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Time for a revolution


Call me a contrarian, but I am thrilled by the recent Supreme Court decision that sanctions the use of eminent domain to throw commoners out of their homes and shut down their tiny businesses to make way for Costco stores, golf courses and shopping malls. Huzzah!

Now all the cash-strapped middle and lower classes can see that government muck-a-mucks have no interest in supporting the property rights of the average citizen when important business leaders stand to profit.

I anticipate that the revolution will start next week.

As a reporter, I am unashamedly slathering over the prospect of our well-armed residents of eastern El Paso County flooding into gun shops to purchase fresh rounds of ammunition and siege provisions. Because the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision are clear to anyone who lives on the 660 square miles of Colorado prairie land coveted by Ray Wells, the developer who proposes building a toll highway stretching from Fort Collins to Pueblo: Your property deed means nothing, bucko.

In a case brought by homeowners of New London, Conn., the Supremes ruled 5-4 in favor of the city, which forced the sale of their homes to make way for a commercial complex. Never mind that the right to eminent domain previously had been constrained to such things as public roadways, fire stations, police precinct headquarters and the like. Now, a Wal-Mart store, private golf course, high-end condominium complex or theme park has as much validity as, say, a public hospital, so long as a governmental body says so.

Here in Colorado, Gov. Bill "Never Met a Developer I Didn't Like" Owens must have clicked his heels in glee. In the first week of June, Owens vetoed two bills passed by the state Legislature that would have crippled Wells' "Super Slab" highway project. Residents of the Eastern Plains -- an overwhelmingly conservative lot who enthusiastically supported Owens' election -- justifiably felt they had been stabbed in the back.

Wells, undoubtedly, is revving up the bulldozers and land scrapers to roll over the houses, farms and ranches that now obstruct the corridor of land that will hold the "Super Slab."

Sure, we all can see the need for a new high-speed expressway, as Colorado transforms into the California of the Rockies, but it will hardly be public -- unless, that is, you have a sack of gold in your car to pay Wells' tolls. The rest of us impoverished bastards will slog along traffic-jammed I-25.

Meanwhile, I can hardly control my glee. Finally, people are waking up to the fact that Gov. Owens and other politicos aren't really looking out for the little guy. Drop a few thousand into their campaign coffers and build away. This land is your land (when you are wealthy and politically connected)! That's the message a majority of the Supremes has endorsed. It's only a matter of time before city councils and elected county officials start declaring massive areas of their jurisdictions "blighted" and invite greedy developers to create new havens for our wealthiest citizens to shop, play and live. Then people will see that we clearly are caught up in class warfare. And we, the average working stiffs, are losing.

Fortunately, our founding fathers foresaw this outcome, and they gave us a solution. This July 4, get out the document that launched the fireworks holiday.

Right in the Declaration of Independence, it says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Let the revolution begin!

Gavin Ehringer is a freelance writer and photographer living in Colorado Springs.

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