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Flagstaff Local Food Resolution Moves Forward Despite Fierce Opposition From Barotz

August 27, 2013 15 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

A food freedom resolution created by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance cleared a major hurdle last night when the Flagstaff City Council voted to officially place it on a future agenda. Councilmember Oravits, Councilmember Brewster and Mayor Nabours provided the three required votes needed to move it forward.

Next, City staff will review the resolution and it will be placed on a work session agenda in October. Since the resolution is now officially an agenda item, members of the public will be able to speak in support at the October meeting. I will update my blog when I confirm the exact date.

One of the biggest challenges to the food resolution is the abundance of misinformation surrounding it. Councilmember Overton said he was contacted by Flagstaff residents who told him they believe this resolution is an attempt to legalize the cultivation of marijuana. I’m not sure what would give people that impression but rumors do get started and this seems to be a rumor that is circulating around town.

As one of the writers of the resolution, I can speak to its clear purpose and intent. It is a non-binding resolution saying that the City of Flagstaff supports local gardens and the rights of people to raise food for “themselves and their families”. It does not apply to retail or the sale or preparation of food. It will not impact or conflict with any current laws (see paragraph 4). It is simply a statement and a confirmation that Flagstaff supports and encourages people to grow their own food.

Councilmember Barotz (who surprised a lot of people by fiercely opposing the resolution) contributed her own misinformation to the council, arguing at one point that the 300+ signatures presented to council supporting the resolution were actually in support of an ordinance and should not be considered.

Barotz is right that when we started circulating the petitions we were pushing a draft ordinance but what she failed to explain is that the petition we circulated NEVER mentioned the words “ordinance” or “resolution”. We made sure to make it broad enough to cover either. The petition was signed by people who wanted action by local government to protect and support local food freedom. Nobody cared if it was by ordinance or by resolution.

When Barotz realized that there was enough support to move the proposed resolution forward, she asked City Manager Kevin Burke if she could submit a document for council to review. Councilmember Evans alluded to this document earlier in the meeting saying that her understanding was that there are several resolutions out there and the best one should be picked.

What Barotz was attempting to do was submit her own resolution (more on this below) but thankfully Burke shut her down and explained that the only resolution that should be considered is the one Flagstaff Liberty Alliance presented to the Council.

A Little History

Months ago Flagstaff Liberty Alliance put together a draft ordinance that would have had teeth to back it up and would have covered everything from protecting home gardens to easing restrictions on the sale of local food. The group’s Food Freedom Committee reached out to Councilmember Barotz thinking that she would be the perfect councilmember to successfully introduce and rally support for the ordinance.

I did not attend the first meeting Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had with Barotz but she convinced the committee that a resolution making a non-binding strong statement would be much easier to get approved than an ordinance (which is very true). She explained that an ordinance would take a massive amount of staff time and would have to be checked and double checked to make sure it was in compliance with City, State and Federal laws.

After meeting with Councilmember Barotz a draft resolution was written (much of it was borrowed from resolutions that have been successfully passed around the country) by myself with the help of several others.  Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had a booth at the annual Earth Day event at City Hall and Barotz stopped by and told us that she was looking forward to working with us on our resolution. Everything seemed to be going as planned.  By this time Councilman Oravits had also shown an interest in the resolution and there was talk about Oravits and Barotz introducing the resolution together.

FLA Chair Cindy Dorfsmith had another meeting with Barotz shortly after Earth Day and Barotz once again confirmed that she was in support of the resolution but had a few suggested changes (which she forgot to bring to the meeting). That evening she sent a completely different resolution to us saying:

“Hi Cindy, I’m sorry I forgot to bring this to the meeting this afternoon. My mistake. Here it is for your consideration. Revise as you see fit. Celia”

The Flagstaff Liberty Alliance board was willing to go with Celia’s completely re-written and extremely watered down version with a couple minor changes. Cindy replied:

“Hi Celia, the FLA board members suggested a couple minor changes to the revision you sent. Please take a look and let me know if you are ok with the changes. We would like to present the resolution to the Sustainability Commission on Wednesday if possible. Thanks! Cindy”

Barotz responded:

