Just over a week ago, on July 14 a video was published on YouTube that illustrates how widespread this problem has become elsewhere. Do take a few minutes to watch this.
|The Whatcom Excavator||
A few months ago WE posted information about WWU student demands for a new "College of Power and Liberation" that would, among other things, undertake "de-colonial" work on campus, and have the power to investigate and discipline students and faculty members. Since March 3, little has been written in the Herald or at the WWU website about the subject. What's going on up the hill? Has the situation eased, or has the cult of intellectual oppression taken root? (If anyone knows what the status of the local student revolt is, send us a line at the contact page, or post a comment below.)
Just over a week ago, on July 14 a video was published on YouTube that illustrates how widespread this problem has become elsewhere. Do take a few minutes to watch this.
The "incarceration prevention and reduction" movement is strong here, and WE do wonder/worry that tangible animosity against local cops might lurk - heaven forbid - given some of the inflammatory statements that have been made in Washington D.C. recently - glibly referred to as "buckets of issues" about failed policing (see this pathetic video July 14). One statement stood out, "I think it is fair to say that we will see more tension in police -- between police and communities this month, next month, next year, for quite some time." Hope the police get all the support they need locally.
Three Modest Propositions
by Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online
June 18, 2016
In future presidential editorialization about the shooting deaths of police officers, perhaps the president himself might first offer a few “words matter” gestures that would reassure law enforcement, to use another Obama phrase, that he “has their back.” Here are just three low-bar proposals for how to discourage those who glorify or advocate lethal violence against criminal-justice officers:
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist.
An increasing number of rural residents in Whatcom County have found themselves the target of unwarranted surveillance, investigation, and pressure from agencies because they have a few animals on their land. In case after case, many have had to give up dearly loved and well cared-for farm animals and pets not because they're polluting, but to prevent ambiguous potential impacts. There's new language proposed for the county Comprehensive Plan that talks about protecting "potential" habitat, without any definition whatsoever.
WE applaud efforts underway to question and confront the systematic, disproportionate institutional injustice of heavy handed regulatory over-reach and takings. VATOR ALERT: County staff has proposed imposing "Stormwater Special District Standards" countywide! If this happens (who can stop it?) the situation will become very much worse for everyone living in the rural county, with or without animals - and staff proposes adding more taxes to boot to give us the boot. These actions are destroying the county's rural character.
July 17, 2016
Last week we shared a post from a Whatcom County rural resident about her problem dealing with the State Department of Ecology (DOE). We shared Kathy and Ozzie’s post because we have heard rumblings from the county that DOE is expanding their compliance programs with real negative effects on rural lives. Well, Ozzie’s story has struck a chord in our county and beyond.
When a state agency comes knocking at your door it is intimidating. They come with the full weight of the state behind them. You can only hope whatever compliance they are seeking will not crush you.
Whatcom County rural land owners are finding there is no easy, quick, or inexpensive way to keep their pets on their acreage when the DOE comes knocking. They are being told they must comply with similar rules and regulations set for commercial farm lands. How does this play-out in the real world? Well, small rural land owners find it difficult to provide a space for their children’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) animals. Doesn’t sound right or reasonable, does it? A single horse owner, like Kathy, are rightly confused that her one, 28 year-old horse, now requires a 16 page farm plan, a pipeline and a frost free hydrant to remain grazing in his meadow, his home for the past 20+ years.
An update regarding the Department of Ecology and the enormous problem of us having one horse on 3 acres. We received the 16 page "Farm Plan", which means installing a pipeline and frost free hydrant from the house to the back of the field. I've attached the picture they have sent of our property. You can see from the picture what a huge problem this all is! I don't want to get into politics, but I want to bring up a few points. We have had a horse on this property for 20 years, but now the DOE can come in and say, nope, can't do this anymore. Why don't they have to prove there is a problem? Come test the water in the winter and see if it's contaminated. I'll guarantee you it won't be. We have to get away from the ridiculous restrictions that are coming down and deal with facts. There are consequences to all of this. Ozzie is 28, he has a year or 2 left, why can't we grant him that? We have not had any luck finding him a home. Kelly Park Stables told me how stressful it would be for Ozzie at his age to be moved to new surroundings. Sad.. PLEASE think before you vote or agree with thoughtless regulations. We are the county, our kids should be able to grow up with animals, go to 4-H, show their animals, but that is all going away because you have people that are going to tell us all how we are going to live. I've been told if we speak out on video, we will be targeted. We've also been told that people from the sustainable groups "look for compliance". wow, is this the United States of America any more? I think not in Whatcom County.
