All News & Blogs
Two Spotsylvania supervisors make a statement
ABE LINCOLN, who greatly
Goochland County supervisors, with the local Tea Party's "amen," recently pulled out of VACo chiefly because it opposes a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would forbid local governments from "taking" well-kept property to further economic-development schemes. Spotsylvania would have become the second of the state's 95 counties to sever ties with VACo, but Messrs. Ross and McLaughlin couldn't persuade any of their colleagues to join them. (VACo does some good things, too.) Even so, their pull-out gambit has value.
Unity is fine and dandy, and concord is groovy. But when a group's positions traduce basic liberties--e.g., the right to hold property unmolested by government except for bloody good reasons--it's time for principled members to shed organizational docility and make a strong statement for freedom. VACo has "heard" Goochland's gruff goodbye and now the rumblings of Messrs. Ross and McLaughlin--joined in spirit by Supervisors Paul Trampe, Ann Heidig, and Gary Skinner. They wrote to VACo, "It is not proper for an association of governments to lobby for the interests of those governments against the interests of citizens."
Honest Abe could hardly have said it better. Now VACo is talking vaguely about accommodating the dissenters.
Here's how: Withdraw opposition to the November amendment, which would protect Virginians threatened by the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court Kelo ruling. Kelo said that localities can use eminent domain to take private property--homes, shops, family farms--that block envisioned commercial projects. VACo's 2012 legislative priorities include "preserving [the] eminent domain authority of local governments, governmental agencies, and governmental authorities." This from an outfit representing the home counties of Madison, Jefferson, and other Founders who viewed property as sacred.
Rebellion against government bullying is an American legacy. While what the Tea Party brews can sometimes be too strong, the spot of tea offered by Goochland and now Spotsylvania to curb eminent domain is refreshing. If VACo gags on it, liberty-loving supervisors the commonwealth over should create a new vehicle to represent their interests. One more word from Lincoln: "Important principles may and must be inflexible."