Editor's Note: Monte Tucker is a farmer and rancher in Oklahoma who writes a weekly opinion column for a couple area newspapers, and his point of view is quite interesting on varied subjects. This week he took issue with the use of eminent domain. This is a ticklish issue with farmers and ranchers and agribusiness operators because it often is agricultural land or businesses that are taken over for other uses. Then Mr. Tucker explains how agriculture continues to be downgraded as unimportant in other ways in Oklahoma.



Howdy friends and neighbors. Holy cow, summer is here! What happened to cool and wet? My little community is holding true to its name lately, Sunny Point.



The issue I chose to write about today is tough for me. I'm not going to lash-out or bash, rather I will just talk about my concerns with my alma mater Oklahoma State University. As a property owner and taxpayer, I simply wonder how in the world OSU can use the eminent domain law to take private property for a stinking athletic complex. Am I terribly misunderstanding the use of this complex? After it is built, how is it going to help or benefit the public? Eminent domain is supposed to be used for instances in which the government takes over private property for the benefit of the public. Can I or anyone else in this state simply walk into this "recruitment play toy" and workout or seek physical training. Is valuable research going to take place that will benefit the greater public good? Yeah, I know the story about the two brothers who bought this house seeking profit from the school and the school's plans for this center. But as an entrepreneur, it looks like they made a good business decision. I also applaud the University for privately negotiating with other property owners. I hope that they didn't use eminent domain as a bargaining chip. If so, shame on them.



Let's put this situation in different terms. Most of the students that attend OSU need financial help. So let's just use eminent domain to take half of the privately owned oil and gas minerals in this state to pay for their tuition, books and partying. But wait, a judge will give the mineral owners a "fair compensation" for them. It's fair for the judge to assess them at about three years of current yearly income. I ask, what's the difference? It's private property! Or even better, lets just use eminent domain to take all the land from business owners in Stillwater for athletic scholarships. They are pushing hard for this jock camp. Again, what's the difference? You and I may be next to loose our property for non-public projects. Let your elected folks know how you feel about eminent domain laws! The Supreme Court already took a pair of scissors to our constitution when they let a municipality take private property and give it to another private company (Pfizer) because they wanted to.

Talking about the constitution, OSU and our state government need to read our state's Constitution. I ask again how OSU can even operate, let alone take private property when they are in clear violation of the state's constitution. Oklahoma's Constitution clearly states that a majority of the board of regents for OSU shall be farmers. (That's a period at the end of the statement.) The past three governors of this state simply ignored the Oklahoma Constitution so they could give a cushy position on the board of regents to their big campaign contributors. The Senators aren't off the hook either. They had to approve those the Governor appointed. Again I applaud the Senators that stood up and voted for the constitution and against the pet projects. On another note, OSU's board of regents is ignoring the legislature's request to fund the Cooperative Extension offices of OSU. Our legislators work hard to secure funds for extension and this illegal board just decides to do as they please. For instance, take private property so we can go 3 and 8 in football while invaluable agriculture and natural resource research programs get kicked in the teeth by this land grant university. Don't get me wrong, I love the school and the experience I had there. I'm just concerned about what kind of school I can send my son to.

I'm Monte Tucker, and that is what's under my sun baked hat.