Liberty Road requested permission to share Kathy Cross's FB post. The sharing mechanism on FB doesn't work on a FB Page, so we've copy and pasted this post and pictures with their permission from a public sharing on Kathy Cross's FB page
[A recent Facebook entry] from Kathy: I awoke to this message this morning.. HEART BREAKING. Please keep sharing everything, we need to stop this.
VATOR UPDATE: A protest was held at the Washington Ecology office in Fairhaven. Liberty Road reported:
Thanks to everyone who showed to the “Save Ozzie” protest today. We were approximately 40 strong in number. We showed up prepared and informed. We showed up to ask the DOE questions. And, sadly I must report here that the answers given by the Regional Office Director, Doug Allen did not satisfy many there.
A ‘zero’ tolerance level for the potential to pollute is not humanly possible and is not healthy for the environment. As agents for the DOE, it is not a satisfactory answer that they are only enforcing what the Legislature has directed them to do. If the State and Local Legislative Representatives had this intent in mind, then they need to be contacted too.
These are the word of the Whatcom County citizen’s who attended the “SAVE Ozzie” protest. Be patient. Be strong. This type of bullying must stop and we must all come together to ensure that it does.
Thank You for showing your support for “Ozzie” and all Farm Pets…because pets lives matter too.
A number of supportive citizen videos were made which can be seen here.
Good article. While it's good to see industry fighting back, WE don't expect the county's efforts to tank for long. Whatcom County council, staff, WA Ecology, and the EPA will climb right back up on their high horses and continue their long term assault on the 60% of county citizens who live outside Bellingham.
Attack On Whatcom Refineries Tanks
Business and labor protest possible future constraints on jobs and economic growth
By Lens Team / TheLensNews / July 13, 2013
Earlier this year the federal government and then the State of Washington scuttled a coal export terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County. Emboldened, an environmental group amped up a related online petition drive to the Whatcom County Council to take further steps. Activists have urged the council to use a scheduled county Comprehensive Plan review to permanently bar expansion of added export capabilities for the BP and Phillips 66 refineries at Cherry Point. Recently, the plot thickened even further.
Council Member Carl Weimer moved just prior to the July 4 weekend to begin fast-tracking a formal approval process to stop future export growth of the facilities. The action by Weimer would be a major jolt to the region’s economy and sparked major blowback from business and labor. For now the growth limits are sidetracked, but likely to resurface.
Cherry Point A Major Jobs Driver
The Cherry Point industrial zone directly and indirectly drives an estimated 11 percent of employment, and 15 percent of salaries paid in Whatcom County. That’s according to the Employment at Cherry Point study released in 2014 by the Northwest Alliance for Jobs and Exports.
Fuel You Use To Drive, Fly
BP emphasizes that its Cherry Point refinery has long played a crucial role in the operation of the region’s economy, supplying fuel for motorists and major airports.
“Since it started operations in 1971, Cherry Point has processed a large share of Alaska’s North Slope crude oil…the facility processes more than 9 million gallons of crude oil a day, primarily transportation fuels. It provides about 20 percent of the gasoline market in Washington and Oregon, the majority of jet fuel for Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, BC international airports, and is the largest West Coast supplier of jet fuel to the U.S. military.”
In comments June 28 to a January draft of the so-called Comp Plan, for a review that’s required under the state’s Growth Management Act, Weimer added new draft language that would have curtailed growth of the jobs engine.
It stated that the County “no longer supports construction of additional export docks or piers at Cherry Point due to environmental and treaty rights concerns” tied to fishing and shellfish harvesting at the shoreline and what he termed increased risk of oil spills.
On Friday July 1, Weimer moved to launch a new stage of council consideration of the proposed change, with scant time for public notice of a new July 5 hearing on the matter.
Alliance: ‘Gutting’ New Job Creation Unwise
Despite the short notice, about 30 people attended the July 5 hearing, many opposed to the swift move to limit growth of export and jobs from the long-established facilities. The council delayed further consideration a week, and this week shelved the proposal for what one council member said could be at least half a year.
In a written remarks, John Huntley and Brad Owens, the Co-Chair and President of theNorthwest Jobs Alliance, said that the “proposed change would prohibit development of property and expansion of existing industrial uses on property zoned for industrial use, thereby gutting the potential for new job creation by existing or new businesses….Creating additional restraints on the viability of new and existing industries at Cherry Point would emasculate Whatcom County’s family-wage job base.”
