Freedom Updates: July 16, 2003

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Freedom Updates: July 16, 2003

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Atwood Seeks to Repeal Littleton Grocery Tax
Okay, so the effort in Montrose didn't go as hoped. But Libertarian Frank Atwood has joined with other local activists Martin Bolt and Elwood Johnsen to try to repeal the grocery tax in Littleton. Bolt is a Republican and Johnsen is a Democrat, making the effort a "tripartisan" approach to limited government.

According to a June 26 article in the Littleton Independent, Littleton raises about $600,000 a year, or about 3% of the city's budget, from the tax that has existed since 1972. Predictably, Finance Director Jim Harmon said, "We'd just as soon keep the revenues we have." The June 19 Villager adds the grocery tax is set at a rate of 1%. The city also imposes a retail sales tax of 3% that applies to restaurants and raised $18.7 million in 2002. Mayor Susan Thornton cited a million-dollar "community recreation center" as one of the city's works in progress.

Atwood plans to gather more signatures in opposition to the grocery tax on July 24. Volunteers may reach him at 720.260.1493.

Atwood also sent out the following e-mail July 11:

Fellow Libertarian,

I need your help to circulate a petition in the City of Littleton to put the repeal of the City's Grocery tax on the November ballot. Call me at 720.260.1493 for details...

We must have 1,326 [signatures] before August 8th. Our goal is 2,000 signatures - a 30% safety margin. Currently we're halfway there, however we may be loosing momentum and may be getting more invalid signatures. With your help and enthusiasm this task will certainly be accomplished. Your 30 signatures would be 1.5% of our goal. Where else can your three hour contribution make such a libertarian impact on a community?

Show Me the Liquor
Charley Able writes for the July 10 Rocky Mountain News, "Jefferson County Sheriff Russ Cook resigned under pressure Wednesday after commissioners agreed to pay him $147,500 in severance. The resignation came a day after commissioners learned Cook cut short his stay at an alcohol treatment program in Parker... [County Commissioner Pat] Holloway said commissioners' decision to strike a deal with Cook will spare the citizens the cost of a recall election, estimated at about $400,000..."

Damn, I could stand a little "pressure" like that. $147,500 for NOT doing a job? Show me the liquor!

The Rocky Mountain News editorialized July 11, "[Cook] was a well- intentioned man, but someone who also misled voters last fall, failed in his brief tenure to bring his debilitating problem under control, missed week after week of work while collecting a check, and fled office with a sum that most Jeffco residents don't make in two or three years, let alone on a single day."

I'll remember that next time I pay taxes to Jefferson County.


Armed Robbers, Vandals Roam Free
America is plagued by roving gangs of armed robbers and vandals. They have not been arrested. Nor will they be -- for they work for the government.

The first case is described by Vin Suprynowicz in the July 13 Las Vegas Review-Journal.

[From a February 28, 2002 editorial:] "Among the sagebrush and baked brown mountains along U.S. Highway 95, between Tonopah and Hawthorne in west central Nevada, lies the lonely hamlet of Mina... Bob Eddy and his wife Pam used to ranch cattle. But the cattle business is heavily regulated by both state and federal governments, especially in states such as Nevada, where most of the range is government-controlled... Tired of federal rules and boom-and-bust beef prices, 59-year-old rancher (Eddy) went searching for a new career seven years ago. He found he could sell lobster for $14 a pound. Thus was born the Desert Lobster farm -- marked with those prominent `Lobster Crossing' signs along U.S. 95 -- where the Eddys now raise half a million blue and red Australian freshwater lobsters... There's hope in Bob Eddy's story, which teaches us that -- so long as there remains some field of endeavor free of state and federal regulation -- the entrepreneurial instinct can still find a way.

[Recently:] The Nevada Division of Wildlife boys roared in Thursday -- 10 armed game wardens, two of the plainclothes guys in black shoes and black sunglasses from the "Nevada Division of Investigation," assigned to take care of any troublesome neighbors, and two state biologists assigned to seize and destroy all of Bob Eddy's crawfish. Why? For violation of his state lobster ranching permit, duh.

"At this moment we are in fact closing him down," Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy told me Thursday afternoon. "At this moment we are down in Mina with some of our law enforcement people and we're going through the process of destroying the Australian red claw lobsters."

