Friday, February 8, 2008

Makers vs. Takers: A Firebell in the Night?

The only way I can put it in context,” Gerald Thornton told CNN, “is that my brother went to war tonight with the people that were of the government that was putting torment and strife into his life.”

Gerald's brother Charles “Cookie” Thornton shot seven people at a City Council meeting in Kirkwood, Missouri, murdering five of them before being shot and killed by police. The murder victims included two police officers, two city council members, and the Public Works Director. The wounded include town Mayor Mike Swoboda.

About seven years ago, Charles Thornton, a contractor who ran a small asphalt and demolition business, became engaged in a legal and political struggle with the city government, which he believed was acting out of a “plantation mentality.” During that period, “Cookie”'s business received around 150 tickets for parking commercial vehicles in a residential neighborhood; in the aggregate, the fines amounted to about $30,000.

Thornton apparently believed that his business was being strangled by degrees, and that race might have been a factor (Thornton was black). He became a frequent and unpleasant presence at City Council meetings, heckling the Mayor and councilmen persistently and displaying occasional flashes of creativity.

For instance: After being evicted from one meeting for telling Mayor Swoboda that he displayed “jackass-like qualities” and using various epithets (including “idiot” and stronger pejoratives) referring to Council members, Thornton showed up at a subsequent meeting with a sign-off sheet containing the objectionable terms and asking the Mayor and Council to “Cross a line through the word or words from the Holy Bible and Webster's Dictionary which you believe is not guaranteed by the Constitution.... If you choose not to respond, this will be understood as my right to use freely these words in my presentations.”

Twice arrested for disorderly behavior, Thornton filed a federal lawsuit against the city government, claiming that the City Council was denying him the freedom of speech. That claim – whatever its merits, which appear to be dubious at best – was rejected by federal District Judge Catherine D. Perry in a ruling handed down ten days before Thornton's eruption.

[Charles] has [dealt with the dispute] as best he could in the courts, and they denied all rights to the access of protection and he took it upon himself to go to war and end the issue,” Gerald told a local television reporter. Franklin McCallie, the principal of the local high school, was a friend of long standing who attended Charles's wedding. After the shooting McCallie insisted that “outside of this, he was just a wonderful and wonderfully loved man in the community. [The dispute] descended into a fight that just couldn't stop.”

Planning Commissioner Edward D. Golterman offered a markedly different view: “It is beyond belief that someone would go shooting people over a zoning dispute.”

Actually, given the misery that frequently – if not constantly – occurs because of the retail-level socialism and social engineering called “planning and zoning,” I'm amazed that this kind of retaliatory violence doesn't happen much more frequently. The key to this story is not the late Mr. Thornton's sense of racial grievance, but the exasperation he apparently experienced as a business owner who saw his livelihood imperiled by city planning officials and their uniformed collection agency.

Significantly, this is the second time in recent months that an aggrieved business owner has erupted in lethal violence at a City Council meeting.

Last October, Ronald “Bo” Ward, owner and operator of a barber shop in Clarksville, Tennessee, shot himself to death during a City Council meeting.

Bo – who took a paternal interest in the soldiers at nearby Fort Campbell, often giving them haircuts for free -- had
incurred debts by expanding his shop. He could get a debt consolidation loan on his home if it was re-zoned as a commercial property.

When he put in a request to the City Council in September, Bo explained that if the loan didn't go through, “I lose my home, I lose my shop, I lose everything I got.”

Bo's real problem, of course, is that he was a small businessman, rather than a representative of a large corporation with financial and political clout. Had the latter been the case, the planning and zoning board would have been positively giddy in its enthusiasm to accommodate his every whim, and the city government would have been eager to use its powers of eminent domain on behalf of his corporation.

But Bo, once again, was a small businessman – a well-beloved pillar of the community. In other words, he was the kind of person to whom things were done by the municipal government, rather than the kind for whom things were done. So at the Clarksville City Council meeting last October 4, Bo's request was finally and definitively turned down, no doubt by very polite, well-dressed people who contorted their faces into the appropriate expressions of condescending pity as they sentenced that unassuming man to financial ruin.

Bo had asked to make more profitable use of his own property, only to learn that he didn't really own “his” property. After all, one doesn't need permission of another to use something that belongs to him as he sees fit. Like Charles Thornton, Bo most likely felt that he was little better than a slave on a plantation.

