Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Government Land Grab

Like the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has a plan. Unlike the Cylons, PennDOT's plan involves the widening of Route 28 along the Allegheny River. This is not a bad idea; while not the most nightmarish road in town, Route 28 could do with the addition of a comfort zone on one side or another.

The problem with this plan involves what lies on either side of the road. A landmark historical church building, no longer in use as a house of worship, would need to be torn down (along with way too many other buildings) to widen the road further inland. On the river side of Route 28, we find railroad property. Norfolk Southern has recently expressed an interest in working with PennDOT to provide the land necessary for the road widening project.

Why only recently? Read the entire Trib article. After the explanations of why the road needs to be widened and how sentimentally valuable the old church is, we find this tidbit:

Until now, PennDOT and the railroad were unable to agree on a plan that would use railway property. That changed after the proposal of a state law that would have allowed Allegheny County government to take railroad property through eminent domain.

"In the course of introducing the legislation, I found it was not necessary to push the movement of the bill because Norfolk Southern became amenable to working with PennDOT," said state Rep. Don Walko, a North Side Democrat. "Suddenly, things just seemed to open up."

"Eminent domain". One of the most vile affronts to property rights in this civilized age, there always seems to be a Democrat involved. This is organized crime by legislation. "If NS won't give us the land, we can just propose a law that will allow us to take it from them." It's like the conversation between Nute Gunray and Darth Sidious in The Phantom Menace, when Gunray is concerned about the legality of occupying the planet Naboo, and Sidious replies, "I will make it legal". It's not just science fiction, folks. That sort of thing also works in the real world.

Did I say science fiction? Storming in and taking private property from the rightful sounds like PennDOT and the Cylons may have the same plan, after all.

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