When Governor Jeb Bush Ordered The Jack Boots To Action…
Former Governor Jeb Bush has a much more serious eminent domain problem to reconcile than current media reports are discussing.
During his tenure as Florida Governor Bush initiated the largest eminent domain private property confiscation in the history of the Sunshine State.
Bush’s action is now costing the State of Florida hundreds of millions in lawsuits and legal fees.
During a period from mid-2000 to January 2006 the Florida Department of Agriculture, at the direction of Governor Jeb Bush, began a program to seize and destroy citrus trees from Florida residents.
The action stemmed from an outbreak of citrus canker, a disease that weakens citrus trees and blemishes fruit. The fruit becomes less attractive and marketable.
[…] the department’s tree-cutting crews went through Florida’s residential neighborhoods, destroying orange, grapefruit and other citrus trees found within 1,900 feet of diseased trees. Delayed and hampered by lawsuits from homeowners, the campaign failed to stop the disease, which eventually made it to the state’s commercial groves. (link)
The program was essentially FLDA government authorized jackboots entering the yards and properties of Florida residents and destroying private property “without compensation” for their loss. Any homeowners who did not willingly comply were subject to arrest by law enforcement.
“They came with two sheriff’s deputies. They said if you don’t step aside we will handcuff you and take you to jail,” says John Haire, of Fort Lauderdale, one of several residents challenging the eradication program in court. (link)
Thousands of homeowners were affected and many saw all of their orange, lemon, lime and citrus trees completely destroyed. Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Dept of Agriculture used “eminent domain” law as the underlying legal principle for their action.
Eventually the Florida State Supreme court ruled the entire process was unconstitutional government eminent domain overreach, and thousands of Florida residents sued the state.
The lawsuits have dragged through the courts for almost a decade, and recently hundreds of millions in compensation have been awarded in Lee, Palm Beach, Broward, Orange and Miami-Dade counties.
In total the state destroyed about 660,000 trees of private property owners.
West Palm Beach judge granted residents $11 million in compensation – Link – $20.17 Million awarded in Orange County – Link – More than $20 million in Palm Beach county – Link – Somewhere between $75 and $80 million estimated, including Lee County – Link –
[…] The reason the state is appealing and has appealed in other citrus cases is “no one in Tallahassee has the leadership and courage to say we did our best, in retrospect, we did them wrong, let’s move forward,” he said.
[…] “This was an actual case, a real case of eminent domain and the state needs to come up with the money,” she said. “I think David beat Goliath, and Goliath has got to quit.” (link)
As voters in New Hampshire heard on Saturday night, Jeb Bush believes it a horrible thing to seize property from private citizens; yet history would reflect when Jeb Bush himself was governor of the state of Florida – not only did he order seizures, by force, but Bush also refused to reimburse the residents for the property he unlawfully ordered to be removed and destroyed.
Methinks Jeb doth protest too much….