By Elisha Dorfsmith
I was happy to join the Oracle Inn Podcast tonight for a discussion on the many aspects of local food and urban farming. Topics covered included local rules and regulations, challenges to local food production, food education and competing with large corporations. You can watch the entire show here:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
“I’m disappointed to report that, according to decidedly nonparanoid, noncrazy observers, the proposed rules as currently written represent a significant and possibly devastating burden to small and midsize players.” –Tom Philpott (Mother Jones)
“They will over-regulate local food. The rules could consider farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs “manufacturing facilities” subject to additional regulation.” –National Sustainable Agriculture Commission
For years, the Flag Liberty Blog and Flagstaff Liberty Alliance have been warning about the potentially devastating impact the Food Safety Modernization Act could have on local organic food and small farms. Today the window for feedback closes and soon we will get to see just how far the FDA will go with their excessive rules and regulations.
I have often felt that the many warnings I posted on my blog fell on deaf ears. Especially the ears of those who should be paying the most attention. It was sad to see local food activists and certain Flagstaff City Council members join together to fight a recent food freedom resolution supporting local food and organic gardens. The resolution put forth by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance was created in part to fight the excessive restrictions in the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Thankfully, some Councilmembers did get the spirit and message of the resolution. Councilmember Karla Brewster mentioned multiple times during council meetings that a resolution was needed to combat companies like Monsanto (who helped write the FSMA). Mayor Jerry Nabours and Councilmember Jeff Oravits (who introduced the resolution) also made statements standing up for food freedom. In the end, the resolution died with only three of the seven council members willing to publicly support local food and small farms.
Now that the deadline for public comment on the Food Safety Modernization Act has arrived, people and groups across the political spectrum are waking up and sounding the alarm about the dangers of the FSMA. Better late than never. Last week Mother Jones published an excellent article titled 4 Foods That Could Disappear If New Food Safety Rules Pass. Will you miss your organic spinach and pickles? You can read the full article here:
The National Sustainable Agriculture Commission has also voiced major concerns on their website in an article titled Top 10 Reasons for Farmers, Consumers, and Organizers to Weigh in on Proposed Food Safety Rules. That article can be found here:
While the deadline to weigh in on the new FSMA regulations passes today, the fight for local, organic food and farms has just begun. Please do some research about how this law will impact you and let us find common ground and try to work together to protect food freedom in Flagstaff.
Disclaimer: The views represented in my blog are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the groups I work with.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
My weekly update is a little late this week but I have a good excuse. A large part of my week was spent focusing on Flagstaff Liberty Alliance’s Food Freedom Resolution which was a big issue at City Hall last Tuesday. For those who missed that story, you can find more details here:
Other stories I’ve been focused on this week:
California Nullifies The NDAA
Earlier this month California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB351, a bill that nullifies the indefinite detention section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill bans all State cooperation with Federal officials who try to indefinitely detain people without charges or a trial.
The California bill is very close to SB1182, a nullification law passed by the house and senate in Arizona and vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer. All I can say is that it’s a sad day when California understands basic Constitutional rights and Federal overstretch more than Arizona does. What is wrong with our Governor?
On a local note, Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits tried his best to get a resolution passed supporting the Arizona NDAA nullification bill. Not one other council member was willing to support it and it never moved forward. You can read more about that heroic effort here:
Speaking of California Governor Jerry Brown, this week he vetoed several tough anti gun bills saying they infringed on gun owner’s rights. If any of my readers live in California, you may want to send him a big thank you email.
Would An Article V Convention Open Pandora’s Box?
There has been a lot of hype recently about the possibility of an Article V Constitutional Convention where the states get together and add amendments to the United States Constitution. This effort received a big boost in August when Conservative talk show host Mark Levin published his newest book The Liberty Amendments.
So far, a Constitutional convention of the states has never occurred but a lot of different people are pushing for it for a lot of different reasons. Mark Levin to overturn Obamacare, fiscal conservatives to create a balanced budged amendment and Progressives to overturn Citizens United or clarify the 2nd Amendment.
It could potentially bring about good results but it could also destroy everything that is good about the Constitution.
I understand that it’s a Constitutional concept but I don’t trust the safeguards preventing a runaway convention. I don’t trust the people in power. I do trust the states more than Congress but do any of these guys have our best interests in mind? That’s the big question.
I’ve seen people I respect say that negative things won’t be allowed to get through in an article V convention because of procedural safeguards. As someone who has seen first hand how people in power cheat and don’t follow the rules and procedures, I don’t think counting on safeguards is a safe bet.
Arizona Congressional District 1 candidate Adam Kwasman is a big supporter of Mark Levin and an Article V Convention.
State Forces City To Move Election To November
The Arizona Legislature recently passed legislation that forces Cities across the state to break their charters and hold their City Council elections in November of even years.
The Arizona Daily Sun had a very interesting editorial last week suggesting that this election law change will cause local races to become more partisan. They could be on to something. Flagstaff’s currently registered “Independent” mayor is now listed as a Republican on the Coconino County Republican website.
