Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eminent Domain Invoked For Stadium Space: The George W. Bush Precedent

Some Brooklyn residents are combating the forced displacement of their domiciles. Corporate powers are attempting to use eminent domain to clear out parts of Atlantic Avenue, and surrounding blocks, in order to build a sports stadium. This is not an unprecedented event.

Our current President used eminent domain to obtain land to build a sports arena for the Texas Rangers, when he was partial owner of the team. Here is an excerpt from, "The Family: The Real Story Of The Bush Dynasty" By: Kitty Kelley, that tells the story:

"Within a year George [W. Bush] felt he had earned his spurs as the team's managing partner by pushing a proposal through the legislature for a new baseball stadium in Arlington [for the Texas Rangers]. The mayor of the little town was dazzled to be negotiating with the President's son and turned himself inside out to make the stadium a reality. The $190 million package, to be financed mostly by taxpayers, including 270 acres of private land, only 17 of which were needed to build the stadium; the rest was for development. Determined to make money on a bigger and better baseball team as well as land speculation, the owners [of which George W. Bush was one] convinced the city that the new stadium would spur construction of hotels, shops, and office buildings by attracting millions of visitors. Their fanciful plans included an amphitheater, sailboats skimming across a man-made lake, and gondolas to carry fans to the ballpark. To sell the plan to the working class of Arlington, George mounted the pulpit of the Mount Olive Baptist Church one Sunday and declared, 'A vote for the tax would be a vote for contracts for African American businesses.'

The plan passed, the stadium was built, and the book value of the team soared from $86 million to $138 million. The team became valuable- George made a profit of $15 million when the team was sold in 1998- but the commercial development of Arlington never materialized. A decade later, the man-made lake was still a muddy hole, and the gondolas nothing more than slick sales talk. The land grab has been all too real for some families, costing them their homes and their farms. The Rangers' management had made them an offer for their poverty; if they said no, their land was condemned and seized under a legal provision known as eminent domain, which gives the government the power to take private property belonging to its citizens."

Brooklynites, doesn't this sound familiar?

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