Saturday, August 11, 2007

From our friend, Lee Ballinger--

Boxing, Eminent Domain and the Deliberate Destruction of Our Youth

Carlos Barragan and his son Carlos, Jr. run a gym for young kids in National City CA. National City is between San Diego and the Mexican border. The gym is a beautiful building which has been refurbished by the donated labor of the neighborhood. It has a row of computers and offers academic tutoring. All of this free.

The city of National City, headed by Mayor Ron Morrison, has used the power of eminent domain to condemn the gym and give it to developers who will replace it with a 24 story condo building. Under a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, cities may now use the power of eminent domain to seize and then give away any property they want to private interests.

What type of guy is Ron Morrison? The mayor before him, Nick Inzunza, had declared National City a sanctuary for immigrants. Immediately upon his election in 2006, Morrison reversed that decision. Immigrants don't buy condos.

On a personal note, the neighborhood I live in is dominated by a major thoroughfare that is filled with mostly small businesses. Businesses that provide services we need and many jobs. The city is about to seize a several block long portion of this thoroughfare so that a hideous five story block of condos can be built (talk about urban blight!). Under the present plan, this project will stop across the street from my house. However, if the developers want to extend it, say, one block north, the city could make a non-negotiable offer for my house. Take it or leave it, my house would be given to the developers.

In 1949, corporations paid 49% of all taxes. Now it's 7%. They created jobs. Now they eliminate them. Corporations no longer play a useful role in our society. Either we will make them public property that serves the public interest or the corporations will destroy life as we know it. We, as artists, must use our talents to get the American people to see the choice that faces them.