Saturday, June 30, 2018

Another Public Access Victory - Wonder Ranch Appeal

  Public Access Victory

Public Access Victory - Wonder Ranch Appeal

I have been checking my PACER legal case locator account on the Wonder Ranch appeal case, at least once a week, sometimes twice, since the video hearing in March, anxious to see the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling. I woke this morning to the news of yet another public access victory and this one dealing with Indian Creek Trail # 328, in the Madison Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The Texas owners that purchased the ranch had appealed the District Court Judge Haddon's ruling that the public had a historic prescriptive easement on Trail # 328.

The Court of Appeals ruled on the 28th of June, affirming the ruling from Judge Haddon of the United States District Court for the District of Montana.
  • "Open and Notorious" qualification for prescriptive easement was achieved by maps, signage, use and maintenance
  • Not permissive use - the vast majority of public and [Forest Service] use of the Trail was not
    the product of neighborly accommodation.
  • 5 years adverse use - elements of a public prescriptive easement had been met for the statutory period no later than 1973.
  • Forest Service offering to pay for an easement - the Forest Service’s attempts to secure an express
    easement were not inconsistent with the existence of a public prescriptive easement.
This public access victory is made even sweeter with the historical prescriptive easement attacks by special interests, in the last few years.

On that note, I finally received another batch of my Crazy Mountain FOIA for the west side, the Porcupine Lowline Trail # 267. I was told the CGNF did not want this information released to me. But we, the public, have a right to information from our public agencies that manage our public trust, on our behalf. Accountability demands it; transparency demands it.

I downloaded the files and drove to the printer, to get the 351 pages printed before they closed. Tony Schooned called when I got back, asked what I was going to be doing on the 4th of July weekend. I laughed, you know that kind of empowered laugh, telling him that I was NOW, going to be chronologically ordering all the documents, reading and making notes. While this may bore the hell out of some, not only does this excite me on the data level, but it works towards our main objective of getting public access restored - for future generations. ;)

Out-of-State Ownership Distribution in Montana Map
A guy on the Montana subreddit, created a map of landownership using the Montana Cadastral data, involving out of state landowner's. It is an interesting map, color coded by the larger state's ownership. Click on the magnifying glass to enlarge the map.
Map Link

Also on the Public Lands, Public Access front...
Gianforte, Williams Split On Multiple Use, Access On Public Lands
"We need to ensure we're not interpreting multiple use as every single use on all miles of forest service road," said Kathleen Williams. "The Forest Service, in my opinion, is always in a constant balancing challenge on how to provide those multiple uses which often means that public use, for example, in critical wildlife areas, needs to be compatible with that kind of management directive that they have for those areas." 

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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Friday, June 22, 2018

These are the times that try men's souls

"These are the times that try men's souls."
~ Thomas Paine

Updates on Montana Gravis Polling Report, Farm Bill, Zinke's real-estate deal, Downing's trial date, Gianforte information request and Crazy Mountains below.
Note: I am finally getting back on track from before the TBI, getting my podcast station set up and am conducting interviews (if you are interested in sharing a subject, science, etc., let me know), because we need to fight back, now more than ever.

What is patriotism?

When Troy Downing made his senate candidate ad with the fighter jet knocking a Tester stand in off his tractor, citing he was a war vet, pilot, “the warrior who will fight for Montana and America”, I cringed (Especially since I had already contacted his San Diego County voter registrar. He was on the Inactive list, not having voted since 2009, registering to vote, here in Montana, in 2016, voting in the General Election). He was trying to imply he was more patriotic than a farmer or a music teacher. With all the accusations of who is patriotic and who is not, including the support of President Trump as a sign of patriotism, I was curious to the etymological origins of the word “patriot”.

Patriot derives from the Greek, patrios, "of one's fathers,". “Liddell & Scott write that patriotes was applied to barbarians who had only a common [patris], while [politai] being used of Greeks who had a common [polis] (or free-state)." While up to the 1600's it was used as a loyal supporter of one's country, it became a derogatory term by the 1800's in England.

In the New Zealand Parlimentary Debates, Vol. 203, they relate that England's Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford had not exaggerated when he said, “ those times the most popular declaration which a candidate could make on the hustings was that he had never been and never would be a patriot.” The Debates go on to express, “If patriotism is to be made the football of party politics, if individuals are going to charge every one who disagrees with them with a lack of patriotism on each occasion of their disagreement, the time will come here in New Zealand, just as it arrived at that juncture in British history, when honest men seeking the suffrages of the people will be compelled to stand on the platform and preface their remarks with the statement, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I am not a patriot.' That is the position we will reach here if patriotism is to become the football of party politics as it became in England during that period.” 

In our young country of the United States, our 1st President George Washington warned, “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Later, President Theodore Roosevelt would add, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.” These thoughts were echoed by presidential candidate Ron Paul, “Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it's wrong."

