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October 27, 2016

As usual, the Daily Sentinel told only part of the story. In today’s issue, Gary Harmon did a story on tensions and divisions in the Grand Junction area related to this year’s presidential election. The photo accompanying the story was of a slightly bent Hillary sign, with an intact Trump sign in the background. The front page photo misrepresents the truth about what is actually happening in Mesa County, and the thousands of dollars worth of damage done to large Trump signs which have been placed on private property.

The following photos were sent to the Sentinel, but the editors chose not to use them. Please share, and contact the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial staff and ask them to publish the photos below.


This is the photo the editor chose to publish with Gary Harmon’s story.

THESE are the photos sent to the Daily Sentinel by the man who has repeatedly put up, taken down and replaced Trump signs across the Grand Valley during this year’s persistent cycle of vandalism.

trumpsign2 trumpsign3 trumpsign4

Sign @ 12th and Horizon cut from top to bottom

Sign @ 12th and Horizon cut from top to bottom

Harley Hill

Harley Hill

Posted by   10/27/16

October 26, 2016

Jankovsky guest opinion: Acha, Democrats smear county

The smear campaign, muckraking and dirty politics of Democratic candidate John Acha and the Garfield County Democratic Central Committee has directed accusations not only at John Martin but the entire Board of Commissioners, county government and county employees. Mr. Acha states rules are optional at Garfield County, that there is waste, fraud, abuse and corruption at the highest levels. His outrageous rhetoric is a direct attack on all of Garfield County and is directed at the very foundation of our county government.

Before I go any further, I need to defend our county government and its employees. The employees at Garfield County are hardworking, conscientious, professional, dedicated and well-educated. Garfield County and its employees provide a good service and a good product.

Tom Jankovsky

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky

As commissioners, we are public servants who took an oath to serve the health, safety and welfare of the citizens. As commissioners, we are not saints, we are human, we make mistakes and we do our best to correct them. We are also not sinners, as the Democratic Central Committee portrays us. The central committee has had four lawyers and spent hundreds of volunteer hours going over thousands of pages of documents. The best they can find is an audit where Commissioner Martin did the right thing and paid back per diem funds in question to protect the county and his integrity.

Let’s get some facts on the table. The $1,800 in per diem Commissioner Martin received from Colorado Counties Inc. covered three years, nine different meetings and a minimum of 45 days of travel and meetings. The average per diem would be $40.

CCI does not require Commissioner Martin to provide receipts of expenditures, and no county policy was violated by accepting per diem advances or by not reporting it to the county. There is no evidence to support the accusation that the per diem expenses were also charged on a county credit card. Any reasonable person would understand that $40 per day does not cover meals and travel expenses in Washington, D.C., or any other major metropolitan area.

Image result for john martin garco

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin

By reimbursing the county, Commissioner Martin more than accounted for any errors in record keeping. In fact, Commissioner Martin most certainly overcorrected any spending discrepancies.

As an example, I have traveled with Commissioner Martin to the National Counties Association meeting in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Martin, instead of taking the cab from the airport to his hotel, paid cash and took the subway.

Because the commissioner overcorrected in paying back the county, Commissioner Samson and I paid back a portion of those funds. We did not think it was right for Commissioner Martin to have to pay back the entire amount himself. Then through the Democratic Central Committee’s open records request, they somehow got ahold of our reimbursement checks. Candidate Acha then posted those checks on his website, with our routing numbers, account numbers, addresses and signatures. This action victimized not only us but our families. You can take this as disrespect, poor judgment or breaking the law.

This is probably a combination of all the above and gives a little insight into the character of John Acha. When the Glenwood Springs Post Independent characterizes John Acha as “Unready John,” that is probably an understatement. His actions and his words are an insult to the reputation of Garfield County, the reputation of the county management and its employees.

As county commissioners, we do our best to represent the county with integrity and strive to be good public servants. In addition, we understand that politics —even local politics — can get ugly. It goes with the territory. However, this scorched-earth campaign is over the top and does not represent the good people and character of Garfield County.

Finally, take a good look at Mr. Acha’s platform. Other than negative criticism and portraying himself as a government official you will find there is not much there.

Tom Jankovsky is a Republican Garfield County commissioner.

Reposted by  10/26/16

October 7, 2016


Colorado Amendment 71 tries to cut down on constitutional red tape

County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, pictured here in front of the County Courthouse in Breckenridge, is helping lead efforts on the "Raise the Bar" campaign. Should Amendment 71 pass in the face of some opposition, it would require that citizen initiatives to amend the constitution include signatures from throughout Colorado to reach the state ballot.

County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, pictured here in front of the County Courthouse in Breckenridge, is helping lead efforts on the “Raise the Bar” campaign. Should Amendment 71 pass in the face of some opposition, it would require that citizen initiatives to amend the constitution include signatures from throughout Colorado to reach the state ballot.

In a battle that’s being billed as rural versus metro areas, Colorado voters are being asked this election season whether it’s too easy to rewrite the state constitution.

