CAPR Property Rights Newsletter Volume 3
Help protect your property rights—add an ally
By Glen Morgan, Executive Director
It is obvious to most that there is strength in numbers. This is true with most endeavors in life, and protecting our freedoms and our property rights is no exception. Unfortunately, the challenge with protecting our freedoms or property rights is the usual paradox associated with concentrated costs and distributed benefits. Everyone benefits from strong property rights, but few are willing to lead the fight to protect them.
For example, our nation, our society, and our neighbors all benefit from a strong protection of property rights. This is demonstrated repeatedly throughout history, both in the growth and expansion of our nation, but also when other nations implement strong property rights protections as documented by Hernado de Soto in “The Mystery of Capital” - when property rights are recognized and protected, society improves and becomes more prosperous. When these rights are eroded or removed then previously prosperous societies will descend into misery as the example of Venezuela so effectively demonstrates.
The erosion of our property rights has been a gradual process over many years, and the piecemeal attacks accumulate as a “death from 1000” cuts strategy to both wear down the opposition (us) and to reward those who can profit from the demise of our freedoms. While the trend has been in the wrong direction, this is no prediction for the future.
To prevail in this fight and both protect our property rights as well as roll back some the explosive growth of the administrative state, we need more people to join our cause. The more people who join us, the stronger we are as an organization. The more we grow, the more we can influence our elected officials, good policy choices, and change the direction in local government.
To support us in this effort, please consider friends of yours who should join our cause, and sign them up to be a member of the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR). This is the season for giving. Consider giving them an opportunity to help us in this fight. As Cindy details in her Lobbyist Report, there is strength in numbers and the more people who can join our organization, the more effective we will become.
CAPR Lobbyist Update : Members Impact Legislation in Olympia
By Cindy Alia, CAPR Lobbyist
Lobbying for our constitutionally protected property rights is CAPR’s goal as we present the perspective of property owners in Olympia. Bills are often centered around a specific goal and at times bill writers do not consider how that goal might impact property rights, the work of CAPR is to insert a concept of protecting property rights into a bill when it might damage our rights.
As your lobbyist I have overcome roadblocks in Olympia. One of the first questions I face when making an appointment to discuss a bill with a legislator is “are you a constituent?”. Thankfully, I can reply “no, I am not a constituent, I represent CAPR members who are constituents”. This answer garners attention from legislators. My truthful answer is at the heart of what we at CAPR are working to accomplish – representing you the property owner and CAPR member, and your interests across the state.
In Olympia I represent your point of view, and remind your legislators why considering property rights when contemplating legislation is important to them and those they are elected to represent. The more members CAPR has, the more effective my lobbying for property rights becomes. When I inform a legislator of your concerns, you do not have to travel to Olympia to testify because I have provided your point of view in person. You can back that up with emails, phone calls, or personal visits if you chose to do so, your point has been made and repeated.
CAPR members can sign on for legislative emails sent during session to keep you informed about bills and the status of those bills so you can call or email your legislator in a timely manner, expanding the impact of CAPR members. https://proprights.org/subscribe
My testimony is informed by CAPR members who have called or emailed me with their concerns. Just as often I have called CAPR members to gain the opinions and expertise they can offer on an important bill we face. Again, our strength in numbers has high impact - CAPR has many bright, well-informed individual members with expertise in a wide variety of fields, from real estate to farmers and ranchers, to scientists with expertise in water, geology, and wildlife management.
At CAPR, we lobby to make concrete the ideal of property rights for our members. Your membership strengthens that impact on legislative deliberations.
Washington State County Roundup...Local Elections
Thurston County Elections Reverse Property Rights Progress since 2016
In one of the closest county commissioner elections in decades, Incumbent Independent Commissioner Bud Blake was narrowly defeated by local attorney “Tye” Menser. With a margin of 861 votes (out of 115,000 votes cast in this race), this narrow victory may not provide Commissioner elect Menser a mandate to inflict harm on local property owners, but his supporters including former Thurston County Commissioners Romero and Vanenzuela (who Blake originally defeated in 2014) certainly are cheering him on. Menser is also likely to push for tax increases and increasingly aggressive harmful regulatory efforts by the planning department.
