In Kelo vs. City of New London, the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to property rights. A horrified citizenry affected remedies at the state level. In Arizona, the governor vetoed the remedial legislation. Undeterred, a ballot proposition, number 207, made it to the ballot, and was passed overwhelmingly with sixty five per cent of the vote.
Arizona may be an example of the new front in the war for property rights.
Last November a property rights initiative, Prop 207, was passed by an overwhelming sixty-five per cent of the Arizona citizenry. After being betrayed by the courts, then thwarted by a Napolitano veto of corrective legislation, the people took direct action through the initiative process. This is right, fitting, and proper. Remember, it was not an opinion poll. Prop 207 is the law.
Now, no one expects the cities and counties of Arizona to be happy about it. After all, they did spend millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to defeat it. Yet, the less cynical among us might expect that, since it is the law, and the citizens overwhelmingly support it, they might start thinking about how they will comply. The rest of us wondered how the local governments would get around it. Citizens (as opposed to subjects) are truly a thorn in the paw of the government bureaucracy beast.
Well, in mere months, the rest of us have our answer. Many Arizona cities now require property owners to surrender their Prop. 207 rights in order to receive zoning changes and other land use permits. They are required to sign a waiver to that affect.
This little gem of an idea came from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, a lobbying organization representing ninety local governments, and paid in tax dollars. Now, the notion that cities need to hire lobbyists with tax money to promote their interests (as opposed to those of their constituents) is an argument for another day, though I do believe that if these cities were as enthusiastic about the interests of their constituents as they are of their own, the State of Arizona would be a better place.
Apache Junction requires these waivers for all land use transactions, and the cities of Gilbert and Chandler require them for all zoning requests. With its City Councilâ€™s recent lurch to the left, will Tucson be far behind?
Some may scoff and say, â€œCâ€™mon, everyone knows that you canâ€™t sign away rights. Those waivers are not legal under the State or Federal Constitution, and will not survive the first court challenge.â€ Oh yeah? What court? Remember, the highest appellate court in the land said that the City of New Londonâ€™s seizing of Mrs. Keloâ€™s home and giving it to the Pfizer Corporation was a â€œpublic use.â€ That decision, by the members of the Supreme Court, is the court equivalent of the citiesâ€™ waivers.
With Governor Napolitano (also known as â€œJANETâ€) keeping the pantywaist legislators in check, there is no branch of government left to whom we may turn. Thatâ€™s right, there is no knight who will ride in on a white horse and slay the beast. We have to do this, fight for the rule of law, and our rights. It has always been that way.
How, you may ask, do we â€œfightâ€ the evildoers? Try these: Set up a web site where people can pledge to deny support, financial or other forms, to any elected official who allows this lawlessness in his city. Promise a serious primary challenge to any elected official who allows this lawlessness. Generate a list of such officials, and pledge support to their opponents. Ask all candidates for elected office to sign a pledge to seek compliance with ARS 12-1131 (Prop. 207), broadcast the names of those who refuse.
These are just a few ideas. There are many political operatives out there who can conjure up tactics far more juicy than these. Bureaucrats are not the only ones who can play hardball.
We have two choices. We can tame the beast, or give up, and live to feed it.