Blowback From County Staff, Too
A high-ranking county official also weighed in with a warning. In a July 5 letter to the council about Weimer’s move, Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services Mark Personius wrote, “These suggested policy changes would constitute a significant change in land use/shoreline policy…There are potential legal and regulatory consistency issues raised” and “potential economic development and fiscal impacts to be considered,” Personius wrote.
Personius’ letter goes on to recommend the council take some time to consult with attorneys and figure out what position it wants to take on fossil fuel exports and “encouragement of renewable energy.”
Hitting The Brakes, For Now
Weimer and Council Member Todd Donovan voted to move forward with Weimer’s proposal as written but the remaining five voted to further examine the amendments, and allow for more public comment.
“We decided to take the land use proposal and send it back to the Planning Commission and not consider it in this current batch of comprehensive plan updates,” Council Member Ken Mann told Lens after the July 12 meeting. There isn’t a definite timeline, according to Mann, but the language might work its way back to the council within six months to a year.
Huntley and Owens in their statement had decried the rushed timeline. They wrote, “The attempt to limit public participation on this issue is evident, given the timing of the meeting and Council’s statements on the record that they intend to hold the last formal public hearing on August 9th and then to adopt the plan immediately afterward, implying that public comment at the hearing will have little to no impact…”
Two attempts by Lens to reach Weimer for comment were not successful.
Scrutiny, Outreach Lacking
“The challenge is most people who are supporting the proposal believe there are no fossil fuel exports happening at the moment,” said Rud Browne, another council member. Browne told Lens the BP facility is already a fairly significant exporter of refined fossil fuels. If the facility were to be shut down, he said there would be increased tanker traffic in Puget Sound as other refineries brought in fossil fuels from elsewhere.
Washington State Rep. Luanne Van Werven (R-42) told Lens the original land use plan was “acceptable” and encouraged economic growth at Cherry Point. “And all of the sudden these new marked-up amendments completely turned it upside down, without due process,” said Van Werven.
Alcoa-Intalco Works, also located at Cherry Point, would not be able to build a structure for storing aluminum under the proposed changes, according to Van Werven. “There has not been a process of bringing stakeholders together or doing the scrutiny that is always part of major policy changes and (it) is very disturbing that we are all now just finding out about it after the fact,” said Van Werven.
County Executive Cool To Proposed Changes
Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws told Lens, “I don’t believe it is in the best interest in Whatcom County to be involved in limiting the ability of industry particularly without any more public review of a major sweeping policy change like this,” said Louws.
Matthew Hepner, executive director of Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, attended the July 12 meeting to testify against Weimer’s proposed changes. Hepner told Lens the County needs jobs and economic development, especially at a time where wages are “stagnant”. He added that the city of Ferndale “is absolutely dependent on that location for success,” given the number of local residents who work at the refineries. The Phillips 66 facility is near Ferndale.
The proposed language would place Phillips 66 and all Cherry Point energy-based businesses at a severe competitive disadvantage, according to Jeff Callender, spokesperson for the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery.
“The proposed amendments would seriously undermine our ability to adapt to changing market conditions and make it difficult for the refinery to maintain existing infrastructure,” said Callender in an e-mail statement to Lens.
Some Voice Support
Others have expressed support. In comments submitted to the council on July 4, Antonella Antonini of Bellingham praised Weimer’s proposal, stating that it “anticipates new industrial development in the clean energy economy” without disrupting current industry operations.
Jayne Freudenberger wrote to the council that further expansion at Cherry Point would interfere with treaties made with the Lummi Nation to protect their fishing rights. “Carl’s amendments strike a good balance – protecting the rights of the existing industries while protecting the area from further expansion of fossil fuels projects,” she wrote.
Council Member Mann said the intent of the proposal is not to shut down industry at Cherry Point. Mann said he has been specific in asking BP and other businesses in the area to be specific about what in the language could threaten their operations. “We want the language to protect them and allow them to continue to operate and function and adapt to market conditions,” said Mann.
Callender said Phillips 66 recommends that any proposed changes should follow the prescribed process beginning with the Planning Commission and allowing adequate time for meaningful engagement with stakeholders.
“All we can do is present the facts as we know them and hope that sound minds prevail,” said Owens.
Mann said the council is seeking to engage the community with more rigorous hearings. He added one option the council may consider is finishing all parts of the comp plan but not doing the final vote until the process for Cherry Point has been completed.