“Y'all have put me under,” Bo said in resignation, pulling out a handgun. “I'm out of here.” He then killed himself. His suicide left the community shocked, and prompted a personal note of condolences from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schlosser, who commands the 101st Airborne Division at nearby Ft. Campbell. But there's no sign that Ward's tragic death prompted anyone to think deeply about the entrenched, commonplace injustices committed by planning and zoning bureaucracies in Clarksville and across the country; it was simply filed away under the heading, “I guess it just sucked to be him.”

Similarly, the murder spree by Charles Thornton is already being framed as a sudden and unforeseeable fit of irrational violence by an eccentric and most likely unbalanced individual. It very well may have been that. Or it could be a “firebell in the night” -- a portent of even bigger, uglier things to come.

In its reply to Thornton's lawsuit, Kirkwood's city government – seeking to underscore its benevolent generosity -- wrote that the aggrieved business owner “believes that he can make ... unsubstantiated accusations [against the Mayor, City Council, and other officials] without any repercussion because no one has threatened [him] with any physical harm....”

Whatever may be the truth about Thornton's claims, or however one assesses his relationship to reality, it is manifestly and indisputably untrue that the city government never threatened him with “physical harm.” Every decree, sanction, punishment, summons, policy prescription, and order issued by any government is always coupled with the threat of lethal force – generally tacit, but sometimes overt.

Thornton had been issued $30,000 in fines; he had been arrested, handcuffed, and dragged bodily away from Council meetings. Once again: Those actions, or some part thereof, may have been justified, but they were unambiguously accompanied with threats of lethal force. The police officers who seized Thornton, after all, carried guns.

A very good friend of mine who works closely with county governments has described to me a conversation with the head of a local planning and zoning commission. She pointed out to my friend that the decisions she hands down always result in painful impositions on somebody's rights and property. However, she insisted that “if they [her decisions] don't make people mad, I'm not doing my job.”

It wasn't surprising to me when I learned that officials who do that job almost always receive police escorts to their cars after their public meetings adjourn. After all, if your job description specifically requires that you make innocent, honest, hard-working people angry over the loss of their property, then there is an element of risk in your chosen occupation – and, to be blunt, there should be. Which is why people of that sort should leave government “service” and find a way to make an honest living.

The unfolding economic collapse is already starting to leave city and county governments scrambling for new sources of credit and revenue. I've described before how this will lead to more aggressive and intrusive enforcement of regulations and ordinances. The demands of cash-strapped municipal governments will increasingly put them in direct and potentially deadly conflict with overburdened, financially desperate citizens.

It is at this level that the elemental conflict between those who make a living, and those who take a living, may erupt into actual warfare.

A friendly reminder -- my new book is available!

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

We had a similar situation up here in NH. In 1998 a citizen by the name of Carl Drega methodically picked off every jerk that had , under the pretext of zoning and various other sundry violations,pushed him around. He was clearly a very rational albeit angry individual. The only bystander who got killed was a newspaper editor who tried to intervene. Drega's response to the guy was "mind your own business." It was an unfortunate set of circumstances that clearly could of been avoided had they just left the guy alone. He was a very man who spent all of his retired life caring for an invalid wife. He had moved from the urban southern part of the state to the most northern county with the hope he could just be left alone. Unfortunately up north he was met with the worst possible combination: heavy handed beuracracy coupled with small town cliques and pettiness towards "strange" outsiders.( I know how nasty the locals can act towards "weird" outsiders- I was born and raised 20 miles east where the incident took place) The result: a horrific and tragic episode of Vendetta. It could have been avoided if they had just showed the man some dignity

Anonymous said...

I worry you may have jumped the shark with this post.

William N. Grigg said...

I suppose I had to sometime!

Actually, given the subject matter here, I was unusually sensitive to the presence of a dorsal fin beneath my water skis, as it were. Which is why I made the point of describing Thornton's rampage as murder. I understand his frustrations, but don't condone his acts. And as I pointed out, we're heading for ugly times, and I fear that we'll see more horrors of this kind.

dixiedog said...

I finally ordered your book from the Right Source today. Sorry for the delay! As I've mentioned in past posts, I'm most specifically interested in the reasons you give in your book for the resulting Homeland Security state and tyrannical government we all "enjoy" today. Looking forward to it...

