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    Junket First, Council Business Second, As Stealth Lobbying Continues Against Eminent Domain Reforms

    (Dec. 2, 2005) -- Cancelling city business for a taxapayer-paid junket is bad enough, but letting LB taxpayer money fund stealth-lobbying against the interests of LB homeowners should be intolerable to LB voters. We provide a simple, hardball remedy to this abuse below.

    LB City Councilmembers (all of them, not just the junketeers) cancelled LB's Dec. 6 Council meeting to let some members jet across the country (tickets, travel, food, lodging, registration paid by you) for an event staged by a privately-run outfit calling itself the "National League of Cities," a group to which LB City Hall also sends annual dues.

    As has previously reported, the "Nat'l League of Cities" filed a Friend of the Court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against the interests of homeownwers so local government could constitutionally seize homes by eminent domain for private developments that supposedly produce public economic benefits.

    The appalling 5-4 Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London ignited a firestorm nationally, sparking calls for legislation in DC and Sacramento giving property owners protection. Predictably, the "National League of Cities" and its allies are mounting a jihad against the reform legislation.

    The "National League of Cities'" website indicates in early November, "State league directors and staff representing 20 states convened in Washington to share strategies for dealing with eminent domain legislation which is being considered in many state legislatures across the country." The group used the services of an associate professor of "communication and government" (described as an "expert in political leadership, public opinion, and state government") who reportedly "stressed that to win the debate over eminent domain we must 'reframe the issue to start from the audience’s perspective.'"

    Similar propaganda tutoring will likely take place at the Dec. 6-10 "National League of Cities" meeting in North Carolina. Scheduled for opening day is a "workshop" described as follows: "The Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London opened rather than closed the debate on the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. Panelists will explore the implications for cities and how to navigate the use of eminent domain in a post-Kelo environment."

    As has separately reported, five legislative committees recently held an extraordinary joint meeting in Sacramento on CA Redevelopment reform and eminent domain abuses. ( has provided detailed coverage of this, including audio, click here.)

    Despite the raging controversy, LB Councilmembers have evaded taking action to support remedial legislative in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. Meanwhile, City Hall quietly keeps taxpayer dollars flowing to the "National League of Cities" where they're used to help fund pro-City Hall, anti-homeowner lobbying.

    LB politicians eagerly seek homeowners' votes by "walking" neighborhoods to "meet" homeowners...who are considered valuable "high propensity voters." But once in office, some LB elected officials become overly "business friendly" to development interests at the expense of homeowners...whom some people in this town consider "NIMBYs" for trying to protect and enhance their family investments. The truth is, LB property owners (including those detrimentally impacted by the City's Port and Airport) provide the major share of tax revenue to run LB City Hall. Your next property tax installment (due Dec. 10) provides a significantly larger share of City Hall revenue than hotel room tax or sales tax.

    We think it's fair for LB voters to insist that the people they elect show by their actions that they are homeowner friendly. The next time a Council incumbent knocks on your door asking for your support, ask them what they've done to stop LB tax money from being used for stealth lobbying against your homeowner interests on eminent domain. Apply the same standard to Council challengers by seeking a commitment from them to take action to stop the stealth lobbying within 60 days of their election.

    If the incumbent or challenger won't commit to taking action within 60 days, politely tell them they won't have your vote. Simple as that.

    Although defenders of the status quo may claim the "National League of Cities" gives LB a "voice," the group failed to give LB and other U.S. cities an effective voice just months ago when the federal Energy bill stripped LB and other U.S. cities (and states) of significant local control over siting and safety decisionmaking for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities. (A League official co-signed a belated, useless letter in opposition, contrasting with the League's high visibility opposition to emiment domain legislation.)

    LB homeowners shouldn't accept having their property tax dollars spent for stealth lobbying against their interests. LB property owners shoulder the burdens, pay extravagant city pensions, endure closed libraries, bail out an Aquarium that no longer bears their city's name...and still don't receive police levels recommended by City Hall over ten years ago.

    We'd rather see library hours extended with the "National League of Cities" dues and junket money. Wouldn't you?

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