Pennsylvania Welder Fights Eminent Domain

(FOXNEWS)   Bob Valerio’s thoughts were on his country as he waited for a court hearing on whether he would get to keep his business.

“This is not the United States of America that I know,” Valerio lamented. “Does the Constitution mean anything? Obviously, there are no personal property rights.”

For nearly 60 years, Valerio’s family business, Wally and Joe’s Welding, has stood in a squat brick building on a busy highway in McKeesport, Pa. But the government has taken title to his land by eminent domain, forcing Valerio to consider the prospect of closing his doors forever.

“I’m not ready to retire,” says the 64 year-old welder.

Bob has lost his building because the City of McKeesport Sewage Authority used eminent domain to take the property. They say they need the land to expand a sewage pumping station next door. The battle landed in court, pitting Valerio against the government.

“My family has worked at this thing their whole lives, and I’m carrying on the legacy.”

The city of McKeesport originally paid Valerio $57,000 for the building and offered a check for $47,000 for his equipment, some of it specialized and custom-made for the welding process. But Valerio says the amount was not enough to cover his move and keep him in business, and he did not accept the second check.

“I just want it replaced. I’m not looking to make a windfall and retire at Myrtle Beach on a golf course. I just want you to move me to an adequate facility where I can continue.”

They got the deed, they did eminent domain, and if you’re ordered out, you don’t have enough to continue the business,” says Valerio’s business partner, Bob Livingston.

“We had it appraised at a certain value, and he wanted far more than what the appraisal was,” countered Joe Rost, executive sirector of the Muncipal Authority of the City of McKeesport. “When you can’t come to an agreement, then you have to resort to the court, and hope that the courts will determine what is fair and reasonable.”

Rost says the small pumping station expansion is part of a federally mandated $54 million expansion of the sewage system needed to clean rain run-off, and that Valerio’s building is the only place where the new facility can be built. He insists that Valerio has been treated fairly in the process.

“We only used eminent domain as a very last resort. None of us would like that to happen to us. We realize that. We put ourselves in their place.”

He says the city has tried to find an alternative location for the business.

“We didn’t want to do it under any stretch of the imagination…but in this case we had no choice. We were running out of time and this project had to be done.”

At a court hearing, a partial settlement was reached that will force Valerio out in 30 days but allow him to try and relocate his business elsewhere. Both sides agreed on a payment of $140,000 to help Valerio purchase a new building, and the final amount to be paid by the city will be decided under arbitration.

“It’s going to get me enough to relocate and remain in business, and that was my main objective,” Valerio told Fox News after the hearing, adding, “I will have to fight for the rest.”

The lawyer for the McKeesport Authority, Cliff Johns, said, “a fair and equitable understanding has been reached for possession of the property,” but the final settlement will still have to be reached.

Pittsburgh Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who represents the district where Valerio lives, said in a written statement that it would have been “a travesty for McKeesport to lose a 60-year-old institution like Wally and Joe’s.” He said government “should be doing everything to help them survive in tough economic times.”

Construction on the sewage pumping station expansion will soon impact the site, and Valerio will lose the building where he has welded since he was 15 years old. But while he endured what he calls “the heartbreaking” experience of eminent domain, he has hope that the agreement means he will remain in business.

“I expected maybe to turn my keys in today,” he said.

14 Responses to Pennsylvania Welder Fights Eminent Domain

  • The constitution literally means foundation. The constitution stops the government from taking your/our collective rights away which is a God given right. The constitution does not guarantee our rights God, Creator, the Universe guarantees it. So, if these 1% are trying to take away our foundation then they are literally spitting in God’s face…

    Our right to SPEECH, VOTE AND PETITION is based on ownership of private property, if we are stripped of these rights then our foundation is removed.

    This is why this Occupation is key to protect our foundation…

    Good luck…remember to invoke your guaranteed rights given to you by God. I hope you get a judge that still loves their creator.

  • If they want that property they should be forced to buy that business from the owners at ASKING PRICE. That is what this country USED TO BE, the land of opportunity. Now it is the land of screw over anyone not super rich or politically connected. America is garbage anyone thinking of coming here to start a business ought to think twice, this is the worst country to try an do anything in other than work meaningless, unrewarding and low paying jobs.

  • @Deborah…
    This is where people are confused about the Constitution; “god” doesn’t guarantee our rights, birth does not guarantee our rights. A healthy dose of the government fearing the people guarantees our rights. Even the 2nd amendment doesn’t guarantee our rights. Our individual willingness to defend withour lives, our rights, guarantees our rights. Our unwillingness to TAKE our rights and excersise them guarantees that we will be subjugated to serfdom, which we have been. This nation is no longer a land of laws, nor has it been since 1913. The official coup, the final nail, was in 1933 when this nation under decree by FDR declared bankruptcy and the USofA and all of it’s assets were seized by it’s creditors. We exist in a banking-cartel-run, fascist, nation. Common law, Constitutional law, no longer exists.

  • The Constitution has been null and void for the last 98 years and some Americans are just starting to notice. Good luck trying to get it back now.

  • Getting it back requires several steps.

    1. Educating neighbors so they are aware of thier lack of rights and aware that they are not citizens; but instead property of the Federal Reserve, IMF, et all and their subsidiaries.

    2. Establish local trade mediums and sourceing. Find local resources and establish a medium of trade that does not include federal reserve notes. Be prepared to live in survival mode until a free market has been fully integrated into your municipality.

    3. Build relationships with your neighbors, community watches, security units.

    3. Establish alternate, contingency logistics to ensure that resources and a supply line are maintained in the event of a seige. This would require relationships with neighboring townships.