If approved this November, Amendment 71, dubbed “Raise the Bar” by its bipartisan backers, would change the process for signature collection in attempts to amend the state’s founding document. Proponents note the immense number of times the constitution has been revised since the initiative process began more than a century ago, while objectors argue that landing a measure on the ballot is already difficult enough and, as is, allows voters to more directly impact the state’s laws.

One of the issues that supporters point to, however, is that the current system requires only a set number of signatures — 5 percent of the total cast for secretary of state in the prior election, or upwards of 100,000 — and nothing that necessitates they originate from different parts of Colorado. The new law would demand that signatures be amassed at a rate of 2 percent from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts.

“What we’ve seen in the past are people hanging out at the 16th Street Mall (in Denver) for signature gathering, we see people in the Pearl Street area (in Boulder),” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a co-chair for Amendment 71. “We never see people up in Summit County, we never see people in Sterling, in Durango. Having constitutional policies be dictated by people in Denver, in my opinion, is not right. It requires a statewide discussion.”

So rather than just accumulating signatures in Denver, Boulder or other large population zones, Summit County, part of Senate District 8, could expect its 19,000 or so active voters to be more frequently polled for ballot permissions. The law would also entail getting about 1,600 of Mesa County’s approximately 80,000 voters in Senate District 7 during the 2014 election to meet the new standard.

In addition, Amendment 71 would call for a 55-percent threshold for passing a constitutional ballot measure rather than the simple majority currently required. The minimums for statute revisions would remain unchanged.

Many opponents — several environmental groups, Libertarian organizations and government watchdogs — say the problem is that the petition process is hard enough, let alone then also putting it to voters often just to see it fail.

“It is difficult to go out and gather signatures,” Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, explained during a recent forum. “What this is about is making it so expensive and so onerous that voters don’t even get the opportunity to decide. To set standards that may not be possible to meet, I think that deserves a closer look.”

Some estimates assert that current signature gathering campaigns can top $1 million, let alone if one is taken to court over contested signatures. Insisting on signatures from a larger geographic region would involve training more volunteers or hiring additional professional signature collectors to cover more ground, they say, and result in further inflated — and possibly prohibitive — costs.

For Gibbs, a veteran of a number of political campaigns, it’s a small price to pay to prevent unwieldy and ultimately burdensome laws from hitting the state books. That the Colorado Constitution has been changed 150 times compared to just 27 for the U.S. version, he said, is unacceptable.

“We don’t want to limit an opportunity if there’s need to amend the constitution,” said Gibbs, “but we’ve clearly seen this phenomenon in Colorado where it’s turned into this legislative mechanism for people to put things in our constitution that is very problematic for our state. If you have something that’s that important, grassroots can gather 2 percent of the registered voters in each of the 35 state Senate districts.”

Challengers contend that voters throughout the state already get a chance to have their say — by reviewing information in the proposal and voting in November. And they’ve by no means wholeheartedly sanctioned whatever appears on the ballot.

According to the Colorado Independent, fewer than a third of those amendments proposed on Colorado’s ballot in the last 30 years have gone on to be passed by voters. And the constitution has been amended by citizen-initiated ballot measures 48 times since the initiative process was approved in 1910.

What Amendment 71 might also grant, foes protest, is a single Senate district having the ability to block a desired measure entirely. Without added safeguards in the proposal for the statutory process — one in which the state’s General Assembly can modify laws that are passed by voters, a reason why many people instead choose the constitutional option — changing the law is unwarranted.

“If the voters decide to go the statutory route,” said Nunez, “the Legislature could turn around and change it the next day because there’s no protection, and that’s the reason we see a lot of initiatives go the constitutional route. That’s not addressed by Amendment 71.”

Raise the Bar’s list of supporters reads like a Who’s Who of Colorado politics. Every living governor from both sides of the aisle, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Bill Ritter, Bill Owens, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm are counted among them, as is current Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and a few of his predecessors, Wellington Webb and Federico Peña (Hickenlooper also served in the position from 2003-11). Their primary bone of contention remains that since just 1990, citizens have attempted to amend the state constitution 68 times. Per the movement’s data, just two other states across the nation, California and Oregon, have tried to do it more.

“Being a former legislator,” said Gibbs, “I’ve seen firsthand some of the conflicting provisions in our constitution that I think create a juggernaut, if you will, of challenges for Colorado. Things with real fiscal components, in my opinion, don’t belong in a foundational document. Fundamentally, I think that if we’re having a discussion on amending our state constitution, that Summit County voters need to have a say. And right now I feel like they don’t.”

Reposted by  10/7/16

October 6, 2016

The Caucus system for determining local, state and national primary races was established first in 1910, then repealed by an act of the State Legislature in 1992. But after 10 years of a primary system, Colorado voters, by defeating Amendment 29, restored the Caucus system in 2002.

Proposition 107, introduced this year by a coalition of progressive interests, would establish a presidential primary in Colorado beginning with the presidential election year 2020.  It is a statutory amendment to state law, and thus would be subject to amendment by the general assembly.

