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Missouri eminent domain ballot title litigation raises concerns about motive


JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: Since the proposal of the Missouri Eminent Domain Reform Initiatives (2010), the ballot title and fiscal impact statements have been challenged by the Missouri Municipal League.[1] But, on Monday, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights, proponents of the measure, filed an audio recording of a November 20th meeting in which a lawyer, identified as Carrie Hermeling, for the firm representing the municipal league was recorded as saying they were using the courts to delay the petition drive.

According to the court filing, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights obtained a copy of the conversation which had been recorded using a pen with a built-in recorder. Hermeling, a partner with Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP, is heard to say on the tape that the case was appealed "with the main objective being to delay the gathering of signatures, and hopefully we're accomplishing that." Gary Markenson, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League, said the allegations are untrue and added, "The main objective of the lawsuit was to come up with fair and impartial ballot language."[2]

In light of the pending lawsuits, supporters of the measure have delayed collecting signatures because should any changes be made to the ballot title, signatures previously collected are void according to state law. Petition signatures are due by May 2, 2010.

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  1. Springfield Business Journal Online, "Eminent domain petitions await court decisions," March 16, 2009
  2. Associated Press, "Motives in Mo. Eminent Domain Measure Scrutinized," December 14, 2009