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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – Feb. 18, 2013

February 18th, 2013 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

This week I have been reminded a great deal about the comic strip “Pogo”, and if there is anything that can date you, remembering Pogo is it. In my younger years I really didn’t think it was that great, but I found some things in there that made my day from time to time. “We have met the enemy and he is us” is probably the most quoted of his lines. It looks a lot like that around here sometimes.

The pace his picked up and the issues are coming at us from all directions. The School Boards Association came to town last week, and there was opportunity to visit about their concerns. One comment I heard around the lunch table was that if the personal property tax repeal were to take place without replacement dollars they would just hand over the keys. Other discussions were about tech in the classroom, No Child Left Behind and seemingly useless reports required by the Department of Education. The ISEE report (I have no idea what that is, but will find out) takes a lot of time and personnel, and is not of any use for the districts. My take-home assignment is to track that down at the Department.

The Mining Association was also in Boise last week. In our group we talked about how vital mining is to our economy and the products that come about because of these resources. For example, there is about one pound of molybdenum in two ton of ore, which is a lot of material to move. Moly is used for lubricants and is one of the necessary ingredients of stainless steel. Imagine all of the things stainless is used for and it becomes clear how important our Idaho resource is. And you can make the same case for our silver mines in the North, and our phosphate and pumice mines in our area.

Another thing that Pogo talked about from time to time was Friday the thirteenth. It may not be a direct quote, but “Friday the thirteenth came on Wednesday this month.” Some around here were feeling that way as some of the Freshman Class got out in front on the Heath Insurance Exchange legislation. You have to admire their initiative in doing so. However, declaring a position on an issue before the details are fleshed out can come back to haunt you.

The Saga goes on in State Affairs and last week we had what one member of the committee termed The Big Four, elections, alcohol, gambling and guns. Another committee member, who is new to the committee this year, remarked that it is never boring to be on State Affairs. And that is pretty much how it is. The variety of things we work on is a good lesson on the inner workings of state government.

I was cornered up by a TV station at home, questioning the integrity of the members of State Affairs. It is my pleasure to defend them. They work hard and I am proud to be associated with them. And as for Walt Kelly, maybe the enemy is us, but sometimes it feels like it is someone else.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Property Rights, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Agenda 21 Smart Meters

January 19th, 2013 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

How many of us have expressed dissatisfaction with the US involvement in the United Nations but our country continues with our membership and paying tremendous sums of money for the privilege to do so? And the UN has relentlessly continued to advance their agenda of one world governance. Most noticeably, it has reared its ugly head in a program titled AGENDA 21. Sounds harmless enough…unless you object to more government control over your life.

Currently in Idaho Falls, authorities are installing SMART METERS which are devices that transmits energy consumption data to your local utility company replacing the hard-wired meters we’re accustomed to having. Sounds harmless enough until one delves into the research. The amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted by one of these devices is phenomenal and I’m sitting here with a stack of documentation citing a myriad of health problems associated with these SM’s…persistent headaches, nausea, insomnia, lack of concentration, increased cancer risks, heart problems, and studies even report ties with Alzheimers. These symptoms can begin within hours of installation. Cities are banning SM’s for a variety of reasons including health and safety concerns, skyrocketing electric bills, privacy issues (control of your energy usage), electrical fires and electronic interference.

SMART METERS are coming soon to a neighborhood near you so take time to educate yourself and then take the time to let your officials know your opinion. Also, check your credit cards for Radio Frequency transmitters and your new appliances for sensor devices monitoring your energy usage and allowing further invasion of privacy.

Andi Elliott
Hamer

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Falls Issues, Pocatello Issues, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Jefferson County Needs New Sheriff

October 29th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

As we drove to church in Rigby on Sunday, I noticed a couple of re-elect Blair Olsen for Sheriff signs. It gave me pause to reflect on the accusations surfacing from local newspaper investigations about this long standing Sheriff.

What would be the proper course of action in regards to solving this matter and alleviating citizens’ concerns? The sheriff could continue to ignore the questions asked by taxpayers and the Commissioners could turn a blind eye again to citizens’ requests for transparency. But it seems to me that an honorable course of action that would be appropriate at this point (and we all want to think of our elected officials as honorable men) would be to take or be placed on administrative leave and then allow an independent investigation to be conducted. An impartial inquiry would answer a lot of questions without which the reputations of the sheriff, the county commissioners, and the local prosecutor will remain shrouded in secrecy and mistrust.

