Thursday, January 5, 2012

Claire's Eminent Domain

Mass Appeal News: KC Race track draws ire:
Loud noise or racing history? That’s the dilemma facing Kansas City public officials and supporters of the Kansas City International Raceway, a popular drag racing strip on the brink on demolition. On Wednesday (Nov 2), the Planning and Zoning Committee gave clearance to the park board to purchase the race track, which consists of 93 acres along Noland Road near 350 Highway in the southeast part of Kansas City.
“It has been a long time coming,” said 5th District at-large Councilwoman Cindy Circo. “It was a priority, and there was money available for it.”
On May 26, a condemnation notice was sent out by Capital Projects Development to NP3 Racing Incorporated, the rightful owner of KCIR.
Word on the street claims NP3 and other property owners in the vicinity were given ultimatums to either sell their lots or risk condemnation.
Some believe Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is one of the parties primarily responsible for what many believe is a forced sale. She reportedly owns several acres in the immediate area that she has been trying to sell for years. The aforementioned Circo is a known fundraiser for McCaskill. See the correlation?
Like McCaskill (pictured left), Christine Kemper of the Kansas City Sports Commission owns a property near the track. She is also a long-time adversary of KCIR. And, although Kemper has been successful in levying fees and operational restrictions against the drag racing strip, she couldn’t muster enough momentum to shut the track down.

Let me start out by saying that the "sale" of the track is not a decision that the owners want to make. They are not sell-outs, nor are they willingly abandoning the racing community. They are as deeply tied to racing, if not more, than anyone here.

In a nutshell, this was a political move. It may be one person, it may be a combination of people, but there are only 3 major players who have the kind of clout around KC to force the sale of the track.

1. Claire McCaskill. She owns approximately 27 acres (I believe) in the immediate vicinity of the track. My understanding is that she has been unable to market or sell her property for a significant profit because of the proximity of her property to the race track. That might make a good motive to lean on the city to force the track out of operation. And you can't forget councilwoman Circo...who also happens to be a fundraiser for Claire McCaskill. Interesting how that works out, isn't it?


Next, while what the city may try to claim is that this is a voluntary sale, nothing could be further from the truth. The city had been trying to buy the track for a while, but could never come up with any money. So the track entered into negotiations with another buyer (who would actually keep the track there, but would result in an infusion of cash for the track). After finding out that the current owners had found a buyer that would keep the track where it is, the city sent a letter threatening the condemnation of the land. Guess what that did to the sale of the property.

Tony's Kansas City (while this link is fine, some Tony's KC posts are NSFW) does a good job deconstructing the ordinance fact sheet in these three docs:
Did Claire McCaskill pull Cindy Circo's strings for the eminent domain threat? Will McCaskill profit from putting a small business, the Kansas City International Raceway, out of business?

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