Regarding the post at hand, I'm 200% in agreement with this entire post, Will. I've actually heard about several hellish stories that thankfully didn't result in death, but the anger felt and disfranchisement many small business owners actually experience with the local government's increasingly restrictive zoning regulations is certainly palpable from my point of view. As your post here makes clear, these kinds of tragic episodes are indicative of the headaches and misery experienced by productive citizens and pillars of their respective communities nationwide in almost every municipality.

But, as you said here:

...there's no sign that Ward's tragic death prompted anyone to think deeply about the entrenched, commonplace injustices committed by planning and zoning bureaucracies in Clarksville and across the country; it was simply filed away under the heading, “I guess it just sucked to be him.”

This, in essence, is the core of the problem, Will. The people themselves, and probably including the hapless shooters as well, just don't see the big picture of what's going on. They generally see (or saw before their respective plights came to a head, in the case of Ward and Thorton) government as a protector and not as an antagonist.

You did, of course, make that clear as well later in your piece by quoting what the head of a local planning and zoning commission admitted outright, but most people today, first of all, don't think long-term about anything, and secondly, choose to gather their news and it's attendant views and biases from establishment media lapdogs and not watchdogs like yourself and others of similar ilk.

Lastly, the collective aftermath of these kinds of episodes will most likely result in ever increasing government regulation and eventually confiscation of firearms, that will be popularly supported by the ignorant, rudderless commoners.

What is admittedly befuddling to me is that you seem to equate today's mostly ignorant, apathetic, dependency-minded citizens with the mostly hardy, independent-minded, and largely educated citizenry of the Founding era or even those from as recent as the early 20th century. I disagree completely; from what I observe folk today have little to nothing in common with the folk of those eras.

Again, it must be said that episodes such as these do NOT help the law-abiding (however burdensome that may be) gun-owners of America in any way, but rather play right into the hands of private disarmament fanatics, unfortunately.

If we experience a few more of these, coupled with the still fresh in memory Va. Tech atrocity and any other highly-publicized shootings in whatever context, we can 'bout kiss whatever vestige of the 2nd amendment we might tentatively now enjoy goodbye.

As for me, when that day comes, I won't change a thing. I reckon that will probably be my day of reckoning and point of no return because I'll never willingly give up my arms. If I get thrown in the slammer, or even murdered, so be it. I believe freedom is relative on this wicked earth anyway when it comes right down to it.

Doc Ellis 124 said...


You guys all talk about government officials persecuting businessflolk for zoning violations. You need to understand that the single most dangerous threat to your freedom, and your life, is your neighbor.
The goverment goons could not prevail without neighbors informing them of zoning violations. For example, a business client was targeted by a woman for "violations" of Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code, which govern treatment of animals by people.
She claimed that he mistreated his two small Labs. These were his outside dogs. They had plenty of fresh water, they were each in a 8x8x10 pen with a dogigloo or two, they had toys, they were fed 2X daily, turned out and exercised 2X daily, and were very cheerful and happy dogs. They never showed any sign of distress from mistreatment. This woman's complaints generated many visits from County employees, who gave the man high marks. They noted: "no substantive violations".
Eventually, the woman got the guy for having too many dogs without a kennel license. See, this criminal had two inside Peckinese dogs. In LACounty, if you have more than 3 dogs, (or 3 cats), you are supposed to apply for a kennal(cattery) license. If you have a fourth dog(cat) you can be cited or allowed to dispose of the surplus animal. The man opted to place the Peckinese with someone else. As far as I know, the woman continued her efforts against him. There's more. A resident whose house is right on a main drag in town has a home-made sign complaing about a proposed expansion. Believe it or not, residents have complained to County officials, and were reminded by a County (yes, County) official that he has a first amendment right to expess his opinion on his property. These residents are his neighbors. These are just two examples. I could go on. I won't, here.
One more time, your neighbor is your most dangerous threat to your freedom. Goverment goons are empowered to attack you by your neighbors' displeasure.
(this is an aside that yu should probably delete: I believe that this post is on-topic. If not, could you tell me how to relate it to the topic of this column?)
Mr Grigg, thank you for this column.

Anonymous said...