When two of our Jefferson County deputies tell me personally that a new Sheriff is needed, it seems to me to be perfectly clear…that a new Sheriff is needed. But let’s step back and look at the evidence and not be swayed by opinion. An investigation would determine the all important facts. Bottom line… “it’s about restoring public trust” and there is no other way around it. It’s simply a matter of honor.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

John Grubb: More Questions for Jefferson County

October 9th, 2012 by Halli

By John Grubb, Jefferson County, Idaho

After reading in our local newspaper about the significant increase in the Prosecutor’s budget and learning that Rob Dunn is a part-time prosecutor and that his personal law office doubles as a private practice as well as our county prosecutor, I was prompted to explore further.

So, I obtained a copy of the current and 2013 budget figures and now have a few questions. How is the percentage of time and use of personnel allocated for Dunn’s private practice and county business? It seems that there would be a lot of leeway for “cooking the books”. How do taxpayers ascertain that things are on the up and up? With some of the shenanigans that’s I’ve read about in the paper about financial “misappropriations” by county officials, it raises suspension.

And I see that we taxpayers pay $27,000 for rent/lease of the Dunn Law office building. Shouldn’t the county prosecutor have an office in our new county courthouse complex? That would be quite a savings there and we could fund our senior citizens’ program. I don’t see any explanation on the budget to explain how this figure is derived. Further narrative about this would be appreciated.

Though only amounting to some $4000 or so, the amount that we pay for Dunn and his staffs’ dues/memberships/subscriptions, is this amount prorated or is the county picking up the entire bill for this? The $5,000 taxpayers pay for office supplies…are they used solely for county business?

It would be nice if the county would publicly explain some of these items. From what I’ve been reading, transparency is sorely lacking in our county.

John Grubb

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Posted in Guest Posts, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Press Release: Jefferson County Taxpayers Irate – Demand Answers

August 9th, 2012 by Halli

Hundreds of concerned Jefferson County taxpayers have signed a petition demanding a full scale, independent, forensic audit of their Sheriff’s office. These signatures and this demand will be presented at the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners meeting, Monday, August 13th at 4:00PM as a scheduled agenda item.

Disturbing rumors have been circulating for months now regarding suspected financial improprieties. Exacerbating mounting community concern has been what may be characterized as the run, hide and dodge treatment from local government.

And why shouldn’t taxpayers be concerned? It took the Board of County Commissioners about four months to even acknowledge that Sheriff Blair Olsen’s wife has had a county issued cell phone. Incredulously, their Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners July 27, 2012 Statement feebly justified it as a “back-up cell phone for the Sheriff.” Their spurious claim that “Commissioners, both past and present, have authorized…” this expenditure was quickly refuted by former Commissioner Darwin Casper who stated publicly that he was never aware of such policy. It is difficult for those paying attention to imagine a more incriminating, outrageous official statement. The recent revelation that receipts were not required for expense report reimbursement prior to 2010, only adds fuel to the fire of public mistrust. A license to steal? Anyone willing to try that one in the private sector or with the IRS?

It is anticipated that there will be a major surprise at or immediately after the meeting. A common refrain comes to mind, “when memories fade, follow the documents.”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Jefferson County Unravels at the Seams

July 20th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

Are we witnessing the unraveling of the Jefferson County hierarchy? I read in the paper that our county officials have missed an important legal deadline, of alleged county cell phone misuse, we’ve had a commissioner that doesn’t know that it is inappropriate to have his own private business conduct county business, and there’s the matter of falsified documentation and misuse of power in the Sheriff’s Department. (I am still stunned that our Chief Deputy Poole was fired for running for Sheriff. I hope that he will consider a write-in candidacy this November. )

The Jefferson Star Newspaper has reported that they had to sue the county for the information. Does the county have something to hide? And so why the “missing pages” as reported by the Star? Since the prosecutor’s job is to uphold the law, why would he withhold information that was pertinent unless it was unfavorable to their side, or to protect the Sheriff? I’ve had to deal with the same tactics in my personal cases with the county. A prosecutor is supposed to be neutral. Why the “cover up”?

