Dave Hodges

More About: Property Rights

The Great Arizona Mafia (Part 1)

Thomas Jefferson stated that in our system of justice, we are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Our rights are largely protected by the Bill of Rights. Ideally, under the Bill of Rights, the government does not grant these rights because they are inalienable. In other words, government does not bestow these rights, nor can government take away these rights. Hence, Jefferson used the term “inalienable.”  Further, in our system of justice, the government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Therefore, we frequently use the term “ Constitutional Republic” in describing our system of government.  At this point, you must be wondering why I am offering a sixth grade civics lesson. The answer is simple, Americans have become so woefully ignorant as to their constitutional heritage, that we fail to recognize that our Constitution is on life support and our individual liberties, especially our collective property rights, are in danger.


The United States is rushing into a jurisprudence system which could best be described as communitarianism. In communitarian law, citizens also have individual liberties. However, unlike a constitutional system of law, government grants these liberties. If government can grant individual liberties, then they can also take away the individual rights of citizens (e.g., the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, being free from warrant less searches, habeas corpus, freedom from self-incrimination, avoidance of cruel and unusual punishment, being deprived of property without due process of law, etc.). Communitarianism is no more than a bunch of organized criminals, called politicians, who conspire to use the law to deprive people of their previously inalienable rights


Presently, there is not a country on the face of the earth which has historically protected individual liberties as vigorously as the United States. Our citizens, as compared to the rest of the world, are in the clear minority when it comes to individual liberties.

Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), constituted a landmark eminent domain case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner in order to further economic development of the City of New London, CT. The case arose from the condemnation by of privately owned property so that the property could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which bordered a lake. In a widely criticized decision, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that if a community enjoyed economic growth, through the transfer of property ownership, from private citizens to a private developer that such redevelopment plans would be permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Simply put, the Supreme Court rendered every piece of privately owned property, in the United States, to be forfeited pending an eminent domain action by state and local government if such action increased the tax base of government or increases the coffers of the politically friendly corporate campaign contributors.

In Arizona and all across America, constitutionally protected property rights are quickly giving way to communitarianism. Consider the following examples in which local government attempted to seize private property and give it to their private developer friends:

1. The City of Tempe filed an eminent domain action in order to seize the home of Kenneth and Mary Ann Pillow in order to transfer their private property to a private developer who planned to build a series of upscale townhomes.
2. The City of Chandler recently filed an eminent domain action against the owners of a privately owned fast food restaurant in order to replace the fast-food restaurant with upscale dining and retail outlets.

3. In the aftermath of the Kelo decision, the City of Tempe sought to condemn private property in an industrial park in order to make way for an enormous retail shopping mall. In his ruling on behalf of the plaintiffs, Judge Kenneth Fields wrote that “The property will be used for private commercial use, a retail shopping complex.  The private parties owning the property ultimately will use it for private profit purposes… The private developer Miravista Holdings and its principals are the driving forces behind this project not the Plaintiff, City of Tempe.” Despite the fact that Tempe claimed that it needed to condemn the land in order to address some environmental conditions present in the redevelopment area, Judge Fields saw through the City’s eminent domain excuses, recognizing them as a pretext to make a private-to-private land transfer.

4. In February of 2003, Princeton Resorts Group began working on the 20-acre Cibola Vista Resort & Spa. The projected build-out of the property is planned to consist of 240 timeshare units, 100 hotel rooms and several recreational amenities, expected to be completed in 2010. The Cibola Vista resort needed a new road into the subdivision, and to build it they tried to force an elderly couple, Dana and Franklin Haught, out of their home, dubbed the "Cactus Patch Ranch". The developer threatened to use their power and influence with the City of Peoria and then Mayor John Keegan, to enact eminent domain proceedings against Haught property. When the couple refused to move, the City of Peoria enacted condemnation proceedings against the Cactus Patch Ranch. The Haught’s had lived on their little 3½-acre ranch there for 40 years, raising cacti and enjoying their lives. After initially fighting the City of Peoria, and with Franklin declining in health, the couple acquiesced to the eminent domain threats from the Keegan-led city government, and the City of Peoria and Cibola Vista reached an “agreement” with the elderly couple. Subsequently, the City of Peoria dropped the condemnation action it filed to acquire right-of-way necessary for construction of Pinnacle Vista Drive. In a gross underpayment, the parties collectively paid Franklin and Dana Haught $450,000 for their entire 3.5-acre parcel, and home, located north of Jomax Road on the eastside of Lake Pleasant Road. However, it was Franklin that paid the ultimate price for his land as he passed away shortly after being relocated and Dana now resides in Surprise. 

5. If you lease a strip mall, you may lose control over who leases your pads and for how long. Pinal County Superior Court Judge William J. O'Neil decreed that the owners of a strip mall must renew the lease of their tenant Peoria Justice Court for another two years over the objections of the landlord. The court's lease had expired in July and since it would be moved to a new location in eighteen months the county only wanted the space for two years. The owners held out for a five year lease, saying a dance studio had already agreed to a five year term. Mike Freret, Vice President of Development for Orsett/Columbia Ltd. said; "What the lower court said via these actions was that municipalities can create new contracts where none existed before. Further, Freret stated that "This means municipalities can identify a space they want and force a landlord to lease it to them," Freret also stated. "It may mean that if the space they want already has a business owner in it, they could boot them out." It should be noted that because of term limitations, John Keegan must vacate his Peoria mayoral position. He is, however, running for the Justice of the Peace in Peoria. The private property owners of Peoria may want to carefully consider their choice for the Justice of the Peace. Proposition 207 would also protect private property owners against abusive judges like O’Neil.   

And when Americans become aware of the plight of the home and property owners in Wittmann, Arizona, part two of this series will leave you wondering if are closer to communist China or communist Cuba. And unfortunately, for all Americans, this new version of organized crime is not exclusive to Arizona.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Barbara Peterson
Entered on:
Great article. We the People need to understand basic civics, and obviously we don**Q**t. I have posted this with the appropriate link on my Speak Truth 2 Power site. Looking for the next installment.


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