Mises argues:

"There is no kind of freedom and liberty other than the kind which the market economy brings about. In a totalitarian hegemonic society the only freedom that is left to the individual, because it cannot be denied to him, is the freedom to commit suicide."

prairiesurfer said...

I live in a small midwestern town of 35,000. The city fathers have gotten into the business development business, purchasing land with tax dollars, and then giving it away for free to larger corporations to build new industrial complexes. Our tax dollars pay for the Targets, the Walmarts, and others. If you are a small business, you must purchase your own land (since land is now scarce due to the city, it is very expensive). If you park your vehicles in front of the property that you paid a great deal for, and that you continue to pay a great deal in property taxes for (unlike the large corporations who receive tax abatements), those vehicles will get tickets and towed. I have a friend who runs a small company, and I just don't see how he puts up with the city's dung . It is no wonder that those with a shorter fuse end up feeling trapped and doing something hurtful.

SherryNYC said...

Dear Mr. Grigg:

This was a provoking article, which was sent to me by a friend because I am involved in a horrible zoning feud, where an illegally zoned bar moved onto the other side of my residential wall, directly impacting only my apartment, which was previously a quiet, backyard apartment in NYC.

Twice, over a period of two years, zoning violations were duly adjudicated finding the bar to be illegally zoned, and their Public Assembly Permit application revealed that they had falsified public documents to override the zoning laws, however the City and State agencies refuse to enforce the zoning laws, or the fraud.

Hence, to make my long story short, I have been retaliated against by the local police which protect this bar, causing me irreparable harm, including physically maiming me (requiring surgery), and actually prosecuting me for making legitimate quality-of-life noise complaints about this bar, which has also prevented me from the ability to work in my profession for two years.

In other words, I too am fighting "City Hall" and the decision-makers, who refuse to honor the law in this case.

However, what happened to Ward and Thornton would never happen in my situation, despite that I too am experiencing extraordinary frustration and damages related to a zoning dispute which has destroyed large spans of my life, health, safety, well-being, and livelihood. Instead of giving up, my strength and persistence has caused "decision-makers" to take retaliatory action against me. I only know that I have the facts and the truth on my side. The truth is very powerful, and in my case it sustains me in my struggle, along with the support of loving friends. I will continue to 'fight the good fight', no matter how hard they try to knock me down.

After reading your article, I in turn shared it with other friends, and my City Council Member, Community Board and Block Association Board members. Believe it not, but apparently merely sharing this news article has wrongfully caused some to act with alarm in my regard, despite that I am a very peaceful person. I know I am not responsible for the irrational thoughts of others who choose to react this way, and feel that their paranoid reaction is another symptom of their guilt and improper behavior.

Thank you for writing this article.

Best regards, in peace, for justice.

Anonymous said...

Will, I have been following your work for about 20 years. The jump the shark remark does not affect my respect for your convictions, reporting and writing skills. It is interesting though, that where I once agreed with you 90 percent of the time I probably agree 5 percent of the time. I imagine on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, etc. we may still be close, but you rarely write about those issues. I think you were treated very badly by your former employer and I wish you and your family the best always. Will buy your book soon. I'm sure there will be much in it I will contend with.

Anonymous said...

If you do not hold allodial title to your property, you are a "renter", a share-cropper, a "copper top" (from The Matrix). You own nothing.

That is why the govment can (and does) tell you how to use "your" property. You can't refuse anyone if you own a business, etc, etc.

This was one of the rights our forefathers fought the British over. From what I understand, Texas is one of the few states left where you can hold allodial title on property.

Anonymous said...

Please click on the link above for great article from Bill Denman on why planning and zoning is wrong from a standpoint of basic principles.


Anonymous said...



Would you be kind enough to get a hold of me.

Lenny Ladner

Eric Dondero said...

Mr. Grigg, I've used your comments in a story on the Kirkwood murders, and linked to your site.

You can find it here:

Eric Dondero said...

If you would like to send me a review copy, I'd be happy to write up an article about your book for the Libertarian Republican Blog.

Send me an email and I'll give you the address to mail it too.

Anonymous said...

