Thursday, December 18, 2014

Michelle Bachmann Transitions

GOP legend quits Congress with message for America
'I don't know who's happier to see me leave, Pelosi or Boehner' by Garth Kant  
WASHINGTON – The congresswoman stood reverently in front of the painting on the office wall opposite her desk, staring intently with hands clasped tightly behind her back, plaintively confiding she just wished she knew what God wanted her to do next with her life.
It was hard to tell if she was addressing God or the only other person in the room. Or, perhaps, it was a supplication to those in the painting, the kneeling Founding Fathers in Harris Tompkins Mattheson’s “The First Prayer in Congress, September 1774.”
She was gently reminded how even Washington “had to make a strategic retreat during the Revolutionary War, many times.” She kept staring into the distance, silently.
Just a few days earlier, on May 29, 2013, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., had shocked Washington, D.C., by unexpectedly announcing her intention to retire from Congress at the end of her term.
The scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill was the leaders of the GOP establishment had had enough of her as a thorn in their side and would not lift a finger to help her in what promised to be an expensive and grueling campaign. Democrats, according to Politico, put her “at the top of their target list after she barely survived re-election.” There was also a pending ethics investigation into her campaign finances that another conservative congressman confided to WND was not her fault but the result of “trusting the wrong people.”
Recapturing the support of Minnesotans may have seemed a daunting prospect, but to millions of Americans across the nation, the housewife who went to Washington had become an inspiration. She was a conservative champion seen as a deeply principled constitutionalist who dared speak truth to power, especially to those in her own party.
And a year-and-a-half after gazing into that painting, Bachmann seemed to have found her answer. “I’m not done. I’m just going to change arenas now. Instead of holding elective office, now I’ll be fighting from the outside,” a jubilant Bachmann recently told WND in a wide-ranging interview looking back on her storied career and eight years in Congress, where she left an impression like few others before her.
Bachmann plans to continue her mission to make America a better place from outside the beltway by writing, speaking across the country at different venues, appearing on media and associating with various groups.
“I think what I am more proud of than anything is the fact that I was a real person when I came into Congress eight years ago. I am still the same real person today. I had no filter over what I said or what I did.”
Bachmann reminisced how, before coming to Washington, as a wife and a mom in the kitchen listening to Rush Limbaugh and other people that she admired on the radio, she remembered thinking: “What is wrong with those bird-brains in Congress? Why don’t they do what they said they were going to do when we send them there?’”
The Minnesotan said she was not political back then but thought if she ever went to Congress, that’s exactly what she would do. And did she ever.
However, WND wondered, was there anything she felt free to say now that she was leaving office? “Me?! Are you kidding?” she instantly shot back, then laughed deeply. “I’ve never had a filter on my mouth at all! No, I was very free. And that’s what got me into trouble all the time. I don’t know who’s happier to see me leave Congress, Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner.”
But it was all worth it, she said. “I mean, I rolled the dice and I gave it everything I had. I have worked like a maniac for the eight years that I’ve been here. When my feet hit the ground in the morning, I worked. I worked until I’d go to sleep. And I think that’s what I am proudest of, because I put everything on the line. … I couldn’t have worked harder.”
Still, Bachmann has paid a price for her outspokenness, enduring harsh criticism and sometimes ridicule from the establishment media and others on the left. WND asked if she knew why she had become such a lightning rod.
“Well, telling the truth bothers them. They don’t like to have the truth told about them. And that’s really what it is. I didn’t fear the left. I decided to take them on in the arena of ideas by attacking their false premises and their false narratives,” she said.
“They like to spin these false stories and false myths, and they like to make all these promises, for instance, with Obamacare. Everyone knows the biggest lie of the year was when President Obama famously said, ‘If you like your doctor, you can keep him. And you’re all going to save $2,500 on your health-insurance premium.’”
The congresswoman recalled she “was at the tip of the spear” leading the charge against the adoption of Obamacare in Congress. She went on countless radio shows and TV shows along with speaking to print and Internet media to explain the negative repercussions of Congress adopting the health-care law.
“It’s socialized medicine, let’s face it,” she said. “You can’t find any instance in the world where it’s worked particularly well. Certainly not in a great country of 330 million people.”
Bachmann said the left hated whatever got in the way of its success.
“I took them on, and their agenda, and I went to the heart of whatever it was they wanted to advance, and tried to take it apart through evidence-based arguments, and they don’t like that. When the left argues, they argue from emotionalism.”
Bachmann contended that the left does not argue from a logical, linear point of view. So, she took on what she called leftists’ false premises and said providing evidence contrary to their views was the best way to defeat them.
She suggested the left couldn’t counter her facts, so it attacked her.