    5. Be prepared for “government” backlash. Be prepared to defend your family as well as your neighbors.

    People in this nation are still far, far from willing to take what the cry for.

  • I always laugh when I read comments from Americans about their Constitution. Most of them have no idea at all what is in it. For example, all the comments above seem to have no clue that the last sentence of the 5th Amendment says:

    “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    That’s right, “eminent domain” was written into the Constitution from the very beginning, yet all these people above seem to think it’s unconstitutional. I’m not American, so maybe that is why I actually know what is in their Constitution.

  • No, we are not unaware. Nor are we under the illusion that the United States Constitution is perfect. “Just Compensation” is subjective. No one agrees on it’s definition. Regardless of it’s interpretation, confiscation of personal property is contrary to freedom. There is never a “good” excuse. I believe that is what most Americans reject.

  • I think most people, other than criminals and lawyers (I know, redundant) would agree that “just compensation” would mean compensation that is fair and that both parties agree to, not one party forcing the other to accept.

  • “We’re going to build offices and shops to replace the houses here…. ….Bring in lots of tax money…..”

    Have you RENTED any of the offices yet? How about the shops? Or is it all vaporware? After all of the empty offices and stores have been vandelized and are hazzards, the city will tell the owners to ‘clean it up’. Only thing is, the owners have gone bankrupt. Not their problem any more.

    So, there you are… Blighted neighborhood, brining in ZERO taxes, former OWNERS renting less than desirable huvels, a city scratching its collective head wondering “What Went Wrong?”


  • “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    What about the taking of PRIVATE property for OTHER PRIVATE USE? IT AIN’T IN THERE!!!!!!!


  • Is it me or what? That this type of story and bullshit that’s happening more and more, with remarkable gaining speed, will somehow become as dull and ignored as the innumerable online security breaches where thousands and even millions of people’s identities get stolen? I say this because it just seems to me that somehow despite the fact these “Government Seizures” are happening faster and faster all across the damn country, noone in real life and online other than the very few of us who gives a fucking shit, is saying anything nor doing much else. It’s alright and better to give out accurate information.

    By the way, Deborah, I don’t support the Occupy Movement whatsoever. In fact I hate them all. They’re so chock full of fake people figuratively and literally that they’re fucking meaningless. Not only that, what little crediblity the Movement had initially has become Corrupted. I believe that once there are enough Occupy Movement settlements across this country, that’s when the “Agents” the fuckers who have been starting violence in these so called protests. That’s when Martial Law in this country will be declared. Transforming Martial Law from subversion to to be overt. The only good thing about that will be we’ll know the up front enemies from that point onwards. Especially since REX84 and the other Martial Law bits and pieces over the decades have made it so when Martial Law’s declared, it’s permanent.

  • I wonder where all the paytriots for profit are to help out in situations like these. They all claim so much legal knowledge and success when selling their paytriot courses but they never actually do anything of substance.

  • The rugged, independent frontiersman…
    It is as simple as this: Do you live in an area where the OWS is protesting? Tea Party? Protest du jour? Yes? Good. If you have any copies of III to Liberty, when you get off work, or on the weekend, grab a few copies, head on down to the whatever protest site and hand them out. And don’t forget to hand a few out to the cops. You don’t have to do this alone. Call your buddies. Compel them to go with you. If they won’t … because they have better things to do … like drinking beer, watching the booboisie tube, or just “chillin”, then tell them to “Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds them.” Maybe take off your sandal and shake the dust off at their doorstep.

    It’s okay. You can still be bestest of buddies. Just give them the cocked-eye every time you see them.

    Of course, you don’t have to use copies of III to Liberty. You can pass out pocket constitutions. Make your own fliers and pass them out. Engage in peaceful conversations and make your case for liberty. And again, if you are feeling really spunky, you can do the same with the cops.

    Look, I know we are all rugged, independent frontiersmen. Right? We just want to be left alone, stake out some ground, build our cabins, tend to our crops, hunt, and trade. We are not interested in picking others pockets or breaking others legs for that which does not belong to us.

    But that is not the case, is it? Your rugged frontier life has been encroached upon by people who think you are too rugged. Too independent. They want you to share your land, your cabin, your crops, your meat, and your trade. In fact, they want to take that all from you, then loan it back to you at interest and fill their pockets.

    Welcome to the world of serfdom.

    So what do you do? Crouch down and lick the hands of your lords? Say, “Maybe if I just ignore them, they’ll all go away?” Maybe they’ll all just implode on themselves? Or maybe you’ll just pretend that you can be that rugged, independent frontiersman within the system?

    Still feel rugged? Still feel independent? Still feel like you are living up to your rugged, independent potential? Still feel like your own man?

    As it stands right now, you are a serf to your lords … no matter how much you want to pretend that you are a rugged, independent frontiersman. If you have to look over your shoulder while doing that which free men do by natures law… you are not a free man… you are an outlaw. And outlaws are always on the run. And free men don’t run. Free men have no reason to run. Only serfs run when they have insulted their lords.

    You need to understand something. Free men do not engage their lords because they are free men. They engage their lords to gain their liberty and become free men because, as it stands … they are serfs.

    No man gained his freedom by licking his lords hands. And no outlaw won his freedom by running … the outlaw is always looking over his shoulder running from his lord.

    Look, redress of grievances never work peacefully. It didn’t work in England, and it didn’t work for our Patriot Founders. But… you have a chance to reason the cause of liberty with others. You have a chance of bringing people to the light of liberty. Whether it is one, a hundred, a thousand, or a million … that is more than we had yesterday.

    There were a lot of people sitting on the fence licking the hand of the King … until Thomas Paine and others showed up. And it made a big difference when throwing the yoke of the King off their shoulders.

    There is strength in numbers.

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