“Hi Cindy, Thanks for the track changes to the document. My feeling is that the added language doesn’t add anything meaningful so I would prefer it be taken out. But it’s your resolution so if you want to keep it in and see if Jeff will bring it forward, then please do that. I just don’t think that the added language is necessary.  Just let me know what you want to do. Celia”

Cindy asked if Barotz would still support the resolution if Oravits introduced it. Barotz said:

“I’m not sure. Let me think about it. I just think the language sets up an adversarial tone. I will get back to you in a day or so. Celia”

A few days later Barotz wrote:

“Hi Cindy, I gave this some thought last night and I am not sure I will support the resolution with the language your board added back in. I’m not comfortable bringing it forward as it is currently written, so you might want to tell Jeff that he can bring it forward and try to get it on the agenda without me.

I am disappointed since I have put work into re-writing your original draft and overall support the general values statement the resolution is attempting to make. Also, Jeff and I had hoped to bring this forward together.

Please know that if the draft you are now proposing does make it onto the agenda, during the discussion before the vote I might ask the council to take the language you added back out.

Please let me know what you want to do. Thanks, Celia”

By now we were all very frustrated and Cindy replied:

“Celia, I really wish you felt differently. I feel that we have tried to work with you and even accepted 99 percent of the resolution you wrote. You asked me to revise as we felt necessary, yet when we bring a slight change you refuse it. It seems to me that you will only accept your version of this resolution. We had already compromised much of our original resolution in an attempt to gain your support. Honestly I’m not sure what is so bad about the added language. I don’t see it as being adversarial as you said. Cindy”

The discussion concluded with Barotz saying:

“Hi Cindy, If you feel the way you described below, please ask Jeff to bring forward your original resolution rather than what I wrote. In fact, that is probably a better way to go now.  Celia”

Of course, Barotz fully expected our resolution to fail and when three Council members supported it at last night’s meeting she went into panic mode and desperately tried to introduce her “my way or the highway” resolution.  City Manager Burke wouldn’t let that happen so for now, our resolution stands.

You can read the full resolution Flagstaff Liberty Alliance proposed here:

http://dorfsmith.com/flagstafflibertyalliance/Resolution.html

If you support this resolution, please contact the Flagstaff City Council and let them know. We have to win over at least one more Council member before a final vote is taken. You can contact the Flagstaff City Council here:

http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/index.aspx?nid=1406

We will also be asking people to speak in support of the resolution at the October Flagstaff City Council worksession (I’ll write more about this once a date is confirmed).

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flagstafflibertyalliance.com

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Mandatory Minimums, Industrial Hemp and Local Food (Weekly Update)

August 25, 2013 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Every week I jot down notes, ideas and links to articles for potential future blog posts. Most of these posts never materialize and eventually get tossed. I have been looking for a way to preserve and share more of this information with my readers and have decided to write a weekly update focused on current events and issues that I believe deserve wider attention. I welcome your feedback and discussion.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences are about as fair and liberty minded as zero tolerance polices at your child’s school. Both have a collectivist mentality that treats every offense equally and refuses to take into account individuals and individual circumstances. The tiny action figure gun is treated as a real gun and the kid who makes a tiny mistake is treated like a hardened criminal. These policies are unfair and they need to be changed.

LD6 State Representative Bob Thorpe recently made national headlines when he speculated about the reason Attorney General Eric Holder suddenly announced that the Obama Administration would ease enforcement of mandatory minimums. He called Holder “soft on crime” and suggested it could be a racial issue.

Harper’s Magazine has a completely different take this week and their perspective might surprise you. They give the credit to Senator Rand Paul who has been fighting for quite a while to do away with mandatory minimums. According to them, Holder was forced to make the changes due to libertarian pressure.

You can read the article here:

On Rand Paul’s War On The War On Drugs

A lot of people in the liberty movement criticize Rand Paul for having a different style and not being as pure as his father (which is true) but articles like this make it hard to deny that he is effective and can get things done.

Industrial Hemp

The Governor of Vermont recently signed a law that nullifies the Federal ban on hemp cultivation and allows farmers to start growing industrial hemp immediately.  Senator Rand Paul and our friends at votehemp.com fought for similar laws in Kentucky and other states and were quite successful but those laws rely on the Federal government lifting their ban on industrial hemp. Vermont is the first state to sidestep the Federal government and give the green light to farmers.

