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Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees, former vice president of the US and the world Jaycees, former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He voluntarily serves as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis.

November 7 About More Than Candidates: the Eminent Domain Amendment
Commentary by J. A. Davis

Georgians have a little left from what our Founders gave us. Sadly, much of our inheritance has been frittered away by politicians who claim to be conservative protectors of the Constitution they declared to protect and preserve.

While "the consent of the governed" has been victimized in one after another attempts to secretly skirt the light of day in cases like the infamous land grab bill, SB 5, voices of constitutional principle such as the Georgia Heritage Council have forced a retrieval to more appropriate measures.

This is all about a decision by the U. S. Supreme Court, the Kelo Decision, from which a majority of one justice defined a method for government to claim private property for private use in contravention to the Constitution which has always limited Eminent Domain to legal land acquisition for essential public use.

The decision by the Supreme Court left a opportunity for states to enact Constitutional Amendments that defined or restricted what property could be legally seized by the state.

Many states have enacted such an amendment, others, including Georgia, have the question pending for upcoming elections where the people still have the right of "consent of the governed" as opposed to the legislature where more than 70% of the seats are not even contested in the same November election as permeated by Georgia's ancient incumbent protection laws.

Unfortunately, it's not as constitutionally clean as the Perdue administration and the Republican majority in the legislature would like to have you believe.

Let's examine the proposed amendment. The champion for a strict Eminent Domain Amendment in the Georgia Senate is Senator Jeff Chapman (R) of St. Simons. He prepared and had on its way to passage a protective amendment that would clarify constitutional protections in the taking of land in Georgia.

Then, some strange things happened behind the scenes, which shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the current legislature where the unexpected is expected. Senator Chapman was removed as the mentor of the Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment and in his place, Governor Sonny Perdue took control and guided a completely different proposed amendment through the legislative process. This is the same governor who told a group of conservatives (me among them) that he doesn't interfere with the legislative process. He was selectively speaking of the referendum on the state flag.

The proposed amendment that emerged is not the strict construction of the Constitution that Senator Chapman proposed. While it does define rigorous steps which must be taken to take land it does provide a way for developers to do just that in partnership with a benevolent government. It does indeed provide a path to take private land and allow it to be filtered through government for private use and profit. And of course, there are still bills pending to enable governments to "partner" with developers SECRETLY behind closed doors for the purpose of such land grabs.

Please check out our commentaries on Commutarianism and its growing popularity among a certain sect of Republicans.

The question all of us should be considering is WHY was Senator Chapman unceremoniously removed from the leadership of this amendment? Even more important, why was it necessary to have the governor himself, rather than Senate leaders, guide this legislation through the process. I think I have a pretty good answer to that question. Perhaps you're ahead of me when you consider some other land related ventures from which the governor has unquestionably personally profited.

The next question you need to consider is whether we the people consent to this Constitutional Amendment in its present form, or do we want to turn it down and send it back to the legislature and give Jeff Chapman another chance to protect our Constitution? Maybe this time without interference from the governor who "never involves himself in legislative matters."

No wonder a journalist described the official Georgia state sign as "Sonny Lies."

Lest you feel your rights have totally gone, just one fourth of you, yes, 25% plus one, voting against this amendment can reinforce those sacred words "consent of the governed". Vote "NO" to force the legislature to address Eminent Domain again.

For further information on the land grab business, I commend the current article by Phyllis Schlafly to your attention.

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees, former vice president of the US and the world Jaycees, former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He voluntarily serves as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis.

For more information: http://GeorgiaHeritageCouncil.org

 

Loophole Number 1:

One innocent looking phrase in the proposed Constitutional Amendment is the special interest "perk!" The wording (from HB-1306) follows:

" � The power of eminent domain shall not be used for redevelopment purposes by any entity, except for public use, as defined by general law.

This simple phrase, " � as defined by general law" means that any future Legislature can "redefine" what constitutes "public use!" In other words, with a simple majority vote of the Legislature, a developer�s pet project can be classified as "public use" and your property can be seized against your will and transferred to a developer for profits and campaign contributions. HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Only two State Senators voted against this abomination of Our Founding Principles. Zero State Representatives voted against this clever stunt.

We all know what will happen, lobbyists will descend upon the Legislature like a swarm of locusts to get their pet projects declared "public use."

State Senator Jeff Chapman (R-3) (one of the two voting against HB-1306) has the following comments:

"The real weakness of the Constitutional Amendment is the fact that it defers to statutory law and fails to offer any additional protections not already stated in HB 1313.  Therefore, if Georgians are not vigilant, even if the Constitutional Amendment passes on election day, legislators can change the definition of "public use," which includes a definition for blight, in Georgia law anytime they choose without voter approval.  Further, the Constitutional Amendment does not contain a clear prohibition against using eminent domain for private development.  Therefore, I could not support it, but it will be on the November ballot.  Georgians need to realize this is not meaningful constitutional reform and that an honest effort should move forward again next year."

Senator Chapman of course echoes our observation about the special interest loophole:

"Therefore, if Georgians are not vigilant, even if the Constitutional Amendment passes on election day, legislators can change the definition of "public use," which includes a definition for blight, in Georgia law anytime they choose without voter approval."

Senator Chapman�s conclusion also echoes our concern:

Georgians need to realize this is not meaningful constitutional reform and that an honest effort should move forward again next year.

We should vote for this Constitutional Amendment in November, but redouble our efforts to remove this special interest "perk" from our State Constitution before it is your property that they come for.

Reference Article:

Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment in November� Lip Service Only!

 

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