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Tea Party confronts Cleveland City Council on first amendment

In Government on August 14, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Press release
Delivered to Cleveland Tennessee City Council
August 13, 2012

Tea Party of Bradley County
Cleveland, Tennessee

Mayor Tom Rowland and City Council,

On June 18th, 2012 I witnessed first hand the Cleveland City Council and it’s Mayor Tom Rowland display behavior uncharacteristic of a free Republic bound to the US, the State Constitution and the Cleveland Charter.

With this most recent breech, it is safe to say that our 1st Amendment rights are in peril in Bradley County, Tennessee. There is still an egregious resolution on the books that has yet to be reversed that limits our freedom of speech.

Cleveland, Tennessee City Mayor Tom Rowland, with a unanimous resolution vote of 7 to 0 by his council, ordered an investigation using police force to hunt down, arrest and expose members of my group as we made efforts to inform the community of horrendous plans for their community, thus criminalizing free speech. Thankfully the local Sherrif and the 10th judicial District Attorney saw this as what it was, an expression of free speech, thus curtailing a manhunt, further public humiliation and a possible federal prison sentence.

The Mayor and Council took offense to a flyer that was passed out to the community surrounding the old Whirlpool site warning of the demolition and redevelopment of 300 plus homes in south Cleveland. This flyer contained truthful and accurate information based on the last known public meeting where that information was provided. The White paper draft plan is the last known information that has been made available to the public in a public setting. Since much public outcry and protest of these proposed actions a revised edition of that plan has been revealed in what can be best construed as a change made in private setting.

Only after approximately 7 days of public humiliation was this latest information provided. The latest information was reportedly released after strong community concern and protest and the white paper was supposedly changed. This change then reflected the negation of the previous proposed draft that called for demolition and redevelopment of 300 plus homes in the downtown area. The latest adoption of this plan has not been made known to the public except when the press inquired about the original draft plan.

Since this time, the Tea Party of Bradley County held a town hall meeting. The Mayor and 7 council members were invited by certified mail. Only one councilman Bill Estes and one County Planner bothered to show up to confront approximately 150 civilians, a great portion residents from the Southside of Cleveland concerned about their livelihood and the security of their private property.

This would have afforded a great opportunity for this Mayor and his council to address their concerns and put them at ease. Instead with the exception of one city councilman, this governing body missed a fantastic opportunity to answer the citizens question they represent. This missed opportunity tells of the disconnect this body has with the people they represent.

I am convinced that this initial offering of information was only a shot across the bow of what is coming to our community, specifically the downtown area. Since this time we have heard further debate of eminent domain, demolition and development at the Ocoee/25th street exchange and on highway 60 around and through the Georgetown community, where many acres of private property will be taken by proposed growth plans. The exact action where just a few weeks prior this body condemned, reprimanded and investigated citizens of this county for informing the community about. With this doublespeak and deception I am convinced eminent domain will be a major implementation tool to revamp the downtown area and the county as the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic plan is further implemented. The Chambers Doug Berry has said it is a given, I draw from this comment that eminent domain will be used to develop our city and county. With this most recent resolution the Mayor and his council have successfully criminalized free speech in Bradley County.

This move by Mayor Tom Rowland created much fear and caused several to hide in fear of retaliation. Since the Mayors press conference basically calling this action illegal, mean spirited and untruthful has caused a great pummeling by the local media, the Chamber of Commerce, locally elected officials and planners on many citizens of Cleveland Tennessee. While siding with Mayor Rowland this group has relentlessy worked to discredit and tarnish the reputations of many within our group with lies and falsehoods further adding to the endless attacks upon it’s citizens and criminalizing our actions.

The Mayor and his Council with one swift vote has caused great harm to the citizens of this community. This action should embarrass this administration as efforts were made vigorously to squelch our first amendment rights. The attacks have been consistent and have even led to further allegations of potential wrong doing on the part of the Tea Party.

The damage and embarrassment this administration has done to this community can probably never be undone but this Mayor and City council by rescinding this resolution and replacing it with a new confirmation may start the healing process. I am asking that this governing body make the needed changes within the next 2 weeks of this date calling for a revision and replacement of the aforementioned resolution and a confirmation that our free speech rights will remain intact in perpetuity.

We must not let this action go unchecked because of the seriousness of it’s content for it’s citizens. No Mayor or representative of government at any level should have the power to stifle and quash free speech and plant fear into the hearts of its citizens at his will simply for exercising their God given constitutional rights to assemble, speak and redress our government.

Let me remind you that this is no game and you cannot simply throw your constituency to the wolves as a sacrificial lamb for your own selfish reasons. The lives you intend to destroy from this pulpit are not willing to continue to take your repeated lashing at their integrity. Playing with people’s lives at the risk of political expediency is a dangerous game and leaves many potentially hurt within the path of tyrannical behavior.

Our forefathers wrote the constitution to prevent the actions that the Mayor and his council have taken. No form of government should be so mighty and powerful to think it does not have to answer to the people or to the constitution that protects us all. No Mayor or his council should ever appear from behind our constitutional cover and lash out toward the people you represent while swinging a swath of destruction that has no boundaries.