Suprynowicz notes the victim will not be compensated for his losses. The pretext cited by the armed goons was that they feared the businessman's crayfish would be released into the wild. The victim claims that decades ago the state purposely transplanted different varieties of crayfish into the wild.

The next case is reported July 15 by the Associated Press.

HARLESTOWN, R.I. -- The chief sachem and seven other members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe were arrested yesterday by State Police in what onlookers described as a violent raid of the tribe's new tax-free tobacco shop.

Governor Donald Carcieri called the raid ''truly regrettable, but clearly necessary'' after tribal leaders said they would cease operations of the smoke shop only if the governor dropped his opposition to a casino the tribe has been trying to build for years... State Police also confiscated the cigarettes that remained on the shelves and took about $900 from the cash register.

I guess Carcieri thought the government has been just too kind to American Indians over the past few hundred years, so now it's time to Get Tough. We can't have Indians going into business and earning a living!

However, the government is one for three. As Erin Emery reports in the July 15 Denver Post, local and federal agents are trying to find the criminals who stole 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate from a Colorado Springs rock quarry. Once they find and arrest those criminals, perhaps they can track down the thugs who stole the $900 in Harlestown or destroyed property in Nevada.


Granolas Find Libertarianism
We all know the stereotypes: left-wing granola-eaters who never saw a state program they didn't like.

Well, now I shop at the health-food stores, and the health-food stores are up in arms against new federal mandates. A flier handed out by Vitamin Cottage and dated July 2 states, "I new bill called the 'Dietary Supplement Safety' Act (S.722) has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. This bill... would significantly undermine many of the freedoms that American consumers of dietary supplements hold dear... This bill would subject nearly all vitamins, minerals, herbal products and other supplements to a level of scrutiny that is both unwarranted and unnecessary. Products that have been used safely for hundreds -- and in some cases, thousands -- of years would be subject to clinical evaluation using standards that are at the complete discretion of the FDA The government must not be allowed to limit the freedom of choice of American consumers when it comes to their health..."

What we need are some liberty entrepreneurs. Perhaps, say, gun owners could hand out the health-food flier at gun shows, and in exchange Vitamin Cottage could hand out fliers denouncing "unwarranted and unnecessary" federal restrictions of firearms. I hear some of you chuckling, but the simple truth is that, unless we start standing up for each others' freedoms, we're all going to lose the freedoms we hold dear.


LPCO Mails Fundraiser!
Though I've had plenty of favorable things to say about the current board of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, I've also made some criticisms. And then the LPCO issues an excellent press release, and I get a top-notch fundraising letter in the mail.

The letter, signed by Fundraising Director Michele Poague, is a nicely done four-pager with a reply sheet and a postage-paid reply envelope. I believe this is the first fundraiser for the state party since David Bryant sent out a letter when the party first moved offices. That was about two years ago. It's nice to see professionalism return to the LPCO.

Poague's letter mentions the victories of Sheriff Bill Masters and Coroner Bob Dempsey, as well as the participation of Libertarians in reforming the forfeiture laws. The main purpose of the letter, though, is to ask for funds to distribute Libertarian Viewpoint, a publication created by the national party. The LPCO is also adopting Frank Atwood's plan of marketing in those counties with the highest LP vote totals in an attempt to build more support in those areas.


DEA Continues to Trample States
The Marijuana Policy Project issued a release on July 10 and a letter the next day. Selections from each appear below.

President Bush's nominee for DEA administrator, Karen Tandy, has promised to continue the raids on state-approved medical marijuana patients and providers if she is confirmed. Please write to your U.S. senators to tell them, "Don't confirm the raids! Don't confirm Karen Tandy!" Visit http://DontConfirm.org/take_action.html to fax a pre- written letter now. The Marijuana Policy Project's "Don't Confirm the Raids" campaign is gaining momentum. Today, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking member, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), all spoke out against Tandy's refusal to stop the DEA raids on state-approved medical marijuana patients and providers. Senator Durbin even said he would vote against Tandy! (Please visit http://DontConfirm.org/durbin.html to see Tandy's answers to Sen. Durbin's questions on medical marijuana, then visit http://DontConfirm.org/senators.html to see a summary of the senators' statements from today's committee hearing.)