March Against Monsanto Take Two
I was happy to be the official organizer of the Flagstaff March Against Monsanto event on October 12th in front of Flagstaff City Hall. We had about 30 people show up to wave signs and educate the public about the massive push by giant companies like Monsanto (with help from their friends in government) to control the world’s food supply.
Thanks to everyone who showed up and everyone who honked and waved as they drove by to show their support! It was also great to have local media stop by to photograph and report on the event.
A little video we put together for youtube. Have you subscribed to the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance Youtube channel yet?
Cronyism = Government Protecting Monsanto
By Elisha Dorfsmith
October 22, 2013 UPDATE: Reason Magazine published an article yesterday that pretty much sums up everything I tried to say in this post. In an article titled Better To Not Protest the NSA Than To Hold Hands With Libertarians, Says Progressive Scribbler they quote columnist Tom Watson who has this to say about an anti NSA protest that includes Libertarians:
“Yet my progressive friends would take the stage with the representatives of this political movement? Why? The loss is much greater than the gain. Organizers trade their own good names and reputations to stand alongside – and convey legitimacy to – a party that opposes communitarian participation in liberal society, and rejects the very role of government itself.”
Did you catch that? “Convey legitimacy” This is almost exactly what Dan Frazier said (see video below) at the Flagstaff City Council meeting where he opposed FLA’s food freedom resolution. These comments give validity to my statements below. This is about progressives refusing to work with anybody who is not in their club.
October 15, 2013 UPDATE: At tonight’s Flagstaff City Council meeting Councilmember Evans told Council that this blog is put out by the organization that presented the resolution. I’ve put a disclaimer in my blog many times in the past but I guess it’s time to post it again:
THIS BLOG IS MY OWN AND DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF FLAGSTAFF LIBERTY ALLIANCE.
Here is the post in it’s original form:
In an age of political polarization it is rare for people and groups to look for common ground with those who are not ideologically or politically connected to themselves. If by some strange chance people with different perspectives and backgrounds do start working together on an issue, those in power rush in to tear them apart and make sure they get back in their own neat little line on the far side of the field.
I have talked about this observation several times on my blog. I am disappointed to say that this spirit of divisiveness became very apparent just days before the October 8th Flagstaff City Council meeting where a food freedom resolution was discussed.
Those following along closely know that Flagstaff Liberty Alliance spent a full year reaching out to the community and collecting signatures in support of a statement from Council encouraging local food. Originally an ordinance was considered but ultimately the group decided that a non-binding resolution had a better chance of getting through council. FLA collected over 400 signatures from the public at farmer’s markets, First Friday Art Walk, the County Fair, Flagstaff Pride and many other events.
Councilmember Barotz will point out that some of the signatures were collected when we were working on an ordinance. Yes, some were but the only feedback I’ve received from people who signed the petitions early on is that they were disappointed that we switched to a resolution because a resolution would not go far enough.
The majority of the signatures were collected while we were promoting a resolution and we always had copies of the resolution for people to read before they signed. Just about everyone we talked to in the community supported the resolution…regardless of their political views or background.
Just some of the signatures FLA collected supporting the resolution (click to enlarge)
On Monday I excitedly announced on facebook and twitter that Friends of Flagstaff’s Future had endorsed our resolution on their website. Within hours, key individuals pulled the necessary strings to get Friends of Flagstaff’s Future to withdraw their endorsement and condemn the resolution.
Lisa Rayner calls the document a “Tea Party resolution” and “scam to banish all food safety regulations.” (click to enlarge)
Local activist Lisa Rayner (wife of former City Council Candidate Dan Frazier) led the charge on facebook to smear the Food Freedom Resolution by telling people it’s a tea party resolution and that it would work to repeal existing health and food safety laws for grocery stores and restaurants.
This is untrue and anyone who actually read the resolution knows that it only applied to people growing food for “themselves and their families”.
Fearful people who had never read the resolution for themselves responded with the expected knee jerk reaction and said oh, so that’s what this is all about.
The lies and misinformation spread like wildfire while leaders and those in power laughed behind the scenes. People who dedicate their lives to local food and gardens prepared to fight against a resolution supporting the very goals they work so hard for.
The disinformation continued at the Council meeting.
The head of the Flagstaff CSA and Local Market stood before Council and told them that her organization had never heard about or been contacted about the resolution until Monday when FLA President Cindy Dorfsmith called her to discuss it.
When I spoke to Council I pointed out that I had contacted the CSA a couple months ago and received a very positive response. Here’s the screenshot I mentioned when I spoke at the meeting (click to enlarge):
Even before August, I contacted as many local food groups in the Community as I could find to let them know a resolution was being worked on. The Resolution has been on the City Council agenda several times. The Flagstaff Sustainability Commission unanimously endorsed it and this information was made public. Local food organizations were very aware that this was coming together. To say they had no idea that the resolution existed and were never contacted about it is completely false.