Flagstaff Liberty Alliance will have a booth at the Coconino County Fair from August 30th – September 2nd. Part of our booth will be dedicated to legalizing industrial hemp. Our hope is that Arizona will follow in the footsteps of Vermont in the near future.

More on the Vermont law here:

Vermont Completely Nullifies Federal Hemp Ban

Local Food

Longtime readers of my blog know that I’ve been warning for months about the negative impact the Food Safety Modernization Act will have on local food. Over the past week or so a long list of articles have been published highlighting small farmers who are expressing these same concerns. Now, more than ever, we need to be fighting for local food freedom.

Here’s one of the must read articles published this week on the topic:

Farming Experts Predict Food Safety Laws Will Destroy Local Foods Trend

GOP Alienating The Grassroots

Thanks to Remnants Of Liberty and the Arizona 10th Amendment Center for publishing my recent article titled How To Alienate The Grassroots And Push Voters Away.  It is great to have a strong network of bloggers and independent media sources working day and night to get the liberty message out.

Below is another interesting article on the anti grassroots path the Republican Party is taking:

Something Is Very Wrong At The Republican National Committee

Coming Up This Week:

Tomorrow (Monday, August 26th) the Flagstaff City Council will be discussing an Animal Feeding Ordinance. This ordinance was supposedly created to keep people from feeding elk and deer but if it passes you can be fined if your fruit trees, garden or bird feeder unintentionally attracts large animals. I oppose this Ordinance and encourage the Flagstaff City Council to vote no.

At the end of tomorrow’s council meeting there will be a vote on whether or not to move Flagstaff Liberty Alliance’s food freedom resolution forward. We need at least 3 votes to take it to the next level. I’ll be posting an update after the meeting and hopefully I’ll have good news to share with you all.

Last week the Flagstaff Sustainability Commission voted unanimously to support our food freedom resolution and their support greatly increases the chances of our resolution getting at least 3 votes.  If you have not contacted the Flagstaff City Council to express your support please contact them before tomorrow’s meeting. You can find contact information for the Flagstaff City Council here:

http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/index.aspx?nid=1406

Flagstaff Liberty Alliance is excited to have a booth at the Coconino County fair which runs from August 30th through September 2nd. We have a bunch of fun activities planned for kids and adults alike. The Coconino County Fair is always a great opportunity to hand out literature and discuss liberty issues with the thousands of people who attend. Hope to see you there!

Pot Through the Years

There was a time when Americans were actually encouraged to grow hemp.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

How To Alienate The Grassroots And Push Voters Away

August 21, 2013 7 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

“With this two-party system, it’s like an abusive relationship. We’re making excuses for our abusers, when we need to just walk away. Together, this is how we move forward, with the solutions we deserve.” –Jill Stein (2012 Green Party Presidential Candidate)

Last year Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein likened the two party system in America to an abusive relationship where the people make excuses for their abusers. She also expressed concern that the voices of ordinary people are locked out of the two party system because lobbyists and wealthy donors pull the strings and call the shots.

While I disagree with Stein on many issues, she certainly hit the nail on the head here and her thoughts are even more true today than they were a year ago.

Those who are involved in the (D) and (R) parties are expected to act as useful idiots. People who do what they’re told when they’re told without questioning anything. They’re asked to canvass neighborhoods and circulate petitions but only for candidates and issues that have been chosen for them to support.

How many times in 2008 and 2012 did those of us in the liberty movement hear:

“What! You’re a Republican and you want to campaign for Ron Paul? Don’t you know he’s not a real Republican, he’s a kook! An extremist! Line up behind chosen candidate X now!”

Being registered Republican and having worked within the Republican party and seen what really goes on inside, it’s easier for me to focus on Republicans than Democrats but I know that both are guilty of trampling independent thought and crushing free thinkers.

I remember Bruce Barton, husband of LD6 State Representative Brenda Barton getting very upset with me at a Romney/ Ryan event last October. He knew my wife was running for Chair of the Coconino County Republican Committee and said that if we ever wanted to get anywhere in the Republican party we needed to distance ourselves from Ron Paul. I was tempted to leave the Republican party that night. Throwing away principles for political gain has never been appealing to me.

You would think that after losing the presidency, losing the Congressional race in AZ CD1, after losing countless races across the Country, the Republican party would start reaching out to voters to try to bring them in. Instead they have been doing the opposite and have been quite successful at it.

