You shouldnâ€™t kick a man when heâ€™s down. Especially when it was wrong to knock him down at all.
But thatâ€™s what office-holders who abuse the power of eminent domain often do. First they grab somebodyâ€™s property to give to some other private party. Then the victimized former owner canâ€™t even get â€œjust compensation.â€
Youâ€™re not in the best bargaining position when your stuff is taken by force. To government officials â€œjust compensationâ€ too often means â€œwhatever lowball figure we can get away with, given how we successfully stole this guyâ€™s property to begin with.â€
Bruce MacCloud is an eminent domain victim in Long Branch, New Jersey, who is fighting back. An appellate court recently ruled that he deserves $220,000 in compensation for the 2002 destruction of his 17-room Victorian house, his home for 23 years. Destroyed to make way for a new oceanfront development.
In 2002 the city offered him $140,000. MacCloud wants $633,000. So he doesnâ€™t think much of the courtâ€™s new modestly greater â€œofferâ€ being made some five years later. He wants to know, â€œWhere can I buy a home, anywhere, not just on the oceanfront, for $220,000 . . . ?
â€œI had a home that I owned. I had a roof to put over my kidsâ€™ heads, and it was taken from us.â€
Bruce MacCloud vows to fight on. Heâ€™s representing himself, for now. Thatâ€™s all he can afford. There arenâ€™t exactly court-appointed attorneys for cases like this.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.