Former Flagstaff City Council Candidate Dan Frazier (husband of former Friends of Flagstaff’s Future board member Lisa Rayner) had the most telling comments of the night though. His uncontrollable hate for people who do not think exactly like he does filled the room as he ranted about Flagstaff Liberty Alliance not being a group that should be given a voice:
“I prefer Coral Evans’ version myself, mainly because it comes from Coral Evans. I do feel that we must look at the source of any resolution or ordinance for that matter that comes before the Council. This group that is bringing this to you tonight is not a food group, this is a rights group. And so let’s say for instance, I don’t really know much about this group that we’re talking about here tonight, I’ve heard that they might have some tea party like affiliations, and based on the wording of the resolution that focuses on rights, I feel that that could have some truth to it though I don’t know that.
But I think we have to consider where an ordinance or a resolution is coming from. If I came to you tonight wearing a hood and said there should be rights to grow your own food and that should supersede any rules on the books you might well wonder if I was proposing that I use slaves to grow food in my back yard and I think that might be a valid thing to think about and to wonder.
I think this is a Trojan horse and that this group is bringing to you a rather meaningless resolution. They might as well say let’s all resolve that Flagstaff is beautiful and the sky is blue and if you pass that and if you agree to that you are giving that group some voice, some power and I question whether or not we really want to do that.”
Ahhh, I get it Mr Frazier. It’s not really the text of the document that bothers you. It’s the fact that it comes from a group that is not your own. The fact that it wasn’t your idea. The fact that it came from somewhere other than your far side of the field. Even if you agree with the ideas you won’t support it. In a few words you spoke volumes!
UPDATE: here’s the youtube video of Dan Frazier speaking to the council last night.
The link below has the entire video of last night’s council meeting. Click on item 6. Dan Frazier’s comments start at 46:10:
Mr Frazier has very close ties to Councilmember Barotz and Councilmember Evans but I’m sure we’ll never hear them condemn his slanderous and hate filled statements for people who are different from him.
There was not enough support at last night’s Council meeting to move any version of the resolution forward. A new resolution will be drafted by different groups in the community and who knows what it will look like in the end. Hopefully it still contains the spirit of the resolution Flagstaff Liberty Alliance proposed.
Below is the updated text of the resolution Flagstaff Liberty Alliance proposed last night. Keep in mind that Councilmember Barotz, Councilmember Evans and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future fought viciously against this text. What could they possibly have against it?
A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS TO GROW AND CONSUME THEIR OWN FOOD
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Flagstaff historically have maintained and enjoyed the right to raise food for themselves and their families; and
WHEREAS, family farms, community gardens, sustainable agricultural practices and food processing by individuals, families and small, locally based firms offer stability to our City by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community; and
WHEREAS, as part of the right to raise food for themselves and their families, the people have and maintain the right to raise such food on their own land, subject to applicable laws, to contract with others to rent sufficient land for the growing of that food, for boarding their poultry and livestock, and for hiring services related to its care, maintenance, raising, and harvesting; and
WHEREAS, in the interests of a vibrant local economy, it is important that the rights outlined above be maintained and that City officials encourage a healthy and environmentally friendly form of small scale agriculture.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Flagstaff City Council supports, endorses, and encourages the recognition of the right and freedom of people to raise their own food, including food derived from agricultural animals, for the enjoyment of themselves and their families, either by their own investment and labor or through the assistance of others and consistent with the law.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Flagstaff City Council supports laws that support and encourage people to continue the activities of raising food for themselves and their families.
Before I wrap this post up I want to thank Mayor Nabours, Councilmember Oravits and Councilmember Brewster for being very positive and open to this resolution. The three of them have acted in a very professional manner throughout this entire process.
Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, Councilmember Barotz, Councilmember Evans and other obstructionists fought hard to ensure that the local food resolution would NOT pass.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last week was a big week for media appearances by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance members and supporters. The requests for interviews and guest host opportunities have come from all over in recent weeks and we’re very excited to have the chance to get our message out to a wider audience.
On September 17, Travis Estes of Flagstaff Liberty Alliance joined Ryan Oler and Jeff Oravits on Flag Mornings (93.5 FM) to discuss a variety of topics from a liberty perspective including our food freedom resolution, the Flagstaff Regional Plan and war with Syria.
Travis was also able to debate HB2305 and third party ballot access with Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe who voted for the bill.
On September 18 I was invited to the NAZ Today studio to discuss local opposition to war with Syria and how people can get involved and promote non-interventionism. I was joined by Paul Lenze from the Politics & International Affairs department at NAU. Video of this discussion should be available soon.
The Joe Harting Show
Thanks to local activist Don Peavey for giving a shout out to Flagstaff Liberty Alliance while co-hosting the Joe Harting Show on the Big Talker on September 20. Don also promoted our food freedom resolution and asked people to look into it and support it.
Our food freedom fesolution should be revisited again by the Flagstaff City Council in early October (probably October 8). I’ll post more about that once I have a date confirmed.
Subscribe To The Flag Liberty Youtube Channel
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance plans to start activly uploading videos on liberty topics to the Flag Liberty Youtube channel. Please consider subscribing to the channel and sharing the videos to help us reach the maximum amount of people possible. Educating and informing the public is our biggest priority and we need your help to get the word out. You can find the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance Youtube channel here:
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”
“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:
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:
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).