Glenn Puit: Fear Mongering in Whitewater


Originally posted on the PRN BLog.

Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern

The text above is the title of an article I read this morning.  The author, Glenn Puit, critiques a speech given by my boss, Bruce Walker.  I have a copy of the speech given by Bruce in my possession, and found that all of the “direct quotes” from Glenn Puit’s article are inaccurate.  This makes sense considering Glenn posted this article close to three months after Bruce’s speech was given.

The majority of Glenn’s piece appears to be his opinion being portrayed as fact.  There are many problems with this piece, but I will stick to covering the major issues.  The following are actually direct quotes from Glenn’s article:

Usually, when a government exercises eminent domain, it does so to advance a vital public interest.” — What does he mean by usually?  What happens when eminent domain and regulatory takings exist without a vital public interest?  Are there repercussions for these actions?  It seems as though he is admitting such situations exist.

“First, planning and zoning can, should, and mostly does co-exist with—and compliment— property rights.” — Once again, what is meant by “mostly does”?  It seems as though he is admitting that there are property rights violations that take place in the State of Michigan.  If he believes these violations exist, he should have no problem with Bruce discussing these issues and potential solutions.

“Mr. Walker’s talk was pure and simple fear mongering aimed at discrediting, not explaining, the whole idea of planning and zoning.“  — Having your property taken away is a scary thing that acually exists.  If Bruce made a speech on shark attacks, would it be considered “fear mongering”?  At the end of Bruce’s speech, there was a Q & A session.  In it, Glenn questioned Bruce on the issue of zoning.  Bruce responded by reciting the begining of his speech.

The beginning of his speech illustrated the benefits that zoning can create.  He used a true a story about an old house he used to live in.  He had a neighbor who owned a refrigerator truck, which was broken and smelled of dead fish.  The truck was a business vehicle being used for personal transportation.  The truck would be parked in the driveway most nights.  Every morning Bruce would open the window of his house, he would get a whiff of dead fish.  He asked his neighbor many times to keep the truck elsewhere, yet he never complied.  Bruce finally approached the city, who came to his neighbors house and forced him to move his truck elsewhere, as it was a violation of Bruce’s property rights.

Glenn heard this story twice that day (apparently forgetting about the intro to Bruce’s speech, as he had to recite it again in the Q & A).  Glenn still lacks the understanding that Bruce favors the use of legitimate zoning.  Bruce disagrees with the numerous instances where zoning (and other regulations) are being used to strip people of their property for personal gain, rather than public good.  Bruce presented legitamate uses for zoning and supported both sides of the arguement.

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