The State Committee, which is the ruling body of the Vermont Libertarian Party, approved the Party's by-laws and elected an Executive Committee to oversee the Party's day-to-day operations.
Chris Costanzo was re-elected State Chair. As his alter-ego and Vice-Chair, the State Committee elected Scott Berkey, a Libertarian stalwart who is a restaurant owner in Randolph, and a Randolph town office-holder.
The State Committee elected Hardy Macia as new Secretary to replace Kevin Volz who has put in a lot of time shouldering the secretarial burdens of the Party but needs more time to devote to his new business. We thank Kevin for his excellent contribution and hope to continue receiving the benefit of his counsel. The Party is fortunate to get Hardy as his successor. Hardy has already shown his energy, zeal, and dedication to Liberty by his handling of the Web Page, the e-mail list, and numerous onerous outreach activities. The Chair has asked Hardy to continue as Outreach Coordinator.
Pat Richmond, who has proven herself super-efficient and meticulous as Treasurer, will stay in the post and continue applying her talents to ensure that order prevails over financial chaos. She will receive backup from Jack Simons as Assistant Treasurer. Jack will also be a real asset on the Executive Committee since he has been a Party member longer than any of us, and will bring a wealth of experience to our deliberation The Chair has asked Pat to work out a budget projection for the coming year to submit to the State Committee for final approval.
The State Committee named State Committee members Brendan Kinney, Hugh Douglas, and Scott Berkey to form a Convention Committee to plan our 1998 Vermont Libertarian Party State Convention. The State Committee also named a Platform Committee consisting of State Committee members Jack Simons, Neil Randall, Richard Powell, Faeterri Silver, David Baker, Hardy Macia, and Fred Woeckner; Libertarian Party members Robert Maynard and Tom Morse; and Libertarian Party supporter Sylvia Powell.
The State Committee decided to resume the practice of meeting on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM. The next State Committee meeting will be on November 11, at 7:00 PM. The site of that and future meetings will be at 14 Merchant Street in Barre in the conference room of the Vermont Clinic for Muscular Therapy.
The Vermont Libertarian Party is now legally recognized for another two years, with the right to place candidates on Vermont ballots. As more and more Vermonters become disillusioned and disgusted with the encroachment of the state and federal governments on our personal and economic lives, our Party will be available, established and entrenched in the Vermont political landscape, to provide our fellow citizens with the only serious and sober political alternative to the stale and decadent incumbent parties.
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The Libertarian Party finds the foregoing statement sinister and chilling. We do, however, agree with the initial observation that access to, and use of private land is at the pleasure of its owners. We strongly object, however, to any implication by any branch of the Vermont government that somehow this is a bad thing. On the contrary, we see private control as a fundamental attribute of private property, and we see private property as a fundamental component of liberty.
What has become of us, that it is now necessary to make statements which are so obvious and clear in terms of America's political heritage and ideology of liberty? The reason is that it has become equally obvious that the agenda of the government of Vermont is nothing less than eventual control of all woodlands currently in private hands. Among the laws in effect or under consideration in Vermont are measures that crimp industrial development of land, regulate the cultivation and harvesting of timber crops on private land, excessively tax land, unfairly control the use of land, and even restrict people from posting or charging for the use of land.
All of this is done in the interests of vague and poetic "vision statements" regarding such things as "fostering a stewardship ethic," "maintaining a quality of life," "ecosystem functions," promotion of "forest sustainability," conserving woodlands as a "mosaic of complementary systems of wild forests and working forests" and even such goals as the use of land for "spiritual renewal, solitude, and social interaction." The problem with such imprecise pap is that, once legislation in support of it gets onto the books, it becomes subject to arbitrary interpretation by executive branch regulators to the further detriment of our basic liberties.
Vermont Libertarian Party chair, Chris Costanzo, Vice-Chair Scott Berkey, and Libertarian activist, logger and landowner Bill Ferrell attended a public meeting in Randolph on October 22, 1997, held by the Agency of Natural Resources of Vermont's Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation to glean public reaction to the Forest Resource Plan. We were gratified that the overwhelming majority of attendees were highly critical of the Plan. We also note with some concern that the Agency's twenty-nine person Steering Committee is top-heavy with foresters, recreation and tourism industry types, economic developers, and others whose constituencies would be benefited by greater government control over private land, and too few representing private property interests. We were further disturbed when one of the Agency's spokesmen pointed out that the Vermont Forest Resource Plan - A Vision for Vermont's Forests has no force of law, and that members of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation have no role in the making of legislation. Since we know that they testify before the legislature, and are consulted regularly on proposed legislation regarding woodlands, the manifest dishonesty of the statement further reinforces our perception of a covetous socialist agenda in Montpelier regarding private property rights in connection with woodlands.
The Libertarian Party is making its voice heard on this issue. We support all lobbies, trade associations, and interest groups such as Citizens for Property Rights, Property Owners Standing Together (P.O.S.T.), Citizens for the Repeal of Act 60, The Vermont Coalition of Municipalities, and the Associated Industries of Vermont (A.I.V.) in their efforts to diminish government control over our property and stop government encroachment on our freedom.
