Dr. Homer Tourkakis, the Arnold dentist whose property the town of Arnold has wanted for years in order to build a strip mall, exhausted nearly all of the political and legal options open to the average Missouri property owners. Despite all of that, justice remains beyond his reach. Because his own elected officials on both the state and local level, and now the state judiciary system, will do nothing to stop his successful dentistry office from being seized for private economic development, Tourkakis has concluded that there is only way to assure Missouri property owners that they do, indeed, own their property: amend the constitution.
He penned an op-ed, which appeared in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
When I started my dental practice in the the city of Arnold more than two decades ago, I never dreamed that years of hard work could be wiped out at the stroke of a pen. I believed that if I worked hard, played by the rules and supported myself and my family, my elected officials would protect my right to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Those illusions were shattered one week ago when a Missouri Supreme Court decision held that the state constitution allows Arnold — like other non-chartered cities (those with populations of 5,000 people or fewer and lacking the equlivalent of local constitutions) — to take my property and give it to a private developer.
Our laws, therefore, allow private developers to deal with city governments to take the property of ordinary Missourians like me, and neither my elected representatives nor the courts can do anything to stop it. As a result, I have concluded that Missouri property owners need to take matters into our own hands and amend the state constitution to prohibit the use of eminent domain for private profit.
In recent years, I have been repeatedly disappointed by my public officials. The year after the 2005 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Missouri Legislature enacted eminent domain legislation that did almost nothing to protect property owners like me. And last week, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri constitution doesn’t protect me either.
The only way left to protect our property rights is to amend the state constitution to prohibit the use of eminent domain for private profit.
The whole piece is worth reading.