Letters to the Editor – May 29

To whom it may concern:

I decorated the grave at Beulah cemetery on Saturday morning, and when I went back, one of the bouquets had been moved to another grave. This was very hurtful and disturbing, and I don’t understand how anyone could do this.

Sandra Dickinson

I seldom respond to editorials but I thought it was important to respond to the letter about the specific purpose optional tax (SPOT). In Crook County, it is used overwhelmingly for infrastructure projects. I think we should all keep in mind that the SPOT, or sixth cent, tax expired and most of us never noticed it went away. The SPOT tax is one of the very few taxes that is paid by locals, people that work here, and tourists alike. There are surveys that suggest that over 50% of this tax is paid by people from outside the area.

Every time I read the paper or watch the news, I hear or see about decaying infrastructure here in America and this tax is used to help remedy that problem. I can’t speak for the county, however their projects are listed on the ballot and without the SPOT tax there would not be funding for these projects. I can speak for the towns and without the tax, we would have to put off projects and raise rates to pay for replacement of decaying infrastructure.

In Sundance, much of the water and sewer line was placed in the 1950s and it is now 60 years old and in need of some attention which this tax can help with. No one likes a tax but this is a tax like the old saying “you can pay it now or pay more later.”

Paul Brooks, Mayor of Sundance

Cliven Bundy and his ranching situation in Nevada has been in and out the news lately. Regardless if you think he’s right or wrong, it brings up a “legal event” that I have been talking about with friends and family for some time now.

The Statehood Trust held that Federal government was supposed to return title of unsold public lands back to the states years ago. The Federal Government promoted the western migration, Homestead Act, and other acts of legislation passed to encourage settlers to “Go West” and for the most part the plans worked.

But the vast and arid lands of the west did not appeal to most settlers, but ranchers and cowboys took the challenge. They didn’t need to buy most of the land, they just needed the grazing rights- rent so to speak.

The mountains were definitely not suitable for settlers and farmland, but the loggers seemed to enjoy the life up there, and they could basically contract for the timber without buying the land- rent so to speak.

So the bottom line is that these modern era Western Lands were not sold for private property to the citizens- just leased access with minimal legal rights.

Back in 1976, Congress unilaterally declared that it was their new “policy to retain these lands in federal ownership.” (FLPMA) by legislative act. However, the Statehood agreements were a trust (as defined by the Supreme Court), and in the rules of government, a trust supersedes all ineffectual legislation, unless the legislation too can rise to the status of a trust or treaty.

In fact, the last lands returned to the “western states” were to Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. These were indeed at one time the WESTERN states. And these Western States knew:

• the Statehood contracts (the federal government shall “extinguish title”,

• the Constitution (Article IV, Section 3),

• the Supreme Court on more than one occasion has agreed that the Statehood contracts (or the Enabling Acts) were trusts with agreements to be performed in a timely fashion.

As recent as 2009, in the Supreme Court Case of Hawaii v. OHA- Hawaii won the title of the previously held Federal Lands.

Do you think that the western states would be better managers of these lands?

Do you think that the Cliven Bundy situation might have been different if the Feds had performed “in a timely fashion” as agreed in the Statehood Trust?

Do you think that Mr. Bundy’s senator, Mr. Reid, will act according to the mandates of the Statehood Agreements, and return title back to Nevada?

Do you think if title of the Fed Lands doesn’t go back to the Western States, the Bundy Ranch situation will end badly? (You know this isn’t over.)

Civil men honor civil situations in a civil and just manner, according to the State and Federal law- Statehood agreements have binding laws that place obligations on both sides.

For more information, please go to www.AmericanLandsCouncil.org and you see what can happen if we had local control of western public lands and not the D.C. mentality managing our lands. And where would land disputes be best resolved… by the DC management with their egalitarian perspective or your state government where your vote impacts their decisions?

Thank you,

Rod Geil

Pine Haven