Why do folks want to hold a Presidential Primary in Colorado?

  • Colorado’s current caucus system is open only to members of each political party. Unaffiliated voters feel this is discriminatory, giving them no say in the selection of presidential candidates.
  • Citizen participation in party caucuses is very low because of the non-participation of the large unaffiliated voting bloc, and does not represent a good cross section of Colorado voters. A presidential primary would allow all Colorado voters to participate in selecting presidential candidates.
  • In both the 2015 and 2016 sessions of the state legislature, party insiders killed proposed legislation to reestablish Colorado’s presidential primary. Proponents feel Proposition 107 is the only way to overcome the establishment’s opposition to giving ordinary citizens a voice in the process of selecting presidential candidates.

 Why folks don’t like Proposition 107

  • Proposition 107 is too broad and has many features not essential to establishing a presidential primary. The legislature has plenty of time to write and pass a good bill before 2020 once we reach a consensus on the best way to do it.  There currently exists no consensus supporting a presidential primary.
  • The additional, holding a separate March presidential primary will cost Colorado taxpayers over $5 million and there will be substantial costs to local taxpayers. This could strain already cash-strapped local governments.
  • Unaffiliated voters already have the opportunity to participate in any party caucus simply by changing their voter affiliation 60 days in advance of the caucus meeting. Every unaffiliated voter receives a notice informing him or her of that option.
  • Both the Republican Party and Democrat Party have the option to establish a binding “straw poll” for the 2020 presidential election. Each party should decide that for itself, and the need for a binding poll may change from one presidential election cycle to the next.
  • Proposition 107 allows the Governor to set the date for the presidential primary without any consultation with either the Secretary of State or state party officials. That is a bad idea because such unilateral authority is subject to partisan abuse.
  • Another bad feature of Proposition 107 is mandating a “winner-take-all” formula for awarding delegates to the national convention instead of a proportional allocation. A candidate who gets 45% of the primary vote should get 45% of the delegates, not zero. Adopting a winner-take-all allocation by statute is inherently unfair and undemocratic.
  • The poorly drawn language on “binding” of convention delegates will bind Colorado’s delegates not only for the first ballot but for all subsequent ballots as well. That is a really dumb idea because it could disenfranchise the entire Colorado delegation if the candidate who won Colorado’s primary in March is no longer a viable candidate in July or August.
  • The mandated “combined ballot” for unaffiliated voters likely will result in widespread confusion, voter fraud, and possibly tens of thousands of spoiled ballots, which could go uncounted.
  • The state’s previous presidential primary system was abandoned in 2003 because of the taxpayer cost after participation in the 2000 primary declined to only 17% of eligible voters, and the 1996 turnout was only 22%. Let’s learn from history and get it right.

Proposition 107 has the right intention, to get more Colorado voters involved in the electoral process. But this ballot proposition was hastily crafted without sufficient thought given to voting patterns, and elections costs in Colorado. Vote NO on Proposition 107. It’s an unnecessary measure that will further muddy Colorado statues. Answers to the problems Proposition 107 purports to fix are already found in Colorado’s elections rules and processes.  10/6/16

October 4, 2016

The Descent Into Quasi-Law


Library of Law & Liberty

“Our Constitution was written for a people seeking to live decent lives within their own, largely self-governing communities. It cannot function if the unwritten constitution, as we can call it, of institutions, beliefs, and practices no longer supports a limited central government of separated powers.”

“Stroke of a pen . . . law of the land. Kind of cool.” That insouciant comment, made by Paul Begala when he worked in the Clinton White House, raised controversy when Begala said it back in 1998, but it hardly would today.

After all, just in the past few weeks we have discovered that President Obama plans to sign, on his own authority, an international “climate change” treaty. He calls it an executive agreement and so claims he needs no congressional approval, even though his administrators will use the treaty to impose new policies and rules binding American individuals, governments, and businesses to change their behavior on pain of federal sanction.

We also have discovered that the Obama administration has been funneling money it wrangled from legal settlements with banks—intended to help those victimized in the last mortgage bubble—to partisan organizations supporting its own political agenda.

In addition, Obama has “proclaimed” the world’s largest ocean reserve off the coast of Hawaii and created a massive federal “monument” banning economic activity from a large swath of Maine. The mainstream press has lauded these last actions as pro-environment. But loggers, fishermen, and consumers will pay the price for policies implemented without the constitutionally required debate in Congress regarding their costs and benefits.

What all these actions have in common is their contempt for constitutional forms and procedures. I use the term “contempt” to indicate, not open hostility, but rather an utter lack of concern. And this lack of concern increasingly crosses institutional and partisan lines.

Some of the President’s recent actions might be dismissed as mere “perks of the office.” Creating monuments, changing the names of mountain peaks (Mount McKinley is now Mount Denali) and such have become pseudo-prerogative actions in the United States; few among our elites care to question them. But, as with all prerogatives, those who hold these powers will seek to expand them. Under Obama the “flexibility” of the President has come to swallow up the rule of law.

