John Shirey Calls The Kettle Black

Steven Greenhut: The California Redevelopment Association’s claim that the state’s attempt to take money from redevelopment agencies is a form of “illegal extortion” is one of the most hypocritical and otherworldly statements I’ve heard in a long while. Never mind that redevelopment agencies are an arm of the state and the state can take away the money if it chooses. The real irony is the use of the term “illegal extortion.” Redevelopment agencies are masters at using extortion, legal and at times arguably illegal, to take property from private owners via eminent domain.

The CRA has fought eminent domain reform. It believes that the government should be free to use even the most strong-armed tactics to force homeowners and business owners off of their land so that the properties can be transferred to developers favored by City Hall. Often, redevelopment agencies use extortion to secure properties on the cheap. They go up to owners and say, “Sell us your land or we will take you to court, destroy your life and gain the land through eminent domain.” Most owners just sell rather than go through this horrible process.

Yet CRA’s Executive Director John Shirey issued this statement today:

“We’re deeply disappointed that slim majorities in the legislature passed this budget that relies on the illegal extortion of revenues from redevelopment agencies that will never materialize. This plan is unconstitutional, violating Proposition 22 which was just passed overwhelmingly by voters in November.

“If the Governor signs the redevelopment trailer bills (AB x1 26/27), we’ll quickly file a lawsuit to prevent these unconstitutional measures from becoming law.

“We thank Senator Rod Wright and Senator Bob Huff for their leadership throughout this process, as well as Senators Michael Rubio, Leland Yee, Lou Correa, Assembly Member Anthony Portantino and the many Republicans who refused to vote for this illegal and fiscally reckless proposal.”

Pay careful attention to the names on that list. If they heroes to CRA, they are enemies of property rights and freedom. Senator Huff’s wife even works for one of the biggest redevelopers in the state — Ed Roski, the “king” of the city of Industry. Lou Correa has stood up for property owners in Santa Ana, but he has decided to take a stand for corporate welfare and legal extortion rather than for the working class people in his district.

I can say this. John Shirey should know extortion when he sees it.

JUNE 29, 2011

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