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Every time your elected representative allows even one special provision in the tax code to coerce you to spend your money in a way that the government approves, he has chipped away one more splinter from the edifice of your liberty. (The Congress has just amended 824 such little items in our federal tax law).
Every time the government tells you what you may or may not do with your body or with your property, what you may or may not eat or drink, smoke or ingest, whom you may love or not love, whom you may hire or not hire, to whom you may or may not rent your house, which plants to grow, what trees to cut, and what swamp you may or may not to drain, or how you may or may not defend yourselves from violence, you are further weakened and degraded in your dignity as a free person.
Every time the authorities confiscate your possessions without due process of law, on mere suspicion that they are the product of a crime, each politician who voted for such forfeiture laws has once again insulted our Constitution and shown disdain for your liberty as an American.
Every time a suave, articulate, concerned, decent, upright, moral, caring, elected office-holder casually explains away his reasons for giving more and more power to the government, and taking more and more freedom from you, he is insulting your intelligence as a human being.
Don't fall for it! Get wise. Throughout history, people have rarely lost their freedom in one fell swoop. Instead it is chipped away, a little bit at a time, almost imperceptibly, until, one day, it is too late. Don't let it happen here! Don't let the lure of efficient before-the-fact regulation by the executive branch replace our traditional legal mechanism of after-the-fact responsibility before an independent judiciary.
There was once a time when one could work through the Democratic or Republican parties to ensure respect for our Constitution and adherence to our Bill of Rights. We must recognize that those days are past! The major parties have utterly succumbed to the lure of power, government jobs, and patronage. Do not be deceived by their clever justifications for trimming your rights and reducing your own power. The traditional politicians have long passed the point of no return. As defenders of your Liberty, the incumbent political establishment is through, ended, blotto, finished, kaput, finito. For your sake, recognize that ugly truth!!
The Libertarian Party is the ONLY serious party in America that has traditional Liberty as its core principle. But we understand that the political habits of a lifetime are hard to break, and that people will not easily turn from their accustomed adherence to the Democrats or Republicans. And for that reason we cannot promise you immediate political success, only steady growth.
But we DO promise you that we are here to stay, as a solid and reliable and highly principled fixture on the Vermont and American political landscape. As you come to realize the danger in continuing with the Democrats and Republicans, you can take comfort that the LIBERTARIAN PARTY is here for you. We have been around a long time, and we will continue to be around, ready to receive voters as they become more and more disgusted and disillusioned by the degrading, damaging, humiliating, and insulting activities of their current officials.
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"Like every other American, Shirley Allen has the fundamental right to be left alone," said Steve Dasbach, national chairman of the Libertarian Party. "Instead, the police have taken this poor woman hostage in her own home, and they're refusing to negotiate." When Allen ignored demands to leave her house, police decided to "help" her comply, explained Terrance Gainer, director of the state police.
The Libertarian Party believes that the Illinois state police should quit trying to "help" Shirley Allen--before they kill her. First they shot canisters of tear gas through her windows, so she covered her body with lotion and wrapped her head in a wet towel to stop the chemical's sting. Then they shot her with so-called "bean bag" bullets in an attempt to disable her, and she retreated into her house. Police then cut off her electricity; arrested a neighbor who tried to bring her food and water; deprived her of sleep by shining spotlights into her windows; and blasted Barry Manilow songs throughout the night.
"And they call Shirley Allen strange?" Dasbach asked. "Police are using the same military tactics against her as the U.S. armed forces used to drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega from his refuge a decade ago. Americans should question the sanity of an armed group of men who feel compelled to treat a grieving, 51-year-old widow like a terrorist."
The spectacle has drawn reporters from as far away as England and Australia to the small, central Illinois town of Roby, which has been dubbed "Roby Ridge" in reference to the 1992 Idaho standoff in which FBI agents killed two people.
According to friends and neighbors, Allen was "never the same" after she lost her husband to cancer eight years ago. But they dispute police claims that she is mentally unstable. One supporter said, "She's got more sense than the police have."
"For a supposedly mentally disturbed woman, she's done a remarkable job of anticipating this police attack and outwitting these officers when they approached," Dasbach said. "She stored food and water. When they shot at her in an attempt to disable her, she survived unscathed and retreated into the house. Then Shirley Allen tried to do the responsible thing--and wait them out."
Instead, police, who nicknamed the siege Operation Patience, approached the house and escalated their attacks, forcing her to fire a shotgun in self-defense. "No wonder onlookers are worried about another Ruby Ridge or a rerun of Waco," Dasbach said. "The authorities are heavily armed, unaccountable, and apparently out of control. Shirley Allen hasn't been killed by her government yet --and if the Illinois State Police come to their senses, she won't be."
It's time to replace Operation Patience with Operation Sanity--and end the war on Shirley Allen. And it's time to start respecting the right of our neighbors to be left alone--so no American will ever have to live in fear of an armed police attack on his or her home.
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