Friday, January 15, 2010

Government Fees Are Not Akin to Abusive Credit Card Fees

I must take issue with part of the December 31, 2009 column in the Leelanau Enterprise entitled “Credit card ‘abuses’ like government fees.” where the author attempts to equate abusive fees from the credit card companies to legitimate governmental "use" fees.

In particular, the writer’s comments about Land Use Permits in Kasson Township (Leelanau County, Michigan) contain implications and inaccuracies that may mislead the reader.

The implication is that $40 is a high fee for a Land Use Permit simply to build a deck. In actuality, the Zoning Administrator makes three on-site visits to every project to verify ordinance compliance. All permits cost $40 - for a small deck or a shopping center.  Please name for me any service provider who will make a house call for $40 for even one visit!

In this case, the "user" of the specific service pays the bill for his/her undertaking, and the cost is not spread to all taxpayers.

The complaint over an $80 fee for “digging a hole” is inaccurate in two ways. First, an additional $40 is not “interest”. The additional $40 is a penalty for commencing work without a permit which is a violation of the Township's Zoning Ordinance. Second, “sinking a hole” generally would not be considered commencement. Meaningful work, such as pouring footings, would trigger the $40 fine, according to my conversation with the Township's Zoning Administrator.

Land Use Permits are not about government soaking us for fees and fines. Obtaining a permit not only insures neighboring land owners the right to peaceable use of their own property but also catches potentially costly mistakes for the applicant.

The credit card “abuses” mentioned in the article relate to using other people’s money by borrowing – that’s called interest. Extra fees for Land Use Permits, relate to violating the law – that’s called a fine - the same as the fine you get while driving drunk or speeding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Obscure Speach by Justice William C. Goodloe

I ran across an obscure Google video by Justice William C. Goodloe, Washington State Supreme Court (Retired). Justice Goodloe relates his years on the bench and about protecting the Republic as framed by the Founding Fathers. It is a good supplement for those currently studying the US Constitution.

The entire video is about an hour long, but can be viewed in segments. (Justice Goodloe's manner of speaking is reminiscent of Ronald Regan's style.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Open Letter to Leelanau County GOP and Democrat County Chairs

I wish to express my thanks to the Leelanau Enterprise for a fair and accurate story about America’s Independent Party, published in the October 15th edition.

However, I take exception to statements made by “the chairmen of the local Democratic and Republican parties [who] say there’s plenty of room for a group of this type in politics.”

In the typical “politic-speak” fashion, what these chairmen don’t say, is that there is room for a third party as long as it is opposite of their political persuasion. No less than three members of the local GOP contacted me with this message, but none from the Democrat side.

According to the highest-ranking GOP county official that contacted me, third party candidates (conservatives) siphon votes from the GOP, allowing a Democrat to win. To prove the point, he asked me to recall Ross Perot. After successfully countering his argument, a second tack taken. “Wouldn’t you vote for a candidate that supported, say, four-out-of-five of your principles?”

The counter-argument to the first question asserts that in a plurality race containing a leftist Republican and a leftist Democrat, most races can be won by a conservative independent candidate. Today, many GOP candidates, including the Party’s 2008 Presidential nominee, are left of center, if not true leftists. Need I comment on the Democrats?

Addressing the second question, voters who blindly, compromise their core principles to vote for the “best of the worst,” is a major factor in the GOP’s drift to the left. This slow but inexorable drift is the major cause, in my opinion, for the recent widely-publicized mass defection from the GOP’s base.

Unbelievably at a second meeting, another of the county’s GOP tried unsuccessfully to tie America’s Independent Party to George Wallace’s presidential party of 1968! Great try. Who once said, freeze it, polarize it, ridicule it?

Today, the GOP is no longer the party of the right. It is merely a party more right than the Democrat Party. The GOP’s recent attempts to cast the widest net for votes has resulted in candidates’ campaign strategies to do and say what they think will garner the most votes, while ignoring the party’s (a.k.a. the People’s) platform. The strategy has resulted in a catastrophic disconnect between professed party principles and party candidates, hence driving away truly conservative Republicans.