* * *

On Wednesday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee considered the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Reauthorization Act of 2003. The Democrats on the committee did not rubberstamp this bill; instead, they used the hearing as an opportunity to attack not only the Bush administration's medical marijuana policy, but also the war on drugs in its entirety.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) pressed the medical marijuana issue. First, he proposed an amendment that would have ended the drug czar's practice of interfering in state efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation. Then, he proposed another amendment that would have prevented the drug czar from approving the budget of any agency that used funds to arrest medical marijuana patients. All Democrats in attendance supported the latter amendment. (There was not a roll call vote on the first amendment.)

More surprising was the vehemence with which the Democrats denounced the war on drugs. The spark that lit the fuse for this explosion was an amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), which would have deleted the entire reauthorization bill. Saying that the bill was "not worth the paper it is printed on," Rep. Waters declared that ONDCP is "wasteful, ineffective and unworthy." U.S. Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) called the war on drugs a "dismal failure" and said that there is nothing he is more embarrassed about than the federal government's drug policy.

Nadler and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) also had harsh words for the war on drugs, while the committee's ranking member, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), decried the growing number of prisoners in this country serving time for nonviolent drug offenses. In the end, 10 of 11 Democrats in attendance voted in favor of deleting the entire bill.


Kolwicz Blasts Mandatory Mail Ballots
Al Kolwicz sent out the following e-mail July 10:

I hope that you will review the CAMBER homepage.

1. CAMBER has called for an investigation of Boulder County's decision to force voters to vote by mail ballot in the November 2003 election.

2. CAMBER is helping to find out why so many Mesa County voters who voted in last year's Republican Primary Election do not show up on the Clerk's list of people who voted. What happened to their votes?

3. CAMBER is helping Colorado Springs poll watchers find out why the April 2003 mail ballot election results don't add up. Officials are stonewalling.

Al Kolwicz
CAMBER - Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
2867 Tincup Circle Boulder, CO 80305
303-494-1540
AlKolwicz@qwest.net>AlKolwicz@qwest.net
http://www.users.qwest.net/~alkolwicz>www.users.qwest.net/~alkolwicz


Feds Push School Drug Testing
Are your children human beings or property of the state, to be searched, poked, prodded, and drugged at the whim of bureaucrats? The following information is reprinted from the Federal Register, July 11, Vol. 68, No. 133. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this nonsense: stop sending your children to the government-run education camps.

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools--Demonstration Grants for Student Drug Testing--Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Purpose of Program: This program awards grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public and private entities, to develop or enhance, implement, and evaluate school-based drug testing programs for students...

Participation by Private School Children and Teachers: Entities receiving a grant under the Demonstration Grants for Student Drug Testing Program are required to provide for the equitable participation of private school children and their teachers or other educational personnel. In order to ensure that grant program activities address the needs of private school children, timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate private school officials must occur during the design and development of the program. Administrative direction and control over grant funds must remain with the grantee...

Media Notes

The News-Post -- In his novel The Venus Belt, libertarian sci-fi writer L. Neil Smith creates a parallel universe in which Colorado's two major newspapers are the News-Post and the Rocky Mountain Liberty. The book was written in 1980. Now, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post already combine weekend editions (that I think of as the "Post-News"), and they are moving into the same building. Does anyone want to start a pool predicting when the owners finally say, "Look, we can dramatically cut our printing costs, fire a third of the staff, and still produce a better single product!" So will it be the "Denver News-Post" or the "Denver Post-News"? Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain Liberty may never become a reality.

Canadian Gun Owners Defy Registration -- Alan Findlay writes for the Toronto Sun, "[H]alf a dozen gun owners are blazing across the country looking to get arrested. Four provinces later, however, the men still haven't found anyone willing to arrest them over their refusal to register their shotguns and rifles. 'If these men are criminals, we invite the authorities to come and arrest them,' said Ed Hudson, a Saskatoon duck hunter who has 50 guns in his collection. The men have been protesting in front of provincial legislatures for the past two weeks. They started in Victoria and moved on to Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and, yesterday, Toronto... All have signed notarized affidavits swearing that they have not registered their guns. An amnesty on gun owners who hadn't registered their weapons ended on June 30. Ontario has vowed not to enforce the registry law."

Most Dollars Spent on Government -- James Harris of The Advocates for Self-Government reviewed some depressing news recently: "July 11 was this year's 'Cost of Government Day.' That's the date in the calendar year when the average American worker has finally earned enough money to pay off his or her share of the tax and regulatory burdens imposed by government at all levels... To put it still another way: the cost of government now consumes nearly 53 percent of national income... [The] Per Person Cost of Government [is] $17,017..."

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