Mr Grigg,

You are clearly a wonderful man, sensitive to the very meaning of our American Freedoms, to be presenting these situations in such a mindful and understanding manner. One only hopes the thugs who run these minor fiefdoms we call townships, will take a lesson from the unfortunate events which have unfolded here. Sadly, many of them never seem to connect the dots. But it very much warms my heart that you have not portrayed an otherwise honest business man as a criminal, as some other writers might be inclined. The boiling point reached on that fateful day could have happened to any one of us, if the shoe were on the other foot. I like to say, by the grace of God, there go I. The people who make up all these crazy rules for the rest of us to live by, many times do not seem to have an appreciation for the ideas upon which this great land was founded. That blood and treasure was spilled and spent, that lives were lost and disease endured, all in the name of freedom. -- So, it appears that sometimes that quite unwittingly, more blood needs to be shed and involving the most unlikely of people, so that the forgotten lessons can be remembered. Certainly, no one hopes this to be the case. But as reality dictates at times, this fate is one stanza of life that necessitates a chorus or a refrain. The song is one many want to avoid hearing, but nevertheless one realizes that freedom is always an expensive price and never bought cheaply. Let this be a wake up call to the memory of our founding, so this never has to happen again to anyone we know and love.

Thank you so much, Mr. Grigg. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Charles Thornton: The legal battles

A look back at some of the civil and criminal cases involving Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, 52.

You should look these over, particularly the assualt on the restaurant owner. Thornton was his own worst enemy.

I'm close enough geographically to Kirkwood MO that I've been aware of this guy for some years. Thornton was more a figure of fun than anything else (until Thursday).

The city had actually cancelled most of the fines it had imposed on Thornton.

To be sure, meddlesome zoning is an injustice, but because of our current legal setup, it is what we have instead of a voluntary "property holders" association to deal with "bad" neighbors. Leaving asphalt paving equipment in front of your residence would probably qualify for most people as being a bad neighbor.

Clearly though if you read through the referenced article, this tormented soul was losing his grip on reality for years, and had a healthy dose of paranoia to boot.

I don't think though that this is a parable of some guy being driven over the edge by oppressive government. He was over the edge anyway, and there was a lot more than zoning or parking tickets fueling the fire.

Anonymous said...

A firebell in the night?

This is an interesting simile.

As a stand alone statement, it does little justice to the square peg contradiction of human nature as it is meant to fit into the round hole of the culture built around our empirical (pragmatic and scientific) barbarism.

It does not, for instance, deal with the problems associated with problems like Purdue Pharma's Oxycontin, a synthetic heroin.

It does not deal with the problems of the poisonous nature of industry and science.

It does not deal with the corrupt nature of a self-serving and self-certifying academia.

And this approach does nothing to point toward a moral truth any of us might live more comfortably with. This approach, in fact makes our world less tolerable.

Killing everyone in government has been tried before (1789 in France).

Without some direction thereafter, we end up with a Napoleon and a Wellington, each reasserting the divine rights of kings.

The answer is that just as empirical knowledge was once thought to laud over superstition, (The Enlightenment), now Categorical Knowledge will rule over all empirical knowledge.

The moral imperative of life is to live a life that detracts not at all from the lives available to those who will follow us into this world.

THAT is Categorical Knowledge.

THAT statement is true in every instance without any exception.

If one ignores Categorical Knowledge, they are going to be wrong almost every time.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

Anonymous said...

The problem in this country is NOT the government, as is the popular belief. It's not the multi-national corporations, not the terrorists, the police, or the foreign lobbyists. The problem today, as it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow and for the forseeable future, is as always YOU! Yes you, the American public. For you are the people who have the power to put a STOP to all of this. Corporations are by nature, tyrannies. Yet, the government is the ONLY institution in our society in which the people can affect change. Yet, you have all stood by idly and allowed things to come to this. Furthermore, the people who get elected into local city councils, the mayors, commissioners and what not come FROM the American public. They're from American towns, went to American schools, American churches, and were born from American parent in most cases, and as long as we as Americans put SELF INTEREST before the interest of the common good, which YOU ALL WOULD, WITHOUT EXCEPTION... then this will continue down the road of the totalitarian tiptoe towards complete corporate fascism. All it takes is a simple bribe or a contribution, and you will SELL OUT, just like every Mayor, City Council member, Governer, Legislator, Sheriff, Congressman, Alderman, Deacon, Pastor, Senator, Judge, and police officer in the country. You may think, oh what a crock... but think about it. All it takes is one bribe, and one compramise, and it's over. Then your whole life is a series of compramises, and then you no longer own your life. But guess what... it ain't gonna get any better unless YOU... the American public, stands up to these institutions and FORCES their change.