I feel this aspect of patriotism goes beyond the association of military, a willingness to die for your country. Peter F. Drucker wrote a book, Post-Capitalist Society. In it he described the difference between citizenship and patriotism. “ 'Patriotism is not enough.' There has to be citizenship as well. Citizenship is the willingness to contribute to one's country. It is the willingness to live for one's country… Patriotism, the willingness to die for one's country, has been universal. But citizenship is distinctly Western invention.” 

Drucker continues, “As a legal term, citizenship is a term of identification rather than of action. As a political term citizenship means active commitment. It mean responsibility. It means making a difference in one's community, one's society, one's country.”

I feel, as this country is being torn apart by “pretended patriotism”, immigration issues, children heartbreakingly torn from parent's as bargaining chips placed in detention camps (I am from Texas, I know a thing or two about illegals, including the hiring of them by people for cheap labor, housed in shacks with no running water or electricity; or when I was 13/14, a child myself, tending to the raped illegal woman that ran naked, cut, bleeding with cactus thorns, in the dead of night to our house through fields of cactus and mesquite bushes for help), that we can and should be far better than what this country has sunk to of late. 

On the 19th, Steve Schmidt, a major GOP strategist went on Twitter and announced in a long thread his concerns for our country, stating that he renounced his membership in the Republican party, that it had become a danger to our democracy and values. “Season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda. I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency.”
We, as active verb citizens, need to make a difference ourselves, especially in voting for representatives that will uphold democracy and decency, so that we do succumb to the horrors that Germany and Europe experienced and still bear the scars from.

Montana Gravis Poll Report June 2018
PDF of full report

S. 3042 - Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018
An article came out recently, Daines adds slate of forest amendments to Farm Bill, stating Daines filed 20 amendments, including one to limit Forest Service citizen litigation, "One of Daines’ amendments would let Forest Service Region 1 pilot an arbitration process to resolve project objections without going to court."

S. 3042 passed out of committee with a roll call vote of 20-1 on June 13th, only had 2 of Daines 20 amendments. Thankfully, missing was his litigation limiting amendment, but I wanted to make sure so I called the Sen. Ag. Committee in D.C, they were pretty sure it didn't make the cut (wording can get very tricky at times).
But to make sure, I called one of Daines' offices today and was told it did not, but  Daines might bring it up during the floor debate. He also mentioned that they were in discussions with Gianforte to get it added to the House version. Mike Garrity wrote an oped on why this needs to be rejected - Reject Daines’ position that the Forest Service is above the law.

Gianforte Confidential Criminal Justice Information Request Update
In April I placed my CCJI request with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, as directed, on the Gianforte assault of reporter Ben Jacobs case; even though the information had already been requested by the Washington Post, Associated Press, the Great Falls Tribune and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. None of those sources posted all the information publicly. I felt the public has a right to know what all was taking place by an elected official. My request was placed on the Motions Calendar, and on the deadline date of May 31st, it was presented to Judge Holly Brown for a ruling. I have called weekly, there still has not been a ruling on it yet, hopefully releasing the information.

Zinke's Possible Conflict of Interest with Halliburton and Our Public Lands
Zinke linked to real estate deal with Halliburton chairman
"Montana foundation established by Ryan Zinke playing key role in real-estate deal backed by Halliburton chairman, oil-services giant that stands to benefit from the Interior decisions to open public lands for oil exploration."
Zinke's Halliburton mess deepens
"The new details raise further questions about Zinke's involvement in the project, and whether his conversations with the developers — especially in Interior's office — violated federal conflict of interest laws given Halliburton’s extensive business before this department."

Troy Downing FWP Citations Trial
Now that the Republican Primary is over, which Downing cited as an excuse to further delay his trial, I called the Gallatin County Court today. His Justice Court pretrial conference is set for July 18th at 4:00pm. His jury trial begins on July 25th, 8:30am and runs for 3 days.

Crazy Mountains Update
I am still receiving information I requested from the Forest Service on the Crazy Mountains and working on another set of detailed legal binders for the attorneys. This is a lot of time intensive research to fight back for our public access to our Public Lands. I don't think I am going to be able to eat on my large dinging table anytime soon.

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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Monday, June 4, 2018

Is America's democracy really in decline?

If we want to stop being a failed state and become a democratic society,
things are going to have to happen inbetween the four years."

~ Noam Chomsky

Democracy and Informed Voters

I know we are not a straight up Democracy, rather a Democratic Republic, but the Demos (Greek - common people), just can't vote once every 4 years and leave it at that. We need more of the public/people engaged, even running for office, not for political careers, but for public advocacy. This also involves informed/educated voters; voting midterms; public participation and public comments on local government, state and national legislation; etc.
Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” While this is a wee bit simplistic (taking into consideration the complexities of gerrymandering, voter roll purges, disproportionate minority felony convictions, voter suppression- such as moving polling places off of Native American reservations and not allowing tribal ID as a valid form of voting identification, etc.), voting should be viewed as essential, fundamental to our worldview – participation in your community.

