The Need for Transparency

Two years ago, when I began the website americanspring2011.com, I was inspired in part by the events that were unfolding around us. Internationally, the Arab Spring had begun in Tunisia and had spread to Egypt. The driving forces behind both of these national movements were the same. Both were under authoritarian rule and in both cases, the cost of staple goods had risen and unemployment was high.

Nationally, protests over neoliberal economic policies promoted by Wisconsin’s governor had filled Madison’s state house. The aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008 was rampant in our country. Fraudulent foreclosures were sending families out onto the streets. Wall Street and the banks that run it enjoyed huge financial windfalls, free money, given them by the Federal Reserve under the false pretense that it would ”calm the markets” and bring some ”comfort” to investors. Meanwhile, unemployment domestically was in the double digits and wages continued to drop. Food prices, gas prices were all on the climb. Wall Street and multinational corporations absorbed more and more market share as smaller businesses, in all sectors, were culled from the landscape to make room for the new Wal-Mart, the new Dierberg’s, the new DHS Fusion center or private prison. The power of corporations, and their ties to our government, were transforming our country into a corporate totalitarian state.

Locally, a manufactured crisis, created by FERC, was creating the calls for less government regulation of our Lake of the Ozark shoreline. This political version of smoke-and-mirrors was created when FERC, made up of Presidential appointees from private corporations (most of whom were appointed during the Bush administration), declared that over a thousand lake area structures would have to be removed, as they were built on ”project” land, despite private citizens’ having paid taxes on the ”project” land for years. This led to citizens rallying against ”government overreach” and chants of deregulation. Meanwhile, Ameren UE waited patiently for the sliding elevation scale to stop, as it finally did, at 662′. Litigation between Ameren UE and lake area owners is currently pending regarding Ameren’s ownership claim. The privatization of the Lake of the Ozarks shoreline is here and we are seeing that agenda unfold in our own county courthouse. Agenda 600 and Planning and Zoning in Camden County is directly at the heart of that campaign.

Since I began the blog and submitting to the Lake Sun, I have taken more than a fair share of shots at former LACC President and current Second District Camden County Commissioner Cliff Luber. I was skeptical, of his pro-corporate stances and his invocation of religion with regards to politics. My fears were that we would have someone in office who would break out a corporate stamp with one hand while raising a Bible in the other. I was afraid that we would see Washington and Jefferson City replicated at the local level. I didn’t want another Commissioner in the mold of Kris Franken, who would seek to use political office for both personal and professional gain. Our county cannot afford another elected official ready and willing to grease the wheels of the Ameren machine.

I am happy to say I was wrong about Cliff Luber.

Since taking office, he has been consistent in his fight for more transparency at the courthouse. He has been skeptical of both the practices and policies that have been on display during his short time in office. He has sought answers to important questions. He brought forth information regarding Planning and Zoning mapping that Kris Franken and Don Hathaway sought to conceal. He has encouraged the use of email accounts to make Planning and Zoning board members available to the public they serve. He has worked to bring a resolution to the situation surrounding Macks Creek Community Park. He has confirmed a stance against the creation of EEZ’s in our community and displayed a common sense approach toward bringing business to Camden County, unwilling to sell out the public he represents in order to spur private investment. He sees the challenges faced by the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District when their slice of the tax pie is given over to subsidize private profits.

Cliff has released information to the public that identifies corruption that goes beyond our county government and city governments here at the Lake of the Ozarks. His short time in office has brought much truth to countermand Kris Franken’s perpetual spin cycle.

For example, in an article from the Lake Sun in late 2011, it was reported that Kris Franken awarded a contract for software to Timothy Otten. The software was for a payroll system and a purchasing system. According to two local newspapers, Franken received only one bid and did not locally advertise the bidding process. The contract was awarded to Timothy Otten for HCPS, the only bid considered by the Commission. The software cost the county sixty thousand dollars. It was paid for in part by Rowland Todd, County Clerk and Sheriff Dwight Franklin.

Otten was friendly with the campaigns of Franken for County Commissioner, Aaron Koeppen for Judge and Diane Franklin for State Representative during the election season of 2010. From a Facebook post on the page ‘Kris Franken for Presiding Commissioner’ dated Oct. 24, 2010, Franken brags about these relationships:

“I have put together a trivia team for the Big Brother Big Sisters trivia contest this afternoon, Sunday, October 24. It is at the Elks Lodge in Osage Beach across from J. Bruners. The team consists of myself, Aaron Koeppen (R judge candidiate), Diane Franklin (R 155th Rep Candidate), Tim Otten, and John Beckett (School Board Member). Come out and cheer us on!”