“I did that, and you do pay a price. I became a target for them, but so what? Why else am I here?” she asked. “I was here to advance the cause of liberty and freedom, and I am glad that I did what I did. It does come at a price.”
It may be ironic that Bachmann refuses to call herself a feminist, because the 2012 presidential candidate so embodies the very independent spirit and assertiveness supposedly enshrined by the women’s liberation movement. But she appeared to acknowledge it can be challenging to be a conservative woman on Capitol Hill.
“The Republican Party always gets a bad rap, because there are not as many women in elective office. But it’s a tough business. It is public humiliation, public ridicule, constant criticism, when you’re in public office, if you take on the left.”
While stressing she was not casting aspersions on anyone who arrived in Washington with a different approach, Bachmann was adamant: “If you come here and decide to be a wallflower and park yourself and be as quiet as you can possibly be and go along to get along, you’re not going to have a lot of negative repercussions, but that isn’t why I came here.”
WND asked, other than staying true to herself, if she was proud of any particular accomplishments or movements she had supported.
She immediately mentioned the tea-party movement, which she called completely misunderstood but very simple. “We believe that individuals are taxed enough already. They don’t need to be taxed anymore. We also believe that government shouldn’t spend more than what it brings in. Balance your budget like any normal human being in business would do. And number three, we think that government should have to follow the rules it makes.”
Bachmann said the tea party merely wants what Democrats, Republicans and “any normal human being” should want: to live under the Constitution. But that was not happening under Obama.
WND said that all sounded very Jeffersonian, so why should it be so controversial? Without answering directly, she implied it was not controversial; it was the will of the people.
“It is the ideal that prevailed at the ballot box this last November. People do think they are taxed enough. They do think the government should balance its budget. And they certainly don’t want the president breaking the law. That’s what won in all of these resounding elections.
“So, the tea party, I think, is a very important movement. People still believe in Second Amendment rights, people still believe in upholding the rights of the unborn, a number of us still continue to contend for traditional marriage between one man and one woman,” she said.
“These are all important values. And I think that is part of the lamp that I tried to carry. To continue the values that brought us up to be the greatest country in the world in all of human history.”
Any regrets? “Oh, sure,” Bachmann readily acknowledged. “Obviously, I wish I would have said things differently sometimes than what I said. But, if you’re married, you know, you feel that way every day. You say things that you shouldn’t say. I don’t regret for a minute that I fought and I contended. I wish I would’ve been better, but I always tried. I learned. One thing I did was I learned, and I tried to do better all the time.”
Bachmann also wished she would have gone on the Foreign Affairs Committee earlier, because she didn’t realize how much she would love the realm of dealing with foreign policy, national security, military and intelligence matters.
“I just love that area, and I see how seminal the United States is in this leadership capacity. That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year, particularly, traveling around the world and meeting with heads of state on these very important issues, because I am very concerned, and I believe the president is taking us down the wrong road.”
Which wrong road?
“I believe, with the president’s current policies, we will see a nuclear Iran very soon. That will change the course of history negatively, both for the United States and for Israel. And so I’m going to continue to contend against a nuclear Iran.
“The goals of Islamic jihad must be defeated. We have the capacity to do that. We are lacking the political will. And I wish I would have gotten involved far earlier in that arena so I could have devoted more time to it.”
WND asked Bachmann if she had a parting message for America. Her reply was both personal and political.
“We need to recognize and appreciate and value how great this gift is that God has given to us. What he has blessed is our following of his principles and his precepts. If you read the Old Testament, over and over and over, the writers state that we should follow his precepts and principles.
“Not in a legalistic sense. But because, out of following his principles and obedience, there’s a wisdom. Our lives work better. Our nation works better.”
Bachmann asserted the more that we know our God, the more we are blessed as individuals and the more the nation is blessed, as well.
Calling herself “a very imperfect person” and “a big sinner,” she nonetheless expressed gratitude “for a holy God who died for me and who made the way for me to spend eternity in heaven with him.”
“And that gift is available to all. God is not partial. What he does for one he does for all. And because his son was sent to die on the cross and take away our sins, every man can know the father,” she said.
“And every man, and woman, can know eternal salvation. And that’s my prayer for every person: They come to know him. That’s how our society functions even better.”
Bachmann said an adherence to biblical principles is an essential component of American greatness, as well as personal redemption.
“And so I just pray that more people come to faith in our nation. And walk out their faith. Again, I am a very imperfect person. But that’s what faith does, it helps us in our imperfection to be more like [God].”