Fishing Impacts Disputed In Coal Terminal Decision
In denying permits for the proposed coal export terminal of SSA Marine at Cherry Point earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers relied heavily on anticipated negative impacts to tribal fishing, buttressed by a report from the Washington Department of Ecology.
However project supporters emphasized minimal impact on fishing. They said that the increase in vessel disruption described by Ecology as 76 percent was deceptive because that actually represented the difference between a fraction of a percent, from .11 to .19. They also stressed that state data showed the number of boats during fishing season opening days from 2002 to 2014 were very few. Over the total 13 year span, project supporters said that within a half mile of the proposed terminal only four boats were counted on opening days, and 11 within a mile.
Reporting and writing by Mike Richards and Matt Rosenberg.
The $18.3 cost of this judgment might be painful for the citizens of SeaTac, but good should come of it - money well spent if the new council can get rid of the staff infection down there.
CITY OF SEATAC SLAMMED WITH $18.3 MILLION JURY VERDICT, CITY ATTORNEYS GUILTY OF DECEPTION
We The Governed, Glen Morgan
July 12, 2016
On Friday, Judge McDermott presided over the final stages of the K&S lawsuit against the City of SeaTac. The results reflect poorly on the City of SeaTac senior staff, legal counsel, and the planning department. In summary, including jury verdict award, interest, and legal fees, the Kingen family was awarded $18.3 million (a new Washington State record for land use jury verdicts). Additionally, the judge made the unusual recommendation that formal sanctions be made against the City of SeaTac’s attorneys who colluded with SeaTac planning staff in a pattern of deception, dishonesty, and violation of the law in order to destroy the Kingen’s commercial property value so that the City of SeaTac could take their property from the Kingens for the city staff’s own central planning schemes.
Judge McDermott found SeaTac guilty of deception and dishonesty on Friday. He had harsh language for SeaTac city legal staff.
I have written several articles here and here detailing what appears to be a serious staff infection at the City of SeaTac. It has been clearly pointed out that SeaTac’s senior legal counsel, Mary Bartolo was providing inaccurate and misleading information to the SeaTac City Council. It appears these articles were not harsh or clear enough. The truth is far worse than anyone has realized. Here is what the judge says:
“A government entity owes a duty of honesty and transparency to those people to whom they deal with…The City (of SeaTac) violated that duty so many times I’ve lost count,…it’s amazing. Quite frankly, the actions of the City of SeaTac in this case are unexplainable and totally unacceptable. The period of deception even lasted through their answer in the public records…I find this to be the worst thing about this case is the actions of the City and how dishonest they were and I find that to be completely and totally unacceptable.” (p46-47 Transcript K&S vs. SeaTac hearing July 8, 2016)
...here is another quote,
“I also want to make sure that there is no mistake on the part of the defendants or the plaintiff that the City engaged in a pattern of deception that lasted years, and because of that, the Kingens’ damages are not just limited to losing the property…” (p45 K&S vs. SeaTac July 8, 2016)
SeaTac’s staff infection and central planning scheme leads to $18.3 million loss to the city
For a complete review of the findings of fact, I have attached documents at the end of this article. However, the summary of this case is basically as follows:
Not everyone gets a warm welcome in SeaTac. Apparently some people have their property stolen by city staff
A land developer (K&S) owned a piece of Land in SeaTac in 2004. They want to build a parking garage. The Central Planning Staff at the City of SeaTac decide they don’t want a parking garage there, but they keep this to themselves, and keep changing the rules for the property owner. City legal staff goes along with the deception aiding and abetting the scheme. The City decides they want the land for their own project, and they keep this secret too. The City staff also wants to partner with another parking garage company, and they don’t want the Kingens to be their competition. Eventually, after many years of closing every development door to the property owner, the City of SeaTac is able to force the property owner into financial distress. The city uses a straw buyer (“the guy”) to acquire the debt on the property and secretly threaten to bankrupt the property owner. Under financial stress and other pressures, the property owner is forced to lose the property and only realizes that the same SeaTac staff who were denying their permits for six years were the same people who bought their debt, threatened them, and now owned the property.
At that point the property owner wants to discover the truth and attempts to get public records to see what was really happening. The City fails to comply, hides records, can’t find records, delays, etc. The property owner takes years to get enough records to realize the enormity of the original scam played on them and files a lawsuit against the City of SeaTac. The city tries to claim that the statute of limitations has run its course (so sorry, you waited too long to figure out what we did while we were destroying and hiding records from you). After many years and expenses, the case goes before a Jury in Superior Court, and in January the Jury awarded $9.6 million to the Kingen family. Last Friday, the final step in this decade long experiment in central planning empire building by SeaTac staff was closed and after interest, penalties and legal fees were negotiated, the City of SeaTac is on the hook for $18.3 million.