Image result for constitution on fire

Take, for example, this President’s attempts to contravene established law so as to prevent deportation of persons in this country illegally. In a series of 12 executive orders he did precisely this, exempting from deportation anyone who met a set of criteria specifically rejected by Congress. The orders eventually were stuck down by a federal appeals court—a decision upheld on account of a tie at the U.S. Supreme Court. What was truly astonishing about this naked power grab, intended to allow up to five million people in this country illegally to stay here in defiance of the clear language of properly promulgated law, was that it almost succeeded.

Even more than through direct decree, Obama has seized massive power for himself through cynical misuse of his executive, administrative power. He has directed his administrators to issue orders and regulations contradicting and/or going well beyond the intention of the laws they are sworn to uphold. Judges help as well. Chief Justice John Roberts saved Obamacare by pretending that its provision imposing a penalty on anyone daring to not purchase the dictated health insurance was merely a “tax.”

Other instances of overreach abound and multiply. Sometimes Obama loses, as with his attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor—an order of Catholic nuns caring for the elderly and dying—to cooperate in the provision of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through their health insurer. More often he seems to be winning, as with his Education Department’s intentional misreading of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

The Department has taken it upon itself to vastly widen the definition of “sexual harassment” and to alter the plain meaning of Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex to demand students’ access to bathrooms belonging to the opposite sex. Across the nation universities in particular are reversing traditional burdens of proof and truncating due process rights for those accused of sexual misconduct out of fear of Education Department investigations and reprisals. All this in response to bald claims of power without any reasonable basis in the legislation under which the Department is claiming the authority to regulate.[1]

Much of the Education Department’s power in this area does not stem from the law, or even its own regulations. Most of the changes in educational policy—and the rights of the accused on college campuses—result from directions embedded only in “Dear Colleague” letters sent by mid-level bureaucrats to universities. Even more changes owe their existence to consent decrees entered into by universities with the Department out of fear of the cost and bad publicity of a federal investigation.[2]

None of this is to say that the Obama administration is the first to stretch the powers of the presidency beyond constitutional bounds. All of his abuses have precedents in previous administrations. Moreover, the movement toward presidential power has been aided and abetted by a Congress intent on passing broad legislation “solving” problems like workplace safety through massive delegations of power, then accepting a distinctly secondary role as ombudsmen and overseers of administrative quality-control. Courts, too, have expanded executive power through their own quasi-legislative actions, demanding that new and expanded rights be made real through discretionary actions by administrative agencies.

We have seen in recent years the solidification of a regime different in character from that embodied in the language of the Constitution. Partly on account of a determination to pursue a radical agenda and partly on account of the breakdown of opposition from other branches of government and the people, we have seen a fateful shift in the operating rules of our political order. These actions, and cavalier responses to them, evince a lack of respect for constitutional forms and procedures that has become so pervasive as to undermine the rule of law. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the United States no longer is a regime of law, but one of mere quasi-law.

By quasi-law I mean directives with the force of law that lack crucial characteristics of genuine law. Emanating from all three branches of government, quasi-laws create rights and duties like laws but lack essential legal attributes such as promulgation through prescribed means and provision of predictable rules rather than mere delegation of discretionary power. Citizens today may find themselves charged with violating “rules” emanating from any branch of government (including, of course the fourth, administrative branch) without understanding their content or origins, even as rulers find it increasingly difficult to enforce effective policies in the face of unpredictable conflicts with members of other branches.

Thus, the persistent breaking of constitutional rules has produced confusion, tension, and animosity among those making and following law. It also increasingly denies the people that most basic of goods provided by legitimate governments: predictable rules allowing them to go about their lives without fear of arbitrary, surprising punishment for their actions.

The roots of our descent into the rule of quasi-law are relatively deep. From Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, powerful political actors have attacked the “deadlock of democracy,” painting the Constitution as an impediment to expression of the people’s will. This determination to turn our Constitution into a tool of transformation, rather than a charter of limited government, crucially undermined the rule of law. The ideological choice of results over process and form that literally transformed our constitutional culture from one devoted to maintenance of a free people governing itself in its various local associations into a conflicted set of interested parties and ideological factions fighting to control the levers of federal power for their own ends.

The crucial change that has taken place has been the atrophy of Americans’ constitutional morality. This term, most fully developed by the late George Carey, refers to the felt duty of the people, and especially those in positions of political authority, to respect constraints on their power included in the written and unwritten constitutions. Having delegitimized the written Constitution’s emphasis on limited, checked, and balanced powers, and having sold the people on a conception of the national government as one properly responsible for the well-being of every individual in the nation, Progressives of various sorts have destroyed America’s traditional constitutional morality. In its place we now have a confused set of motivations and convictions in important ways opposed to the written Constitution.

