It passed.

It's one thing to place a loaded gun where everyone can see it, quite another to put it in people's hands and say, "Fire at your discretion".

Passing eminent domain  places faith in the wisdom and judgment of our ever-changing governing body.  Do you want to do that?

I don't.  

Sorry, guys and gals on the City Council. Eminent domain is a stinker.

Nice as a threat, terrible as a right.  For GA, the seizure of private property as an option should be granted on a case by case basis and the standard of proof for its use set extremely high. For example, where  the health, safety and security of the public is at risk. Making a park does not rise to that level.

Well, maybe it does if it's your nasty neighbors getting the boot and not you.

But it doesn't work that way.  The government decides who's leaving.

What if it's you?

I would have soundly rejected handing the right to declare eminent domain to the City as did my (terrific) Councilwoman Jen Giattino.

Props to you, Jen for your principled stand and showing  your independence. You made the right decision.   

What happened to my other peeps?

Either way it looks like Sinatra Park will get the $3M in grant money, so why'd you pass it?  Because it "tells them we're serious"?   Listen, YOU may not intend to use it now but 10 years from now YOU won't be there...  the City's power to seize private property WILL. Can you guarantee the wisdom, integrity and honesty of our governing body then? 

I didn't think so.

Granting the power of eminent domain for tactical reasons lacks foresight and just plain sucks. GA's opinion.

Now for a funny anecdote about eminent domain.

In 2006 a small group of anti-eminent domain activists tried to seize the Weare, New Hampshire home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, to build a bed and breakfast there called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" using eminent domain.  Because Souter had voted in favor of the landmark Kelo vs. City of New London:
The case arose from the condemnation by New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues. The Court held in a 5–4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The City eventually agreed to move Susette Kelo's house to a new location and to pay substantial additional compensation to other homeowners. The redeveloper was unable to obtain financing and had to abandon the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot.
Well, if you've ever visited Weare, New Hampshire (pronounced 'where') then you'd realize how damned hilarious this is.

GA's been to Weare.

Believe it or not, that little spot on the map in central New Hampshire is where my sister's got her vacation home and let me tell you, the place is rural. 

Want a quart of milk?  It's a 15 minute drive down winding country roads, and sparse homes are set far back in the woods, barely visible as one drives by.  In that setting, the notion of one ever needing eminent domain to build anything at all is a hoot.   

The Weekly Standard (a mag GA usually uses to clean cat droppings) did an excellent feature on the activist who launched  'Operation Steal Souter's Home', Logan Darrow Clements, called Evicting David Souter.
He (Clements) was flooded with suggestions for names of dishes that he could serve in the hotel's Just Deserts Café. A typical meal might start with the Chicken Seizure Salad and Revenge Soup (served cold). For an entrée, there'd be the Bader-Ginz Burger with Half-Baked Potato or the Eminent Lo Mein. Dessert might include Rocky Road to Serfdom Ice Cream, or perhaps a nice plate of Petit Forfeitures. Even without all the annoying puns, one could easily conclude it was some kind of joke, though Clements's press release warns, "This is not a prank."
Ha!  Funny stuff.

Sadly, Clements' mission  failed, because Souter retired to his Weare home in 2009. But a point was made, and the response to his protest showed a wide swath of the public opposed to the Kelo decision.

Anyway, no need to beat a dead horse (sorry, Smarty) you know where GA stands.

Me, I'm hoping the $3M grant goes into the Sinatra Park kitty.


  1. Eminent domain has been used in this city for years to benefit developers. I have a huge problem of using it so someone can build condos or a giant grocery store. I have absolutely no problem using it to build a park. Completely disagree. And I trust the only people being displaced will be the ones living in cardboard boxes on vacant lots. Nobody's home will be displaced by this at all.

  2. Red, respectfully disagree.

    You may "trust" that no one will be displaced but you don't know that for a fact. Do you? In that case, please provide me with the winning numbers to the next Powerball lottery.

  3. They were 12, 17, 23, 25, 43 and the Powerball is 2.

    It is for a park, not so a developer can build condos. Greed is not the motivating factor behind this event unlike the ED that was used in other parts of town where people were displaced. Trust the mayor. Unlike the Russo's and Roberts' of the world, she isn't looking to shaft anyone so she can "get what's hers"

  4. Ha! I said the NEXT Powerball, Red. Give me the numbers to the next one, and we'll split the winnings. Can we split them 80-20? (my favor)

    I do trust the mayor. But we have her on loan, not for keeps. Same with our CC.

  5. And as ED has been used many times for not at all altruistic reasons, I will save my outrage for when that is again the case. It is a tool, you judge the tool based on what it is being used for and why, not on what it might be used for in some hypothetical scenario you dreamed up.

    And those are the numbers I played today. Sorry, not sharing my winnings w/ anyone but the scum who steal my tax money and flush it down the loo.