A serious housekeeping is in order at SeaTac City Hall.
All this because the City staff, attorneys and to some extent the legacy elected officials decided to play Simcity with other people’s property.
It gets worse – the insurance company may not have to foot the bill.
As I wrote about in my last article on this issue, the insurance company has filed a lawsuit against the city, and to quote from that case, once again:
“There is an actual and justiciable controversy as to whether the City is liable based on any criminal, dishonest, or fraudulent acts or omissions that constitute a knowing violation of the rights of another person.” (paragraph 147 insurance company lawsuit against the City of SeaTac alleging why the insurance company refuses to pay the jury verdict against the city)
Mary Bartolo – SeaTac City Legal Counsel at a recent City Council Meeting. Under her direction, legal staff were dishonest and deceptive, costing SeaTac taxpayers at least $18.3 million
The City of SeaTac’s legal Counsel Mary Bartolo attempted to claim this was misquoting or mischaracterizing that case. However, Friday’s ruling from the judge in this case makes her effort to deceive and mislead the elected officials or the public that much more difficult. In fact, the City of SeaTac probably needs new legal counsel because sanctions are going to be brought against at least some of these attorneys and they may not be able to practice law when this is done anyway.
For the naive and ignorant who still want to suspend disbelief or who think this is hyperbole, let’s quote from Judge McDermott:
“…the City Attorney’s Office participated in this profound and unacceptable pattern of deception. That violates the rules of professional conduct. That is totally and completely unacceptable to this court… I have never filed a complaint against a lawyer, but I would seriously recommend that you take some advantage to do that, counsel, because that can’t be allowed to exist.” (p.49 K&S vs. SeaTac July 8, 2016)
Judge McDermott does give Mary Bartolo some benefit of the doubt in this excoriation of the legal staff, but she does not deserve it. It defies all reason and logic to believe Mary Bartolo did not approve and supervise the pattern of deception which SeaTac legal counsel abetted and encouraged in their planning department. The best argument that Mary Mirante Bartolo can make is that she was incompetent, knew nothing, and that as a manager she did such a poor job that this pattern of deception happened under her nose for many years and she didn’t know. Either way, the taxpayers of SeaTac are on the hook for $18.3 million and the city desperately needs new legal counsel.
It should be noted that interest will continue on this award throughout the appeal process at 12% per year until it is paid. That is over $6,000 per day, $180,000 per month, $2 million per year that will be added to the $18.3 million. At some point, this becomes real money – even when the bureaucrats and politicians act like it doesn’t really matter.
SeaTac City Councilman Tony Anderson finds Tea Party Conspiracies in every shadow, but can’t see corruption when it is presented to him with evidence in court. The Jury did not find his testimony to be credible.
Long-term City Council member Tony Anderson, one of the few incumbents left on the SeaTac City Council was paid to represent the city throughout the long jury trial. Despite all the evidence he witnessed, when called to the stand and asked if he thought the city staff did anything wrong, he paused for a long time and finally said “No.” The jury disagreed. This illustrates what is wrong in the City of SeaTac. Some elected officials and staff don’t see corruption even when it is presented to them. These are the people who should not be in government.
How many others have been harmed by SeaTac’s staff infection?
The real question that this entire fiasco raises for the citizens of SeaTac and their elected council is just how many other people have had their lives ruined, investments destroyed, and dreams dashed because of staff run amok? It is doubtful that the Kingen family is the only property owner damaged by this behavior. There are many of them, but most of their dreams were successfully crushed by the city staff and schemes. It is hard to beat City Hall. When City Hall is corrupt and dishonest, it gets harder. We are fortunate that Kathy and Gerry Kingen prevailed and has exposed this corruption for all to see. We can only hope this discourages other cities and bureaucrats from doing this to property owners as well.
Voters swept out incumbents in SeaTac last fall. New Council members being sworn into office in January 2016. They have their work cut out for them.
Fortunately for the taxpayers of SeaTac, there is a bright side to this dark cloud over the city. Voters last November replaced all four incumbents with new elected officials who can turn over a new leaf and bring honesty, transparency, and fiscal responsibility back to the city. While staff have successfully sabotaged the new council’s first city manager, it is possible for the council to recover. Additionally, the council can remove their corrupt and dishonest legal staff. New attorneys are not hard to find. Cleaning up city government is never easy, but it has to start somewhere.
