What Carlos Todd and Donald Trump Had in Common: Eminent domain and the opening of Liberty Center

The Donald Trump speech from Norcross, Georgia at the North Atlanta Trade Center on Saturday October 10, 2015 was particularly telling of American politics. It was a great speech and it should be watched—seen below. Just a day later after the Sunday morning talk shows Trump continued to beat on the same kind of drum. Trump’s accusations were confirmed when Obama appeared on 60 Minutes later that same day after the football games and was grilled by Steve Kroft over the destabilization of the Middle East, also shown below. In that 60 Minutes segment was discussion over the upheavals in the Republican Party after a week of nobody wanting to be Speaker of the House—because of the Freedom Caucus. There is a lot going on, and it’s very clear that only someone like Donald Trump is equipped to handle the very volatile situation. Obama clearly is not privy to the current trends—he’s in extreme denial—as is most of the Beltway.

On issues regarding the Second Amendment, trade, immigration and economic growth, Trump is a far right conservative—so much so that Republicans should be drooling within the party at his intentions. He has the ability to market the Party in a new way they haven’t enjoyed since Ronald Reagan and they’d do well to embrace him. On the other hand, he is rather liberal regarding taxes, healthcare, and eminent domain. I could argue all day long with Trump on those issues—but they are his thoughts and he couldn’t do any worse than what we’ve had so far. I am willing to take what’s right with Trump metaphorically, and literally and offset the negatives because he is the kind of person who can get things done—and things need to get done. The Party bosses may not like Trump, but they’d be stupid to pass up on the chance of a lifetime. Trump would build a wall on the southern border, he’d expand the military, and he’d restructure the tax system all while stimulating the economy which are all things he’s capable as president to have a direct influence on, and at 70 years old, Trump has enough gas in the tank for one last spectacular decade of his life and America should give him a shot to go out with a bang. Obama has already embarrassed America—stepped all over the Constitution, and caused irreparable damage on Capital Hill. Only extreme success can fix the situation now.

As the Liberty Center shopping complex begins to open in my hometown it is ironic that one of the biggest Republican Party bosses in Butler County’s history was laid to rest. Essentially the Liberty Center shopping complex was made possible because of eminent domain. I was always against the Butler County Regional Highway construction which ran right through all the areas I used to play as a kid. Carlos Todd was a developer who built the Republican Party base in Butler County to essentially use crony capitalism to complete his building projects. Our political system is so dysfunctional that the only way to get projects done on a massive scale is to purchase politicians with money and loyalty—and Carlos Todd was one of the masters. He died at 77 eventually to his battle with cancer leaving quite a power vacuum in his wake.

I was in firm opposition to Todd and his Butler County associates Michael Fox and Bob Shelly as the Butler County Regional Highway used largely eminent domain to destroy my childhood home, a cemetery that had Revolutionary War soldiers in it, and several Indian Mounds that populated the area destroying a lot of potential archaeology. I thought of Todd as evil incarnate on the face of the earth because the Republican Party led by him was buying up property to develop for their projects stepping all over the rights of private citizens in the process. It was incredibly wrong and I was made even more furious when they took my father to a baseball game where the developers had a nice private box and convinced him to sell to Todd all in the name of progress. Their basic sales pitch was, sell and profit, or fight and be destroyed. They had the power of government to destroy, so he should take the money. I had been willing to fight them to the ends of the earth with any means necessary, but it was my father’s property—and his right to do with it whatever he wanted. So the developers got their way.

Well, Michael Fox eventually went to jail, Bob Shelley got into sexual harassment troubles and was pushed out of his trustee seat, and Todd drifted off into the shadows as his grandson took over the family business. There has been a lot of change and upheaval since then as the Regional Highway was built and slowly development began to appear around it. Bridgewater Falls is just such a development, which I have slowly come to enjoy over the years. Liberty Center is the latest, and most spectacular, but was it worth all the pain it caused people to run all over their property rights to build it?