Our Constitution was written for a people seeking to live decent lives within their own, largely self-governing communities. It cannot function if the unwritten constitution, as we can call it, of institutions, beliefs, and practices no longer supports a limited central government of separated powers. It would be easy to simply despair of our constitutional order and recommend a new one, seeking to cabin power through extensive, detailed statutes or administrative procedures. This has been the direction of reform for some decades. It has not born fruit for the simple reason that contempt for constitutional formalities necessarily involves contempt for legal formalities.

Only the hard work of restoring our unwritten constitution will make it possible to enforce and rebuild our constitutional order. This is not the work of a few detailed reforms, but of a decades-long struggle to reinvigorate the determination to use already existing constitutional procedures to limit power. The power of impeachment and removal, the power of the veto, and, above all, the determination to cease supporting actions, by whatever branch of government, that fail to abide by the requirements of constitutional and legal form; all these must be grasped again by citizens and public figures determined to restore the rule of law and our constitutional order.

[1] The new regulations have suffered only limited judicial setbacks along the way. For a detailed critique, see “Law Professors’ Open Letter Regarding Campus Free Speech and Sexual Assault.” Available at:

[2] Of course, the Department is aided by campus administrators only too happy to comply with any directive increasing their own power and supporting their own ideological programs. A useful summary of these actions is provided in the document from Senator Lankford’s office, cited in previous note.

Bruce P. Frohnen

Reposted by  10/4/16


October 2, 2016

Image result for blm agents body armor bundy ranch

Lawyer says FBI agents posed as film crew in Bunkerville standoff investigation


Rancher Cliven Bundy displays a bouquet of desert foliage that his cattle grazes on during a news conference at an event near his ranch in Bunkerville on Saturday, April 11, 2015. (David Becker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

FBI agents posed as a documentary film crew to gather evidence during their investigation into the April 2014 standoff near the Bundy family ranch in Bunkerville, a defense lawyer disclosed in court papers Friday.

Attorney Chris Rasmussen said undercover agents conducted video interviews of several defendants to “extract admissions” from them before they were charged.

He identified the company as Longbow Productions, which does not appear in online Nevada licensing records.

Attorney Dan Hill, who is defending Ammon Bundy, said his client was interviewed for several hours in Phoenix by Longbow Productions months before he was charged in the Bunkerville standoff with his father, Cliven Bundy, and other defendants.

 “I believe that the FBI was pretending to be members of the news media in order to have lengthy conversations with Ammon and others,” Hill said. “Ammon has nothing to hide, but I still find it troublesome that the FBI would sink to that tactic.”

Another defense lawyer, Jess Marchese, said his client Eric Parker gave the company a 90-minute interview in Idaho, where he lives.

“From everything that I’ve seen, it’s my belief that Longbow Productions was the FBI,” Marchese said. “I know that there were interviews with some of the other defendants. It was definitely unique, but I don’t think it’s overly harmful to my client because his recitation of the facts has always been the same.”

Parker posted on Facebook in August 2014 that a member of Longbow Productions told him the company was making a documentary about the standoff and wanted his opinion about it.

“I was told that the Bundys were working with them and have given interviews for it,” Parker said in the post. “If I could have that confirmed, I would feel better about talking to them.”

Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office, would not comment Friday on Longbow Productions.

“We cannot comment on pending litigation,” she said.

FBI spokesman Huston Pullen also declined to comment.

The revelation came in court papers Rasmussen filed seeking to narrow a protective order that vastly restricts public disclosure of evidence in the high-profile case.

Rasmussen, who represents radio talk show host Peter Santilli, said he and other defense lawyers want to cite government evidence about Longbow Productions and other activity by federal agents during the standoff investigation in public motions challenging the government’s case.

Other government evidence expected to be the subject of defense motions includes Nevada Highway Patrol dashcam videos showing the standoff scene, bodycam videos from Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents capturing the events leading up to the protests, and aerial surveillance of the Bunkerville area conducted by federal agents, according to Rasmussen’s court papers.

A total of 19 defendants were charged in March with conspiring to assault BLM agents on April 12, 2014, and take back the impounded Bundy cattle that had been grazing on federal land. Two later pleaded guilty, and the rest are to stand trial Feb. 6 before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

In his court papers, Rasmussen said defense lawyers should be able to remove personal identifiers from government documents and then file them publicly with their upcoming motions.

“Counsel should be allowed to make professional judgments and redact the personal information of any person outlined in police or FBI reports like counsel in this district has done in every case prior to this one,” he said.

Attorney Maggie McLetchie — who represents the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Battle Born Media and The Associated Press — has lodged objections in court papers to the protective order, calling it too broad and a blow to transparency.

Because of concerns about threats to witnesses and law enforcement officers, the order prohibits defense teams for all 17 defendants from publicly disclosing grand jury transcripts, FBI and police reports, witness statements and other documents the government collected during its two-year investigation.

McLetchie on Friday hailed Rasmussen’s bid to narrow the scope of the order, which was signed earlier this year by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen.

“In short, the protective order in place is excessively broad,” she said. “It cloaks information that the public has a right to know about in total secrecy.”