The fact that Franken skirted the rules in order to award this contract to a friend has never been in doubt. Franken, in his own words, had made the sole determination that the software was “not an ‘off the shelf’ product and normal bidding requirements were not applicable”. He went on to say: “It is a custom product that is specific to our needs in Camden County and requires ‘professional services’ to complete.”

These ‘professional services’ and software programs have not been successful. As Commissioner Luber has confirmed, the county had to terminate the contract, refusing to make the final payment of approximately $7,000. The software programs have not been implemented and have been a complete waste of tax payer resources. They have been ineffective and have been jettisoned. The county IT department is attempting to build their own database to manage accounting systems.

This was characterized as a ”refund” from HCPS, who stated that the scope of the project had changed internally and county employees had gotten involved in modifications that weren’t originally contracted. This public relations statement was endorsed by Franken, who had championed the $53,000 kickback to his friend and was not eager to discuss the scheme that put county money in his buddy’s pocket for no return. Franken instead perpetuated a cover up (at least his second while in office) and parroted a line in order to hide his unethical behavior. This act is not the exception during Kris Franken’s time in public office. It has become the rule.

Kris Franken has stalked our courthouse halls long enough to develop a profile. He has left a road map of his treachery behind while in office. The man who brandishes a firearm in our courthouse is the same man who brags about having ‘files’ on people throughout Camden county, presumably to use against them in the event they uncover his lies and bring sunshine to his dealings while in office. This is the same man who has given himself sole discretion in keeping audio of Commission meetings. He is the man who recently discussed a million dollar offer, secured through the county, to subsidize private profits for those stakeholders of the Community Bridge Corporation and various other local interests who stand to gain from a restructuring of the black tops on the west side of the bridge.

Kris Franken is a man with something to hide.

The time has come for the citizens of Camden County to create their own file. The Franken File, if you like. It is past time we start connecting the dots regarding Article 600 and Planning and Zoning. It is high time we took a good long look at those in charge of these decisions at the county level. As Ameren continues to encroach on the rights of property owners at the Lake, it is urgent that we begin to have open, honest discussions about what is being done in our names. It is time to have a few answers about who our elected officials are really working for.

Recently, on the national and international stages, the issue of government transparency is at the fore. Edward Snowden has brought public attention to the massive surveillance state we live in. His revelations have brought light to programs like PRISM and the immense scope of data mining on US citizens. Before him, Bradley Manning illuminated US war crimes in Iraq and exposed the level of collusion between our government and corporations through his release of declassified State Department cables. Before that, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney informed us of the architecture of oppression being built around us. They put the data mining facility Stellar Wind and Operation Trailblazer in the public arena, despite great personal and professional risk. Barrett Brown, a journalist who was reporting on private intelligence corporations like HBGary, has been arrested by the FBI, in part for opening research into the nature and scope of the US surveillance state. Jeremy Hammonds, whose hack of Stratfor emails uncovered plots ranging from insider trading to the targeting of American protesters for corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical, has spent months in jail without trial.

Cliff Luber has helped bring that transparency to our local level. As we see on the national stage, sunlight on secret policies and deals is necessary to maintain a free and open democracy. For bringing that accountability home, I owe Cliff a debt of gratitude. For my assumptions about him, I owe an apology. What we have in common is more important than that which divides us. Those principles of honor, trustworthiness and morality must be preserved in government. Truth is not subjective. Without it, we are at the mercy of people like Franken and Obama, who would seek to drive their agendas forward in secrecy and silence.

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Ameren proposes keeping Lake of the Ozarks structures : News

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/ameren-proposes-keeping-lake-of-the-ozarks-structures/article_27738562-567a-5d0b-9bcf-f84ba3ab2a14.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Common Ground

I have not been shy in my criticisms of the LACC.