Derivatives Bailout Ahead

Congress Empowers Banks to Gamble with Deposits
Everyone knows that the 2008 Global Economic Collapse was caused primarily by banks’ unregulated casino-style gambling.  Instead of blackjack and slots, the banks bet massively on financial derivatives known as a “credit default swaps,” which Warren Buffett famously called “weapons of financial mass destruction.”  Now, Congress has just passed a new spending bill that allows banks to once again use your deposited money to bet on these highly-risky derivatives. The criminal banks have already bet massively on these toxic swaps, to the tune of over $30 TRILLION – 8 times the budget of the United States Government and more than the entire value of the U.S. stock market!  And now that Congress has reopened the casino doors -- and the banks can now use YOUR deposited money as bankroll -- experts predict the coming explosion of financial WMDs will take down the global economy worse than we’ve ever seen.  And there’s only ONE THING you can do to protect yourself.
Big Banks Gamble with YOUR Money
Credit default swaps were invented by banking conglomerate JP Morgan in 1994.  Simply put, a credit default swap is an unregulated type of insurance policy against loans going bad.  So as banks wrote millions of dangerous loans during the housing bubble, they made an unbelievable fortune selling insurance policies – swaps – on those loans.
But there’s one HUGE problem:  When you sell insurance policies, you better hope that most buyers don’t need to collect on them.  It’s just like earthquake insurance:  as long as there’s no earthquake, insurance companies make a fortune on earthquake insurance.  But as soon as there’s a massive earthquake, insurance companies suddenly go out of business and homeowners are left holding the bag.  This is exactly why Warren Buffet called swaps financial WMDs – because they are as destructive as an atomic bomb.
And here’s what happened:  When the housing bubble burst and millions of loans when bad, banks were suddenly on the hook to pay the swap-buyers hundreds of billions of dollars.  And just like earthquake insurers, they didn’t have the money to pay them.
What’s worse, other financial institutions had all kinds of counterparty arrangements with these massive banks, so the whole entire system fell like a house of cards.  And you, the American taxpayer, spent trillions of dollars to bail out the “Too Big to Fail” criminal banks.  But not before the entire global economy collapsed during the 2008 crisis, costing average Americans trillions in their investments and retirement accounts.
History Is About to Repeat Itself – Only Worse
The scary truth is, nothing has changed.  Regulations were put in place after 2008 to prevent banks from using your deposits in risky derivative trading, but now Congress has removed these regulations and given the green light to banks to gamble with your money.  Already, things are now MUCH worse than in 2008, despite Buffett’s warning.  After YOU bailed out the banks and not a single banker was put in jail, the largely unregulated credit default swap market has grown to a staggering $30 TRILLION!  And it's about to get a whole lot bigger now that banks can get their paws on YOUR money.

Suicidal Government Acts

Obamacare - So, 9.1 million are signing up for Obamacare.  That’s 2.9% of the US population.  This all started with the obligatory Congressional “parade of victims”, who lost their insurance.   For this we get half the number of part-time minimum wage jobs we need to compete with tens of millions of new immigrants.

Unemployment - The government now only reports those who file for unemployment compensation, about 7%, but 92 million working are Americans are without work; that gives us a real unemployment number of 25% to 37%.

Inflation – the government now only reports part of the increase in the Consumer Price Index, less than 3% per year, but real inflation has been running around 10% for the past few years.

GDP – Since 1983 the US GDP doubled from $7 trillion to over $14 trillion in 2005, but real inflation ate up all of it.  The GDP is reported to be over $16 trillion for 2014, but I no longer trust government numbers.

Immigration – Legal immigration doubled in 1989 from 500,000 a year to over 1,000,000 a year and deposited 40 million new job seekers in the US over the past 25 years.

Illegal Immigration – This has remained at 12 million to 20 million since the 1970s, but is expected to increase by another 10 million a year over the next few years.

