“We talked about this when we were dating. I used to point to the houses and say, 'Joanne, one of these days we're going to have one of these houses.' And I meant it. And I worked hard.”
Jim Saleet worked in the pharmaceutical industry, paid off his house and then retired. Now, he and his wife plan to spend the rest of their days there, and pass their house on to their children.
But Lakewood's mayor, Madeleine Cain, has other plans. She wants to tear down the Saleets' home, plus 55 homes around it, along with four apartment buildings and more than a dozen businesses.
Why? So that private developers can build high-priced condos, and a high-end shopping mall, and thus raise Lakewood's property tax base.
The mayor told 60 Minutes that she sought out a developer for the project because Lakewood's aging tax base has been shrinking and the city simply needs more money.
“This is about Lakewood's future. Lakewood cannot survive without a strengthened tax base. Is it right to consider this a public good? Absolutely,” says the mayor, who admits that it's difficult and unfortunate that the Saleets are being asked to give up their home.
The Saleets live in an area called Scenic Park, and because it is so scenic, it's a prime place to build upscale condominiums. With great views, over the Rocky River, those condos will be a cinch to sell.
This is really just an extension of the entire welfare state mentality that insists on taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots. The government was formed to protect property rights not run over them.