Thomas Jefferson, the namesake of our county, is quoted as saying, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Obviously, there is disdain for the county electorate and we need to re-establish the pecking order. For too long, we have trusted our officials to act responsibly and ethically and that public trust has been violated. People are taking action and questioning the practices of those in charge and the dissatisfaction amongst the populace is growing louder. Sheriff Olsen received only a bit more than 50% of the vote in the May primary. A wake up call, perhaps?

From personal experience I can honestly say, “Thank God for our First Amendment rights and our media”. When folks are kept in the dark, those in charge can, as the idiomatic expression implies…get away with murder.

Andi Elliott

Tea Party Patriots Idaho State Co-Coordinator
President of For the Love of Pets Foundation

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: UN Arms Treaty vs Our 2nd Amendment

July 20th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“All countries of the world are coming together in New York to negotiate what is seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations,” according to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). They’re working on a new treaty throughout the month that will provide a framework for regulating, controlling, registering, and tracking all conventional small firearms in the world. If signed by our president, it could be the most direct and overt effort to annul the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for treaties take supremacy over the Constitution, per Article VI.

In 2006, the UN passed a resolution, “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty,” with a stated objective of establishing “common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” The rationale was that terrorism and gang violence could be thwarted by establishing international standards regulating small-arms proliferation.

The Bush administration did not support the 2006 resolution, maintaining that each nation is best in a position to monitor and regulate arms sales rather than a one-size-fits-all approach assumed by the UN. But in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated the U.S. was no longer opposed to such an arms treaty, and in 2010, President Obama reversed the Bush administration objection to the earlier version.

Timing of this incarnation of a small arms treaty has been accelerated by the UN in hopes it can be signed by our current president and ratified by the senate before the November election, which could significantly alter the outlook for U.S. participation.

The UNODA has published a document titled, “Disarmament: A Basic Guide,” which lays out for the public the concerns regarding small arms. On page 68, we read, “Counting such weapons is difficult, as the majority are owned by civiliansThe trade in small arms is not well regulated and is the least transparent of all weapons systems. Due to the lack of regulation and controls, in many countries it is too easy for small arms to slip from the legal into the illicit market—through theft, leakage, corruption or pilferage.” On the next page we read, “Ammunition should be a key part of any discussion on small arms control.”

The UN clearly intends to address legal gun ownership within member states along with the trade of small arms. One of their many research and statement pieces on the UNODA website, states unequivocally, that arms have been “…misused by lawful owners and recommends that arms trade therefore be regulated in ways that would … minimize the misuse of legally owned weapons.”

Former UN ambassador John Bolton has affirmed this intent, and indicates that the UN “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

While it’s uncertain what exact terms and provisions will be included in the new Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the archive of documents on the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs website provide ample indications. From their own documents, it’s clear that they want to accomplish the following, as published by Forbes Online last week:

“1. Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.

2. Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms.

3. Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons.

4. Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.

5. Control distribution and availability of ammunition for small arms.”

The outcome, if adopted by the UN General Assembly, and ratified by the U.S., would result in “Overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, provide license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights,” according to Forbes.

Not only has the White House indicated support for the ATT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has vowed to push it through the Senate for ratification. Until now, the administration’s attempts to diminish 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms have been under the radar, except when botched, as in the Fast and Furious gun walking incident which can only be logically explained away as an effort to create a crisis that they would capitalize on to this end.

We’ve seen all too many times how the Obama administration bypasses congress and implements its agenda through executive orders. Don’t be surprised if the White House attempts to circumvent the Senate’s ratification of the treaty altogether, and declares the ATT “in effect” by Executive Order. After all, constitutional limitations on government, and our constitutional rights, are only valid if honored and upheld, something this administration fails at when it conflicts with their agenda.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Property Rights, Second Amendment | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Learning Lessons from California

May 28th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

This past week California Governor Jerry Brown announced that his state is facing a “ballooning” budget deficit of more than $16 billion. In an interview on CBS News, Brown said, “We’re not some tired country of Europe. We’re a buoyant, dynamic society that will both discipline itself on a daily basis but it will on the long-term plant the seeds of future growth.”