I have publicly asked, many times, what happened to the group of Camden County citizens who first stood on our courthouse lawn with signs protesting the Wall Street bailout?  I have questioned the marriage of politics and religion, as espoused in the core philosophy of the group.  I have spoke loudly against the corporate benefactors that have usurped the grassroots movement known as the ‘Tea Party’ and used it for their own political ends.  I have spoken against the neoliberal economic policies they endorse.  I have chastised the neoconservative stances of constant war, occupation and murder in the name of resources.  I have asked, more than once, for us to put down our party flags and instead focus on the reality that is being crafted around us.  Now, as forces begin to align against ‘we the people’, our common ground is becoming more and more evident.  The need for unity is greater than ever.

There are many things I agree with the LACC on.  I agree our teachers shouldn’t have to subsidize our district, through higher premiums paid as a result of equipment purchases, new facilities and good-ol’-boy cronyism.  I agree Common Core is not in our school districts best interest, although my reasons for that may differ.  I agree that our local media serves their advertisers and those who control the reins of power in our county and our state.  I agree that our gun rights shouldn’t be infringed upon.  I agree that Article 600 and EEZ’s are detrimental to our community.  Not only are these a violation of our rights, they speak to a much larger picture that is unfolding around us.

If one were to read what I have written since starting my web site http://www.americanspring2011.com, you would find that these are points that I have repeatedly addressed.  While I haven’t always gotten it right, I have tried to speak to the root causes of the dangers facing us.  Whether it is a march toward the privatization of schools, public services and resources or the advance of the police and surveillance state that has risen in the wake of 9/11, I have attempted to use US history as a guide to understanding where we are headed.  I am sorry to say, I have been right more often than not.

When the LACC put their weight behind the fight against FERC overreach, I pointed out that those in control of FERC were appointees from private industry and most were selected by Bush.  When Vicky Hartzler and Diane Franklin endorsed the ‘Leave Our Lakes Alone’ legislation last year, I pointed out that this would pit Lake homeowners against Ameren, leading to the inevitable privatization of our shores.

When Stacy Shore and Nancy Stewart took the lead against the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Unified Land Use Codes, I recognized the threat to property owners.  Vague language, arbitrary inspections and outlandish fines leave the door open to property seizure. This is a neoliberal economic policy, designed to take from the poor in order to benefit a very few.

When Kris Franken and his unelected Planning and Zoning Commission pushed through the unchanged version of Article 600, like Cliff Luber, I see an ‘agenda’.

When I see the unveiling of an EEZ board in Camdenton, I recognize the larger threat to small communities like Macks Creek and Climax Springs.  When I see HumVees being added to the arsenal of our small town law enforcement and the escalation of aggression by the Camden County Sheriff Department, I see the tools they will use to enforce such unpopular policies.  I see a criminal enterprise in its fledgling stages.

When I see the Lake Sun stepping out against Lake Watchdogs, I see the desire of the media and the powers that be to silence uncomfortable truths.  When I read yesterday’s ‘Our View’ editorial, an anonymous attempt to discredit those who speak out against these crimes against us, I see a newspaper whose corporate ownership is on the verge of bankruptcy and an editor who has to satisfy a bottom line.  Speaking out against those who would oppose EEZ’s and tax abatements and breaks for corporations satisfies advertisers.  It does not serve the subscribers.

While we will not agree on everything, know this:  We have common problems. We have a common cause.

We stand on common ground.

We do not have a political problem.  We have a systemic one.

Corruption, at every level of government, is rotting the core of our country.  Politicians lie to our faces in order to gain support and votes.  They then take office and seek to do the will of those who write checks.

As we sit here, American austerity, known as ‘sequestration’, is targeting the poorest among us.  War has been declared against ‘we the people’, whether it is through the elimination of the WIC program, the underfunding of schools or Article 600, make no mistake: we are the targets.

While we may not agree on everything, American Spring will stand side by side with those who would say ‘no more’.  One hundred voices are louder than one.

I thank the LACC and Lake Watchdogs for their bringing illumination to the issues of EEZ’s and the Unified Land Use Code.  I will support them in any way I can on those issues we agree on.  Our future, and that of our children, depends on our ability to put aside our differences and fight for what is right.

The time to stand is now.

Money in politics? The sky is the limit in Mo.

https://bigstory.ap.org/article/money-politics-sky-limit-mo

Ameren, FERC, Corruption and the Lake

Last week, Representative of Missouri’s 4th Congressional District, Vicky Hartzler, reintroduced her bill ‘Leave Our Lakes Alone’.  The legislation was previously introduced last session in response to a dispute between FERC, Ameren UE and lake area homeowners, but it died in committee.  This time, Hartzler has help.

Freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma has signed on as co-sponsor.  In a statement, he pointed to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is regulating lakes “well beyond what the original federal laws and statutes gave them the authority to do”. Mullin represents two lakes in Oklahoma.   Under the proposed legislation, FERC would still have oversight over power regulation.  Shoreline authority and regulation would be turned over to individual states.  For Missouri, and the Lake of the Ozarks in particular, this raises several questions.

Currently, there is no mechanism in place for shoreline regulation at the state or county level.

Ameren UE, in complying with the agreement reached with FERC, is now ‘diligently’ enforcing new shoreline ‘regulations’. These rules for citizens include the following changes, as reported by lakeexpo.com:

“From now on, Ameren Missouri will require permits for all pumps that draw water from the Lake; they will require land owners to get permission before removing vegetation below the 662 project boundary; they will more closely scrutinize seawall permits and will require new seawall projects to also include a blanket of riprap. They’ll also require fish habitat to be anchored under all new boat docks with 10 slips or more.”

“PUMPS

All pumps – either hand, electrical or gas powered, new or already in place – must have permits. Bowen said although Ameren will not actively pursue enforcement action on hand pumps used for fish cleaning stations, they do require all other pumps to be permitted. The permit fee for a pump of 2 horsepower or less is $50; larger pump permits are $100. The intakes of pumps must include screens to protect wildlife and fish and those screen openings must be smaller than 3/32 of an inch. On pumps greater than 2 horsepower, applicants also must provide engineered, sealed drawings, specifications and pump curves – information that would typically come from engineers, who would use their seal to stamp plans, drawings and calculations that have been reviewed by them and conform to standards.

BANK STABLIZATION

Permits have long been required for seawall construction, first through the Corps of Engineers and then by Ameren, which took over the permitting process. However, from this point on, the criteria for obtaining a permit will be slightly stricter. Bowen said Ameren will be inspecting the sites to determine if there is sufficient erosion to authorize a seawall – typically where there is more than 2 feet of vertical erosion. They must be installed within 3 feet of the eroded bank, they cannot be any higher than the eroded bank and they must be constructed of approved materials. As part of the SMP guidelines, all new seawalls require a 5 foot wide rip rap blanket, as measured going out from the seawall, as mitigation and to prevent undermining the base of wall. It can go as high as needed.

Bowen said Ameren also will be asking owners of existing, unpermitted seawalls to obtain permits.

“Ameren compares photos with permits on file to determine who does and doesn’t have a permit when a new request is made for a dock or other structure. However, at some point in the future, owners of unpermitted bank stabilization will be contacted and advised of the new requirement,” she said, adding that minor repairs are allowed without a permit. However, any extension, replacement, new footing, or increase in height or width would need a permit.

The rock used for riprap has to be large enough not to be washed away by wave action. Bowen said the standard is 8 to 12 inches in diameter but shoreline owners on or closer to the main channel may have to use 18-inch or larger material. Property owners will not be required to install rip rap along existing seawalls.

The permit for a seawall is $300 plus $1 per foot for every foot over 100. The same fees apply for existing seawalls. A permit for riprap is $100.

SHORELINE VEGETATION COVER

Vegetation between the 662-foot contour elevation and the water’s edge must be left in place or replaced if removed in order to provide a “reasonable” view of the water; construct access paths; install erosion control measures or perform general vegetative maintenance. However, all modifications must be approved prior to work being done because Ameren reserves the right to order the removal of any unauthorized improvements at the owner’s expense. When trees or other vegetation is removed, they must be replaced with native species – dogwood, redbud, serviceberry, persimmon, mulberry, native oaks, hickories, sugar maples and green or white ash. Grasses and perennials that can be used include big and little bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass, fescue and any wildflowers, sedges and ferns native to Missouri. Vegetation modification permits are $100.

DOCKS

All docks must be built by a certified dock builder and must be permitted. In addition, all docks equipped with electric power must be inspected by either the local fire protection district or, in the case of the Village of Four Seasons, a building official, and an electrical permit must be obtained. A list of electrical installation requirements, a wiring diagram and a checklist for docks is available at http://www.ameren.com/sites/aue/lakeoftheozarks/Pages/DockElectricalInstallations.aspx. Permit fees, which are based on size, start at $150.