McLetchie said there are First Amendment concerns and questions about the actions of law enforcement in the case.

“The public has a right to assess for itself whether the government engaged in problematic law enforcement practices and whether this prosecution is retaliation for criticizing the government,” she said. “The courts belong to the people, and law enforcement works for the people, too.”

Reposted by  10/2/16

September 14, 2016

Meet Native Americans Fighting Obama’s Push to Conserve Public Land

 Josh Siegel

as published by Daily Signal

“I hope our people can still enjoy Bears Ears,” Holliday said. “But I fear with a monument, there will be more restrictions, and we won’t have that opportunity, especially our Indian people, our Navajo people. We are always being cut off somewhere, and we don’t really trust the federal government. That’s the way we are. We want to continue to use it like the way it is.”

The latest front in a debate over the reach of U.S. control of federal land is a 1.9 million-acre retreat of mesas and canyons located in Utah’s poorest county.

The stakes are large for this remote land, which President Barack Obama is considering designating as a national monument, in his continued pursuit of being the most prolific conservationist to ever occupy the White House.

But for the local Native Americans who live near the land—known to them as Bears Ears—and depend on it for sustenance and cultural tradition, the debate over how to best preserve it feels smaller, but no less important.

“Bears Ears has a lot of meaning to me,” said Marie Holliday, a 72-year-old resident of Monument Valley in Utah’s San Juan County who belongs to the Navajo tribe.

Added Holliday, in an interview with The Daily Signal:

    Our people have used the land for generations. With my grandmother before she died, we would go across the San Juan River to graze [livestock]. In the fall, people start to go out there to get firewood to heat their homes for winter. We use the herbal plants that grow there to heal sickness. A lot of our ancestral ruins are buried there. It really is a beautiful place.

Obama’s Conservation Drive

Holliday does not support the work of a coalition of tribes—including the national body of her own, Navajo Nation—that is advocating for Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make Bears Ears a national monument.

Whereas supporters of a monument see it as a way to best protect Bears Ears from looting, mining, and drilling—and a tourist boon for the area’s struggling economy—local Native Americans who oppose it don’t trust the federal government to look out for their interests.

The 1.9 million acres in southeastern Utah defined in the proposal by the coalition of tribes are public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service.

“I hope our people can still enjoy Bears Ears,” Holliday said. “But I fear with a monument, there will be more restrictions, and we won’t have that opportunity, especially our Indian people, our Navajo people. We are always being cut off somewhere, and we don’t really trust the federal government. That’s the way we are. We want to continue to use it like the way it is.”

The Obama administration’s consideration of Bears Ears as a national monument shares characteristics with the president’s recent use of the Antiquities Act.

On Aug. 24, siding with conservationists over the opposition of some residents and local officials, Obama designated more than 87,500 acres in Maine as a national monument.

Obama has created 23 national monuments, in addition to expanding an already existing one, more than any previous president.

In Utah, the Bears Ears monument proposal also lacks local backing.

Among opponents are the San Juan County Commission; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican; the GOP-controlled state legislature; and the state’s congressional representatives.

But the tribal coalition of Navajos, Zunis, Hopis, Utes, and Ute Mountain Utes that is pushing for the monument views itself as representative of local interests. As part of its proposal, the coalition asks to jointly manage the land with the government.

Who’s Protecting the Land

“To put it plainly and bluntly, the people elect us to sit in these positions, and there is no way an elected leader would ever advocate for lack of access for its own people,” said Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, councilwoman for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and co-chairwoman of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Lopez-Whiteskunk, in an interview with The Daily Signal, added:

We believe we need to protect that access to the land, but do it in a respectable and responsible manner. We understand what it’s like to live out there. We’ve survived it. To think any tribal leader would cut off the supply to herbs, and firewood, and the capacity to say their prayers, is simply absurd.

In addition to the coalition’s tribal representation, it also gets support from major conservation groups and nature advocates.

According to a report in a local newspaper, Deseret News Utah, the campaign for the monument has been granted $20 million in donations from two philanthropic groups — the Hewlett and Packard foundations — that cite environmental protections as a focus for the grants they award.

The Conservation Lands Foundation also supports the coalition’s proposal, the newspaper said.

Lopez-Whiteskunk, 47, is a college-educated resident of Towaoc, Colorado, the headquarters of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to which she belongs, located about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bears Ears.

Using her platform “as someone lucky enough to speak for my people,” Lopez-Whiteskunk said it’s appropriate to collaborate with outside groups if it helps accomplish the coalition’s goal of making Bears Ears a national monument.

“When people say outsiders are coming in and we are backed by environmentalists, I say, ‘Heck, yeah, we are,’” Lopez-Whiteskunk told The Daily Signal, adding:

   There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just some people think Native Americans are not intelligent enough to seek resources, and seek out organizations and experts. We can and we do. I am a Native American who’s educated and I have the ability to research and utilize tools in a manner any movement would utilize. So I feel strongly that this initiative has the correct spirit and the right intent.