What is inscrutably lost on the governor is that the policies that have brought California to the edge of a fiscal cliff are mostly the same ones of those “tired countries of Europe,” which have manifest the same degree of financial discipline that California has practiced.

Many trends, fads, and even governmental policies have originated in the Golden State that has even given rise to a widely accepted aphorism, “As California goes, so goes the nation.” It’s the verity of that truism that makes the state’s financial problems a portent of things to come for the rest of the nation if we fail to learn from their experience.

Joel Kotkin, one of the nation’s premier demographers, has identified the most significant contributing factors to California’s problems. He points out that four million more people have left California in the last two decades than have moved there from other states. This is in sharp contrast with the 1980s when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving. Most of those leaving are young families.

They’re leaving because they can’t afford to live there. Everything from food, energy and taxes to real estate and housing, are beyond the financial reach of young families. Kotkin points to restrictions and massive regulations on development and housing that have artificially limited housing supply. As he explains, California’s so-called “smart growth” plans literally force middle-class families into less expensive, high-density housing, or out of state.

From his analysis, housing is merely one front of what he refers to as the “progressive war on the middle class.” The high cost of energy has had a dramatic impact on everyone, but especially on the middle class. Policies restricting traditional sources of energy, and state financed advantages granted to green energy producers have resulted in skyrocketing energy costs. The price per kilowatt hour of electricity is nearly twice what it is in Idaho, and more than 50% above the national average, according to Electricchoice.com.
Yet state policy makers are doubling down on green energy and on the restriction to traditional producers, which are expected to make the rates rise even more. For California has enthusiastically embraced cap-and-trade, with AB32, “…which will raise the cost of energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global carbon emissions. Then there are the renewable portfolio standards, which mandate that a third of the state’s energy come from renewable sources like wind and the sun by 2020,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most of these costs are borne by the middle class since those below the poverty level get state assistance and the wealthy can afford it. But the high energy costs drive manufacturing and other blue-collar energy users either out of business or out of the state.

And not only are energy costs much higher, but with two decades worth of policy and tax-advantaged investment in green energy, the promised windfall of jobs has not occurred. Only 2% of the job force in California is in green energy, roughly the same as Texas, which maintains a vastly different green energy policy. Rather, in part due to the higher operating costs in California created by onerous regulation, companies, and their jobs, have been exiting the state. California currently has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.9%.

The Golden State has significant gas and oil resources, yet policy and regulation preclude utilizing them. An estimated 25 billion barrels of oil are sitting untapped in the vast Monterey and Bakersfield shale deposits. Over the past decade, Texas has created 200,000 oil and gas jobs, while California has hardly added any.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out recently, that, “The state’s remaining energy producers have been slowing down as the regulatory environment becomes ever more hostile even as producers elsewhere, including in rustbelt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, ramp up. The oil and gas jobs the Golden State political class shuns pay around $100,000 a year on average.”

“You see the great tragedy of California is that we have all this oil and gas, we won’t use it,” Mr. Kotkin says. “We have the richest farm land in the world, and we’re trying to strangle it.” The latter point references how water restrictions aimed at protecting the delta smelt fish are endangering Central Valley farmers. Kotkin asserts that is the kind of “anti-human” public policy that is driving agriculture out and is impacting so many of the state’s economic sectors.

Kotkin explains the demographic changes are occurring because of state policy. “Californians are voting much more based on social issues and less on fiscal ones…” Consequently, it’s a much less favorable climate for employers than ever before. “As progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle class, California’s politics become even more left-wing. It’s a classic case of natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, ‘the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees,’” Kotkin explained recently to the Wall Street Journal.

Middle-class families are fleeing California in droves. As a result, California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society. On top are the “entrenched incumbents” who inherited their wealth or came to California early and made their money, and the self-made technology millionaires. Then there’s a shrunken middle class of public employees and, miles below, a permanent welfare class. As it stands today, about 40% of Californians don’t pay any income tax and a quarter are on Medicaid. It’s “a very scary political dynamic,” Kotkin laments.

