Out-of-state developer Howie Rich’s Proposition 2 got the bum’s rush in Idaho, losing by an overwhelming 76-to 24%. Except for $50 all of the money spent in Idaho on behalf of the ballot initiative came from Howie’s group. Conservative Idaho voters saw it for what it was, a radical effort to remake the foundations of private property.

Rich managed to get his sneak proposal on the ballot in a number of other Western states. Mostly it was rejected, but Arizona voters fell for the bait and approved his plan to destroy any regulation of land use. Arizona, already notorious for their urban sprawl and wasteful use of water, will now have to pay people to not misuse their land and in doing so harm the property of others. To be fair, I should add the Rich’s Idaho initiative was the worst of the bunch. As proposed in Idaho, the nuisance maker would get money without even first being subjected to land use enforcement. I really can’t see any difference between what was proposed and organized crime extracting “protection money” from property owners.

If it wasn’t for paid signature gatherers, Rich’s initiatives would not have found their way on the ballot in any state. While I think paid signature gathering should be illegal, and bet most others agree, the U.S. Supreme Court in its wisdom has decided that money spent this way amounts to constitutionally protected speech, so paid signature gathering can continue to be used to undermine the basis of civil society for any number of schemes.

The Boise Weekly reports on Prop 2.

Back in the early 20 th century, the ballot initiative was created to bypass legislatures and governors who had been bought off. While this was and may still may be a great problem, the initiative process itself has largely become a route whereby special interests, not the public, try to buy themselves favorable laws, pummel the liberties of others, and generally make mischief.

Here is a summary of Rich’s mischief as reported in New West.

Added Nov. 12, from the Idaho Mountain Express. Cities hail failure of Proposition 2. ‘Takings’ initiative soundly defeated in Blaine, other counties.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Phoney property rights measure (Prop 2) goes down in Idaho; Arizona dummies approve it

  1. avatar dcookie says:

    Apologies for the previous partial post. Ralph- Feel free to remove it. I pressed the wrong key at the wrong moment…
    What i meant to say:
    Tuesday’s election changed the political equation significantly for environmental issues. I know some folks are thinking things just got worse for their causes. I know there are very significant challenges ahead. I know there are positions on both sides of every issue and real needs to address. But this administration has destroyed science, dialogue and collaboration time and time again in America. That has been it’s greatest failure.
    I see where you are having a bit of posting trouble, so I edited this a bit. Ralph

  2. avatar JimBob says:

    As an Arizona resident I can’t believe this passed either until I remember two things: One, this state’s policy is ruled by real estate interests and extractive use businesses. The other is the memory of past and present incidents where local city governments are running rampant with eminent domain laws–taking property from private citizens and giving it to developers who supposedly will increase the tax base. This is justified as “for the public good” (the increase in tax base). Scary and Orwellian isn’t it? I think the voters were confused and mis-guided to be honest. The summary of the proposition did not explain it well on the ballot. I knew there would be problems!

  3. Idaho’s vote against the sneak initiative was greatly aided by the Idaho real estate community which correctly viewed the bill as not in their interests.
    That left the only Idaho supporters (excluding the confused) those landowners who hoped to turn speculative land value gains into guaranteed gains by blackmailing taxpayers.
    In other states, opponents of Howie Rich’s campaign to remake property law, didn’t have this crucial support, leaving voters open to the misleading (actually flat out lies) perpetrated by the libertarian proponents of payment for regulatory takings.

  4. avatar dcookie says:

    fyi- California voters turned down Prop 90, a takings law disguised as eminent domain protection for homeowners. Had it passed, it would have opened a pandora’s box of lawsuits, regulatory takings, local funding crises, and environmental damage. Election day was scary because local media reported Proop 90 as winning well into the night. In the end it won just barely (~52%). Eminent domain may need some tweeking, but Prop 90 would have gone off like a bomb. This thing had a Pombo-like stink all over it. But opposition became massive towards the end. For 2 weeks before the election, all tv ads were against Prop90 and the No’s had a very broad coalition. I suspect that Californians won’t get fooled again. However, the Yes’s have already announced their intention to put another (the same) prop on the ballot next time….

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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