By Scott Tibbs, July 2, 2007
The controversy involving Jeff Sagarin's property strengthens my belief that there should be criminal penalties, including prison time, for government officials who violate someone's Constitutional rights. As our liberties are increasingly threatened by a government that is growing bigger and more powerful, reforms need to be made to provide deterrence to government officials who violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
A government that ignores the rule of law is far more dangerous to our liberty than any Islamic terrorist. The foundation of our system of government is the Constitution, establishing that the nation's highest authority is a system of laws rather than the whim of a legislature or executive. The United States of America is not a nation founded because of a shared heritage or ethnicity; the US is a nation founded to secure the blessings of liberty for her people. Attacks on that liberty are therefore acts of treason.
A refresher: there is a walking path through Sagarin's property built by city government over three decades ago. It turns out that the city has no easement or any legal documentation proving that the path belongs to city government. Sagarin wants the path removed. Mark Kruzan told the Herald-Times "The bottom line is that the city intends to retain its right and control of the path." There is no right to retain, Mr. Kruzan! You cannot "control" something you do not have a legal right to control.
Where are the opponents of Interstate 69, who often express concern about eminent domain for the interstate highway? At least land taken for I-69 will be taken through proper legal channels as required by the Constitution. The same cannot be said for the walking path through Sagarin's land, which the city not only intends to keep, but to "improve". Keeping the land without the legal authority to do so is a clear violation of Sagarin's Fifth Amendment rights.
The city's desire that the path remain is reasonable. There are legitimate public safety reasons for the path, and it is popular with the neighborhood. The path was built to provide pedestrians a way to travel without needing to walk along the heavily-traveled High Street. Furthermore, Sagarin knew that the path was there when he purchased his home in 1993, and made the decision to purchase it anyway. I do not see a major infringement from keeping the path there.
If the path is to remain, however, city government must purchase the land. Simply stating that the city will maintain control of the path without the legal authority to do so is both illegal and treasonous. Each day that goes by while the city is digging in and flouting the law is an intolerable attack on the Fifth Amendment. This cannot be allowed to continue, and I hope the courts issue an emergency restraining order on further use of the path until the city follows proper legal procedure to obtain control of it.
Unfortunately, Kruzan's arrogance is nothing new. When a citizen questioned him on what qualifications the Bloomington City Council had to mandate building design and architecture, Kruzan arrogantly answered "They were elected." (See previous articles from December 18, 2005, January 05, 2006, and January 18, 2006.)
It is shocking, but not at all surprising, that city government is breaking the law like this. Mark Kruzan's arrogant decision to brazenly ignore the rule of law demonstrates why he should not be re-elected as mayor of Bloomington. Even if the rest of his administration has been perfect, voters should not tolerate any elected official who urinates on the Constitution the way Mark Kruzan has. I hope the majority of voters in Bloomington choose to replace him in four months.