The recent passage of HB2305 by the Republican controlled legislature has united Greens, Libertarians and many Independents against the Republican party. HB2305 makes it nearly impossible for third party candidates to achieve ballot access and that means less choices for voters. I have talked to many people (even Republicans) who say they will not vote for any Republican candidates in 2014 because of this bill.

Last week the RNC met in Boston and one of the items on the agenda was a discussion on last year’s rule changes that crush grassroots candidates.  These rule changes were forced through to ensure that the establishment’s chosen candidate becomes the presidential nominee every time.

RNC Chairman Reince Preibus and many others in the Republican party have been fighting to keep these rule changes intact. If Republicans do keep the rules in place there is no reason for activists and supporters of non-establishment candidates to even try to work within the Republican party. The voice of the people is at stake and GOP leadership wants to do away with the voice of the people.

Closer to home in Coconino County, the Republican leadership recently joined together with the local tea party to keep Ron Paul supporters and libertarian Republicans from holding elected positions inside the party. When a couple liberty people slipped through and were elected as State Committeemen a secret recount was done and the liberty people were illegally removed.

Countless calls and emails to Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham and other Republican leaders were ignored. Put simply, nobody in power in the GOP cares about corruption and broken rules. They’d really just like for us libertarian Republicans to go away for good.

Perhaps most disheartening is the way many elected Republicans have alienated voters by obeying orders from their leadership rather than their constituents and voting to violate the Constitutional rights of all Americans. Recently Congressman Justin Amash (a libertarian Republican hero) proposed an amendment to defund NSA spying on Americans and more Democrats than Republicans voted with him to defund the program.

Libertarian Republicans often get yelled at by party apologists for pointing things like this out. We’re expected to defend our abusers and excuse their vote because they’re on our team and we have to support our team.  Well, principles matter and I’m starting to sense that the GOP team spirit is crumbling heading into the 2014 election cycle.

I was recently contacted by a leader in the Republican liberty movement in Arizona who wanted to give me a heads up that they were strongly considering a switch to the Libertarian party. This person is not the only person who has hinted about leaving the Republican party. I talk to people everyday who have had enough. When I circulated HB2305 referendum petitions the majority of the people who signed were Republicans and every single one of they said they were extremely upset at the Republican power grab.

Earlier this week several prominent Republicans in Maine made national headlines when they wrote a letter of resignation and abandoned the party. (This kind of thing is happening all over). They closed their letter by saying:

“Therefore, for the above-stated reasons, we can no longer allow ourselves to be called nor enrolled as Republicans; we can no longer associate ourselves with a political party that goes out of its way to continually restrict our freedoms and liberties as well as reaching deeper and deeper into our wallets.”

Even the Flagstaff Tea Party has joined the dissent by posting an article on their website suggesting that people assist with the election of House Speaker John Boehner’s Democratic opponent. The article says that Republicans need to realize that they don’t have the tea party vote in the bag.

I think this just might be a trend that we can expect to see much more of. The Republican establishment has become experts at alienating the grassroots and pushing voters away.

GOP Reince

A recent tweet from the AZ Republican Party (click to enlarge). If the strategy is to destroy the grassroots and alienate potential GOP voters then they are certainly making it happen.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

What If We Elect Candidates Based On The Laws They Want To Repeal?

August 14, 2013 3 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Every election cycle we see candidates pander to voters with the promise to fix every conceivable crisis or problem with new laws and legislation. Fear mongering and scare tactics are often used to ensure that no good crisis ever goes to waste and no police department ever has to downsize due to a lack of criminals or funds from tickets and fines.  Somebody has to keep all the lawyers and private prisons in business and lawmakers take that job very seriously.

This could all change if voters started looking at candidates in a different light and voted for candidates who promised to repeal laws rather than pass new laws. Imagine a debate where candidates tried to outdo each other by saying how many laws they would get rid of. It would be a game changer. 