No president or public figure is perfect, nor is it representative of all peoples. I get that. Hell, Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson, who owned black slaves who could not vote at that time, prognosticated, "Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights." Yes, Jefferson's “the people” were only white landowning males; women receiving the right to vote in 1920, black Americans in 1965, and some members of Indigenous communities not until 1957. Democracy is not stagnant, fixed in stone, but evolves, with a healthy democracy becoming more INCLUSIVE.

I was listening to an Ezra Klein podcast the other night - Is American democracy really in decline? A debate. - with Yasha Mounk. Mounk was talking about the decline of democracies, not just the fledgling ones, but established ones, being replaced by totalitarians. The current Trump administration was heavily discussed.

Mounk indicated, "If we have a political system that allows someone, political entrepreneur, to split us into these deeply tribal groups, and then to exploit that split into an attack on the rules we need to live with each other, that's really dangerous." 

Here is an example:

An article came on my public trust news feed, “As nation focuses on 'me,' not 'we,' our levees suffer”. The author was addressing our failing infrastructure (specifically levees), as a result of an Army Corp of Engineers report. The article wasn't just about infrastructure, but the public's view of public projects. 

"Until a few years ago Americans took pride in large public projects. We would brag about our ability to put our economic and political power to work building infrastructure like bridges and highways, as well as creating education systems and environmental and safety regulations that led to the highest standard of living anywhere in the world.

That was a time when we were encouraged to understand that while we might be 50 separate states, we still pulled together for the greater good. But that idea of nationhood has not only fallen out of favor in many places, it has become a pejorative for much of the body politic.

Many conservatives now oppose almost anything with the word's 'national' or 'public' attached -- from public lands and public education to public safety and public health."

This “pejorative” perspective didn't just happen by itself. If you news aggregate, as I do, you see a definitive pattern to articles/opinion pieces and where they originate. This is a privatization agenda. Public schools are not getting it done, let's privatize. Public prison doesn't work, privatize. Public infrastructure is broken, privatize. Public lands management is failing, definitely privatize. There is a pattern and it is not in the public's best interest.

If we, as the demos in democracy, abandon or forfeit our kratia (Greek – rule or power by), we will end up being slaves, serfs, chattel to the robber barons, the modern corporate feudal lords.

Recently, Rep. Tom Woods from Bozeman, who was running as MT 's US Representative candidate against Gianforte, wrote an oped. Woods had to drop out of the running because of money. Woods is endorsing John Heenan, echoing the same reasons I had earlier posted on my EMWH twitter feed (@Heenan4Montana background as consumer protection lawyer, his understanding of Dark Money issues & fighting against it already, is exactly what #Montana needs in #Congress. Not a career politician, but a public advocate!). Woods advocated, “With that said, I am endorsing the candidate who has taken action on what I believe to be the central political problem we face as a nation: the influence of corporate money on government. That candidate is John Heenan. Not only has he refused to accept corporate PAC money, in the recent past he volunteered to prosecute those people who were using “dark money” to influence state races for Legislature. Those actions speak loudly to me... In short, we need to have a government that is run by people and working for the people.” 

From one of my favorite colonial rabble rousers (can you imagine this man today, with a blog and twitter feed?), Thomas Paine, Dissertation on the First Principles of Government:

“The true and only true basis of representative government is equality of rights. Every man has a right to one vote, and no more in the choice of representative. Personal rights, of which the right of voting for representatives is one, are a species of property of the most sacred kind…Inequality of rights is created by a combination in one part of the community to exclude another part from its rights. Whenever it be made an article of a constitution, or a law, that the right of voting, or of electing and being elected, shall appertain exclusively to persons possessing a certain quantity of property, be it little or much, it is a combination of the persons possessing that quantity to exclude those who do not possess the same quantity. It is investing themselves with powers as a self-created part of society, to the exclusion of the rest.

The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.

To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.

In a political view of the case, the strength and permanent security of government is in proportion to the number of people interested in supporting it. The true policy therefore is to interest the whole by an equality of rights, for the danger arises from exclusions.”

Yascha Mounk recently wrote The People VS. Democracy: Why our freedom is in danger & how to save it. Thankfully his section on remedies is about half the book, not just a chapter or a few closing paragraphs. Mounk declares, "Even when the reasons for protest proliferate, and acts of opposition come to feel dishearteningly ineffective, it's very important for the defenders of liberal democracy to resist authoritarian strongmen with courage and determination. But since anyone who seeks to constrain the populists faces a decidedly uphill struggle once the strongmen have taken office, it is even more important to beat them at the polls."

If you haven't voted absentee in the primaries yet, please, exercise your citizenship muscle and be an informed Public Trust voter tomorrow.

 Voting in person at a polling place on Tuesday, June 5? Verify your location at the .

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT