The new Ground Zero in the rekindled war over eminent domain is Riviera Beach, Fla., whose mayor says the potential relocation of as many as 6,000 residents is “necessary to rescue and save the remainder of the people of Riviera Beach.”
Singer Island is part of Riviera Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast
“We are going to rescue and relocate individuals and we will put them in a better position than they’re living in now,” Mayor Michael Brown told Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel tonight. “They are not thrown out into the streets, they are compensated. … It’s no different than building a courthouse or a hospital or anything else.”
The predominantly black city of Riviera Beach, located just north of the more affluent municipalities of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, is looking to revitalize an area some consider an example of urban blight.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an eminent-domain ruling in a Connecticut case, giving governments the power to transfer private property from one private party to another. The decision ignited a firestorm of outrage across the political spectrum.
During the broadcast of “Hannity & Colmes,” a number of residents in the redevelopment zone voiced dismay at what they believe is a government-sanctioned land grab benefiting wealthy citizens and private developers.
“We just can’t believe that this can happen in America. Anywhere else, but not in America,” said longtime resident Princess Wells. “We have so many kids that are losing their lives to keep America safe … and to know they’re going and taking people’s property here while we have young kids dying to protect us is really very sad.”
“Is that the America we want to live in where you take a person’s home?” Hannity asked Mayor Brown.
Michael Brown, mayor of Riviera Beach, Fla.
“The America we want to live in is one that talks about personal sacrifices that you and that your colleagues talk about every night,” Brown said.
“Sounds like the Soviet Union,” responded Hannity.
“This is a redevelopment plan which includes restaurants and condos,” said Brown. “The overall plan is designed to train people, get them better jobs so they can have a living wage and not a minimum wage so we can increase our tax base so that we can pay for fire, police, so we can provide basic services.”
“The city is absolutely doing the right thing,” a 13-year resident of Palm Beach County told WorldNetDaily. “Riviera Beach is currently a ghetto. It’s unsafe. Everyone around the whole area knows to stay out of Riviera Beach. If Sean Hannity were a true conservative, he’d leave it up to the ballot box to get rid of the mayor. But the truth of the matter is, the majority of people in Riviera Beach want the new development.”
One state lawmaker has called the situation a “reverse Robin Hood,” suggesting the city’s poor are being robbed of their possessions to give to the rich.
With the city having a history of financial difficulties, the Palm Beach Post newspaper has suggested a thorough examination of the city’s books, stating in an editorial, “It strains credulity to imagine that Riviera Beach officials who can’t manage a water park or cemetery project will negotiate a deal at the public beach that serves residents better than the developer.”
Residents are now banding together and have created a website to draw national attention to the matter to thwart the city’s plan.
“We got a good group here and we are gonna fight,” one woman vowed to Hannity. “They’re not going to take us.”