Well it is not so new at all. The stupid idea has been around for ages that municipal planners can engineer an economy if only they have enough of your tax dollars and free reign over property rights.
Take for instance the reason why we have super majority votes for the purchase of municipal bonds. Back in the hey-day of American expansion in the west, small town big-shots would bond a railroad or canal link to pass by their respective cow town with the promise of “if we build it they will come.” Not all the municipal “investments” panned out. In fact, not many municipal investments pan out – for everyone.
But a majority on our US Supreme Court don’t care about history. They are collectivists, socialists, communitarians, elitists, however you want to describe them you need to protect yourself with something beside rhetoric.
Several years ago our cracker-jack research team at The Coalition of NH Taxpayers unearthed the premier legal article on the subject: "Judicial Activism and Municipal Bonds: Killing Two-Thirds with one Stone?" by John Hays Mershon. Virginia Law Review, V56, #2, 1970. (This article explains the cycles of attempts in different states to reduce super-majorities to spur more municipal spending.)
It seems many small communities in the 1800’s went bankrupt bonding questionable public projects, leaving local residents to pay off the debt incurred by pro-bond voters who simply moved out of town when the going got tough. So supermajority votes became the taxpayer’s protection. A supermajority vote requirement, in theory, would make it less likely a special interest group could carry the day at the polls for a suspicious proposal.
So what do super-majority approved municipal bonds have to do with private property rights? How about taxpayer protection you control at the local level!
A municipal bond is how a city council or board of aldermen normally pays for any major municipal fiasco. And the way it works is to get enough voters to pass spending they will enjoy the “benefit” of but not have to pay for – parents who vote for 30 year bonds for unnecessary multi-million dollar schools and who plan to leave town after the kids graduate is one group that comes to mind. Knee-jerk taxers is another group bond proponents always count on.
Just as tax-and-spenders in our legislature back in 1999 supported unconstitutional changes to supermajority votes required for municipal bonds in Senate Bill # 2 towns and schools in an effort to increase their chances of passing huge school construction bonds before student populations dropped too far to justify them, taxpayers should now begin demanding protection from city and town planners armed with the new power to take private property for private use by creating supermajority referendum requirements on municipal bonds.
If the NH legislature passed a bill that required a two thirds, or better yet, three quarter supermajority vote of the legislative body to pass any municipal bond for the purchase of private property for a private use, taxpayers would be a lot safer.
In cities with a town council or board of aldermen that approve bonds it is time to amend your charter to add a supermajority ballot referendum for municipal bonds.
Let the US Supreme Court keep making crazier and crazier decisions until they all fall on deaf ears. We still have some tools left in our box and we should use them.
Ed Naile, Chair
Coalition of NH Taxpayers