King County elections discourage good governance
With the exception of the 31st Legislative District, which includes part of south Thurston County, all property rights friendly legislators in this county have been voted out of office. All the current elected officials at the state and congressional level from this county are now in favor of increased taxes and more harmful property rights restrictions on local residents (and everywhere else in the state). While there are still some good local elected officials currently in office outside the City of Seattle, they are outnumbered by the more extreme politicians who appear poised to imitate Seattle’s worst excesses and attempt to import them into the surrounding areas.
While local voters who wish to avoid being taxed out of their homes are discouraged, they know it will be tough for a while with the max tax philosophy ascendant in this area.
Additional concerns about expanding homeless camps, encouraging heroin injection sites and the total failure to impose any adult supervision on the endless incompetence and abuses perpetrated by Sound Transit are adding to the list of local woes.
Clallam County retains Commissioner Peach in victory for Property Rights
Despite a fairly aggressive effort to unseat incumbent Republican Commissioner Bill Peach, he was able to easily win re-election this year. The opposition made a serious push to attack Commissioner Peach, but their efforts fizzled.
Clallam County is one of the only Home Rule Charter counties in Washington State which has not radically increased taxes and debt over the past few decades. However, the Dungeness Watershed efforts over past years (along with Kittitas County efforts) became the test cases for the Hirst Decision and have effectively imposed artificial restrictions on local home building and property rights.
Douglas County elected property rights friendly Commissioner Marc Straub
Douglas County has improved the Douglas County Commission by electing another property rights friendly Commissioner, newly elected Marc Straub. Douglas County has been known in Eastern Washington for having a variety of local ordinances that appear to have been imported from the Western side of the state. Commissioner Straub adds some much needed support to the new commissioners elected in 2016 who will need to work to reform some of the policies and programs that had been imposed on local property owners in previous years.
Franklin County elects Clint Didier to County Commission
Clint Didier, who has been a candidate for Public Lands Commissioner, Congress, and State Senator, was elected by the voters in November to be the newest County Commissioner. Didier has long been an outspoken champion of property rights, lower taxes, and openness in local government.
Mason County voters elect Sharon Trask as newest County Commissioner
Mason County voters elected Sharon Trask as the newest County Commissioner this year. She is the former Legislative Aide to State Republican Minority Leader JT Wilcox, and is widely viewed as a strong property rights advocate.
Lewis County Home Rule Charter effort fizzles, wisely rejected by voters
Lewis County, just like Skagit County, was considering a Home Rule Charter option this year but it was soundly defeated (just like in Skagit County). Additionally local voters rejected a poorly thought out Transportation Benefit District which would have increased taxes and provided little value to the community.
Local Elections outside King County and metro areas largely support property rights...
As seen on the previous two pages with some specific examples, many local elections for county commission seats indicated mostly supportive results for property rights and related freedoms. If voters were presented with options which included candidates who clearly support property rights versus the extreme hostile agenda proposed by many politicians, voters usually choose property rights friendly folk. In addition to the examples presented earlier, positive results were seen in Cowlitz, Clark, and Pacific counties.
There have been setbacks, of course, but the cause of freedom, reducing local tax burdens, and reducing or eliminating abusive and irrational regulations are causes worth supporting. As more elected officials realize how critical these issues have become for local voters, then these politicians are likely to become more skeptical of the administrative state and its rapacious hostility to our freedoms.
AVISTA / HYDRO ONE Sale Denied by WUTC!
By Cindy Alia
The Energy and tenacity of Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR), Spokane Treasurer Rob Chase who pursued coordination under the the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, Idaho based Avista Customer Group, and many concerned and commenting citizens of both Washington and Idaho were very effective in putting pressure on the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Committee (WUTC), who in Washington State had the final say in determining if Avista, a United States owned utility company could be purchased by a Canadian utility company, Hydro One!
We at CAPR are grateful for all those from many "constituencies" who enaged in the battle over ownership and control of our nation's resources and utilities. At question, in part, was if this proposed sale would be of a "net benefit" to the citizens of this state and to the consumers of electricity produced by Avista. The WUTC concluded there would not be a net benefit. The final order of the Commission reads in part: The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission), acting under RCW Chapters 80.01, 80.04, and 80.12, finds that the proposed transaction whereby Hydro One Limited (Hydro One) would acquire indirectly all outstanding common stock of Avista Corporation (Avista) fails to provide a net benefit to Avista’s customers. The Commission accordingly “shall not approve” the transaction, as required under RCW 80.12.020. The Commission finds, in addition, that the proposed transaction “is not consistent with the public interest” in consideration of which “it shall deny the application” under WAC 480-143-170.