Polls show that most American voters are right-leaning. So why does the GOP leadership have trouble convincing these right-leaning people to vote for GOP candidates? I answered that question earlier. GOP leaders, you haven’t been paying attention to your base; have you been paying attention to me?

Come on GOP, and Democrats too, if you dare. Develop and encourage candidates who oppose erosion of our rights and liberties; who will work to truly shrink bloated, unresponsive government; who believe in strength thru preparedness; who foster free market capitalism; who embrace Reagan economics; and most importantly, who take seriously their oath to defend and support the Constitution of the United States.

America’s Independent Party will give its endorsement to all such candidates, regardless of party or level in government.

Note: This letter was printed in the Readers' Forum column of The Leelanau Enterprise on November 5, 2009

After the Tea Parties.... Now What? Here's my Take

Many of you ask me the question about what's next? Yep, we meet weekly to share what's going on and to build a sense of community. Yep, we are now conducting our own training on the Constitution and Internet Activisim. Yep, we are networking with groups all over the state to support and share our time and talent with them.

That's quite a handful. But what it's really about is learning, training, and gaining experience for what faces us in the Fall of 2010.

I've run across quite a bit of buzz about the special Congressional election being held in New York's 23rd district in less than two weeks. It's a three way race between a Dem, a GOP, and an Independent. Because the GOP candidate is a flaming liberal, the Independent, Doug Hoffman, has a great chance to win this election.

Just a bit later in this posting, I will link you to an article on that shows what tea party volunteers are doing in this special election. After reading the article, I would like you to do three things.

First, think about what skills you now have and what skills you will need to do exactly what the tea party people are doing in New York.

Second, and just as important, think about the current office holders whom you feel need to get the boot. Don't confine your thinking to Congressional, but also State reps and senators, County commissioners, City councils and mayors, and so forth. After you have picked out one or two, study their records,search for news stories. Learn everything you can about them so you can find the strategy that fits your style that will make the biggest dent to throw them out of office.

Lastly, watch for other potential candidates to run against them. Contact them if you can, and ask about their positions on the issues with the promise that if you really can connect with their platform, you will work FOR them and AGAINST their oppostion, since you have researched the opponent and have ideas how to beat them.

Just remember this. We can rally, petition, call, and write all we want. Those are good efforts now, but they are only a holding tactic. Ultimately, the most effective way to make a real change is at the polls in Novermber 2010 and you MUST be ready to fight that fight.

Now, go read on, link to the complete article and start thinking about the three steps covered above.

From the website:
Tea party activists from across the nation are rallying around the House special election in upstate New York, viewing it as the first electoral test of the nascent conservative movement’s political muscle.

Organizers up and down the East Coast report that activists are making their way into the campaign offices of Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, with the volunteers focusing their efforts in Oswego, Madison and Jefferson counties. While tea party organizers say the election is a unique opportunity to hold the Democratic and Republican parties to account, much of their energy is being directed against Dede Scozzafava, the GOP establishment-backed nominee whom they view as a squishy moderate who represents all that is wrong with the Republican Party.

“I went here from Washington, D.C., saying, ‘Now what?’” said Jennifer Bernstone, an organizer for Central New York 912, a Syracuse-based tea party group that so far has about 300 members getting out the vote for Hoffman. “Well, here’s the ‘Now what.’”

Read the complete article here

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leelanau County Sheriff Deputies May Have Violated Constitution

One of my tipsters let me know about this article by TV 7&4. I look forward to the official response from Sheriff Oltersdorf, upon his return to town.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Experience The Homestead's Sewage

by Tom Van Zoeren, guest contributor

I hope you got a chance to enjoy some of the Ken Burns series, “Our National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on television this week. It was inspiring seeing the Parks themselves; and also hearing the stories of how Americans have fiercely defended them over the years. You may be interested to know that our own National Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is presently considering how, or whether, to effectively protect National Park lands from sewage spray from The Homestead Resort. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is primarily located in Leelanau County, Michigan, and accounts for a vast amount of the total tourism business in the county.