  6. Think of it this way, using eminent domain for the public good IMO is absolutely no different than taxation to provide for the public good. Neither taxation or eminent domain is inherently good or bad but both can be used for good or bad or bad purposes.

  7. Well dear Red, it doesn't take much Googling to find many non-hypothetical scenarios where the tool's been abused.

    But let's agree to disagree on this one, shall we?

    Meanwhile, I vote for a different acronym than ED- that one's already taken:


  8. To your latest point, I don't think that eminent domain should never be used. But it should be used extremely judiciously. And I don't agree with granting it for tactical purposes.

  9. GA - My first though was similar to yours. What about the next group in power? If it is not our guys then ? ? ? You have to be careful what powers you grant. Of course, before the next election they could get REAL smart and take it away - and re-award it after 11/13 if necessary. :)

  10. It wasn't "granted". The council simply took their own temperature on their willingness to use this tool, should the need arise. They were differentiating themselves from previous councils - establishing their own identity and take on the ED issue. It was a statement, not some sort of legal grant or trigger.

    When the council takes on a new make-up, whenever that might prove to be in the future, that new council will need to establish their own opinion on the matter. They can't simply inherit this council's stance on ED use.

    Also, many of the "abuses" that have been referenced are more akin to a Kelo v. Connecticut fact pattern, where the underlying "public benefit" is achieved by a municipality using the takings clause to acquire private property, to then turn it over to a private developer for private development. Here, Hoboken would be holding onto the property, and using it to create a public owned and operated benefit that directly enhances everyone's quality of life. It's a much more direct public benefit than the city of New London, Connecticut was ever claiming to provide. New London was hoping this "private development" that they used ED to achieve would have a ripple effect improvement on their local economy.

  11. GBH, would you like to join my legal department? You can share a desk with Not-Stempler. Maybe I should ask him first if he minds. You'll have to share his chair... if you're a gal that could be a problem.

    Well, I hear what you're saying. The CC gave a thumbs up to plunking the 'tool' on the table. Look, I have faith, trust and confidence in Cunningham, Mello, Bhalla, Marsh and Giattino to act wisely for Hoboken. It's the 'tool' that gives me the heebie-jeebies, not the CC... a visceral 'blech', if you will. I did convey support for using the 'tool' when the standards that it's necessary are met. The mayor knows what she's doing and my third eye tells me there's a strategy at work. So I'll restrain my inner-Libertarian to wait and see.

    If it seemed I made a direct comparison between Hoboken and Kelo that was unintentional. It's just a funny story that stuck in my head because I was in Weare in 2006 when "Operation Steal Souter's Home" was ongoing. The notion of using eminent domain to seize his house, buried in the wooded landscape, cracked me up then. Still does.

    Let me know if you're interested in that legal position with GA. It doesn't pay. And I harass you at all hours of the day and night with requests. Sound good?

  12. Lots of excellent discussion on this issue here but I fall in the ultimately similarly as Grafix Avenger.

    The tool even in a limited capacity should be used reluctantly and in favor of a private individual/business interest should be opposed.

    Is a Southwest park in Hoboken, a sufficient public good to justify overturning anyone's property rights? IMHO the answer is no and folks may agree or disagree.

    More importantly, I too have one more similar sentiment as GA.
    I'm with Jen.

    She's doing an excellent job out of the gate and representing us showing true consistency and independence.

    MSV will be covering SW park developments. It's heating up.

  13. ED is a last resort option. A public park is for the public good. I am not a big supporter of ED, but a public park fits in with my thinking. I am opposed to use ED for greed. As a note, Kelo's pink house was replaced by a Pfizer plant. That plant is now closed.The $3 million should go to Sinatra. $3 million for a SW park is drop in the bucket. $3 million for Sinatra is 25% of the cost to rebuild it.

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  15. LOL Grafix. I'll consider your offer (as I hope land owners in the southwest will consider reasonable offers from the city so that ED will not have to be resorted to). Sadly, too many zoning boards of yesteryear have given too many land owners in this city the impression that they shouldn't consider reasonable offers for their property, because they'd be giving away a D-variance pot of gold. Changing their perception about what their investment is potentially worth takes a long time and a lot of steps. I believe that the council's resolution simply worked to help change that misperception by developers so that they are more likely to bargain in good faith now.

  16. Okay GBH, I'll defer to the wisdom of those steering the ship and will try not to vomit on deck.

    So have you considered the position?

    Not- Stempler said it's okay as long as you make the coffee and water the plants. Don't worry- we're talking cyber-coffee and cyber-plants, not much work. Just let me know if he messes with you- I will not tolerate cyber-harassment in my virtual office.

    I do need help. I'm on a jihad to get Hoboken a lovely recreation spot like all of our neighboring towns have. I don't know if you have kids... wait until you see what you put our for summer camp. What's the alternative for Hoboken kids? Roasting on the street? I can tell you I know one wonderful family that just moved because she wanted her kids off the computer and there was "nothing" for them to do in town. True story.

    Would you mind picketing City Hall in a bikini?


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