Archive for June, 2013

The Missouri Legislature passed a law against drones within the State and then the St Louis Police Chief wants to get drones for the city…..

St. Louis police chief wants drones to monitor city

Published time: June 27, 2013 20:47

St. Louis Police Capt. Sam Dotson (Image from slmpd.org)St. Louis Police Capt. Sam Dotson (Image from slmpd.org)

A Missouri police chief has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for his very own surveillance drone, which he would use to conduct police chases and monitor the city for criminals.

“To help keep officers safe, to help keep the community safe. For monitoring public spaces – things like the upcoming Fair St. Louis [and] baseball games – for terrorists, suspicious activity,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told KSDK.

The police chief does not like to use the word ‘drone’, so in his request to the FAA, he asked for permission to use an ‘unmanned surveillance vehicle’, he told KTVI. Dotson believes the surveillance vehicles would help police capture fleeing criminals and ultimately reduce crime in St. Louis.

“Criminals believe, and with some truth, that if they flee from police officers, officers will not pursue and they will ultimately elude capture,” Dotson wrote in hisMarch 25letter to the FAA. “If we are serious about crime reduction strategies, we must look to new technologies which help keep officers and the public safe and apprehend criminals.”

Dotson says purchasing drones, at the price of $80,000-$300,000 a piece, is a more cost-effective solution than purchasing helicopters, which cost about $2-$2.5 million. Some surveillance drones can even cost less than $10,000, Dotson told Fox2 News. The newest generation of surveillance drones can be as small as a coffee cup and do not carry any weapons.

If approved to employ a drone, Doston said he would seek out donations and grants to buy the unmanned surveillance vehicle.

News of Dotson’s intentions has concerned privacy advocates, who are already complaining about the FBI’s use of drones for domestic surveillance. Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that the police chief is taking surveillance too far.

“This is a significant expansion of government surveillance,” he said. “Our laws have not kept up with our privacy rights. Our Fourth Amendment privacy rights aren’t safe from unreasonable search and seizure when you’re looking at drones.”

The St. Louis Police Department is not the first to request drones for domestic surveillance purposes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation last year discovered that dozens of police agencies had submitted FAA applications, requesting permission for drone usage. The FAA has only granted permission to about a half-dozen of these police departments, most of which are in rural areas and thus unable to interfere with airports, the St. Louis-Post Dispatch reports.

The FAA does not allow the use of drones for commercial purposes, and requires the vehicles to fly below 400 feet.

This is late notice but we’ll have a property rights meeting at our farm Tuesday, July 2nd at 7 p.m. We will be discussing Blueway-related issues, County commissioners, and how to be more influential for freedom in Lawrence County. Thanks to the efforts of OPRC and other groups in the Ozarks, it appears that the Blueway support may be dissolving. Some of the stakeholders are getting blue feet and pulling out of the project, but these things always reappear, like NAIS.

For directions, please go to www.pasturenectarfarm.com/how-to-get-it

The regular monthly meeting of the mountain Grove PRC had approximately 100 people in attendance. Points of discussion at the meting were Common Core, the Department of Revenue document and biometrics scandal, and the White River Blueway. A short presentation on Common Core was given by Nancy Ray. There were some handouts addressing the issue and suggested that people go to As A Mom for more information on Common Core and it’s standards.

Representative Jeff Pogue and his wife were in attendance to learn more about the Blueway designation and other issues of concern to the PRC. Rep. Pogue sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Interior requesting the designation of the White River Blueway and the Secretarial Order establishing the Blueway System be rescinded.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder sent his assistant Bryan Bunten to the meeting to give the group an update on the Department of Revenue investigative committee updates and explain the next steps in the process of attempting to correct a state agency that is openly violating state law. Bunten also provided copies of the letter that Lt. Governor Kinder sent to the Department of Interior admonishing them for violating public trust and failing to provide knowledge of the Blueway program to either the citizens of the region or the elected officials prior to designating the area as a “National Blueway”. Kinder strongly suggested the Secretary overturn the designation.

After the Lt Governor’s representative spoke, Co Chair of the PRC, Bob Parker, explained that the DOR issue is an even larger issue for him than the Blueway which is garnering a good amount of press. Parker sated emphatically, “I will not willingly participate in turning over my biometric information to an international organization.” He expressed his religious convictions against such a scheme and also stated, “The citizens of Missouri want the DOR to stop breaking the law, and stop breaking the law right now!”

Doreen Hannes gave the audience the particulars on the “Blueway” and an update on the number of County Resolutions signed against the Blueway designation. Counties that have currently signed resolutions against the 21,000 square mile designation are Texas, Wright, Webster, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Taney, Stone, Lawrence, Oregon, Shannon, Dent, Reynolds, Christian, Butler, and Wayne. Remaining counties within the designation that have not yet passed resolutions against it are Ripley, Carter, Iron, Douglas and Greene. Hannes states that the designation will provide an integrated land and water resources adaptive management committee for the entire watershed. None of the members of the committee would be elected by the residents of the area, nor would the residents and landowners have input into the management.

