Lansing Businesswoman Receives Mackinac Center “Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor Award”

Kurdziel helped set stage for constitutional amendment that strengthens the rights of property owners across Michigan

For Immediate Release
Jan. 12, 2007
Michael D. Jahr, Director of Communications

MIDLAND – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Board of Directors recently gave Lansing resident and businesswoman Nancy Kurdziel its "Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor Award" for her unwavering defense of property rights.

Kurdziel, president of Prime Housing Group Inc. and joint owner of several East Lansing apartment buildings, challenged the city’s unfounded claim that the neighborhood encompassing her properties was "blighted." Such a designation would have allowed the city to seize the area’s properties through eminent domain and transfer them to private business interests.

Kurdziel, along with Mackinac Center Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright, provided valuable testimony to legislators that formed the basis for Proposal 4. The November 2006 ballot measure passed by an overwhelming 80-20 margin and prevents Michigan governments from pursuing Kelo-style takings of private property for the purpose of economic development.

The board presented Kurdziel with a plaque that states in part: "Ms. Kurdziel’s pivotal testimony to state lawmakers set the stage for a voter-approved constitutional amendment that strengthened property rights for all Michiganians. Her courageous defense of the right to own property safe from arbitrary government takings has left us a freer people."

Joseph P. Maguire, a member of the Center’s Board of Directors, called Kurdziel a warrior.

"She had everything to lose standing up to the city and its abuses," Maguire said. "But because she stood up, Michigan’s Constitution now protects us all from flagrant eminent domain abuse."

Kurdziel is the sixth person to receive the award since it was established in 1998. Kurdziel’s passion for the rights of property owners also led her to speak at several public forums that the Mackinac Center sponsored around the state last year.

Mackinac Center President Lawrence W. Reed noted that the Founding Fathers pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" – the last sentence of The Declaration of Independence – to the cause of liberty.

"Most citizens oppose eminent domain but do little about it," Reed said. "And then there are the heroes who draw a line in the sand and tell government in no uncertain terms, ‘You shall not cross without a fight.’ Nancy is one of those heroes."