Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deeds and Toscano: Eminent domain not a problem in Va.

Charlottesville, Va.-- Thursday afternoon Delegate David Toscano (57th) and state Senator Creigh Deeds (25th) appeared on WINA’s “Charlottesville Right Now” with host Coy Barefoot.

Barefoot asked about eminent domain in the upcoming session of the General Assembly because “a lot of people” are concerned about this issue. The two Democrats dismissed all those people by saying it’s not a problem in Virginia and we don’t have Kelo-type abuses.

Toscano characterized bills introduced last session to limit eminent domain to public use as bills that would eliminate all bona fide uses of eminent domain.

Neither representative mentioned a single eminent domain loophole that needs to be closed. Deeds and Toscano support any use of eminent domain so there was no reason for them to acknowledge any alleged abuse.

Barefoot allowed his guests to dismiss his question by not asking any number of simple followups like:

So you think it’s okay for an agency to acquire land for a reservoir and never build the reservoir and keep the land anyway?

Or maybe this: So you don’t see any need to change the law so whatever happened at Vinegar Hill doesn’t happen again?

Either question would have exposed Deeds and Toscano as supporters of unlimited eminent domain. To them the abuses are invisible and always will be. Complaints about Vinegar Hill are no reason to stop seizing property for economic development.

By summarily dismissing the entire body of evidence on this issue, the two Democrats dismissed two constituent groups: blacks and elderly. The NAACP and AARP wrote friend of the court briefs asking the Supreme Court to decide the Kelo case in favor of the property owners. Historically, the elderly and minorities have been most at risk of eminent domain.

The League of Cities and Municipalities wrote a court brief in favor of the unlimited interpretation the Supreme Court handed down.

Toscano has a long record of complicity. He was a city councilor on June 5, 2000, when I delivered my first speech on urban renewal. The City Council Chamber was filled with black people because the public hearing to name the 9th-10th Connector after Sally Hemings was on the agenda. The speech received a thunderous applause.

Six years later Toscano has done nothing to address the concerns expressed that night. This afternoon he dismissed all those people again.

“Response to David Toscano and Tammy Londeree on my endorsement of Rob Schilling published on George Loper's blog” April 30, 2006 – Toscano claims credit for stripping eminent domain from Charlottesville charter amendment introduced in ’06 session. In so doing, he claims the bill was passed, then amended by him and later passed again. The Daily Progress reported that a Senate committee, not the House of Delegates, made the changes.

“The letter that stopped Charlottesville’s eminent domain amendment” Jan. 8, 2006 – Includes text of proposed Section 50.7, passed by the Council Nov. 21, 2005, introduced by Blake Caravati who only weeks later announced he would not seek reelection. The amendment passed 4-1. For: Kendra Hamilton, David Brown, Kevin Lynch, Blake Caravati. Against: Rob Schilling.

WINA makes its audio archives of “Charlottesville Right Now” available at


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