Refugee Immigration – this is expected to deliver another 70 million Muslims from the Middle East over the next few years.

National Debt – This has quadrupled from $5 trillion in 2000 to almost $20 trillion by 2016.  Interest rates are expected to rise in 2015.  The federal government is technically bankrupt.

Money Printing – The Federal Reserve has increased the money supply by 450% over the past few years, but is now unable to purchase Treasury Bonds.  The Federal Reserve is technically bankrupt.

Deficit Spending – The federal government will soon be unable to spend more than it takes in revenue.

Electricity Cost Inflation – Unnecessary carbon capture required by the global warming hoax and UN Agenda 21 will increase our electricity costs by 500% unless we stop the EPA now.

The UN – They want our land, our water and our destruction as a sovereign nation.  They want our borders open and our foreign aid secured.  We need to quit the UN and get out of this mess.

The secret Trans-Pacific Trade treaty destroys US sovereignty by empowering a global court to impose binding rulings in trade cases.

The last G-20 meeting and the last Spending Bill puts US citizens on the hook to bail out Hedge Fund losses for the 30 global banks. This could easily cost another $7 trillion based on the $700 trillion tied up in derivatives.

The federal government has been bribing state governments with grants to states amounting to an average of $30 billion additional dollars a year for the past several years.  Our state governments need to reduce these bribes as quickly as possible starting with Common Core extraction.

Unconstitutional Acts – The federal government has gone “over the top” with unconstitutional laws and regulations. 

The answer to these problems rests with state legislatures’ unwillingness to assert state sovereignty and nullify unconstitutional federal laws and regulations.  If they would do this, we could eliminate Amnesty, Obamacare, Common Core, EPA regulations and a host of other threats.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Dump Boehner

'Unprecedented': Americans race to dump Boehner 'I've never seen anything quite like this'
WASHINGTON – When John Boehner reconvenes the House of Representatives next month, he’s going to have some mail. So will every other Republican member. Boehner won’t like his. How the other Republican members respond to the tens of thousands of letters they get will determine whether Boehner will remain as speaker.
The Dump Boehner Campaign, a project designed by Joseph Farah, founder of, is off to a blazing start. Within minutes of its announcement Monday evening, thousands of letters calling on Republican House members to find another leader were already being generated.
In less than 24 hours, orders for nearly 200,000 letters to Republican members of the House were placed, rivaling the launch of the historic “pink slips” campaign of 2010.
“The response has been unprecedented, amazing and gratifying,” said Farah. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this since our historic ‘Pink Slip Campaign’ that ultimately generated more than 9 and a half million letters in 2010. Americans are angry about Boehner’s betrayal of the voters who gave him a bigger majority in the House and Republicans control of the Senate. This could prove to be Boehner’s undoing.”
That depends, of course, on how 246 House Republicans react to the outpouring of letters generated by the campaign – letters individually addressed to each member and personalized with the sender’s name and delivered to congressional offices by FedEx.
“We saw the same thing in 2010,” recalled Farah. “People were angry then. They may be angrier now. It is as if elections have no consequences when Republicans vote.”
A sampling of just how upset people are has been posted online, with abundant promises of “I’m in,” and “Do it.”
The plan had been announced only a day before, with Farah writing that the most effective method of reaching out to Congress is individual letters to members. His plan facilitates that.
His program allows people to send all those letters, with their own names and addresses, all for the one price of $29.95 via FedEx.
He added, “From previous campaigns we know this approach prompts members to talk about the boxes of letters that are coming into their offices each day. And that’s exactly what we want to do with the DUMP BOEHNER CAMPAIGN – a grass-roots lobbying effort that can channel your outrage into effective and meaningful action.”
He said what can be guaranteed is that members “will see, hear and feel your participation in it.”