The question is still under investigation in Idaho by the Utilities Commission (PUC) in that state. It is understood that if all 5 states impacted by the proposed sale, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Montana are not in agreement with the sale it will not be approved to go forward. Washington has not approved the sale, and it is under serious review in Idaho, case documents in Idaho have recorded the objections of Avista Customer Group, and these arguments can be read here:
It is very heartening to see that in America, and in this case, especially in the states of Washington and Idaho, the will of the people can, with hard facts, sourced documents and research, the persistent use of the rule of law, and putting shoulders to the load with an organized and integrated will to reach a goal, can cause government to listen and act accordingly. Well done citizens!
CAPR works to protect property owners’ rights and their septic systems
By Glen Morgan
Until this summer, property owners have never been represented on the Washington State Department of Health Onsite Sewage System (OSS) policy and technical rule revision Committee (basically an ad hoc committee to determine Washington State’s rules regarding septic systems).
Historically, only bureaucrats, environmental extremists, and industry representatives (septic pumping, designers, etc.) were involved. This may have been one reason why these policies seem to keep getting worse and more hostile to property owners over the years.
However, after CAPR’s lobbyist, Cindy Alia, and Betsy Howe, CAPR board member and founder of COOMWA, an organization formed to protect Septic Owners, had been so active in pushing a bill last session for more property-owner friendly regulations, and pushing for more openness in the process, the Washington State Health Board agreed to have both Cindy and Betsy at their meetings over the past six months.
Cindy’s and Betsy’s assertive representation of property owner concerns and their willingness to speak up and confront harmful policy ideas pushed by the other side has been effective in preventing a lot of bad ideas from being written into rule, when these ideas might otherwise have been passed without a second thought.
It certainly helped that hundreds of people showed up at county meetings to oppose the “Turd Tax” fees being proposed in King County and Thurston County over the past few years, this visible opposition at public meetings helped pave the way for Cindy and Betsy to continue to make progress in meetings at the state level.
Skagit County – Winning the Fight to Defeat the Charter Initiative
By Gary Hagland, CAPR Skagit County
Twenty-one days after the November 6th election, the excruciating slow process of counting votes in Skagit County was over. However, after only a week of sorting through ballots, it was evident the initiative to transform Skagit into a county that resembled its dysfunctional neighbors was soundly beaten back. In the end, voters turned down charter government by a 2 to1 margin.
An overwhelming majority of Skagit residents were not impressed by the arguments from the charter supporters that a new county governing structure needed to be implemented in order to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century, that seven to nine council members could provide better representation than the three existing commissioners, and Skagit had reached a population tipping point that required a new form of government.
Once before, Skagit County faced the prospect of charter government. In 2003, the then mayor of Mt Vernon, wanting more influence in county affairs, orchestrated the campaign. However, that effort ended in the measure’s defeat by an overwhelming 72% to 28%. This time, the results were similar.
The effort to change Skagit County was a result of angry and frustrated environmental radicals who seethed over the fact that the three county commissioners ignored their demands on a number of issues. Realizing they had little chance of unseating any of the three, they chose instead to pursue changing the structure of county government.
At the beginning of 2018, the pro-charter organizers began unobtrusively visiting groups that shared their goals and views about the environment and politics in general. They explained the charter process and suggested that it was the fastest and easiest way of getting rid of the recalcitrant commissioners. Then they sought signatures on the petition that would put an initiative on the ballot during the general election.
With sufficient signatures obtained by August, the pro charter leaders intentionally held off dropping the petition until the last minute at the auditor’s office. To get on the ballot, the law mandates the number of signatures be at least 10% of the previous general election’s vote total. The election in 2017 featured mostly local city or town council races, mayoral contests in Anacortes and Burlington, and a smattering of levies. Turnout was predictably low, so the number of needed signatures were much fewer than what would have been required a year after a presidential or congressional election.
With the charter measure on the November ballot, those opposed scrambled to organize a credible response. They quickly chose a name; “No On Charter.” They established a steering committee, sought volunteers for freeholder candidates, began raising money to publicize the anti-charter campaign, and enlisted bipartisan support from leaders, past and present, in the Skagit community.
Thanks to some very generous donors, No On Charter could afford broadcast and online media as well as newspaper ads. This proved invaluable in getting the message out that the charter measure was a product of leftwing radicals who were attempting to gain control or at least substantially increase their influence in local county government, despite cloaking their rhetoric in platitudes and claiming they were just ordinary residents of Skagit concerned about good governance.
