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Documentary Maker Tackles Eminent Domain In New Film

Phil Klein is a natural-born documentary maker. I have seen him for years at public meetings and other news events. He usually has a movie camera up to his eye. He must have tens of thousands of feet of video of transportation activist Clay Chastain, who Klein at one time intended to immortalize in a documentary film to be called, “Citizen Clay.”

But Chastain wasn’t the only focus of Klein’s documentary projects. Klein, who owns a magic shop, has finally finished one of his documentaries and gotten it into theaters. It is “Begging for Billionaires: The Attack on Property Rights in America,” which will make its Kansas City debut at the Kansas International Film Festival. There will be a single, public screening at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Glenwood Arts Theater.

This is certainly not a review of “Begging for Billionaires ,” but a press release states, “The KC scenes depict family-owned businesses displaced by the controversial land grabs to clear space for Sprint Arena (still without a permanent tenant) and the privately-owned Power & Light District.”

Personally, I was glad to see it when Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes and the City Council built the Sprint Center and pushed through the Power & Light District as centerpieces for revitalization of our moribund downtown. But I also know that eminent domain can be abused.

Klein’s documentary makes the case against eminent domain, and how well Klein tells the story will no doubt determine how well “Begging for Billionaires” fares at the Kansas International Film Festival. Incidentally, a week-long run at the Leawood Theater is the prize in the documentary competition at the film festival.

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Added: September 28, 2009. 04:06 PM CDT
Right On
Westar Energy, Inc. is the worst abuser of all time
Added: September 12, 2009. 08:02 PM CDT
Grassroots Rising
May Phil Klein's film win an Oscar. We need more voices rising to protect property rights.

Eminent domain in real life is a sobering experience; and there is quite a bit of it happening in Pennsylvania. It amounts to legal theft under the badge of government.

Speaking as someone who has fought seizure of property rights in Pennsylvania for two years with Houston-based Spectra Energy, backed by the power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we have turned over several rocks that the energy industry would prefer to keep quiet.

The quiet secret of the energy industry in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is that "just compensation" for its lease agreements with the state government is very different from the same company's "just compensation" for private property owners. It has nothing to do with the size of state lands and everything to do with industry politics.

For example, Spectra Energy cut a very different -- and much better -- lease deal with the PA Game Commission in Bedford County than the lease agreements it typically offers to private property owners.

Few are aware of this unequal treatment under law, but it will become a legal and political Achilles heel for the energy industry as more people become aware.

We are property owners who are sharing what we have learned with fellow property owners in North America who may be dealing with energy companies and property rights issues.

For those who have never been threatened with the seizure of their property rights, listen to property owners talk about the experience.

You'll find a landowner video and blog postings on our website:

Added: September 11, 2009. 08:56 PM CDT
Eminent Domain Abuse
The American people are asleep the government continues to take from the poor to give to the well connected developers, the media of course is in bed with both of them politicians and developers, time to wake up and stand up for the American way otherwise this country will soon be like the old Siviet Union.
Victim of EDA from NJ
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