Recently we had the pleasant experience of dealing with our HomeTown Motors. We were very pleased with their service. They gave us a deal on our car that was as good if not better than we could’ve gotten out of town. If you’re in the market for a car try these people. It’s good to shop in town.
Wilbur and Mary Ann Crawford
The recent letter by Mr. Smoot was worthy of support and an inspiration for me to offer some comments of my own. My wife and I are some of the folks he spoke of, we drove thru Wyoming as part of our dedicated search to find a better place to live, and found Wyoming. Being born and raised in Illinois we became dismayed and disgusted with the political corruption of the elected officials there, how many states can lay claim to having so many elected officials and Governors convicted of corruption? As in many states with huge metropolitan areas, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, the Democratic political machines cater to the moochers, a multi-generational welfare class, that uses the entire state’s resources to meet the failing cities needs. But as with a disease in the body that goes untreated, it spreads, sometimes destroying the hoist, Illinois is a prime example. Tragically the disease has become nation wide.
The major media outlets are all based in those cities, as are many of the so called premier schools of higher education, colleges and universities. The hypocritical leaders of political parties, media and higher education enjoy their standard of living and freedoms due to this countries morals, traditions and laws. However as elitist do, they believe they know what is best for everyone. Possibly some have good intentions, but that does not make them right. In order to further their goals their motto has become “The Ends Justifies the Means”. The best way to further an agenda, to convince people, is to include some truth. As groups like environmentalist do to stop the use of our natural timber resources, as the Federal government does with the EPA to stop the use of Coal, as the Department of the Interior does to stop the drilling of oil and natural gas wells. And our state government did passing a gasoline tax that furthers private interest over the good of its citizens. However the citizens of our country, our state have allowed this. Why?
The common denominators in the public arenas are a professional political class, dedicated to getting reelected to office for life, do anything, say anything to stay in office. The great leaders of the past where asked to serve by their fellow citizens. Not by party leaders looking for syncopates who agree with everything they are told to agree with.
Next is the media, news and entertainment, who further their personal options with bias and even dishonest information. Instead of presenting the events and allowing truthfully informed citizens to make up their own minds, they hold up as good any source that demeans the values of our past, our country.
Last of the common denominators is the tenured higher education professors. They are perhaps the most at fault, since they teach, form, the politicians and media stars and many public school teacher’s slanted and bias points of view; decrying the idea of America exceptionalism and values.
But as much at fault as these groups are we citizens are not blameless. Not voting, accepting a lessoning of values such as, “cutting corners”, you know, everyone else does it. Not sharing ideas with our peers, our youth, of character and honor, respect for others and yourself, fair play. It is wrong and dangerous letting others mold our society for us because we are too busy to participate. Politicians, media celebrities, educators should not be asked, or allowed to form the values of children, let alone the direction our country. What is the future of our country, our state if this trend of lack of participation continues? Ask this question; is the country, the state, a better place to live now?
Being in attendance of the ONEOK vs. Watson/Bush eminent domain hearing, Sundance, Wyoming; I was not surprised when I later read that ONEOK had been granted eminent domain against the Watson and Bush ranches. This was clear to me before the first day of their hearing was over. Wyoming Eminent Domain Act (the “Act”) states all the elements (4) that ONEOK had the burden to prove before the court could Grant Immediate Possession. In their opening ONEOK informed the court they “welcome the burden to prove” these four elements, with three witnesses and it would be “relevant for the court to consider and rule if ONEOK had met this burden of proof,” before the burden could switch to the landowners to rebut. However, ONEOK rested their case and the defense asked for a direct ruling, the court refused to rule, but instead switched the burden to the defense to prove ONEOK had not proven the required elements. This lack of integrity by the court denied the landowners due process and the rule of law. The “Act” clearly states the burden of proof belongs to ONEOK and with the court unwilling to rule that ONEOK had met this burden the defense had nothing to rebut. I obtained a copy of the court’s transcript, Judge Perry’s ruling, the defendant’s closing statement and ONEOK’s self-issued “Order Granting Immediate Possession” for Judge Perry to sign. The truth is clear that ONEOK did not prove the required elements. The court used the one witness’s testimony that had to be hearsay and/or perjury, also, one rebuttal witness that gave false/hearsay testimony and one rebuttal witness gave his opinion, these witnesses acknowledged this in their testimony. Theodore Roosevelt once stated; “I shall see to it that every man has a square deal, no more and no less.” These legal documents show that the landowners did not receive a square deal in this court hearing. My opinion is that dismissal of ONEOK’s case or a ruling for the defendants was not an option to be considered.
