A wealthy New York developer coordinated an $8 million campaign to enact state ballot initiatives that would eviscerate state environmental safeguards in four Western states and threaten to bankrupt the state treasuries.
Organizations connected to Howie Rich have primarily funded the initiatives to allow individual landowners to claim compensation from state and local governments for any decrease in property value as a result of planning, environmental or other government protections. They will be on the ballot in four states on Election Day: Arizona (Proposition 207), California (Proposition 90), Idaho (Proposition 2) and Washington (Initiative 933).
Similar initiatives were bounced -- in full or in part -- from ballots in Oklahoma and Nevada because courts there found that the structure of the initiatives violated those states' requirements that ballot initiatives embrace only a single subject. In Montana, a court found that proponents engaged in massive fraud in the petition drive to win a spot on the ballot.
The campaigns falsely advertise the initiatives as necessary to prevent governments from condemning property owners' land, but they instead are intended to serve as cash cows for developers. If approved, they would leave governments with an unacceptable choice between rolling back decades of environmental protection rules -- such as those to combat sprawl, protect wetlands and preserve clean air and clean water -- or paying bounties to developers as compensation for restrictions on using their land however they please.