Fool me once, shame on you….

….but apparently, you can get fooled again:

Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to introduce emergency legislation Wednesday that would give the state authority to acquire Maryland’s bankrupt horse racing tracks and the Preakness through eminent domain, officials confirmed.

However, legal experts say the bankruptcy filing by the tracks’ owner could prevent the state from exercising that power.

Debate on the bill, which has the backing of the General Assembly’s presiding officers, could begin as soon as Thursday afternoon in a joint hearing of Senate and House of Delegates lawmakers.

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The last-minute legislation was prompted in part, O’Malley aides said, by reports last week that a Pikesville developer was interested in razing Pimlico Race Course — where the Preakness has been run since 1909 – and turning the Northwest Baltimore property into a shopping center.

Of course, does anybody remember how this turned out the last time that the State of Maryland tried to seize a sports property through eminent domain? Mark Newgent mentioned it last summer, and it didn’t quite work and looked kinda like this:

The dramatic move enraged citizens and officials of Baltimore, and the state of Maryland. Irsay’s son Jim said moving the team was a difficult decision, and one his father had hoped not to have to make. The final straw, necessitating the dramatic move, was action by the Maryland legislature to use eminent domain laws to force the franchise to remain in Maryland.

So, thanks for that.

Now, as the article notes this is probably not going to get too far due to the bankruptcy proceedings. But this brings a whole slew of questions into the mix:

  1. Why is this emergency legislation? How can this even remotely pass constituional muster?
  2. Why is this a priority?
  3. If the state has the right of first refusal to buy the property, why are we trying exactly to seize it?
  4. Even if we did buy it, how can the state afford it as we are (as usual) in an O’Malley-induced budget crunch?

I get the fact that the Preakness is important to Maryland, but in the grand scheme of things it is not so important that we need to seize it and operate it as a state entity. The fact that O’Malley and Legislative Democrats didn’t learn from our first foray into these type of shenanigans proves that once again O’Malley and company are looking at the short term instead of the long-term picture. Because if I owned a business in Maryland, I’d be a little concerned that they would come after my business and my property next. This is a great way though to reaffirm Maryland’s longstanding anti-business climate, though…

At the end of the day O’Malley and Company are (again) treading where they don’t belong, and once again the taxpayers of Maryland are going to get to foot the bill for their inability to learn from the past…


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