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Murphy’s law

By J.H. Huebert
Monday, March 18, 2002

Is it fair that one man should be forced to turn over his property to another man just because the other is his political superior? Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and City Planner Susan Golomb seem to think so.
Mayor Murphy, as you may know, once again is entertaining the use of the government’s power of eminent domain to take longtime Downtown businesses and real estate from their rightful owners and give the land to private developers who want to build things like a luxury hotel and new retail complex. This means that if community members like the 101-year-old family-owned Harris Brothers Florists and others who have been established there for decades refuse to surrender their property voluntarily, the city will simply take it from them.

The resurfacing of this threat has attracted the attention of the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C., public-interest law firm that represents victims of eminent domain abuse in court for free. The institute played a pivotal part in defending these same Pittsburghers two years ago, when Murphy threatened to take their businesses and hand their land over to Chicago developers. The IFJ has vowed to stand up for them again.

Golomb, whose Plan C Task Force recommended the use of eminent domain to the mayor, argues that the institute doesn’t have any business telling her and the mayor how to run their city. “I think the issue you should understand is that the Plan C Task Force is made up of Pittsburghers,” she says. “The Institute for Justice is not a group of Pittsburghers.”

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