For those who are interested, a short history, summarizing how we got here, follows below. I expect you’ll find it a rather unbelievable tale.


• How it began: At the time of the beginning of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the vacant acreage next to The Homestead Resort was essentially owned by the same people who owned The Homestead Resort. Like all other undeveloped land within the National Park boundaries, this land was subject to purchase by the National Park Service. However, the owner sold an easement to The Homestead Resort (essentially himself) for $1, allowing for a seepage area on 13 acres of the property. So when the government bought the property, it came encumbered with that easement, thereby skirting the law, and granting The Homestead Resort continued use of the property.

• What the easement said: The Homestead Resort may have a “seepage area” for its sewage system within the 13-acre easement area. At that time, this was, of course, understood to mean an underground system of drain pipes. The above-ground land was to be left as natural as possible.

• What the easement did not say: It did not say that the National Park is obligated to provide for all of The Homestead Resort’s sewage needs—just to provide a place for a seepage area on those 13 acres.

• The early years: For some years, the land was used as intended—Seepage system below ground; trails through the woods and meadows above ground. Because much of the area was not needed for seepage, that area remained covered with forest.

• Problems: Over the years, The Homestead Resort grew, and outgrew its sewage system. Sewage oozed from surrounding ground; there were numerous Michigan Department of Natural Resource permit violations; the groundwater became polluted; citizens complained; lawsuits were filed. Everyone was desperate to resolve the situation.

• Hello, sewage: In 1992 The Homestead Resort announced a plan to clear-cut the remaining forest and utilize the entire area. Anxious to resolve the many problems, but also wanting to preserve the remaining forest, the then-Park-Superintendent unfortunately agreed to a plan to allow for the partially-treated sewage to be irrigated above ground, so the trees could remain.

• More Problems: The National Park Service and the Department of Environmental Quality documented many problems during following years: the system was not maintained properly; sewage was sprayed beyond the boundaries of the easement area; the ground water was again polluted.

• Goodbye, trees: In 2005 The Homestead Resort announced that it had again exceeded its sewage system capacity, and now needed to cut all the trees, replace them with a grass-alfalfa mix, and spray their sewage over the whole area. Park Management now questioned the legality of above-ground irrigation under the easement for a “seepage area”, but was advised by its solicitor (legal advisor) that because “the camel already has its nose in the tent” (meaning the previous superintendent had allowed for above-ground irrigation), it could no longer be prevented.

Anxious to prevent drifting of pathogenic sewage spray into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the National Park Service, various environmental organizations, and private citizens requested The Homestead Resort to explore options such as root-zone seepage, drip irrigation, low-profile low-pressure sprinklers, and better pretreatment. The Homestead rejected these options and prepared to install a high-pressure spray system.

• Buffers?: It is universally accepted in the field that, when using high-pressure sprayers, aerosol drift is inevitable. Additionally, winds can blow even the non-aerosolized spray over significant distances. For that reason, a buffer zone of at least 100’ from all property lines is required by state law. The National Park Service requested the Homestead Resort to abide by this safety measure. The Homestead Resort instead made the legal case that easement boundaries are not technically “property lines”. They declined to include the buffers.

• Here it is: In 2006 the remaining forest was clear-cut and a high-pressure spray system was installed to spray sewage up to within a few feet of the easement boundaries. (In the process, the bull-dozers illegally denuded hundreds of feet of National Park land, created wash-outs and silt deposits, etc.)

• But-- Although the solicitor had said that above-ground irrigation could not be prevented per se, he emphasized that any drifting, including aerosol drift, of effluent beyond the easement boundaries would be clearly illegal. This is also stipulated in the DEQ permit for the system.

• Our Sewage: The Homestead Resort’s filtration/disinfection system is considered to be only a “partial” treatment process; the effluent can contain viable pathogens, viral and bacterial, even when the system is working properly. Studies have definitively shown that these pathogens are carried for considerable distances (hundreds of feet in some cases) in aerosol spray. Humans and animals exposed to this aerosol drift are subject to infection (not to mention those who eat the berries and mushrooms in the area). (National Park Service safety guidelines require Park Rangers to wear Tyvek coveralls and full-mask respirators when approaching the area for observation.)

Further, there have been numerous past instances of failure of The Homestead Resort’s disinfection system. One DEQ report stated, “Monitoring reports show that fecal coliform counts have been reported in excess of 6,000 counts per hundred ml (600 times the allowable limit)…bacteria in the spray on land to which the public has access is a public health hazard.”

• To Sum Things Up:
o The easement began as a questionable way to allow for underground disposal on13 acres in the National Park. The land above was to be left as natural as possible—available for trails, etc..
o Above-ground irrigation was later permitted in order to save the remaining forest. (The trails were then abandoned.)
o 12 years later, the forest was razed and replaced with sewage-sprayed rasses and alfalfa. The Homestead Resort effectively assumed all use of the property; the public now cannot enter the property we bought.
o By not providing the buffers needed for sewage spray, The Homestead Resort has also effectively taken control of many additional acres surrounding the easement area (partly in or around the Port Oneida Historic District). The Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore has installed red & white warning signs advising the public against approaching within 25’ of the area. They should include at least 75’ more.

• What Now? Before installing this system, The Homestead Resort was advised by the National Park Service and numerous environmental organizations & individuals that, although we may not be able to say what type of system they can build, we can and will ensure that the law and the public’s rights are upheld: none of their sewage, including aerosolized spray, is allowed in our National Park. Whether they can somehow achieve this with their present spray system, or whether the system needs to be modified, or whether it needs to be replaced—that is up to them. What we and the National Park Service can do is take a stand to ensure that, one way or another, our surrounding Park is not violated.

Thus far, only rough, hit-or-miss monitoring has been done. If you feel that accurate, scientific monitoring is needed as a first step to ensure that Sleeping Bear is again free of The Homestead Resort’s sewage and safe to enjoy, now is the time to let it be known.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore needs to know if you feel that it should be a priority to draw a firm line to protect the National Park from The Homestead Resort’s illegal, pathogenic sewage spray. The first step would be to devise a good, scientific system to sensitively monitor for it. That will take some effort and resources, and it may offend certain interests—so it may not happen if the public doesn’t make it a priority. Now is the time when the direction will be determined. You can contact the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's Park Superintendent at 231/326-5134.

Friday, October 2, 2009

America’s Independent Party Forming Leelanau County Affiliate

To meet the growing challenge of the usurpation of rights by government, a new political party, America’s Independent Party (AIP) was formed during the run-up to the 2008 election. The first informational meeting of the Leelanau County Caucus of the AIP of Michigan will be held on Thursday October 8, 2009 in the Community Room of the Leelanau County Government Center beginning at 7:00 PM. All meetings of the Leelanau County Caucus are open to all.

Formal affiliation with AIP is not necessary to attend caucus meetings. Personal affiliation with AIP is, however, made without regard to existing party voter registration or allegiance. The AIP affiliation agreement and more information about the AIP, may be found at Information about the local caucus can be obtained from me at:

America’s Independent Party is already the third-largest national party as measured by number of registered voters. Unlike the two larger parties, AIP is a new style “meta party” that believes that a new generation of leaders can be raised up, using a precinct caucus system to choose our candidates. A unique organizational structure plus advanced technology are being used for communication among party members, completely redefining the party system in American Politics.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence agreed that all people are all endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. But today, not everyone agrees that Americans do have God-given rights that may never be usurped by government. This is a growing challenge to all who want to preserve the blessings of liberty for today and for future generations. AIP was formed to meet that challenge.