To the editor:
In response to your Sept. 27 article, “Ballot Question 4 takes aim at PISTOL”:
Every word of Question 4 was agreed upon in the course of dozens of meetings among Kermitt Waters, Don Chairez, Jacob Snow (of the Regional Transportation Commission) and myself, with the assistance of other legal experts. Mr. Waters — the sponsor of the People’s Initiative to Stop Taking Our Land (PISTOL) ballot question — and I testified together in favor of the language of ballot Question 4 at the Nevada Legislature.
The starting points and ending points of our conversations were:
■ The prohibition against a government taking of property from one private owner and selling it to another private owner — as occurred in the Kelo and Pappas cases — must remain unmodified.
■ All of the protections for property owners provided by PISTOL must be preserved.
■ Potential unintended interpretations should be avoided through agreed upon clarifications and revisions to PISTOL.
Question 4 accomplishes all of those goals by preserving all of the property rights protections of PISTOL, while clarifying its intent in ways which will prevent unintended problems for the Nevada Department of Transportation and the RTC in their need to fast-track major road projects. Mr. Waters, Mr. Chairez and I would never agree to any language which did not prohibit another Pappas or Kelo use of eminent domain.
Question 4 allows eminent domain only for tightly defined public uses such as roads, airports, railroads and utility lines. Even for those public uses, the property owner is given the right to reacquire the property if it is not used for the intended public purpose.
On the other hand, necessary clarifications of PISTOL are embodied in Question 4 to prevent unintended delays and costs for taxpayer-funded highway projects.
Question 4 is a carefully crafted combination of PISTOL and PISTOFF (People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of our Future Freeways). It deserves our support.
The writer is a former Clark County commissioner.