Property Rights Group Slams California Reclamation District

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Citizen activist organization accuses R.D. 348 of “clear retaliation against critics” and not complying with public records requests

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Detailing what it termed “a clear and present danger to property rights,” a California coalition today condemned the efforts by a San Joaquin County reclamation district already under fire for numerous irregularities and more serious allegations of corruption.

“The Alliance is concerned with R.D. 348’s apparent pattern of abuse and intimidation to seize private property from unwilling sellers and at times, without just compensation for lost property.” said Marko Mlikotin, President of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. “R.D. 348 refusal to disclose public documents is a threat to private property rights and the public’s ability to protect their property from eminent domain abuse.”

The area known as “Reclamation District 348” was established approximately 100 years ago. It is located on approximately 9,000 acres in the northern portion of California’s San Joaquin Valley. The legal responsibility of R.D. 348 is to preserve and develop improvements for the levee system that protects the community of Thornton from Mokelume River flooding. A public agency under California law, R.D. 348 is overseen by a three-member board of trustees elected by district landowners. Votes are apportioned by a formula of one acre/one vote, with no limitation on acres or votes. Therefore, a small group of landowners controls the voting process.

Mlikotin also claimed that that in responding to a California Public Records Act request, attorneys for R.D. 348 gave answers that were designed to “provide the least possible amount of information.” While acknowledging eminent domain actions in the past, the District refused to disclose public records, as required by California State law.

“The district’s non-answers were in every way contradictory,” said Mlikotin. “While doing their best to obscure any disclosure of real fact, the answers state that R.D. 348 has not seized any property via eminent domain, and yet it also said that some eminent domain proceedings were filed in the past. Which is it?”

Lastly, the property rights coalition also announced that it was supporting the efforts of residents of R.D. 348 who have had property threatened or seized by eminent domain, or negotiated settlements due to the lack of financial means to challenge eminent domain proceedings, as well as claims of unjust compensation.

Today, the District will vote to notice intent to seize the property of a frequent critic of the district and its trustees.

“It is simply not credible that the private property of a critic of R.D. 348 is being condemned due to some kind of coincidence. We need to fully investigate this troubling appearance of clear retaliation against critics by a government regulatory body,” said Mlikotin.

The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights is a statewide organization dedicated to exposing the abuses of eminent domain in California. The organization was founded by Yolo County farmers and taxpayer advocates fighting Yolo County’s use of gambling profits to seize the 17,000 acre Conaway Ranch through eminent domain.

http://www.calpropertyrights.com

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Marko Mlikotin

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