Some may say that this is just wishful thinking on my part but I find encouragement in towns like Glendale Colorado who have recently made national headlines for systematically repealing the ridiculous nanny laws on their books. I would like to see their example catch on across the country and lead to much more freedom and liberty for you and me. You can read more about Glendale, CO here:

http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/12/tiny-colorado-city-busy-repealing-laws-during-a-year-of-freedom/

August Flagstaff Liberty Alliance Meeting

On the subject of candidates and elected officials, Flagstaff Liberty Alliance will be hosting Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe (LD6) and Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits at our August FLA meeting. This meeting will be held Thursday, August 15 at the Weatherford (23 N. Leroux St. in Flagstaff) on the second floor (Mezzanine room) starting at 6:30 pm.

Both elected officials will speak and take questions from attendees. Might be a great opportunity to ask them which laws they would repeal and maybe give them some suggestions.

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flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Rep. J.D. Mesnard Admits That HB2305 Will Keep Third Parties Off The Ballot In AZ

August 7, 2013 11 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

AZ GOP Chairman Robert Graham, along with LD6 Rep. Brenda Barton and other Republican leaders recently told me that HB2305 has nothing to do with keeping third parties off the Arizona ballot. They insist that this bill is all about “leveling the playing field” and making things fair across the board.

Of course, when I pushed the issue and explained my interpretation of the bill, Graham and Barton deleted me as a facebook friend and blocked me because they knew I could see right through their talking points and lies.

Before I was blocked, I was able to suggest to both that Republicans all get on the same page before lying to the masses. Perhaps they should have given Rep. J.D. Mesnard the talking points memo before he admitted on the AZ House floor that the signature requirement included in HB2305 was put there to KEEP THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES OFF THE BALLOT.

Here is Rep. Mesnard in his own words:

“So I strongly urge folks at least in my party who looked at the last election in November of 2012 and were disappointed with the outcome and looked at a couple of the third party candidates on there and how they impacted us in a detrimental way and will switch their votes to yes. Because some of the folks voting no will be vulnerable to that very thing. I can’t believe we wouldn’t see the benefit of this and would strongly urge you to look at the long term ramification for both Arizona and the United States and so Mr. Speaker, I vote yes and I urge my colleagues to vote yes.”

Mesnard is not the only candidate expressing the real intentions of the Republican establishment. Rep. Adam Kwasman lobbied hard for HB2305 because he plans to run for Congress in CD1 and he wants to make sure there is no Libertarian competition on the ballot.

Requiring third parties to collect more signatures than they have registered members is NOT leveling the playing field. Requiring third party candidates to go outside their party and beg Independents who have no ideological or political connection for their support is not fairness.

At least some Republicans are honest enough to say what it’s really about. Eliminating the competition and forcing voters to choose between an (R) or (D) candidate (in the hope that people who would have voted Libertarian will now vote Republican).

This kind of cheating and corruption will (and already is starting to) backfire on Republicans.

 

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Attacking third parties and third party candidates is probably not the best strategy to grow the Republican Party.  Republicans have made tens of thousands of new enemies in Arizona because of the excessive signature requirements in HB2305 and they will lose elections because of this.

For further reading see:

Arizona Libertarian Party Responds To Republican HB2305 Press Release

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Regional Plan Public Hearing Draft Still Includes A PMO

August 6, 2013 3 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

If there is one thing I CANNOT tolerate it is being lied to. Especially when someone looks you in the eye and lies right to your face.

Those of you who attended the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance meeting several months ago where the Flagstaff Regional Plan was discussed may remember me asking Zoning Code Administrator Roger Eastman why the rough draft of the plan included a Property Maintenance Ordinance as a solution since the Flagstaff City Council had previously rejected it.

Eastman told me that including the PMO in the rough draft was an oversight and any mention of it would be removed from the public hearing draft.

Several days later I was at a Sustainability Commission meeting and I asked Eastman again to confirm that the public hearing draft would NOT include the language “Property Maintenance Ordinance”. He assured me that it would not.

Well, tonight I went through the public hearing draft and guess what, Page 191 says part of the revitalization toolbox includes a “Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO).”

How can you trust a plan that is being pushed by people who will look you in the eye and lie?

Public hearing dates for the Flagstaff Regional Plan can be found HERE. I encourage my readers to speak up and voice their concerns.

For Further reading see:

Setting the PMO Record Straight

PMO Review Group Packed With Concerned Flag Residents

Proposed PMO Worse Than Expected

pmo

“Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO)” in the right column (click to enlarge).

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

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