You can order your letters sent today, and they will be ready for delivery when the new Congress reconvenes in January. It would be great to see thousands or, better yet, tens of thousands flooding in that first week. That will make an impression that cannot be ignored by Republican members of the House,” he explained.
“I’m excited. Now it’s up to you. I’ve already ordered my letters. I’ve even secured the domain names and for social media dissemination. Tell your friends,” he wrote.
The letter explains to members of the U.S. House that two issues have “prompted Americans to turn in droves to the Republican Party in November 2014 – Barack Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional executive action to provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, and the deliberately deceptive restructuring of America’s health-care system through Obamacare, which threatens to unravel the greatest health delivery system in the world.”
Pointing out that Republicans before the election “solemnly vowed to STOP this lame-duck president,” the letter continues, “Now you have the power, right and duty to stop him.”
“But it won’t happen with John Boehner leading you. You know this to be true. The trillion-dollar budget deal is just the latest proof that Boehner is not capable of leading the House to victory during this critical period.”
It calls on members to replace him.
The campaign notes that the political state in America is worse than any time since the Civil War, with a broken economy, piled up national debt, abuse of executive power, the judiciary out of control and the moral framework under attack.
But, the campaign explains, “the American people have demonstrated twice in four years that they realize something has gone awry – overwhelmingly voting for the Republican Party in two midterm elections because it clearly campaigned on returning to first principles.”
Only to be betrayed by Republican leaders.
The campaign is, it explains, the way to get hard-copy letters to every Republican in the House of Representatives.
I saved the $29 and sent my own “Dump Boehner” email to my Congressman.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

The Real Story of Underground Atlanta

by Larry Savage
See AJC, "New Era for Iconic Mall" First, a little commentary from my historical perspective:
Iconic in more ways than the article explains. It's an iconic failure of government planners.
Underground Atlanta as an entertainment district sprang to life almost spontaneously in late '60s, early '70s, Nightclubs, bars, restaurants, binge drinking, music, whatever. I don't think anyone actually "owned" it as the various storefronts were each part of an existing building with disparate owners. It was fun and exciting, also dirty and old, with authentic patina. It was like New Orleans' French Quarter, only cheaper and better and more fun. But then the hoodlums began to creep closer and there were some 'incidents'. The shopkeepers told the City they needed better security. The City suggested they hire some security people, but disavowed any City responsibility for security over "private property", although the streets of UA were City streets.
In the end the area collected a rep as 'unsafe' and began to devolve.
The City belatedly discovered UA had become a 'must see' tourist destination. (How could that happen without the City promoting it? Shocking.)
So, the City decided to re-develop Underground Atlanta and hired professional urban planners. The professionals designed UA as a family oriented shopping mall. The City bought the idea and set out to redevelop the area, using eminent domain to acquire the property. That's the origin of the court cases known as Nations I & Nations II in which public bond financing was challenged, setting the pattern for years to come for revenue bond deals. The bond issue for redeveloping Underground Atlanta was $80 million in 1986. This deal to sell Underground Atlanta in 2014 is for $25.75 million.
The Underground Atlanta produced by the professional planners and the City was never exciting and never fun. Despite all predictions, it failed. The riots may have induced failure earlier, but it was slipping downhill before anyone ever heard of Rodney King.
Score card for Underground Atlanta:
Effectiveness as entertainment complex based on serendipity and entrepreneurs:     200%
Management by City of Atlanta, beginning to date:   0.
Effectiveness of design by urban planners:               0.
Source: Larry Savage, Cobb County

Underground Atlanta Sold

New era for iconic mall S.C. developer under contract to purchase troubled property,by Katie Leslie  


Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is expected to announce today that a South Carolina developer is under contract to purchase Underground Atlanta, one of the city’s most iconic yet troubled properties.

Development firm WRS Inc. will pay $25.75 million for the downtown shopping mall and convert it into a mixed-use development with a grocery store and above-ground apartments, firm president and CEO T. Scott Smith has confirmed.

It’s the city’s latest attempt to overhaul a 12-acre property that has long vexed Atlanta’s leaders.

A late-1980s makeover that attempted to turn the land into a destination shopping mall for suburbanites and tourists sparked but quickly fizzled out. In recent years, the property has become a financial albatross for city leaders and a punchline for locals, who at different times in history have revered and reviled the downtown center.

Smith said that he expects to close on the deal in mid-2015 and hopes to begin construction by 2016. Reed is expected to give additional details about the deal in a press conference.

Smith, whose work in the Southeast has largely consisted of suburban commercial development, said he was attracted to Underground because of its proximity to MARTA’s Five Points station, Georgia State University, new development and government offices filled with potential customers and tenants.

He believes the scale of his project will give Atlantans reason to give the notorious property a second look.

“We think that we can change a part of downtown Atlanta that badly needs to be changed, and we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be successful,” he said.

