Recently, State Rep. Warren Kampf published an op-ed calling for an end to uncivil discourse.
Of particular concern to him was the community response to the Phoenixville Area School Board’s seizure of an $8 million dollar property that includes a private residence and family business. After 100+ years, the family was given 30 days notice to vacate. (You can’t even evict a squatter from your own property in that time.)
Mr. Kampf desires civility, as do I. There are few things less civil than grand larceny, and the eviction of a family from their own property. The PASB’s violation of private property is destroying a family business. Their seizure will also strip the community of Meadow Brook Golf Course, a treasured source of outdoor recreation and open space for the community.
The school board already has ample property for new schools. Even if they had a legitimate need for additional property, they have had many years to purchase a property, without resorting to forced confiscation of private property. Let’s be clear about one thing. Eminent domain is legalized theft, enforced by threat of lethal violence. If you doubt this, consider what would happen if the rightful owners of this property refused to vacate on command. The sheriff would attempt to force their removal. If they resisted sufficiently, they would be shot. The PASB is committing armed robbery. There is no consent, no moral justification, and certainly no civility.
Mr. Kampf seems appalled in the way that community members have raised awareness about this land grab. Evidently, it is unacceptable to demonstrate near the property of the school board members responsible for the theft, but actually seizing property is just fine.
If the PASB was interested in civil discourse, they would have announced long ago that they were considering this seizure. In fact, school board members intentionally chose to avoid all public mention of eminent domain, favoring euphemisms like “land acquisition.”
My own open records request for more details has been denied until well after last Sunday’s seizure. Civil discourse requires both civility and actual discourse, which the PASB has flatly denied. Instead of proudly operating in the light, they have chosen back room scheming. How can we have any discourse at all with the records being sealed?
Mr. Kampf extols the virtues of “our representative democracy,” yet exactly who is being represented by this land grab? With the exception of the school board members responsible, I have yet to hear a single voice in support of the land grab. If representative democracy is anything but a myth, then the school board would have immediately halted plans to use eminent domain for land acquisitions. If Mr. Kampf is actually our representative, he would lecture the land grabbers, not the community members standing up for private property.
The community has spoken loud and clear. We believe that private property is a cornerstone of our society. Eminent domain is theft. Public demonstrations must continue against all those responsible for the Phoenixville Land Grab. We need to make an example out of these thieves as a warning to every other politician considering similar actions.
The damage of eminent domain is not just a local problem. No longer satisfied with the wealth confiscated through traditional taxes, greedy politicians are discovering that eminent domain is their new way to fill their coffers and line their pockets.
Karl Marx laid it out for us in the Communist Manifesto, “The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: the abolition of private property.” Pennsylvania is seeing an epidemic of land seizures that would make Karl cheer.
No longer limited to essential highway projects, eminent domain is now being used for anything politicians can dream up, like bulldozing a Kensington community to make way for a private apartment and retail complex, and destroying a famous art gallery to build a grocery store in West Philadelphia.
This is a trend that we cannot afford. As state and federal funds run out, we can expect more land grabs, unless we refuse to cooperate. Kudos to everyone who is taking action against eminent domain and standing against this wholesale theft.