When I started No Lakota Levy all the characters from those eminent domain fights joined together with me to fight the Lakota levy because the local public school was blocking out some of those developers from further work and the district had reached a saturation point. Developers had built all the buildings they could hope to ever construct leaving the taxes enormously high on all future development tipping the balance away from everything that had been built by them. I had always been against the explosive growth because of the sustainability of it, so now I was on the same side as people like Carlos Todd and the developers he largely controlled. It was strange to get to know all of them from a perspective on the other side of the fence. Most of the emails I sent or received had Carlos Todd copied on them so he was well aware of what we were doing and it threw me back to when I was in opposition with him and I was able to map out how he controlled things from a distance. My hatred subsided toward him because I saw what he was doing—he used government—which had stuck itself in every crevice it could over a long period of time—to hedge the bets for his projects in his favor. I couldn’t argue his method or reasoning. The developers were productive people making things that didn’t exist previously—and that was a good thing. Some of them I liked quite a lot, some I didn’t. I worked with them and just did my thing eventually doing as I always do—just sort of taking over. When the heat got too hot for them they checked out and we parted ways. Every time we’d meet toward the end they’d try to poke me into running for office, so I deliberately sabotaged the relationship with them to get out of that circle not because I disliked them, but because I needed to maintain my own course.

I’m sure Todd would have liked to see the Liberty Center open, but he didn’t quite make it. I am proud that its there, and of all the hard work many people endeavored to construct it. I think it’s a miracle of economic activity and the best minds of architecture. But was it worth it? Was it worth the building of the Butler County Regional Highway? The destroyed lives, the destroyed history and the integrity of Butler County politics? The answer is yes—even though it cost me personally. True, the world would have been better if everything had been left alone, but there’s a lot to be said about creating something from nothing and I appreciate that more than stagnation for the benefit of sentimentality.

The reason I told that story is that establishment Republicans, many of which were put in place because of people like Carlos Todd have mostly committed vast amounts of evil using eminent domain to destroy the lives of many. Donald Trump is not alone in that effort and he shares a lot in common with Carlos Todd, a developer who used politics to get what he needed to accomplish done. Getting to know Todd and his troops well from the other side of the fence I was able to see what was really in their heart. Sure, some people were bad, and they went to jail, lost their seats or ended up wiped from the face of the earth one way or another. But the good ones endured because through competition there really is no other way to sustain your essence, but through authenticity, and Carlos Todd was authentic—just as Donald Trump is. No question when you do things that relate to other people, they will have an opinion one way or the other. The judgment of a person’s character is determined by how they act under pressure. What people do under pressure validates their worth—and Todd showed that he had a lot. I might not always like what he planned to do, but his effort had purity to it. But within that purity there were many people who were trampled on and were smacked around quite a lot.

The real answer is to get politics out of development and remove many of the regulations that cause all this evil. Until that happens people like Carlos Todd and Donald Trump will work the system to their advantage. That is why I feel that Trump—after a lifetime of making deals and running over people can actually straighten out the mess of politics and its terrible relationship to business. Ideological people who have not built things themselves but were relegated to just giving their opinions about things do not have the benefit of my life where I’ve been very active on both sides and know clearly where the line is drawn. I can only treasure that opportunity because it gave me the philosophic foundations to understand all these complexities without losing sight of the real objective—economic growth, the sanctity of private property, and the evil of a system that the most clever among us learn to use to get things done—in spite of the desire of that system to destroy all thought and action. Donald Trump is an insider, and I would love to see what someone like him—who likely hates the system as much as I do, would commit himself to if given a chance to right the ship in ways that Carlos Todd never came close to achieving. But for Republicans to turn on Trump as a radical maniac who would wreck the party—they are in denial at what put them in office in the first place. They’d be wise to get behind Trump for the strength he provides and for giving them an opportunity to have their office seats. Because without people like Carlos Todd, Donald Trump and eminent domain—most of them would still be small time hacks looking for an opportunity that would never come otherwise.

The only way to change the system is from the inside by someone who knows it better than anybody. That’s why I’m voting for Trump. His use of eminent domain and the guilt I’m sure he feels about it I think would make a person determined to correct that situation for the benefit of economic wonder which everyone would eventually enjoy. Trump is in a position to morally build a philosophy of growth by utilizing the lessons learned from crony capitalism into a more laissez-faire system perhaps for the first time since the first few decades of America’s creation. And that would be wonderful.

Rich Hoffman


Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.