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The Lake News Online
  • Lake view: Commissioner’s land grab

  • One of the most common means for government to attract manufacturing companies and plants is the use of an EEZ.
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  • From Barack Obama’s State of the Union address 2013:
    “Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio.
    A once shuttered warehouse is now a state of the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.
    There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.
    So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.”
    One of the most common means for government to attract manufacturing companies and plants is the use of an EEZ.  An EEZ (Enhanced Enterprize Zone) is designed to encourage manufacturing companies to open plants in certain designated areas.  When a company operates in an EEZ, they are given significant tax breaks and other corporate welfare.  These tax breaks and incentives have been shown to harm communities rather than help them.
    Monday night, with little notice, the Camden County Commission met with the public to discuss the creation of an EEZ board.  Approximately thirty citizens showed up to voice concerns about the proposal.
    It was announced that Fire Chief Riley of Sunrise Beach could be part of the EEZ board.  Also, it was mentioned that Macks Creek was asked for a representative from the school.  They curiously deferred, it was stated, to Camdenton for the appointment.
    County Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken indicated that there may be larger abatements to companies coming from outside Missouri than those given to businesses in the state.  Commissioner Luber asked Mac McNally of the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Governments, not once but twice, if there are real examples of successful EEZ’s.  Three of the four counties in LOCOG currently have EEZ’s.  McNally said he did not have the information and would look into it.
    Public sentiment was against the proposal.
    Issues ranged from the lack of notification of the meeting and concerns about tax incentives.  One citizen brought up the recent attempt to bring an EEZ into Columbia and the public’s stance against it.  The EEZ was voted down there.  The reasons for the defeat of the measure in Columbia were many. 
    First, there is no real data to support the claim that EEZ’s provide any benefit to the community.  Companies operating in an EEZ instead receive corporate welfare in places where the work force, often in poverty, has no choice but to accept a low paying job.  In this aspect, the benefits of the EEZ are offset by a further loss of tax dollars.
    Page 2 of 3 - The favorite tool to create an EEZ is a two-fold landgrab.  Through the use of eminent domain and declaring areas blighted, land becomes available to the company at a fraction of market value.  The citizens have little protection against receiving such a designation.  Commonly, inspections are used to determine structures in an area to be deemed blighted.  If this sounds like a familiar refrain, here comes the chorus.
    Franken’s Planning and Zoning Commission met last week and passed controversial Article 600.  They did this without taking public comment, immediately adjourning after voting to pass without changes demanded by the community.  The community had expressed concerns about the vague, arbitrary language used in the article, allowing inspections, notifying lien holders of violations and hefty fines.  After passing Article 600 without changes, Commissioner Cliff Luber stated he believed an agenda was being pursued.
    Franken appears to be a man on a mission.  After taking office, he fired a member of the County IT staff responsible for the county mapping programs and software.  He moved the county land auction notifications from the Lake Sun to a paper with a significantly smaller circulation.  Franken appointed, along with ‘Yes Man’ Gumm, Hathaway to head up the P & Z commission, responsible for delivering us Article 600.  Hathaway, who is not a resident of Camden County, had no hesitation in passing Article 600.  He doesn’t have to abide by the rule, after all.
    Article 600 is the doorway to designate an area acceptable for the placement of an EEZ.
    The beginning of this article took a piece of the State of the Union address given by Obama this year.  In it, Obama says he wants “to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs”.  EEZ’s do not guarantee fabulous, high-tech jobs.
    Regions left behind by globalization are all around us.  They are the rural areas, the small towns, that make up a significant part of our rich tapestry.  These towns, with their tiny homes and their big hearts, are being targeted by Franken’s sights. Franken’s forte is the landgrab.
    The inspections, allowed by Article 600, will begin in towns like Macks Creek and Climax Springs.  They will move against the poor to create cheap land for those who can afford it and are in the loop.  Putting the tools of an EEZ board in Franken’s hands represents a direct threat to all land owners in Camden County.
    Franken cannot be allowed to host his landgrab.  They must be stopped.
    Franken is holding Macks Creek Community Park hostage, refusing to turn it over to the people who paid for it and built it.  His gaze is firmly fixed on finding a way to sell the picturesque park out from under the community.
    Page 3 of 3 - Monday, thirty citizens gathered in opposition to Franken’s proposal.
    Next time, it will be 300.
    We recognize a threat when we see one.  We understand that ‘agenda’ is an appropriate word for the actions of a petty dictator looking to stuff his pockets.  We understand that it is Franken’s fingers on the levers of inspection, of fines, of eminent domain. 
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