Timothy B. Lee

Fox 2 in Saint Louis has a great story on the eminent domain controversy in Arnold. I did a story about Dr. Tourkakis and his fight against eminent domain abuse last year. So I can tell you from personal experience that Dr. Tourkakis's land is not "blighted" by any reasonable standard. It's tidy, well-maintained, and provides dentistry services to hundreds of area residents. When I visited the area last year, his neighbors included an auto repair shop, a day-care center, a VFW, and a stove and fireplace store, none of which showed any noticeable signs of blight. The picture on the right there is one of the "blighted" homes that will be taken (or may already have been taken).

Mayor Mark Powell tries to hide behind the excuse that state law made him do it, but that's nonsense. The standards for "blight" are so loose that almost any piece of property can be taken if the city wants to do so. All they have to do is to pay a consulting firm such as PGAV to study the area and declare it blighted. Not surprisingly, when a city asks a firm to determine if an area is blighted, the firm almost always finds in the affirmative. So state law effectively gives him the power to take peoples' property using eminent domain, but it's up to the municipality to decide whether to do so. You'll notice that even the mayor isn't willing to say with a straight face that Dr. Tourkakis's land is blighted, because it obviously isn't.

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