Meanwhile, taxes are decimating the private sector economy. According to the Tax Foundation, California has the 48th-worst business tax climate. “The wealthy pay a top rate of 10.3%, the third-highest in the country, while middle-class workers—those who earn more than $48,000—pay a top rate of 9.3%, which is higher than what millionaires pay in 47 states. And state leaders want to raise tax rates even more,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The reason taxes have been increasing to now unsustainable levels, is that Sacramento has been unable to curtail spending. State spending has more than doubled in the past ten years. Costs for state pensions have increased by over 150% in the same time period, as demands from state employee unions have required a greater percentage of the budget. Unable to muster the discipline to reduce spending to match economic realities, the only tool the state seems to know how to use is tax increases.

The lessons from California are many, and this analysis only scratches the surface. The question is, will we as a nation learn them before or after we’re in the same malaise?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Time for Conservative Unity

May 3rd, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The recent suspension of campaigns by erstwhile presidential candidates, characterizes two distinct ways of thinking by voters in this country. One, when he can’t have it his way, gathers up his marbles and goes home. The other, acknowledging reality, accedes to voters’ preferences, and supports the victor.

Three weeks ago former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suspended his campaign. In his remarks on April 10 Santorum made no inference that he would do anything to assist or support the presumed Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and made no reference to him.

Earlier this week former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced he was suspending his campaign as well. But unlike Santorum, Newt declared, “I am committed to defeating Obama. We’ll do everything we can to help stop an Obama second term and win congressional majorities.”

Primary elections function as a process of elimination. With nine candidates running at the outset, voters of all parties who were disenchanted with the present administration could register and vote their conscience for the candidate that came closest to their way of thinking. With each successive state primary or caucus, the field shrank a little further.
Some voters choose to be like Gingrich; pragmatic and practical, realizing that to defeat the incumbent, unity is not a luxury, but a requisite. Consequently, even though their preferred candidate may no longer be in the race or viable, they realize in order to prevent another four years of the current regime, it’s imperative to support the one remaining candidate that can end it.
Other voters, however, take the Santorum approach. They gather up their marbles, mournfully exit the stage and go home, attacking the remaining candidate as they go. They can’t have it the way they want it so they “cash in” with pious pomposity, vowing no support to a candidate their “conscience” won’t allow them to vote for. Included in this group are those who imperiously proclaim, “I will not vote for the lesser of two evils,” or “A Romney administration will be just the same,” or any number of other self-validating acclamations.

Four years ago Mitt Romney bowed out of the race in appropriate fashion. He stated the need to unify behind the presumed nominee, endorsed the front-runner and encouraged his delegates to support McCain at the convention. Especially in light of the spirited sparring that occurred between the two, it was the appropriate and logical thing to do.

The moral imperative for anyone who feels the present administration is taking the country down the wrong path is to unite behind the one who can terminate it. For the moral imperative is derived by logic and reason, per Immanuel Kant, and survival of the republic should take supremacy over personal preference. There can be no other morally, or logically, acceptable action than to support the only remaining viable challenger.

Voltaire’s aphorism, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” applies consummately to politics. If the “perfect” candidate is a “10” on a desirability scale, and the practical choice is between a good “5” and a least desirable “1,” it is both illogical and immoral to not sustain the good five.

Politics is incremental in nature, and based in reality. Even slight movements in the right direction, based on reality, are always preferable to movements in the wrong direction facilitated by misplaced focus on ideality. Consequently, voting for an impossible “10,” which facilitates the election of a “1,” is, in fact, a wasted vote.

If voters, regardless of party affiliation, fervently believe that the present occupant of the White House represents an ideology that is antithetical to the founding principles of our country, the moral imperative is to unify behind the candidate that can remove him from office. It would be unconscionable to do anything else.
Those who, as a misguided matter of “conscience,” vote for a third party candidate, dividing the conservative vote, or worse yet, choose to not vote, waiting for the perfect candidate, are only improving the likelihood of another four years of the status quo. And that would be a violation of the moral imperative.

The real clincher for the holdouts to supporting Romney should be concern over the composition of the Supreme Court. If you believe in constructionist judicial review, a la John Roberts, versus a “living” constitutional judiciary, a la Elena Kagan, dividing the vote or staying home are indefensible choices.