‘Trying to Work Together’

As the Obama administration considers the tribal coalition’s request, Utah’s representatives in Congress are planning their own method to preserve Bears Ears.

In July, Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, both Republicans, introduced the Utah Public Lands Initiative.

The massive public lands bill includes a provision that would conserve less of Bears Ears—1.4 million acres instead of 1.9 million acres—and also would allow energy development in certain areas.

Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, told The Daily Signal in an interview that his panel will mark up the legislation at the end of the month.

The committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on it Wednesday morning. A floor vote wouldn’t come until after the presidential election, Bishop said.

His measure is opposed by environmental groups and the tribal coalition, who say it does not significantly protect natural resources.

Bishop has made a congressional career fighting for local land rights. About 65 percent of Utah’s land is controlled by the federal government. The federal government owns 28 percent of all U.S. land, according to the Interior Department.

Bishop argues that executive action by the president would create ill will among locals who are split about what to do.

“If the president acts, he messes up what has been three years of trying to work together,” Bishop said, adding:

   “He can’t claim to have the local support to do it. Our plan is good and theirs sucks. Intellectually, creating a monument is a legislative function and should never have been an executive function. It has also become at least curious, if not downright hypocritical, why the president is considering doing this now as he is leaving office and is no longer accountable to explain why he did things.”

‘Won’t Have a Home No More’

No matter the path to protect Bears Ears, uniting the tribes is a challenge.

Jovanii Nez belongs to Descendants of K’aayelii, a group that considers itself the original inhabitants of the area in and around Bears Ears, and heirs to the land.

Nez, 43, says the group’s members are relatives of Hastii K’aayelii, a Navajo leader whose followers never surrendered to the federal government during the American-Indian Wars.

In 1933, the group says, the government relocated its members against their will from Bears Ears to an area of the Navajo reservation known as the Aneth Extension.

Descendants of K’aayelii opposes both the monument and the congressional approach, Nez told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“This discussion over the monument, and what to do about Bears Ears, has elevated our story but no one wants to hear it,” Nez said. “All that is keeping us alive is our passion for our homeland. We want a place where we know who we are. With a monument, we won’t have a home no more.”


Graphic courtesy of Daily Signal

Josh Siegel is the news editor for The Daily Signal. This article was originally posted at

Reposted by  9/14/16

September 30, 2016

Wind Power Made The Lights Go Out Across An ENTIRE STATE

The lights went out across an entire Australian state due to wind and solar power, and experts say the worst green energy blackouts are on their way.

South Australia suffered a complete power blackout Wednesday largely due to green energy. It plunged 1.7 million residents into darkness. The blackout was caused by problems with transmission lines feeding the region from other states and a green energy policy which caused the area to shut down operating coal plants to promote heavy use of wind and solar power.

Experts believe that the ability of an electrical grid to absorb unreliable green energybecomes increasingly more difficult at scale. Australia’s reliance on wind power makes blackouts more likely because the amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids more fragile.

Australian Liberal Party Sen. Chris Back blamed excessive reliance on wind turbines for the blackout and incredibly high electricity prices in South Australia. South Australia has been experiencing a power crisis since July when the state’s last reliable coal power plants were shuttered in favor of wind. Back has formally called for a moratorium on new turbines pending a cost-­benefit analysis of the effect of the wind industry on the country.

“There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure. There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Back told The Australian.

The power crisis in South Australia has caused the price of electricity to spike to 200 cents per kilowatt-hour of power. The average Australian currently pays about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to research by the country’s parliament. To put that in some perspective, the average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of power, roughly half the cost. Major businesses in South Australia have already threatened to suspend operations entirely until the price of power comes down.

Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, the same period when the government offered lucrative wind subsidies. Power prices in Australian states with a lot of wind power are almost double the rates in other states.

Other Pacific nations are cutting back and outright banning wind power due to the risk of blackouts. China has ordered wind operators to stop expanding four times in the last five years, because unreliable wind power was damaging the country’s power grid and costing the government enormous amounts of money. The Chinese government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration. China was wasting enough wind energy to power Great Britain, according to an article published earlier this month by a green think tank.

September 29, 2016

Senate Dem Report Attacking EPA Critics Traced to Green Pressure Group

Image result for extreme environmentalists

Document scrubbed of traces to environmentalist group after Free Beacon inquiries

A Democratic senator moved to conceal his apparent behind-the-scenes collaboration with an environmentalist pressure group on Wednesday after inquiries into the group’s role in crafting a report accusing political opponents of doing the bidding of special interests.A report posted on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D., R.I.) website on Monday accused Environmental Protection Agency critics of being in the thrall of the fossil fuel industry. According to metadata in the report, the document was created by an attorney with a green group currently defending EPA policies in federal court.

After the Washington Free Beacon sought comment from Whitehouse and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), one of the report’s co-authors, a new version of the document appeared online without digital fingerprints identifying the environmentalist attorney as its author.

