Monday, September 29, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County,
119 Winnebago Street
Decorah, Iowa 52101
September 19, 2014
Dear Supervisors Ashbacher, Karlsbroten, Kuhn, Logsdon and Thompson,
On Monday, September 29, the Community Rights Alliance will be on the morning agenda. We want to share specific information with you regarding a community rights based ordinance used to ban fracing in Mora County, New Mexico.
In order to provide you with the fullest possible understanding of what that county did, we have invited John Olivas, chairperson of the Mora County Board of Commission to share during our presentation.
As way of background regarding what the Mora County commission did I am enclosing a copy of the statement Mr. Olivas released last March. It is challenging and powerful. I hope you will have the opportunity to read the statement before the meeting.
The need to utilize our constitutional rights to defend and protect our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness is never more apparent than in this time of corporate control of the direction and decisions currently being made across this county. It is our time to say, “Yes!” to local decision-making and direction setting.
We are citizens concerned with keeping the geologic uniqueness of our county unencumbered by industrial removal of it. We stand and ask you, the supervisors, to take the steps necessary to prevent frac sand extraction from being permitted in our county.
for the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County
Monday, September 22, 2014
When the Winneshiek County BoS voted unanimously to deny a permit from Millenium Ag Corporation to expand a factory hog confinement operation, the Iowa DNR and EPC ruled to…
a. support the decision of Winneshiek County citizens and deny the permit
b. approve the permit because current law gives more rights to corporations than it does to community majorities
c. approve the permit because they think Winneshiek County citizens are misguided
b. approve the permit because current law gives more rights to corporations that it does to community majorities
Saturday, September 20, 2014
[This is the 2nd in a series of letters to the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors from the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County. The purpose of these letters is to clearly illustrate a popular stance on frac sand mining in our county, while further articulating the legal and historical implications of the Community Rights approach to county law-making.]
To the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors:
The Board of Supervisors has stated that Iowa is a Home Rule state. While this is true, currently there are no counties with a Home Rule charter, and only 4 cities. Moreover, the Home Rule amendment to the Iowa Constitution does not guarantee our protection. Indeed, it leaves us extremely vulnerable to the whims of our state legislators.
“The home rule amendments of the Iowa Constitution give cities and counties authority to determine their own local affairs and government in a manner which is not inconsistent with state statute” [emphasis added]
Some people, including Board members, have commented that we do not need to worry about state preemption of our local frac sand legislation. Others of us, meanwhile, feel it would be risky to dismiss this very significant and possible scenario. It is a fact that one preemptive state law regarding industrial silica sand extraction could weaken or nullify any strict regulations our county may think to impose.
This key caveat of state preemption is easily demonstrated by looking at our county’s recent experience with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Commission both ruled unanimously in 2013 that the rights of Millenium Ag corporation to expand its hog confinement operation outweigh our right to self-government. The egregious disregard of our local decision-making by the state departments that exist to protect our natural environment was based on the following precept:
“An ordinance is inconsistent with the state statute when the ordinance prohibits an act permitted by a statute or permits an act prohibited by a statute.” (City of Council Bluffs v. Cain, Iowa 1983. Quoted in Crowley, Iowa Local Govn’t Initiative and Referendum).
Due to immense financial lobbying power of agribusiness on our state officials, and despite the unpopularity of such a law, the State of Iowa declared that CAFO’s are a guaranteed permitted activity and therefore cannot be kept out by affected citizens. In other words, our communities are forced to endure this corporate harm even if the majority of citizens don’t want it.
To sum this up, current settled constitutional law in the State of Iowa can and does grant corporations the right to their desired actions, even when they are harmful to our communities; whether it is by way of CAFO’s, or very potentially, frac sand mining. This isn’t good enough for many thoughtful and dedicated citizens of this county. We don’t want it to be good enough for our Board of Supervisors.
for the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
To the Board of Supervisors:
The Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County, along with hundreds of county residents and regional supporters, oppose the idea that permitting frac sand mining is in the best interests of the county.
In a formal address to the public in March of this year, Supervisor Thompson declared his intent to “put distance between this Board and the Community Bill of Rights ordinance.”
Consider the following shows of support for this approach.
-At least 17 individual residents of Winneshiek County have written rational and articulate letters published in county news sources;
-Current petition signatures are in excess of 1000, with well over half of those being county residents;
These numbers warrant serious consideration by the Board of Supervisors for the Community Bill of Rights ordinance.
While individual Supervisors may choose to disagree with a novel approach to protect the interests of our county’s citizens and ecosystems, “distance” is the last thing that should be put between the electors and the elected, the governed and governors. Anything less than attentive dialogue and honest debate falls short of the ever-important declaration in our State Constitution:
“All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.” (Art. 1, Sect. 2)
People across our country are using rights-based ordinances to stand up to injustice. Over 150 different localities, including Pittsburg, PA and one county, Mora, New Mexico, have adopted such ordinances.
Four years after the ratification of our 1787 Constitution, the 9th and 10th amendments were added to our federal constitution as the final pieces to the Bill of Rights. These two very essential amendments define the power of We the People of Winneshiek County to claim rights above what we are guaranteed in our state and federal constitutions.
Amendment IX – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people
Amendment X – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
We believe it is wise to assert our rights when it helps prevent harm to the local community. And especially when that harm will undermine our general health and welfare, it is imperative that we endorse the American promise of local self-government.
Thank you for your attentiveness,
the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County