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February 06, 2005
Help the Gambles in Norwood
The City of Norwood, Ohio and Rookwood have finally done it. As you probably know, Joy and Carl Gamble were kicked out of the only home they have ever known. The Gambles and one of our attorneys, Bert Gall, appeared on NBC's The Abrams Report yesterday to talk about the issue, and they were joined by Norwood's mayor and attorney.
Since it aired, it is our understanding that the City of Norwood has been flooded with emails and telephone calls today as a result of the television appearance - and they don't like it. We want the deluge to continue, so Norwood knows what it's doing is wrong. We urge you to call or write Norwood, to denounce their despicable actions. You can also contact MSNBC to weigh in on the issue.
Click Here for contact information for Norwood or The Clerk of Council's number is (513) 458-4594
You can contact the Abrams Report at email@example.com
Below is a copy of the transcript which can also be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6915745/
Then, you get word that the big bad developer wants to expand his nearby mall and build chain stores, office buildings and condominium and your home, among others, is in the way of the expansion. You will be forced to pack up your life and move out. How is this possible? Under a law called imminent domain, which is the power of a governmental entity to take private real estate for public use, with or without permission of the owner.
Joining me now, Joy and Carl Gamble, Jr. who are fighting to keep their Norwood, Ohio home from becoming part of a shopping mall expansion and their attorney Bert Gall with the Institute for Justice. Thank you all for coming on the program.
All right, Mr. and Mrs. Gamble, give me a sense of—let me start with you Mrs. Gamble, where do we stand in this battle and what‘s happened. What‘s the latest?
JOY GAMBLE, HOME SEIZED: Well, we have been forced to pack our belongings and we have been forced to move out of here. But we‘re not through fighting. There is still an appeal in the courts. We do hope to come back here to our home. We do hope to save our home. But right now, we have to vacate it.
ABRAMS: And Mr. Gamble, how do they determine how much money you got for the house?
CARL GAMBLE, JR., HOME SEIZED: They determined the money through the court system.
ABRAMS: And how much did they give you?
C. GAMBLE: Two hundred and eighty thousand.
ABRAMS: And you weren‘t interested in selling at all, right?
C. GAMBLE: Right, not interested in that money at all.
ABRAMS: All right, Mr. Gall, where do we stand legally?
BERT GALL, GAMBLES‘ ATTORNEY: Well, legally, what the city of Norwood is doing is unconstitutional, it is wrong, and it is outrageous. The Constitution only allows cities to take property for a traditional public use like a road or a bridge or a courthouse. But the founding fathers never envisioned that developers could get cities to take land so that they could build a shopping mall or condominiums. I mean that is just unconstitutional.
ABRAMS: And the Supreme Court is considering this issue, as well, right?
GALL: Yes. This February the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on the issue of whether economic development, the idea that taking somebody‘s home, bulldozing it so that it will create more jobs and more taxes is a public use...
GALL: ... and it can‘t be a public use because, you know, everyone‘s home could generate more tax dollars if you bulldozed it and turned it into a business. And everyone‘s business could generate more tax dollars if you bulldozed it and turned it into a big box store. By that standard, no one‘s or no one‘s business is safe.
ABRAMS: All right. Well it sounds, you know, in its face like a pretty straightforward argument. It is not. Joy and Carl Gamble are going to stick around, as is their attorney.
The mayor who has forced the Gambles essentially to leave their home joins us, along with his lawyer.
And later, brawling on the court not confined to NBA fans. There‘s a tape out there that could mean the Michigan authorities really did the right thing by charging fans and players in Detroit. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: You‘re living in a home for 30 years, then you‘re kicked out for a shopping mall. We‘ll talk a little bit more with a couple who‘s fighting their city. First the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. We‘re talking about a case where a couple lived in a house for over 30 years are being kicked out so they can build a shopping mall. Before we go to talk to the mayor who comes across as the big bad mayor in this case, but I‘m sure he‘s got an argument on this one. We‘ll debate it. Here‘s Anne Thompson with a little more.