Otherwise you're all just a bunch of punk sellouts, who don't deserve the freedom you THOUGHT you had in the first place.

Anonymous said...

A few years back we had a similar situation out here in Colorado.

Anonymous said...

With all of the corruption in both local, and federal government I believe that know one is off topic here. Who here hasn't looked at what is comming and thought about civil war. That is right, I said "Civil War", and that is what will happen as we plunge further into this nightmare currently imposed upon us. I have served honorably, and have many brothers still in service, and they inform me of being asked whether or not they would shoot unruly U.S. citizens while collecting our means of resistance(guns).Most will not, but say they will to avoid what is done to resistors in the military. What this man did was easily condoned if you are a patriot. He tried to fight by their rules, and when that failed he adapted some of his own. It is unfortunate that we had to lose him in his fight, but he did exactly what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. We tried to fight coventionally, and when that failed, we resorted to what we thought would work(torture), even if it hurt large numbers of people. It is only natural for a man who is supposed to have rights to excercise them, and when those supposed right are stripped away that man is forced to fight. Or he is no man at all. I is just disturbing that we must kill each other to realize this simple fact. Some here will be appalled by what I am saying, but does it lack truth? I consider all people of all races my brothers and sisters, but green, not black and white is what they taught me. I realize that most do not see green, nor do they want this. It is much easier to control people if they are divided, and this event proves the alienation that one man felt was enough for them to use, to beat him. Would the same have happened if this man was supported by his town, and brought large numbers of his community to his aid? I wonder, how they will demonize him in the press as they stuff their pockets with money from his death? Wake up America, divided we fall....Or did you all forget that?

Anonymous said...

I'm originally from Kirkwood, Missouri and I went to school with Charles "Cookie" Thornton. Cookie was one the friendliest people I've met, always full of life. You can read the same comments from anyone who knew him. It was the battle with city hall that took the life out of him and led him to do something that can't be undone.

Kirkwood is one of those towns with strict zoning laws. There is also a racist aspect that goes back decades. I don't have the room to explain it here. Cookie was a good person who got caught up in something. I don't excuse his actions and I wish someone could have stopped him. I do think you're right in saying that we'll see more incidents like this, especially in up-and-coming affluent suburbs like Kirkwood (which used to be just a nice little town before the land developers and speculators arrived).

Anonymous said...

America no longer has anything left to lose. America's leaders have become so arrogant they see us all as dumb animals in a way I wouldn't treat a dog. The horny nerds in government all have one thing in common, they had no friends growing up, probably ate worms and most are no doubt into sick fetishes like piss parties and can't wait to hand the remainder of America over to Lucifers New World Order. With the approval of the American Christian church, of course.

Edward Ulysses Cate said...

I am also upset that the fights described above came to murder. It is not acceptable. But neither is using law and finance as the "hammer and sickle." There is a book in my home library titled: "The Death of Common Sense - How Law IS Suffocating America." It was published in 1996, and little has improved. The continued plantationizing of our America through law and finance will unfortunately result in more of these actions of desperation. I honestly do not want this for our children's inheritance.

Allen said...

It's up to you of course, Will, but I don't think I would send Mr. Dondero a copy of your book. He probably just wants to trash it and acuse you of treason to boot. Let him buy it....

Anonymous said...

What does it mean to "jump the shark"?

Anonymous said...