We may never know how many have been harmed in the past or are being harmed right now by this abusive staff, but we can start the healing process by replacing senior city staff and perhaps reminding them that they work for the people and to stop treating the people like the governed…
In SeaTac, nobody is safe from staff’s plans to steal your property.
Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.” It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people. It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government. It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.” Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed…
Source documents and related articles linked below:
City of SeaTac misled by staff attorney, highlighting the staff infection
The City of SeaTac suffers from a serious staff infection
Resident tells SeaTac Council to put aside personal gripes and “fix the damn city”
Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is Costing Taxpayers Millions
July 8, 2016 Hearing Transcript KS v. SeaTac
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in Support of Promissory Estoppe…
Interrogatories and Answers
Insurance company rejects payment because of fraud and other reasons by the City of SeaTac
Jury Verdict – K&S Verdict Form (note Misrepresentation Claim 1.3 is another term for “Fraud”)
Plaintiffs Briefing – In support of Promissory Estoppel Claim
Seatac -Prothman Report – 2010
Supplemental Briefing on Constitutional Issues
Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
K&S – Trial Brief
Trial Exhibit 110 – 154th Redevelopment PP presentation
Trial Exhibit 111 – 176th Redevelopment Plan (Power Point Presentation)
City’s Press Release – Jan 2010 (original)
Revised Final Press Release (City Press Release rewritten by K&S to represent their view of the situation)
DEPOSITION of CRAIG WARD (former SeaTac City Manager)
DEPOSITION of STEPHEN BUTLER (former SeaTac Director of Planning)
DEPOSITION of TODD CUTTS-Dec 1 – 2013
The Fourth of July is the day we adopted the Declaration of Independence, 240 years ago. We're not celebrating the day, we are celebrating our independence! And not just some proto-Brexit. The big idea was that persons were by nature free in thought and spirit, and that the powers of civil and just order rested in the will of the people. We had not only the right but a duty to free ourselves of tyrannical governance.
Thomas Jefferson wrote,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Think about that.
We hold these truths to be self-evident,
What we are about to say should be obvious to anyone,
that all men are created equal,
That there is no divine right of kings (it's obvious that we're not all the same, but nobody has special privileges under the law, or in the eyes of God),
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
That we are born with basic human rights that cannot be granted by any government, because they're ours to begin with,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
To name but three, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Life, Liberty and Property were the three rights listed in common usage by Classical Liberals. However, Jefferson changed Property to pursuit of Happiness. What seems like a a mere dated turn of phrase today, probably caused a swivel-neck double-take at the time.
WE surmise that Jefferson didn't want to enshrine Property (as in Slavery) in a document like this. Slavery was a property rights issue back then. But slavery was the antithesis of all men being created equal.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
To secure these rights (not grant them!), governments are instituted among men (government is man made, there is no divinity about it). As Monty Python put it so graphically in The Holy Grail, "I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just
because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!"
And of course, this government does not lord it over the people; rather the government derives its power from the consent of the governed.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
And so, when the aforementioned conditions are not met, We the People must do something about it. To wit, change it, or replace it with something that is organized such that it will secure our rights, i.e., safety and happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
We're not talking about change for the sake of trivial change. And we've demonstrated a remarkable willingness to put up with quite a bit of abuse, for as long as we can stand it, than to replace a familiar but dysfunctional state.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
We reach a point, however when enough is enough. When we see a series of rules and regulations that continue to limit our ability to pursue happiness, crushes our liberty, and threatens our lives, we should, we must, do something about it.
Has our government crossed that line? WE believe it is becoming dangerously arrogant about it's role in our lives. Are WE proposing a revolution? Secession? No, and no. But we can, and we should compare the role of today's government to the principles that Jefferson lays out.
WE believe somebody (look to the left and to the right) needs to monitor our government much more closely than we have of late. Our city and county councils meet twice a month, and the bureaucracies run five days a week, vigorously churning out new programs, rules and regulations, depleting our earnings, and limiting what we can and cannot do.
Government is taking our liberty, and selling it back to us as permits. WE haven't been asking for this, but rent-seeking, grant-grubbing special interests have. Here's a news flash: special interests are not We the People. They are not created equal. They do not deserve special treatment under the law.
This Independence Day, let's consider what insufferable evils, abuses and usurpations led our founders to a bloody revolution. Let's consider what we can do to avoid the need for another revolution. Let's restore our founding principles peacefully, while we still can.
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