Bowen cautioned that people buying used docks should know their property boundaries, know whether the dock will fit inside those boundaries and whether boats will have sufficient maneuverability to get in and out of slips before making the purchase.

“If people are looking at a specific dock on something like Craigslist, they can bring their property description and the dimensions of the dock into our office and we can make a determination if it will be able to be permitted,” Bowen said.

New docks of 10 slips or more require fish habitat had to be installed. Anchored cedars, brush piles or man-made structures must be weighted with something that won’t deteriorate more quickly than the structure decomposes and they must be at or below the 647 elevation so they don’t float into boat motors or drift with lake currents. No structures should be placed in areas that already support emergent or submergent vegetation during the growing season. Commercial dock owners are required to sign and return the compliance certification to the Corps of Engineers verifying that they installed the structure as required. However, underwater pictures are not required.

DREDGING

In limited circumstances, dredging will be allowed under docks and to provide access to an existing channel in a cove. The permit cost is $300 and one cedar tree must be anchored under docks for every 10 cubic yards of material removed.

ENFORCEMENT

Bowen said each summer the Shoreline Management team inspects the shoreline to find such things as non-conforming structures, derelict docks and navigation hazards.

“When a permit is requested, part of our commitment to the Corps of Engineers is that we will send out an inspector for each permit request,” she said, adding that Ameren currently employs five representatives that review and process applications, and up to three inspectors if needed. “When property owners don’t comply with regulations, our first course of action is to make the property owner aware of the violation. If there is no response, Ameren will give a deadline to get into compliance. Meanwhile, no new permits will be issued until the permits are up to date. In the case of multiple violations, a history of non-compliance, or degradation to environmental resources, we will pursue legal action.” ‘

If Hartzler’s misnamed ‘Save Our Lakes’ bill passes, which it likely will with bipartisan support from Missouri’s Senators McCaskill and Blunt, the regulation of shorelines appears to pass directly to Ameren.  This would put the homeowners of the Lake of the Ozarks at the mercy of Ameren, an energy conglomerate with extensive ties to Missouri’s State Legislature.

Recently, Ameren announced a $51 million dollar rate increase.  They also introduced their newest corporate lobbyist: Kit Bond.  This comes as State Senator Kehoe has introduced legislation that would allow the energy juggernaut the ability to charge for infrastructure before beginning construction.  It is the fourth time in five years Ameren has hiked rates up on the citizens of Missouri.  There is little to no opposition to these hikes.

Among State Legislatures, Missouri has developed a reputation for being awash with corporate funds and lobbyists.  Ameren UE is a prime example of this corruption.  Their ties to the Missouri political scene are extensive, and through a revolving door of politicians-turned-lobbiests, Ameren has had smooth sailing.  The company, if Hartzler’s bill is successful, will have control of our lake shorelines with little opposition in the political system.

Many times the use of the word ‘inspection’ was used regarding Ameren’s description of the new regulations.  It is no coincidence that in 2011, Chris Koster, Missouri Attorney General also used the word when talking about levels of E. coli at the Lake of the Ozarks.  He made it clear, in this piece from the Jefferson City News-Tribune, that his office called for better ‘inspections of septic tanks and tougher enforcement for violators’.  He also stated that he wanted significant violators to face felony charges.

Unlawful inspections, made possible by vague language, lie at the heart of Article 600, recently passed by the Camden County Planning and Zoning Commission.  After the vote, which stunned the standing-room-only crowd, one member of the commission was quoted as saying the language was ‘state dictated’.

Earlier this year, the public rallied against Article 600 in a show of solidarity.  They filled the court-house during a meeting on the controversial article, speaking out against ambiguous language, hefty fines and arbitrary inspections.  They used the forum to point out many flaws in the language and repeatedly cited the Fourth Amendment to the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Administrator Don Hathaway and his cohorts listened to their concerns and, after the outpouring, Planning and Zoning Chairman Jerry Carroll said:  “You have done your due diligence in voicing your opinions here tonight, and we will go back to the drawing board again, and see what we can come up with and then we will schedule another public hearing.”

This was empty rhetoric.

After the rapid vote on Article 600 and meeting dismissal, one resident was quoted as saying:  “It’s over and now we live in Russia.”