In addition, a small cadre of individuals took it upon themselves to submit letters to the editor of several local papers making salient points about the pitfalls of charter government as well as the true nature of the pro charter folks. Charter governments, especially in King and Whatcom, were used as prime examples of what to expect if Skagit decided to discard its current governing structure. Neither county council is noted for wise decision making.
A significant point made by those who were against the charter was that rural residents and especially farmers lost representation in favor of the more populous cities. This is a pattern seen time and again in the state’s charter counties.
Early in the campaign, the No On Charter committee encountered a significant if somewhat suspicious obstacle when faced with not being able to get their opposition position statement and rebuttal to the pro charter statement in the voter’s guide because of an unpublicized county elections department internal deadline. In many cases, the guide is the sole source a voter uses in determining how he or she marks a ballot. In a panic, the No On Charter committee contacted the county auditor, seeking her assistance. She personally interceded and directed the elections department to include the statements.
The pro charter crowd’s lack of awareness exposed them for who they were. In a gift to those working against the charter, the pro charter group published an article on their website, “Home Rule Skagit,” lamenting the defeat of Envision Skagit 2060, a so-called plan to lead the county into the 21st Century. The plan never received the support of the majority of county leaders and was shelved in 2013.
Envision Skagit 2060, besides being a waste of time and resources paid for with an EPA grant, was a blueprint for economic stagnation under the cover of leftwing policy fantasies. It was also a real threat to property rights. Using an Agenda 21 template, the plan advocated for downsized, crowded housing arrangements, dramatically increased mass transit, more green spaces with the vast majority of people confined to a narrow “urban growth area” corridor along I-5. Disturbingly, policy decisions were to be determined not only by elected officials, but also by private individuals.
After the election, one would think that the pro charter crowd, having just received a substantial defeat at the hands of the voters, would be reluctant to attempt another campaign any time soon. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
As of this writing, Home Rule Skagit has scheduled meetings for December 2018 and January 2019 to plot a path forward. Even though an overwhelming majority of Skagit voters obviously want to continue with a traditional county structure, the pro charter folks apparently intend to persist until they get what they want.
Knowing what’s best for everyone else is a quality that the arrogant left, especially the radical environmentalists in their number, possess in abundance. They want to order the lives of others based on their often peculiar world views and biases. However, they should know, at least in the case of another attempt at forcing a charter government on Skagit County, they will be met with stronger resistance next time. Bet on it.
Growing our movement
By Glen Morgan, Executive Director
This election season in Washington State was not friendly to our freedoms, and many of the new legislators in Olympia are hostile to our property rights. They view our property as something they can take through increased taxes and regulations. While they don’t look at their own property this way, there is little expectation that reason and a concern for our freedoms will be high on their priority list.
Unfortunately, one challenge we must overcome is the fact that so many organizations, bureaucrats, and individuals who are opposed to property rights also profit, at least in the short term, from the demise of our freedoms. Whether it is just increasing taxes to reward a constituency or shifting government grants to favored political allies, or even just attempting to feed the insatiable appetite of a growing bureaucracy, every action taken by our elected officials has a cumulative costs to our current freedoms, and our future prosperity.
These policy decisions have a real world impact on us, our neighbors, and many people in our community who are probably oblivious to these issues.
I encourage you to think back to who you were or what you were doing when you first discovered the threat to your freedoms and property rights. While it may seem self-evident to you today, there was probably a time when you were living your life and unconcerned about these threats to your freedoms. However, something woke you up. Maybe it was a personal experience you had with your own property - interacting with government tends to grow our ranks. Perhaps it was observing a tale of government tyranny with your neighbor or a family member. It is possible you were just an astute observer of the gradual changes occurring in local government and your community and your civic awareness ensured you would care and get involved.
It is worth remembering why you care and what caused you to engage in this fight.
It is worth remembering because there are many around you - friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who also need to engage and while some may see the challenges for themselves, it doesn’t hurt to expose them to these challenges, and more importantly, to encourage them to engage in an effective effort to restore freedom, expose the truth, and restore our property rights.
Take the time to grow our movement. Encourage others to join with you so that they may help us and our effort to prevail. They need to know they are not alone in their concerns, and there are many of us who are willing to engage. Help them join Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) today. As we continue to grow our movement, successes will grow with us.