Smith said he’s still in talks with a residential development partner and estimates a total investment of $150 million to $200 million in the project. Smith said he hasn’t yet determined the number of residential units he plans to bring to the site.

The pending sale comes nine months after Reed announced plans to sell Underground. The mayor has pushed the sale of several city parcels this year, including The Boisfeuillet Jones Civic Center.

Shedding Underground, with its $8 million annual financial burden on the city, is critical to Reed’s plans to free up millions to help fund the debt service on an anticipated infrastructure bond worth up to $250 million.

The mayor has also said revamping the struggling downtown mall is a key part of revitalizing downtown Atlanta.

Smith’s project comes amid a flurry of development in the corridor. Just last month, Invest Atlanta approved giving $4.4 million in public money to help Post Properties build a 407-unit mixed-use housing complex worth $85 million near Centennial Olympic Park. City leaders are also betting on the new $1.4 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium, the Atlanta Streetcar project and new museums to draw residents back into the heart of the city.

But remaking Underground Atlanta could pose the biggest downtown development challenge yet, and not just for its complicated multi-tiered structure.

The property has undergone large-scale changes during the past five decades, each attempting to bring back the popularity it enjoyed in the 1970s as a hub for Atlanta nightlife.

“It has been a troubled project from Day One,” said Michael Dobbins, a Georgia Tech architecture professor and former Atlanta planning commissioner.

Underground was born as a bar and entertainment district in 1969, but after a brief heyday, it went dormant. Under Mayor Andrew Young, the city worked with noted developer Rouse Company to turn Underground into a destination shopping mall in the late 1980s.

The new Underground opened to rave reviews, but its success quickly evaporated.

Rioters smashed windows in the wake of 1992 verdict in the Rodney King beating, damaging shoppers’ perceptions of the mall. The Olympics helped pump up foot traffic, but that momentum couldn’t be sustained. New development has since largely traveled north to Centennial Park and CNN Center — a move epitomized by the departure of World of Coca-Cola in 2007 — taking tourists with it.

While some tourists can still be found wandering the site, locals rarely go to Underground outside of the annual Peach Drop on New Year’s Eve.

Smith said he’s well aware of the stigma.

“A lot of the people we’ve talked to around Atlanta have said to us: ‘Guys, you need to be careful.’ ... But I can remember when Midtown was thought of in the same context,” he said.

He believes the property’s size will enable a large enough redevelopment project to have dramatic impact.

Where the 1980s vision called for Underground to be a tourist draw, WRS’ vision for the site is more of a self-sustained community.

Smith said his group plans to keep the historical facade — and name — of the Underground below street level.

The retail, including a grocer, will be designed to fit the needs of the residents and thousands of nearby state and local government employees.

Smith said the firm hasn’t yet branded the future apartment development.

WRS hopes to retain existing vendors but expand on the shopping center’s offerings with new retailers, Smith said.

“We don’t know exactly everyone that will come there yet,” he said. “What we do know is that people have no problem coming somewhere that is redeveloped very nicely.”

Post 2 At-Large Councilwoman Mary Norwood said on Tuesday that Reed and the council made the right decision in March to buy out the rights of CV Underground, which manages the site, and sell the property.

“I think the evolution of downtown makes this the perfect time for mixed-use development that is broader than the Underground of the 1970s that many of us knew,” she said.


Source: AJC 12/17/14,

By Katie Leslie  Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this article.




Not reported was the fact that the re-do of Underground Atlanta cost was an $80 million bond. If it was a 30 year bond at 5% interest, the total cost would have been $160 million. Now, it’s selling for $25.75 million. Tax subsidized urban redevelopment typically loses money better spent fixing the pot holes and sewer and water system.


Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Federal Water Seizure

A vast land grab to ‘protect’ water Posted on December 17, 2014 Written by William Perry Pendley, ANALYSIS/OPINION

In Novem­ber, com­ments closed on a pro­posal by the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers to rede­fine “waters of the United States,” as set forth in the Clean Water Act of 1977. While Sen. Edmund Muskie, Maine Demo­c­rat, author of the 1977 law, required 88 pages for his entire statute, this spring’s Fed­eral Reg­is­ter notice ran 370 pages, not count­ing appen­dixes, one of which hit 300 pages alone. Lit­tle won­der the new “wet­land” rules have gen­er­ated con­tro­versy and a likely Supreme Court case.