Sigh... I am a well educated, 53 year old- once working middle class white woman and I live in Tacoma, Washington. For those who don't know - it's about 30 miles south of Seattle, an area known for being "liberal". Whatever that means anymore. Anyway, over the past year or two I have received several letters from the city citing me for various things I could not do. I could not park my own car on the street in front of my house unless it had a current tab. I was issued a ticket by the police. The car was still drivable, but I couldnt afford the tabs at the times, the car wasn't hurting anyone, just parked right in fornt of my house. Would have got the tabs when I had money, but now, have tab costs AND a ticket. Later I tabed it and parked it BEHIND my house off the alley. Then I got a letter saying it was "an eyesore" It was wrecked on one side, but I still drove it. Could not afford another car. I got so much grief I finally had to get rid of my car, which was still in perfectly good running condition. I did some small remodeling on my kitchen with my own labor and donated materials, and the pile of debris from the tear out-was lying in my own back yard and that was also an "eyesore" and I was told if I didnt clean it up I could face fines of $150.00 a day. It was winter and raining and cold and I had full intention of cleaning it up come spring.I was actually slowly stacking and sorting wood from the pile to recycle, like a good citizen, but that wasnt good enough. I got 20 days to remove the pile or else.Then I got a letter saying my rose bushes were sticking out to far off my property. Now it's the rosebush police! Then my friend got a letter saying she couldnt keep a pile of clean natural wood chips on her own parking strip! She had a sliped disk and could not clean it up until she healed. No matter. Clean it up or face fines of $150.00 a day! Another firend who has own a couple rentals for years is getting letters saying that if he makes over a certain amount of money he must buy a special expensive license to own rentals. When he has done this here for over 20 years with no special "license". They want to know exactly how much money he makes off his rental property! If that any of their business whatsoever? I think not! The dog pound here in Pierce county which used to be paid for by the taxes of citizens was sold five years ago to a PRIVATE non-profit, but most people still think that the pound is paid for by their tax dollars. Since that time, it now costs money to take an animal IN where as before it was free and-the adoption fees skyrocketed! Not only that, the now private "blackwater dog police" are canvassing neighborhoods all over town and hanging orange tags on peoples gates and checking every box they can on the tag for "possible violations" in order to scare people into what? Getting rid of their dogs? Making more money for their coffers? What's next? Yet the police do not respond when a BLACK woman, who was drunk in her car- was trying to run over her boyfriend while he was walking down our street. They were obviously in a domestic heated argument - I witnessed the whole thing. She was wild, driving over the curbs, gunning the car, trying to hit this man. There were a total of six 911 calls, including mine, for help-not one single police officer ever shown up. I guess they figure that blacks can "kill each other off" like in the gangs. The city has become so oppressive, it's disgusting. And yet the "private" corporations are just as bad. And blacks? Well they are just expendable. The goals- extract as much money out of people as your can, put fear of fines and jail into them all, and use police to protect government and private interests. But the people? Well they can comply or else. Are we all now just cannon fodder? I have not chosen to go shoot up city hall because of all the harrassment. I have complied - for now. However, I think all over this country we have the makings of a fire than could get out of control, so your argument is spot on. No wonder the feds and the military have built over 800 FEMA prisons camps all over Amerika. On March 24, 1997, Bill Hefner, a member of congress wrote a letter about this very thing. It was Army policy to establish civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations. Say what? And soldiers are now being asked if they could "kill Americans" including their own friends and family in the event of martial law. No wonder the military is practicing "urban warfare" in our cities. No wonder the FBI is "deputizing" private industry - called Infragard.I suspect they know that the PEOPLE are sick and tired of all the BS being dished out to them by the semi-fascist state that has now come into being. They are afraid of incidents exactly like the Kirkwood tradegy. Angry torch carrying mobs are going to need to be controlled by any means.

Anonymous said...

Way up in Moscow, Idaho, there were several recent years where a small group of citizens (Intoleristas, they were called) and a majority of the city council were misusing zoning laws to harass a church and all of the members. A woman was caught trespassing on the pastor's property with binoculars trained on the house. She was also seen spying on members of this church in an entire neighborhood, trying to find some little thing the Intoleristas could use the zoning laws against them for. In another neighborhood another woman (they don't call this a nanny state for nothing) spied out everything that was happening in every house, and this time it included everyone, to once again, misuse the zoning laws against literally anyone. Some neighbor.

The Intoleristas also tried to misuse the zoning laws in any way that they could against the church property, a related college, and private businesses owned by the members of this church.

After a lot of expense on both sides (the city could never make the alleged violations of the zoning laws stick), the Intolerista members of the city council were voted out last November.

In this case there was no way in a zillion years that the church members would have done violence or anything illegal or immoral against anyone, even though what I have related is just the tip of the iceberg.

Anonymous said...

Please click the above link for a video of the results of the Lawn Police at work.

I wonder how many of the people who complain about these problems voted for the same representatives who enact the Planning and Zoning laws.

Unknown said...

What I noticed about this most recent case is that the moment it was learned that the shooter had been systematically harassed by his victims the news media here in Chicago and nationally DROPPED the story off the news cycle.