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Atlantic Avenue, two visions of the future are on a collision course. The city of Norwood, Ohio sees an upscale mall and apartment complex here...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Match them up in there.
THOMPSON: ... as Joy and Carl Gamble see the rest of their lives in the house they bought 35 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s my home. It‘s my only home. The only home I ever had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a little castle.
THOMPSON: But it may not be theirs much longer. The city has ordered them to leave by February 3, buying 99 homes and businesses to make way for the mall, declaring the neighborhood deteriorating.
THOMPSON (on camera): What makes it deteriorating?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The noise, the congestion. This used to be a quiet neighborhood. It‘s not anymore.
THOMPSON (voice-over): The Gambles say this is an abuse of government power.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are taking one piece of private property, taking it away from us and giving it to somebody else who is a private individual and that‘s not fair.
THOMPSON: How is this possible? Using a law called eminent domain governments have long been able to force the sale of private property for public use, such as courthouses and highways, but the practice now includes making way for private developments.
RICHARD BRIFFAULT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: It could be office parks, industrial parks, big box stores on the theory that these will provide bigger tax base and more jobs.
THOMPSON: While most of the Gambles neighbors want to sell, the Gambles are holding on...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where‘s the article with our picture in the paper?
THOMPSON: ... taking their fight to court.
(on camera): If the development fails, Mayor Williams says the city of Norwood will lose big time, one to $2 million a year in taxes. But if the development goes through, the Gambles say what they will lose is priceless.
(voice-over): A judge upheld the city sale of the property and awarded the Gambles $280,000 for the three-bedroom house.
(on camera): Is there any amount of money that could get to you move?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No.
THOMPSON (voice-over): Two visions with no room for compromise that will change forever the future of a city or a family.
Anne Thompson, NBC News, Norwood, Ohio.
ABRAMS: And back with us now are Joy and Carl Gamble, Bert Gall, who is their attorney. And now joining us is Norwood‘s mayor, Thomas Williams, and special counsel for the city of Norwood, Tim Burke.
All right, so we‘ve heard from the Gambles. Mayor Williams, you know that you come across in this as sort of the big bad guy taking away their home. Lay out your case for us.
THOMAS WILLIAMS, NORWOOD, OH MAYOR: Well, it‘s been going on for two and a half years. Here‘s the situation in our city. Over the past years, we‘ve lost industry and it‘s just changed. Manufacturing has diminished and left. And this is not the first urban renewal project this city has done over the past 10 or 15 years.
This is an area that has been deteriorating the quality of life with traffic and everything else. And 65 homeowners have decided that they want to sell and move on with their lives because they were uncomfortable in the area. And it‘s more than just a shopping mall. It‘s 300,000 in office space, retail and 200 units—living units. So it‘s a little more than that.
And it‘s—our city, as most other cities in our area, are facing a deteriorating income and an increased call for services. And it‘s one of those things. It‘s a decision that you have to make for the benefit of 20,000 other residents.
ABRAMS: Mr. Burke, Mr. Gall makes a legal argument, which essentially says, you start doing this with private property, he says essentially we get the highways. We get the use of purely public use. But he‘s saying once you start getting into the business of taking private people‘s homes and using it for other private purposes, then every city is going to make a determination, not based on who owns the home, but what‘s best for the finances of that particular city.
TIM BURKE, NORWOOD, OH SPECIAL COUNSEL: Mr. Gall is ignoring 50 years of American jurisprudence because urban renewal started in Washington, D.C. and the Supreme Court has long upheld doing exactly what the city of Norwood is doing here, and that is acquiring property that has deteriorated or is deteriorating and turning it into something better for the benefit of the entire community.
ABRAMS: But that‘s republic. I mean there is a difference...
ABRAMS: ... is there not?
BURKE: No, look around American cities and you will find that for the last 50 years, most urban renewal projects, particularly in downtown cores, have been done using urban renewal and where necessary using eminent domain. And it‘s not just for roads and bus stations and that type of thing. It‘s been for hotels and office buildings and the other kinds of things which bring in jobs, which create opportunity for people and their families and which do produce tax revenue for their community.
ABRAMS: So Mr. Gall, this has been happening all the time.
GALL: Unfortunately, the abuse of eminent domain for the benefit of private parties does happen all the time. But that‘s no reason that it should continue. And that‘s why courts across the country are starting to clamp down and make sure this kind of abuse won‘t occur. And that‘s why the Supreme Court we hope is also going to stop this abuse. Because it is fundamentally wrong to take one private person‘s property, transfer it to someone who‘s richer and more powerful for their private use...
GALL: ... and that‘s what‘s going on...
ABRAMS: Look, as I said before, it sounds like the mayor is sort of the big bad guy in this story. But what about the practical reality that this one home could hold up so many other people in the community from benefiting. I mean the bottom line is if you‘re going to do a cost benefit analysis, I think there‘s no question that the community is going to benefit as a whole—all those individuals are going to be able to utilize that property, that land much more productively, if they are allowed to use this property.
GALL: What the community is going to benefit from is knowing that their property rights are secure and what they are going to be insecure about is knowing that their city council is going to give up their land and give it to a private developer whenever it thinks that somebody can make more money with that land. So how is economic development achieved by that kind of situation where no one‘s home or business is safe?
ABRAMS: Mayor Williams, I‘ll bet—and you tell me. I don‘t know the answer to this—but I‘ll bet that the majority of the members of the community probably support you on this one.
WILLIAMS: That‘s true. The council that voted on this originally, I was a member with—all were elected. And one of the things I think you got to remember that if you remember what Mr. Burke said, this is done all across the country. And I can‘t help but to feel that for some reason there are certain organizations that are trying to generate feelings to gain revenue or attention for themselves. And for some reason, once again, it‘s landed on the city of Norwood. What‘s been done is perfectly legal and upheld by the courts.
ABRAMS: But you can understand why Mr. and Mrs. Gamble are frustrated, right?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And I probably know—and I‘ve probably talked to Mr. and Mrs. Gamble more than the people who want to push their agendas, who come into our city and voice their opinion and then leave. I‘ve probably talked to them and cared just as much, if not more about them, than they do who are using them to further their own agendas and that‘s as simple as I can put it.
ABRAMS: All right, Mrs. Gamble, your response?
J. GAMBLE: I don‘t recall talking very much to Mr. Williams. A few things—I think just a few things. I think I remember him saying you people are asking too much for your homes. I heard him say that one time.
ABRAMS: What is the value of the home, Mayor Williams? I mean we know the court has said $280,000. Do you know what the value would be were you not to be using it for a mall, et cetera?
WILLIAMS: I‘m certainly not a real estate appraiser...
ABRAMS: I would have thought that would have come up in court. Mr. Gall, do you know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were—no, Mr. Gall was not involved in the evaluation trial.
ABRAMS: I‘m sorry. I meant Mr. Burke. Sorry. I apologize. Go ahead Mr. Burke.
BURKE: There were a variety of different opinions given by expert witnesses in the case. But the fact of the matter is the $280,000 that the Gambles were paid far exceeds the purchase price for any single family home in that section of Norwood ever before.
ABRAMS: Mr. And Mrs. Gamble, what do you do now, in addition to fighting in the courts?
C. GAMBLE: I‘m retired. That‘s all I do.
ABRAMS: Well, you got $280,000 now. Are you going to go buy a new home?
C. GAMBLE: I don‘t have it. I don‘t want it.
ABRAMS: But, you know, but let‘s assume that things continue to go, are you just going to—as a matter of principle, do what? Go to—how are you going to deal with it?
C. GAMBLE: It‘s a matter of the way I feel.
ABRAMS: No, I‘m not...
C. GAMBLE: I want my home.
ABRAMS: All right.
C. GAMBLE: This home.
ABRAMS: Fair enough. Joy and Carl Gamble, thanks for joining us on the program. Bert Gall, Mayor Williams, Tim Burke, it‘s an interesting issue and we‘ll see what the U.S. Supreme Court determines on this issue as well. It‘s going to be a fascinating argument.Posted by Coalition Webbies at February 6, 2005 05:06 PM