Progress We Can All Support
The Show Me Progress blog had an excellent post yesterday about Arnold dentist Homer Tourkakis and his ongoing fight to keep his dental practice from being seized by the city using eminent domain, then handed over to a private developer. From the piece:
The basis of Tourkakis’ legal challenge was that the state constitution allows only cities with a constitutional charter (that’s only the biggest cities: St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield) to take land by eminent domain. The circuit court found that a convincing argument and ruled in his favor last May. Circuit judge M. Edward Williams ruled that a third class city did not have the constitutional authority to take the property even if it had been blighted–which, of course, it wasn’t.[…] Unfortunately, that ruling was not the final word.
In late October, the city of Arnold appealed the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. It will argue that the constitution allows the taking of property for redevelopment and will cite a state law that allows even municipalities without a constitutional charter to take land.
Tourkakis’ lawyers will argue that any state law that contradicts the constitutional provision that only constitutionally chartered cities have the power to take land is itself unconstitutional.
Each side avows its confidence that it will prevail. There will be much perusing of the fine print in the constitutional amendment and in the statute in question–much perusing and much speculating about the intent of the legislators who wrote them.
Not being a legal scholar, I leave those speculations to the court, but I hope the law will allow the best man (Tourkakis) to win.
We’ve been rooting for Tourkakis for a long time now. We first spotlighted his eminent domain plight a year and a half ago, and he featured most recently in our work as one of the many eminent domain victims spotlighted in Tim Lee’s October 17 policy study, "The Specter of Condemnation: The Case Against Eminent Domain for Private Profit in Missouri."
I’m glad to see that Show Me Progress is on Tourkakis’ side. Missouri has a chance to halt this egregious type of corporate welfare, and that’s the kind of progress we can all support.