I now understand why ONEOK had not been concerned about siting their pipeline in Crook County and right up to the defendant’s fence line before this hearing or Judge Perry’s “Official” Ruling. ONEOK’s witnesses proved that this pipeline route through the Spearfish Formation is not a necessity or in the best interest of the public. ONEOK (155/12) told the court: Mr. Eberts, project manager, has testified that NGLs in the raw form are “Essentially Worthless,” homes cannot be heated with NGLs; there is no market for NGLs in Wyoming and that “In raw form NGLs don’t have a particular use.” There is clearly not a necessity for risking the public safety and our environment by transporting a hazardous material through this unique geological formation. The national news has been reporting on sinkholes and the danger being encountered by the public, even taking human lives. The Spearfish Formation is known for landslides and sinkholes and ONEOK’s own study identified 50 sinkholes in a short distance along their route south of I-90. They predict that 74% of any future sinkholes along the route will put the pipeline at high risk. The report also states: “The entire alignment reach underlain by the Spearfish Formation appeared to be susceptible to the development of sinkholes” and one ONEOK’s witness testified they were having trouble with the Formation just siting their pipe. The documents show that money is the leading factor in this route selection, this seems to supports an old saying, money talks in Wyoming-just put enough of it in the right pockets and it will say anything you want.
To do business in Wyoming, ONEOK had to accept the Wyoming Constitution and operate in a manner so as not to intervene with the public good and general welfare. I need to note that Governor Mead’s office had sent word to the Crook County Commissioners that whatever ONEOK wanted to do was fine with the governor. I believe this is related to the court’s ruling. When I put Judge Perry’s Ruling together with other legal documents, it showed a vast disregard and complete disrespect for the Wyoming Constitution, Wyoming’s statutes, and the Environmental Quality ACT by the very people sworn to up- hold them. These documents are written on the premise of the Health, Welfare, and Safety of all the Citizens of Wyoming and the Protection of our entire State’s Environment (air and water) for Current and Future Generations. Mr. Eberts, ONEOK’s project manager and expert witness, testified: When selecting a pipeline route; “The main considerations are ones of public safety and environment” and “as in this case” was not considered.
Judge Perry ruled (CRT. 8/e): through both “Fact and expert testimony” ONEOK had proved W.S. 1-26-504(a) (ii) that the planning and location of their route was in the greatest public good and the least private harm. Fact: Mr. Eberts, ONEOK’s Project Manager, Key and Expert Witness, took an oath, to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth and then testified: ONEOK had simply “selected the most direct route,” and “Balancing that risk with Public Safety Considerations and of Environmental Impact, as in this case, ONEOK did not select the better route.” Mr. Eberts could not make it any clearer, ONEOK did not prove W.S. 1-26-504(a) (ii) and Judge Perry’s ruling is not based on the facts given in ONEOK’s key and expert testimony. ONEOK also told the court (157/10); the overall selection was testified to plainly and clearly by Mr. Eberts. This would have to be hearsay and /or perjury testimony, as Mr. Eberts had testified (69/21) that he was not working for ONEOK at the time of the route’s selection. ONEOK’s rebuttal witness (Kyle Pearson) gave his “Opinion” on the procedure used, by what he called, ONEOK’s “Desk-Top” selection and planning of this route and stated his opinion was based on what Mr. Eberts had said. Hearsay and personal opinion are not evidence and by using them to justify his ruling, I believe the judge showed bad faith and abuse of discretion with his authority denying landowners due process and justice under the law. Is the norm for Wyoming’s courts?
The court ruled the purpose of the pipeline was to transport raw NGLs (a hazardous material) from Montana through Wyoming to the Overland Pipeline in northern Colorado. 0neok stated (12/23) “It will provide an adequate way to get NGLs (from North Dakota) to the mid- west continent market,” this is in Bushton, Kansas or the Gulf Coast, Monte, Bellview area, but where and what happens to the NGLs after reaching the Overland Pipeline has no bearing on this case. But, public safety and protecting our environment with the selection of the pipeline route to the Overland Pipeline causes great concerns.
Judge Perry ruled that ONEOK had demonstrated a direct benefit with the taxes to be paid. Taxes are not a direct benefit to the public, and must be paid wherever the route is located. The evidence shows that by using the most direct route the pipeline will pay fewer taxes and the location will cause a loss of taxes. ONEOK’s rebuttal witness, Molly Atkins, testified; “I’m not a tax expert,” that she had no direct access to or knowledge of this tax information, but had simply testified to what she had been told. Not only hearsay but evidence showed her testimony was not all correct and when added to the list that is quite lengthy, shows the court’s lack of integrity and disrespect for the landowners, denying them due process and equal justice under the law concerning the legal requirement of the “Act”.
The headlines read: “Wyoming Falls Flat on Integrity” The nationwide study places “Wyoming the Third Worst State in the Nation” for being accountable to its citizens. It is now crystal clear to me why the same study gave Wyoming Courts an “F.” The report showed that without accountability to the citizens there is a high risk for corruption. This is just a small example; accountability will only come when the people get tired of being second rate Wyoming citizens.