Internal goings on at ATF
Reported by Clean Up ATF."
Always found it amusing the way many assume that the government is rational, objective, and unselfish in ways the rest of the US is not. Fact is you've got the same humans doing each job, and nobody should be surprised that many agencies work on promote your buddy, steer business toward your buddy, get rid of critics and whistleblowers, build your empire and the public be damned.
Minor example: in my Interior days, an issue arose regarding certain land (LOTS of land) on which the government had, in the 19th century, bought easements to run railroads thru. The contracts provided that if the land ever ceased to be used for railroads, the easement would end and the title revert to the landowner. The areas in question hadn't been used for railroads in decades, and the tracks and ties had been removed long ago.
But those lands would be just the thing for uniting hiking trails, and there was big kick on for creating some that run for hundreds or thousands of mile.
My gut call: a deal is a deal. The land reverts to the owners, Maybe talk to them and see if they'll convey it back to you for a modest sum
Interior call: let's see if we can cook up some argument that the potential that someday someone might want to rebuild a railway there is enough to let us keep it for use as a hiking trail.
Yup, utterly unselfish service to the public. I'm not denying that there are many areas where the federal government does tasks that could or would not be undertaken by private actors. I'm just saying it is unrealistic to pretend they are angelic. Expect them, like private actors, to undertake a task when it is in their best interest (i.e., they are suitably paid) and don't hand out power on the assumption they are saintly.
That's funny - in law school, I read some of those railroad right-of-way cases with facts exactly as you describe. I don't remember why I was reading them - researching something; can't recall what.
Homeowners suing the federal government, trying to get them to honor the deal they had struck and get back that piece of land. As I recall one case, the property had been in his family for multiple generations, and the easement cut the property in half. Now the feds wanted to deed the easement to the state or locality or something to make a public walking trail. The homeowner didn't want all those people wandering through his property and just wanted his property whole again (seems reasonable enough to me). The easement had been granted for use as a railroad - seems a no-brainer that it wasn't a railroad anymore.
Can't remember the ruling in the case, though.
Posted by: Bill at September 4, 2009 11:34 AM
Government is evil. Men are corrupt. Might try reading some of DiLorenzo's and Sowell's works. In most cases, the govt used eminent domain, which by the way the Fed DOES NOT have, or just outright stole the land. And be the time the fed got the railroad across the country it was bankrupt. The Great Northern, a private enterprise, did purchase the lands fairly and was in fine condition after building its rail.
The feds have no authority to exercise eminent domain and the Constitution, without a grant otherwise, restricts the fed to lands for needful "buildings" such as dockyards, arsenals, forts, ... not land for railroad easements or any other land holding.
Just another case of the government lying, cheating, and stealing from the People.
Tiocfaidh ar la!
Posted by: fwb at September 4, 2009 03:47 PM
I remember the rails to trails and never knowing the property issues with the previous owners was all for the railways to be converted to trails.
I guess that was the rest of the story
Posted by: RAH at September 4, 2009 08:55 PM
Any time anyone considers entering into an agreement or contract of any sort with the government, the first that should come to mind are names like "Cherokee", "Lakota" and "Chiricahua".
Posted by: Ken at September 5, 2009 10:15 AM
Thinking government acts rationally is a big mistake. Especially one headed by a tin-pot dictator wanna bee.
Posted by: Anonymous at September 7, 2009 08:07 AM