According to a front-page story in today’s LA Times (Mike Boehm, Movie Museum OKd, Heads to Production, June 25, 2015, at p. A1), Los Angeles is about to build a motion picture museum on Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue. Whooppee!
But wait. What happened to the other motion picture museum that was a center of notoriety back in 1963? Nothing happened. It was never built. So what was the fuss all about back then?
It was another instance of crude abuse of the power of eminent domain, that was duly rubber-stamped by our courts. See County of Los Angeles v. Anthony, 224 Cal.App.2d 103 (1963). A group of private show biz types decided to build a motion picture museum on a site outside the Hollywood Bowl, that was occupied by the home of a tough former Marine named Steve Anthony, who challenged the condemnation of his home for what he logically contended was a private, for-profit enterprise, not a public use as required by the Constitution. Poor Steve. He was promptly tossed out of court which reasoned that his argument, even if factually correct, cut no ice because any private benefit of this enterprise was “incidental” to the public benefit of building a museum.
Alas, the museum was never built. It evidently was never properly funded, so the plans for it were the usual BS that so often may or may not bear any relationship to reality when it comes to eminent domain cases. Sort of like the wretched Kelo case in which the Connecticut city of New London sold a load of booster style “planning” that turned out to be unrealistic BS. The Kelo case is at the moment in the news again being as (a) its tenth anniversary is upon us, and (b) George Mason law professor Ilya Somin has just published a book about that dismal failure (The Grasping Hand, 2015) that consumed over $100 million with nothing — absolutely nothing — to show for it.
If you want some background of the Anthony case, click on http://gideonstrumpet.info/?p=6524 which will tell you the story of how Anthony, convinced that the courts’ ruling was wrong, armed himself with a shotgun and confronted the sheriff’s deputies when they came to take possession of his house and evict him. For that he was convicted and actually served time. You can find this information, compleat with photographs of Anthony’s defense of his home by clicking here http://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/central-library/here-lies-liberty-steven-anthonys-fight-against-eminent
And so it goes. We wish we could say that the Anthony affair was a rare instance of the government’s poor planning, but it wasn’t. Locally, there was also the nonexistent domestic relations courthouse for which land was taken, but which was never built (Levine v. Jessup), the grandly named Los Angeles Intercontinental Airport — in Palmdale, yes Palmdale) that consumed over $170,000,000 in public funds but eventually had to be shut down because airlines wouldn’t use it in spite of government subsidies, to say nothing of the Pasadena Redevelopment project that defaulted on its bonds, etc., etc. For additional exploration of such fiascos, go to http://gideonstrumpet.info/?p=137 .
We could go on like this (and we have at times) but the bottom line is that whatever happens to the newly proposed LA Motion Picture Museum at Wilshire and Fairfax, we ought to pause and give a thought to the outrage that was perpetrated on Steve Anthony whose home was taken from him for nothing — last time we looked it was being used for parking at the Hollywood Bowl.