The report, released on Monday by Democratic Sens. Whitehouse, Reid, Barbara Boxer (Calif.), and Ed Markey (Mass.), is written to resemble an amicus brief in ongoing litigation challenging Environmental Protection Agency regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. A federal court heard oral arguments in that case on Tuesday.

One of the parties in that litigation is the Sierra Club, a leading environmentalist group that enlisted the services of attorneys with the group EarthJustice to defend the EPA regulations in court.

David Baron, one of the EarthJustice attorneys working on behalf of the Sierra Club, appears to have assisted the Democratic senators in putting together their report on the regulations’ legal challengers. Metadata in the since-deleted version of the Senate Democrats’ report listed him as the document’s “author.”

The new version of the report was created at 9:42 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to the document’s metadata, and lists Whitehouse staffer Gifford Wong as its author.

Whitehouse, Reid, Boxer, and Markey did not respond to questions about EarthJustice’s role in creating the report. EarthJustice and the Sierra Club did not return requests for comment.

Though the initial document’s metadata indicated the file was created by Baron, it is not clear what role he and EarthJustice played in crafting the report’s contents or the extent to which the group’s input made it into the final product.

It was also not immediately clear whether EarthJustice was compensated in any way for its work on the report.

Senate ethics rules generally classify pro-bono legal assistance as a “gift” subject to a $50 limit. Boxer, one of the report’s ostensible authors, is a vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee.

Ethics rules make exceptions to the gift rule for pro-bono legal services provided to senators filing legal briefs in their official capacity. The four senators who released this week’s report also signed on to an amicus brief supporting the disputed EPA regulations, but their report was not an official legal document.

The report “demonstrates that the state officials, trade associations, front groups, and industry-funded scientists participating in the [EPA regulation legal] challenge actually represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry,” according to a news release on Whitehouse’s website.

EarthJustice has previously collaborated behind the scenes with leading environmental policymakers, according to internal communications released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which opposes recent EPA regulations.

A 2014 E&E report identified EarthJustice as one of a number of organizations involved in “informal advisory teams of senior green-group representatives” that shaped major EPA regulations in internal discussions prior to their public release.

Chris Horner, an E&E attorney whom Whitehouse called out by name on the Senate floor on Tuesday, sees similar collusion at play in Senate Democrats’ report this week.

“Now we have documentary proof that its members have outsourced their policy-making and speech-writing to the green activists, signing their name to whatever is put in front of them, and using their office however these groups ask,” Horner said in an email.

Reposted by  9/29/16

September 29, 2016

Image result for raise the bar colorado

Amendment 71 gives all Coloradans a voice

Amending the Colorado Constitution is too easy. In fact, it’s been amended more than 150 times in 140 years. Compare that to 27 amendments for the U.S. Constitution since 1789.

The bar is this low: Proponents of an amendment must collect signatures from registered voters equaling 5 percent of those who participated in the previous secretary of state vote ­— or about 98,000 signatures — from folks from anywhere in the state.

But here is the dirty secret if you have some money and want to amend the Colorado Constitution today:

(1) Round up 200 signature collectors.

(2) Deploy them to downtown Denver and Boulder.

(3) Pay them $2 for each valid Colorado voter signature.

Once each of your signature-gathering contractors has obtained 500 signatures, you have just cleared the bar to get whatever hare-brained change to the state Constitution you want on the ballot. And it cost you $200,000. Most importantly, you didn’t hear from anyone outside of the Denver-Boulder area.

This may look like a gross oversimplification, but it’s not. Maybe in hot election years, the cost is more like $500,000, but that number is budget dust for some special interest supporters.

This is why we were appalled at The Denver Post’s editorial opposing Amendment 71, which would raise the requirements for getting proposed amendments on the ballot. We are not in the business of criticizing other newspapers and fully understand an honest disagreement on an issue like this, but the basis for the Post’s position is just offensive. More on that below.

Amendment 71 would involve the entire state in the amendment process. To get on the ballot, a proposed amendment would require signatures from 2 percent of registered voters from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts.

As a practical matter, only measures with genuine grassroots support will have a chance to get on the ballot if Amendment 71 passes. Proponents of a measure will have to come to Mesa County, hold town hall meetings and make a convincing case for the change, and then do the same across the state.

Proposed changes to the Constitution would require buy-in, not just from one demographic, but from the entire state. Significantly, the process to change a statute remains unchanged by Amendment 71. Interest groups can go to the ballot and change statutes under the same rules as today.

But Amendment 71’s requirements for amending the Constitution will be too expensive, says the Post editorial board. Requiring signatures from all 35 Senate districts sets the bar too high. The effect of the Post’s position is that rural opinions don’t matter. The Post agrees amending the Constitution should be harder, but doesn’t think all areas of Colorado should help determine a proposed amendment’s ballot-worthiness.

The prosperity gap between urban and rural Colorado has perhaps never been wider. The Post’s cynical position opposing Amendment 71 underscores one of the reasons for that chasm.

Reposted by  9/29/16

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