Saturday, November 12, 2016

Holding meetings and flat out ignoring the comments


That's how I'd define it.

A legislative committee, styled the Federal Natural Resource Committee, met this week in Riverton Wyoming for a public hearing on a proposal to amend the Wyoming Constitution to provide that there'd be no net loss of public lands acquired from the Federal Government, should the state acquire any.

Keep in mind the Wyoming Constitution presently "disclaims" any claim to the Federal lands, and has since Wyoming became a state.

A large crowd appeared at the hearing.  Opposition to the transfer was hugely overwhelming.  

The Committee voted to keep on keeping on, but to look at amending their draft.  In other words, they voted to wholly ignore the public on this issue.

Not that this is new, they've been ignoring the public on this all along. It's a disgrace.

Here are the names and email address of the Committee members:

Senator Eli Bebout:
Senator Larry Hicks:
Senator Gerald Geis:
Representative JoAnn Dayton:
Representative Norine Kasperik:
Representative Tim Stubson:

I wrote all of them.  I received a reply from only one, Senator Bebout, which is to his credit.  I'd note that Rep Stubson is leaving the legislature and won't be in the next one, having given up his seat to run for US House.  Stubson was one of the two Wyoming candidates who basically cancelled out each other resulting in Cheney's advance.

These guys deserve a lot of email.  They also desire, save perhaps for Sen. Bebout who at least graciously and clearly writes back, to be retired forever from Wyoming's politics.  If they can't listen to the voters perhaps the voters need to send them a message with their future that they can't ignore. . .  go home.

There's obviously a battle coming up in the upcoming Legislature.  If you care about access at all, better let your representatives know that this is a no go.

Oh, and why am I so sure?

Well history is one reason. But I'll give another recent example.

Just recently, a couple of weeks ago, my son and I went deer hunting.  Or tried to.  We were shadowed, however, by the reluctant goons of a local rancher (I know him) to make sure that we didn't step foot on any private land.  They can't keep you off public land. . . yet, of course.  But their shadowing was so persistent that was the effective impact.  "There an automatic $1,000 trespass fee".

Oh, bull.

Because I could tell these guys were very reluctant in their role as the Stasi, I didn't bother to tell them that they'd just threatened me with a threat that wasn't legal and I'm a lawyer, and that as a result I'd ponder all the next week what to do about it.  They did point us towards where we could go, and they very clearly felt that they'd been given a sh**y job by their employer.

But it's also quite clear to me that given any chance, people who take this approach would do what they could to lock up the land entirely.

This ranch, by the way, has a nice story that's published to go along with it about how it was founded by a European over a century ago who immigrated here as he dreamed of being a cowboy. Rags to riches. Well, they ought to remember that the essence of that is that the Federal Government stole the land from the native population and had it nearly free for the taking, discounting the massive amount of risk and labor it entailed to homestead, for those willing to do it.  It worked close to the way its recounted in the opening of Red River:
Dunson: Tell Don Diego, tell him that all the land north of that river's mine. Tell him to stay off of it.
Mexican: Oh, but the land is his.
Dunson: Where did he get it?
Mexican: Oh many years ago by grant and patent, inscribed by the King of all of Spain.
Dunson: You mean he took it away from whomever was here before. Indians maybe.
Mexican: Maybe so.
Dunson: Well, I'm takin' it away from him.
Mexican: Others have thought as you, senor. Others have tried.
Dunson: And you've always been good enough to stop 'em?
Mexican: Amigo, it is my work.
Dunson: Pretty unhealthy job.
Now, I'm not casting moral blame on anyone. But this recounting is pretty good film dialog and not bad history.  People who sit on land today that their poor ancestors acquired can't sit back and really have a "we built this land" attitude, cleanly.  Partially, yes.  But partially, it's simply "we got here 20 seconds before you did, so it's mine all mine".  Not good.

And there's a further lesson to be learned as well. There's a general feeling right now that money always talks. Well, people who have that view and are in the Wyoming Liberty Group mindset best realize that they just watched a massive populist revolt seize the White House and burn down both political parties.  Populist aren't libertarians. . . they're a species of liberal actually, at the bottom, popular, level.  People who would lock up land should recall that there's a large group out there, much larger than the monied interest, who aren't really keen on ranchers being on the public land at all.  I'm not in that camp by any means.  But keep out one or two Ohio hunters who aren't rich enough for "trespass fees" or guides and . . . pretty soon you have an Ohio Congressman who not only doesn't think that you should be able to buy the Public Domain, maybe you ought not to be using it at all.

Well, for me. . . Politician/Rancher mentioned above, next time I see your name on the ballot the answer is "no", and the next time I see you at a branding you're getting an earful.

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