The Mountain Grove PRC meets the 4th Thursday of every month at the Hayloft Restaurant in Mountain Grove on So. Hwy 95. The meetings are free to attend and open to the public.

 

In the ongoing saga of the law breaking Dept of Revenue under Jay Nixon’s administration, the governor had evidently decided that there are more pressing things to do than answer questions from the committee investigating the issue. Who needs accountability in government anyway, right?

Judge denies legislative subpoenas of Nixon administration

June 27, 2013 – Executive Branch

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Cole County judge has blocked a legislative committee seeking to subpoena officials in Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration over the Department of Revenue document scanning controversy.

“You’re ordered to refrain from all actions in the premises until further notice,” Judge Daniel Green wrote, stopping the Bipartisan Committee on Privacy Protection from subpoenas of Nixon administration officials.

The announcement came at the same time House Speaker Tim Jones was speaking to reporters about the committee’s actions to compel members of Nixon’s inner-circle to speak about the document controversy, as well as the broader issue of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

Nixon’s administration argued to the court that because committee is made up of citizens, as well as lawmakers, they felt that the committee was out of line issuing subpoenas. Jones, in an email to PoliticMo Thursday afternoon, said it was him as Speaker who issued the subpoenas, which he believes he is lawfully allowed to do.

“The Committee requested that the Speaker issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses. This is an absolute power and right of any Speaker, at any time, on any issue,” Jones said. “Governor Nixon does not get to play King.”

During an interview in Columbia on Wednesday, just hours after lawmakers in Jefferson City wrapped up their first day of interim committee hearings concerning the issue, Nixon said he had “no idea” what lawmakers were talking about when asked about Jones’s charge of obstruction.

“They’re busy raising taxes, we’ve got to keep the fiscal conservatism moving forward,” he said, criticizing legislation he vetoed that would have included a $200 million tax increase on prescription drugs and increaed fees for driver licences. “They ought to focus on their duty of being fiscally responsible rather than this sort of stuff.”

The court called on Jones and his team to respond to their order or pledged to rule in favor of Nixon.

Yet another example of agency overreach:

Nonexistent Frogs and Endangered Private Property Rights

By: Steve Maley (Diary)  |  June 27th, 2013 at 07:02 AM

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

A Dusky Gopher Frog, pining for the fjords. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

St. Tammany Parish, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, is one of the highest-growth parishes (counties) in Louisiana. The Poitevent family is the largest landowner in the parish.

As it turns out, 1,500 acres of the family holdings are considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be critical habitat for an endangered species: the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa), a/k/a the Mississippi gopher frog, declared endangered in 2001. The Poitevents are suing the feds to prevent their land from being permanently ruled off-limits for development. Today a federal judge allowed the Center for Biological Diversity and the Gulf Restoration Network, two private environmental groups, to join in the suit.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure these lawsuits don’t interfere with the survival and recovery of these highly endangered frogs,” center attorney Collette Adkins Giese said in a statement. “Protection of all their remaining essential habitat is absolutely necessary. Every species we lose forever is a loss that can never be undone.”

Although the frogs no longer live on the land west of Pearl River [which divides St. Tammany from Mississippi], the property is essential for frog recovery because they contain five ephemeral ponds, each within hopping distance of the next, the center said. Dusky gopher frogs lay their eggs only in such temporary ponds — which are free of fish that would devour their eggs.

Did you get that? The F&WS wants to lock up the 1,500 acres in perpetuity, without regard to the estimated development potential (which the Poitevents estimate to be $36 million), despite the fact that:

  • The dusky gopher frog has not been seen in Louisiana, much less on Poitevent land, in almost 50 years;
  • The only remaining population of dusky gopher frogs, about 100 adults, lives in coastal Mississippi, two counties away;
  • 5,000 acres of designated habitat exist in Mississippi, much of that on Federally-controlled national forests;
  • The Poitevents can block the reintroduction of the frog on their land; and
  • The Poitevents maintain that the longleaf pine tree critical to the frog’s life cycle does not exist on their land.

It’s not about common sense. It’s not even about saving the darn frog. This is about Federal bureaucrats, aided by environmental busybodies, stopping at nothing to make sure that private citizens know who’s boss.

In a matter of weeks, of the 21 counties in Missouri that were included in the “White River National Blueway” without ANY elected official knowledge and no local citizen input, 15 County Commissions out of 21 have passed resolutions against the designation and the Arkansas State agencies that were stakeholders in the program have pulled out. Also, it is reported that the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited have withdrawn support for the program. Elected officials from the County, State and Federal levels have sent letters to the Department of Interior that are highly critical of the agency’s methods and the entire program in general.

While we must remain vigilant and not celebrate a victory prematurely, we should feel encouraged that we appear to have halted this program for now. Until the Secretary of Interior rescinds Secretarial Order 3321, we are not able to rest on this issue.

So…..Congratulations to the citizens of Missouri and Arkansas! Many thanks to the Commissioners of the following counties in Missouri:

Taney, Ozark, Stone, Lawrence, Webster, Wright, Texas, Howell, Oregon, Reynolds, Dent, Shannon, Barry, Butler, and Wayne!

We should know about Greene, Christian and Douglas counties within the next several days.

Here is an article regarding the special legislative meeting in Little Rock yesterday:

 

AN: State to seek removal of federal Blueway designation for White River watershed
By James Jefferson
Arkansas News Bureau
June 26, 2013
LITTLE ROCK — State wildlife and conservation officials told lawmakers Wednesday they plan to ask that the White River watershed be removed from a federal designation as a National Blueway.
While they said they still supported the designation and do not think it will harm the rights of property owners, they noted that opponents have raised questions and expressed concerns and said they did not want to jeopardize local relationships.
Meanwhile, most of the state’s congressional delegation, as well the congressional delegation of Missouri, sent a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Wednesday with pointed questions about the designation and seeking detailed information about what it means.
Among other things, the lawmakers asked if the designation would cost taxpayers in Arkansas and Missouri anything, how the watershed was selected and could private landowners in the region opt out if they wished.
Opponents, led by Jeannie Burlsworth with conservative activist group Secure Arkansas, said opponents fear that the designation could lead to people losing their land and more restrictions and regulations on the use of water in the watershed.
“What this is creating, we feel like, is a monster for the private landowner to have to deal with, a lot of rules and regulations,” Burlsworth said in an interview. “I really do see this as a future federal land grab, and not just Arkansas. I see this being nationwide.”
Burlsworth said county officials within the watershed have been urged to pass resolutions opposing the designation. The Booneville County Quorum Court recently approved such a resolution.
The designation was announced in January by Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes during an event at the Peabody Hotel. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., attended the event and spoke for the designation.
Ann Mills, deputy undersecretary with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said during that event that her agency would appropriate $22 million to soil and water conservation in counties located within the White River watershed.
Wednesday, Keith Weaver, a project leader with the U.S. Department of the Interior, said that 26 separate groups, ranging from the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Arkansas Canoe Club and Ducks Unlimited to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the cities of Augusta and Clarendon, nominated the watershed for the designation.
He said the designation would not establish a new protective status with regulations, but was intended to recognize and support existing local and regional conservation, recreation and restoration efforts by coordinating local, state and federal activities.
Weaver said the White River watershed was the second designated by then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who last year named the Connecticut River and its watershed as the first National Blueway.
Michael Sullivan, state conservationist with the federal Agriculture Department, said during Wednesday’s meeting that any of the $22 million that watershed may have already received does not have to be returned.
State Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, who co-chaired Wednesday’s hearing, said she requested it after receiving numerous calls from constituents. She said she and most other lawmakers were unaware of the designation until after it was announced, and that residents in the region were not involved in the process.
During the meeting, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Deputy Director Mike Armstrong, state Natural Resources Commission Director Randy Young, Nature Conservancy Project Manager Jason Milks and David Casaletto, executive director of Ozark Water Watch, each told lawmakers they still supported the designation but felt it was more important, based on the public outcry, to opt out.
“We regret that this designation has become a point of contention. This was not anticipated by the partners nor was it intended,” Armstrong said. “We do not want … the designation to become an impediment to conservation work in Arkansas and our ability to work with private landowners.”
In response to a question, Young said he did not know if the state’s request to opt out would affect future federal funding in the watershed. He said the state received $10.4 million in federal funding last year for two eastern Arkansas irrigation projects and is slated to receive $22 million this year.
“I’d like to be able to tell you that’s because of the White River Blueway,” he said, adding he did not know.
Rep. Stephen Meeks R-Greenbrier, said he thought the concerns and fears expressed by landowners and others in the watershed were because of a “lack of trust” of the federal government.
“I think that’s exactly right,” Young replied.
Later Wednesday, Griffin said he supported the decision to ask that the designation be removed.
 
“Considering all that’s happened, I think that’s the best thing that can happen,” said Griffin, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.
He said he originally supported the designation after being told that it would cost the state nothing, have no mandates or regulations attached and would be voluntary. He said he began to have second thoughts after hearing details of the designation.
 
“The thing that stuck out was they had said they worked with local stakeholders … but apparently the citizens, the grassroots folks, were apparently not included in the federal government’s definition of local stakeholders,” he said. “Yes, some local conservation groups were included in the process, but a lot of the grassroots groups were not.”
 
Gary Collins, a commissioner in Ozark County Missouri, which is in the watershed, attended Wednesday’s meeting and said in an interview his county opposes the designation, as do all the other Missouri counties in the watershed.
“We’ve already got stuff in place, about all the Missouri counties do, to take care of all of this,” he said, adding he was concerned about additional regulations and requirements for landowners in the area.

A positive decision in favor of logic and reason and private property rights. Wow!

Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District: Read Full Opinion Here

koontz, v., st., johns, river, water, management, district:, read, full, opinion, here, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District:

In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, the Supreme Court reviewed whether a land-use agency can be held liable for a taking when it refused to issue a land-use permit on the sole basis that the permit applicant did not accede to a permit condition.

The vote is 5-4.

This was a significant victory for property rights advocates complaining about permitting conditions on their building.

The holding: The government’s demand for property from a land use permit applicant must satisfy the Nolan and Dolan requirements even when it denies the permit.

Read the full opinion here.