Hathaway and his technocrats, appointed to office, lied to the public.  They had no intention of ‘going back to the drawing board’.  They intended for the language to remain exactly as it is.  What was evident in the wake of their decision to send Article 600 on to the County Commission, is an unwillingness to listen to the people.  The next day, the Lake Sun ran a comment from Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber.  He characterized the vote as “a clear decision against the people of Camden County”.  Luber also said he believes the Planning and Zoning Commission has their own agenda in regard to planning and zoning.

Since the installation of Don Hathaway as Administrator of Planning and Zoning, “agenda” definitely seems an appropriate word.  As Nancy Stewart has pointed out, private land owner’s rights are at risk with the decisions made by the planning and zoning board.  She expressed disappointment in the decision.

Home owner rights are under attack from many different fronts, we are fortunate in Camden County to have so clear a road map to the source of our issues.

When Hartzler first introduced her legislation here at the lake, she did so at the Hulett home.  State Rep. Diane Franklin introduced her, thereby offering her endorsement for the bill.  Franklin, who now knows her way around our Jeff City hallways, has a history of working to undo our rights.  She has been in favor of legislation restricting a woman’s right to health care.  Her assault against women’s rights has been evidenced in her invocation of ‘religious’ grounds to stop doctors from performing certain procedures.  She has voted to make it a crime to video tape puppy mills and corporate farms without the permission of the owner.  That doesn’t bode well for Missourians as a horse slaughter plant has petitioned to open in our state and horse meat scandals erupt across Europe.  She has endorsed countless pieces of ALEC inspired legislation that would move us closer toward privatizing our schools, ending worker protections and undoing the prevailing wage.  On a KRMS radio interview, Franklin attempted to justify her stance against the prevailing wage by essentially saying that people in the lake area and the rural communities she serves don’t NEED to make that much money.  She has supported legislation favorable to, you guessed it, Ameren.

Franklin has what can be termed as a friendly relationship with Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken.  There can be no doubt that when it comes to matters of planning and zoning, those of shoreline regulation and the vague, ambiguous language and stiff penalties put forth by Franken’s technocrats favors moving us closer and closer to shoreline privatization.  Language that is intentionally crafted to offer the most wiggle room sets the stage for a potential land grab.  Through the use of heavy fines, as expressed to the P&Z commission, the mechanism exists with which to wage a campaign against a poor land owner.  The article is fraught with loopholes built for abuse.

As was evidenced last year, during previous discussion of the changes to the land use code, Franken isn’t afraid to invoke the Camden County Sheriff Department.  During a hotly debated exchange centered around home owner rights at a P&Z meeting, Franken slunk out of the room.  Ten minutes later, two Camden County Deputies arrived.  While someone could certainly make an argument that they were there to preserve law and order, a closer examination appears to say something different.  On second glance it would appear as though a tyrannical threat was being made.  In fact, one could go further and say Franken, in his best impression of Napoleon, hustled off when things got hot.  The Little Dictator called in the Palace Guard to quell the shouts of the peasants.  They, after all, don’t understand what’s on the line.  They don’t know how much money there is to be made!

Nor has it been the only time the Little Dictator has used the Guard.  When you fire as many people as Herr Franken, you expect to eventually get your come up-ins.  When you pass articles, bills and legislation against the will of the people, you might make enemies.  When you threaten our rights, we might get pissed.

Many of you might have seen our piece on ‘The Militarization of the Lake of the Ozarks’.  The Palace Guard is well equipped to act as the enforcement mechanism for a tyrannical ruler.  Particularly if it’s ruler is influenced by Ameren’s bottom line.

I have asked, many times, that we cast aside our hats.  I have asked that we abandon their talking points and focus on what is going on around us.  No longer is it hypothesis or conjecture.  It is our reality.  It is our community.  They are bent on undoing that.  They would rather we descend into civil war than unite in revolution.  “We the people…”?  Indeed.

I have been critical of Commissioner Luber.  I will not back away from those criticisms.  I do not agree with many of his stated views.  I will however, stand together with him against these affronts to our rights.  I will do so happily and without ego.  I will do so with pride.  When we the people are threatened, it is up to we the people to unite.  It is not about being a conservative or liberal.  It is about our basic, fundamental rights and our well-being.  It is about our children and taking the mantles of power for those who would seek to harm their legacies.

This is about all of us and only a very few of them.

The time to stand is now.