It seems so much of the 'rage' we see today is directly due to the levels of harassment and idiocy from government and corporate forces along with outright rude and selfish behavior from countless people that have no concern they are sharing the planet with other people that we are supposed to just tolerate. People do not have an infinite tolerance and everyone will eventually snap, the question is only when and after how much?

Our society is upside down, even just standing up for one's self these days is wrong. It's the nut case who fights the bogus ticket he got, it's wrong to stand up to some bully on the road, etc and so forth.

There is just so much a person can take, and occasionally someone breaks in an explosive manner. These incidents will continue until this society reforms and begins to respect the liberty of other people instead of a constant battle of control freaks and selfishness.

Anonymous said...

What is the solution?

Anonymous said...

Leave the country. New Zealand has been looking pretty good to me recently.

Jennifer Briney said...

This is an amazing post. I would like to add to this:

After all, if your job description specifically requires that you make innocent, honest, hard-working people angry over the loss of their property, then there is an element of risk in your chosen occupation – and, to be blunt, there should be. Which is why people of that sort should leave government “service” and find a way to make an honest living.

I would add that people should also leave corporate "service" and find a way to make an honest living.

I was in property management for awhile and will never forget when they made me kick out a Katrina victim. She was 24 years old (we were the same age at the time) with a beautiful 5 year old daughter. She wanted her daughter to get the best possible education so she sent her to private school. She was working as a nurse, but had to watch every dollar to afford her one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles and her daughter's school (something that on my salary I myself would have struggled to do).

The hurricane wiped out the homes of most of her family members in New Orleans. Naturally, she did whatever she could to get them to the west coast where they had a place to stay. She got one month behind on her rent.

For two months I was able to get enough people to turn in every penny they owed us so that I could leave her full rent amount on my report, but have the amount owed low enough to where my bosses would say OK. The third month though, they made me turn her into the attorneys. Despite having her family lose everything and needing to help them, the corporation apparently really, really needed the money. With only $861.8 million in profits that year, they needed the money more than her.

On the day of her eviction, we both sat in the courtroom and cried. It was all just so wrong. The next day I quit and decided to do whatever it takes to be able to write for a living (even if that means a lot less cash for awhile).

My blog is now my business. Hopefully, someday soon, I'll find a way to make a living doing this without being personally owned by a corporation. I have less stuff, but I'm mentally healthy and happy. The company has lost an employee that did a job well and has been forced to separate the position into two. They are paying $30 per hour for what I did for $15.

But we need to stop saying "That's business!" as if it is an excuse for immoral behavior in the same way that the government officials should be ashamed of themselves for aiding to redesign our society in favor of the rich and incorporated.

The corporate influence in our government has now gotten to the point that it is getting extremely difficult to separate the interests of the two. I actually think we're seeing a merge.

Your thoughts?

Doc Ellis 124 said...

Jen Clark:

Have you read Orwell's "Animal Farm"? Did you happen to notice that at the end of the book, the non-swine animals could not tell the difference between the pigs and the humans? Another question: were any of the citations you got generated by nieghbor complaints?
Last question: when was the last time "corporate and government interests" were actually separate?
Doc Ellis 124

Jennifer Briney said...

I read Animal Farm sometime in the early years of high school, so I really didn't fully understand the significance of that at the time, but yes, I do remember that.

As for the citations, I don't know if you are referring to citation against myself or the person I had to evict, so I'll answer the question both ways. The person that was evicted was an otherwise perfect resident. She never had a neighbor complaint. Our only problem with her were her money issues. As for myself, I was never written up - not even once. In fact, I received a few awards for a job well done. Just because I hated the job, that didn't mean I wasn't good at it.

And as for your last question, I have no way of knowing if they were ever separate, but the relationship does seem to currently be more extreme. I don't remember ever reading about another time in our history when businessmen, like the ones in Infragard, were being trained in martial law implementation. I may be wrong about this, but I don't think corporations and our government have ever been this intertwined.

Anonymous said...

This always reminds me of how often we hear governmental droids telling us how they and business need to more closely "partner" together.

LOL! That's called fascism people.

Yet that's exactly what we get when you travel this country and find from coast to coast the exact same "businesses", with the help of greedy cash-sucking pols and their zoning diktats, crushing the life, or any other "unique" characteristic in the affected areas.