The moral imperative requires that we put national interests ahead of our own. We unite and end this inexorable march to the economic abyss, the proliferation of the nanny state, and the annulment of our constitutional values. For as Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Or, worse, that they do the wrong thing.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Pocatello Issues, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Small Victory Over Government Intimidation – Sacketts v. EPA

April 6th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It’s bad enough that the politicians who run our government create megalithic and bureaucratic monstrosities to rule our lives with, but it’s even worse when those agencies begin to mutate and exercise presumed power to harass the very citizens they are supposed to serve. Several of our government agencies engage in citizen harassment, intimidation, and persecution that is much more characteristic of a fascistic system than a democratic one. And woe to the citizen caught in their crosshairs, as the Sackett’s from Priest Lake discovered, much to their dismay!

Michael and Chantell Sackett bought their “dream” property, about 2/3 of an acre, hundreds of yards away from the lake, in part of a building development back in 2007. They proceeded to develop the lot in preparation for building a modest three bedroom home.

The EPA showed up and issued a cease and desist order claiming the ground was classified as “wetlands.” Visiting with Michael this week, he said there’s a row of houses and a county road between his property and the edge of the lake, and no other water source, or standing water, on their property.

The Sackets stopped the property development per the EPA order, and researched the property more fully. They learned that the data the EPA was using to classify their property was erroneous, as it was not on their “wetlands inventory.” When confronted with the Sackett’s finding, the EPA said that sometimes their data is not accurate, yet insisted that the Sacketts were still obligated to comply with the order.

Meantime, the EPA threatened fines of $32,500 to $75,000 a day if the Sacketts failed to return the property to its former state, and plant non-indigenous flora. But incredibly, there was no means to appeal the diktat of the federal agency. They couldn’t even take the issue to court against the agency! But they tried. And even though they were deprived of their day in court against the EPA by a federal judge and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous decision last week in Sackett v. EPA, said property owners have every right to challenge bureaucratic fiat in court.

Idaho Congressman Raúl Labrador issued a statement saying, “The federal government is an intimidating force against ordinary citizens, and standing up to its bureaucracy requires extraordinary bravery. Thanks to the unwavering courage and selfless sacrifice of the Sacketts, Americans everywhere will be guaranteed the right to appeal a decision imposed by a government agency.”

Mike Sackett said in a statement after the decision, “We are very thankful to the Supreme Court for affirming that we have rights, and that the EPA is not a law unto itself and that the EPA is not beyond the control of the courts and the Constitution. The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years. It said we could not go to court and challenge their bogus claim that our small lot had ‘wetlands’ on it. As this nightmare went on, we rubbed our eyes and started to wonder if we were living in some totalitarian country. Now, the Supreme Court has come to our rescue, and reminded the EPA — and everyone — that this is still America, and Americans still have rights under the Constitution.”

In the courtroom, Justice Antonin Scalia, mocked the EPA’s view that the Sacketts’ small lot was protected by federal law as part of the “navigable waters” of the United States, pointing out that the Sackets had never “seen a ship or other vessel cross their yard.” Scalia insisted that they are entitled to a civil hearing before the agency to contest the EPA’s jurisdiction over their property.

In a concurring opinion for the case, Justice Samuel Alito accurately noted that, despite the ruling, “the combination of the uncertain reach of the Clean Water Act and draconian penalties imposed for the sort of violations alleged in this case still leaves most property owners with little practical alternative but to dance to the EPA’s tune.”

The court decision doesn’t change the laws regarding what constitutes a “wetland,” nor does it force the EPA to limit their bullying tactics to their “wetlands inventory,” but it does give landowners the ability to at least challenge the EPA’s strong-arm tactics against property owners.

Government, and its hoard of agencies and bureaucracies, was not created by divine unction, and are not infallible. They are to serve the people, not rule over them in totalitarian fashion. With the tsunami of government control swamping individual freedom, it was encouraging to see the Supreme Court vote unanimously to help protect individual property owners from tyrannical bureaucratic overreach. Those in government service should never forget that they are to serve “We the People.”

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Property Rights | No Comments »

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