Over the years, the EPA and the Corps of Engi­neers read “waters of the United States,” and hence their author­ity to reg­u­late pri­vate prop­erty, both broadly and ambigu­ously. Unfor­tu­nately for landown­ers in their crosshairs, their inter­pre­ta­tion is rem­i­nis­cent of Jus­tice Pot­ter Stewart’s views regard­ing hard-core pornog­ra­phy, “I know it when I see it.” Worse yet, such a sight­ing is fol­lowed by a cease-and-desist order vio­la­tion of which results in fines of tens of thou­sands of dol­lars a day, and dou­ble that if the vio­la­tion is “will­ful.” Worst of all, landown­ers could not chal­lenge those orders because they remained “unen­forced” until violated.

For exam­ple, when the EPA declared arid lands owned by Dr. Larry Squires of Hobbs, New Mex­ico, “waters of the United States” because birds landed in ponds cre­ated by spo­radic heavy rains, Dr. Squires chal­lenged the order; but, his law­suit was dis­missed as untimely. A fed­eral appeals court ruled his inabil­ity to ques­tion whether his lands were “wet­lands” with­out pay­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in fines or going to jail was not “con­sti­tu­tion­ally intol­er­a­ble” given that it would “under­mine the EPA’s reg­u­la­tory author­ity.” For­tu­nately, in 2012, the Supreme Court unan­i­mously ended this abuse in a law­suit by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Nonethe­less, tar­geted landown­ers did reach the Supreme Court. In 1985, decid­ing at which point “water ends and land begins,” the Court upheld a def­i­n­i­tion that included wet­lands that “actu­ally abut on” tra­di­tional nav­i­ga­ble waters. In 2001, the Court held that “non-navigable, iso­lated, intrastate waters,” even those used by migra­tory birds (remem­ber Dr. Squires) were not within the Clean Water Act.

In 2006, rul­ing on whether the Clean Water Act included intrastate wet­lands adja­cent to non-navigable trib­u­taries of nav­i­ga­ble waters, the Supreme Court vacated the rules of the Army Corps of Engi­neers. On behalf of a four-member plu­ral­ity, Jus­tice Antonin Scalia required “con­tin­u­ous sur­face con­nec­tion to bod­ies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right,” but Jus­tice Anthony M. Kennedy, while con­cur­ring in strik­ing down the rules, demanded “a ‘sig­nif­i­cant nexus’ to waters that are or were nav­i­ga­ble in fact or that could rea­son­ably be so made.”

In 2007, the EPA and the Corps of Engi­neers responded to the court’s rul­ings and in late 2008, after the receipt of 66,000 com­ments, issued new guid­ance on iden­ti­fy­ing “waters of the United States.” Then, in 2011, the two agen­cies pro­posed guid­ance that expanded sig­nif­i­cantly the reach of the Clean Water Act, includ­ing over ver­nal pools, prairie pot­holes, nat­ural ponds and playa lakes. In response to 230,000 com­ments, many of which demanded a for­mal rule-making, the agen­cies issued that pro­posal in April.

Liv­ing up to its rep­u­ta­tion for cre­at­ing, as lib­eral law pro­fes­sor Jonathan Tur­ley put it, “a con­sti­tu­tional tip­ping point,” the Obama administration’s new rules con­sti­tute a his­toric land grab. Con­trary to Jus­tice Kennedy’s instruc­tion, the rules: extend to all waters (not just wet­lands) and all waters adja­cent to non-navigable inter­state waters; cre­ate a juris­dic­tional con­cept “sim­i­larly sit­u­ated waters” by mis­quot­ing the jus­tice; and ignore his demand that an agency “estab­lish nexus on a case-by-case basis when it seeks to reg­u­late wet­lands based on adja­cency to non-navigable tributaries.”

Worse yet, in vio­la­tion of the Constitution’s com­merce clause, they assert author­ity over waters that are nei­ther instru­men­tal­i­ties nor chan­nels of inter­state com­merce and that do not sub­stan­tially affect inter­state commerce.

Over its past six years, the Supreme Court has ruled unan­i­mously against the Obama administration’s posi­tion on 20 occa­sions. These new wet­land rules may make 21.

• William Perry Pend­ley, a lawyer, is pres­i­dent of Moun­tain States Legal Foun­da­tion in Denver

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