We are asking Mayor Rowland and his council to publicly apologize and strike down his freedom eliminating resolution and replace it with another resolution proclaiming that our liberties and freedoms are restored and respected by a government that is clearly out of touch with it’s citizens.

Our actions to retain an attorney was decided upon after a thorough evaluation of the seriousness of the charges that were levied against Cleveland and Bradley County Citizens. The continuous attacks by our government and others have had a temporary and long lasting effect on the movement of our Tea Party and has caused many to “hide” from fear of misaligned exposure and criminalization. According to recent information provided this is not the first action by this council to squelch free speech, a pattern of abuse of power is now presenting itself.

We must shed light on this runaway government and end it’s frightening tactics. We must end the tyranny today, for those that may choose to live in Bradley County tomorrow.

Liberty must outlast tyranny, the attacks of a few should never be accepted as the political norm and the law of the land, placing the Constitution as an afterthought. It’s people must continue to fight regardless of the attempts to take away those rights and on occasion must stand to reclaim those rights given to us by God almighty.

Sincerely,
Donny Harwood
President 
Tea Party of Bradley County

Here is an article by the Chattanoogan that refers to the hiring of our attorney Stuart James to fight this resolution or vote.

http://www.chattanoogan.com/2012/8/6/231744/Bradley-County-Tea-Party-Employs-Stuart.aspx

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Tyrannical acts of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland creates fears for law abiding, tax paying citizens

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Definition of tyranny:

1 : oppressive power ; especially : oppressive power exerted by government

2 a : a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler; especially : one characteristic of an ancient Greek city-state b : the office, authority, and administration of a tyrant

3 : a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force <living under the tyranny of the mind

4 : a tyrannical act

Last evening on Channel 9 out of Chattanooga Tennessee, Cleveland Tennessee Mayor Tom Rowland was featured in a scathing news report that was aimed at the citizens of Cleveland/Bradley County that were reportedly handing out flyers in a community in the downtown Cleveland area speaking out against the Mayor and his band of clones that are going to redevelop the downtown area using the EPAs Brownfield development using HB 1554 and TIF financing to take away our property rights.

I’ll add a scary voice here, but he was quoted on the news cast as saying they, whomever they are, “are being very careful to not put the flyers in the mailboxes!” scary laugh, hooo haaaaaah haaaaaah!!!! Eluding to the fact that if we find out they put a flyer in a mailbox, we will snatch them from their family and put them in a federal prison for years, and we can probably do it through the Department of Homeland Security, since I am head of the local office, scary laugh again! The unquoted parts were mine and not his but can you see that this man is assuming he has more power than he really does?

The Mayors tyrannical activity speaks volumes of the county and cities efforts to squash the citizens from speaking out about a wayward government with way too much power. Enough power to presumably cause a citizen to go underground, to flee from his or her government, to cause family anguish due to fear of reprisals, causing his or her family to be tormented by his words causing citizens to second guess any activity for fear of retaliation or reprisals. This is a sad day for Cleveland Tennessee, and Bradley County!

The Mayor from a bully pulpit, on a regional TV news stage exerting the effort to stop a normal, tax paying citizen from exercising his/her first amendment rights. This is shameful and should be condemned.

No longer are we under the kookiness of a King George, his oppression was done away with long ago, yet we have a modern day King Tom oppressing the people in the same way through fear and intimidation.

The mayor spoke of federal charges and encouraged the citizens to call in and report this anonymous person who dares speak out against King Tom, leading many to believe there is a manhunt for this purveyor of truthful flyers complete with statements about King Toms plans for his downtown Kingdom.

I have been approached by several involved in the “federally” offensive flyer handout scandal and they have made the decision to lay low and are truly fearful for their safety! A government designed and led this way should at the very least be questioned as unethical! This is BS, hogwash or any other word that I can print!

Our elected mayor calling on citizens to be arrested for speaking up and forcing them to be on the lamb, so to speak and cause their family great suffering is tyranny at its strongest! Shame on the mayor for his actions. Illegal activity, hogwash!!!

In a recent conversation, after several attempts of this reporter/blogger to contact the police department, Sherrif Snyder, a police officer, the mayor himself I finally reached the Asst District attorney Steven Hatchett who was willing to go on record as saying that the act of handing out flyers in a community is "not illegal and is protected by free speech even if the information being handed out is disputed!" Mr Hatchett went on to say that the first Tea Party was handing out flyer years ago and it was not illegal then either! He dd go onto say that although the act of handing out a flyer is not illegal, there are some constraints such as no littering, inciting a riot, obstructing traffic or when possibly a ordinance is broken but was safe to say that the act of passing out the flyer is not illegal. The rule to free speech is the exception that it must pass constitutional muster! Mr Hatchett was very professional and helpful throughout the short interview. The overwhelming feeling I got from him is no matter who you are or what your title is, the rights of the people under the constitution is still intact and still protects them.

Mr Mayor, all elected officials blow the dust off the ole constitution that you may have on your bookshelf and I advise you to read it!

This is the only document that at present date is keeping the citizen in Cleveland, Tennessee free from a tyrannical run away government!

Its the difference between keeping us free and making us felons. Many have tried to enslave the people but the one constant is that the constitution protects the people and tyrannical governments. For now, as long as it remains intact, the Mayor nor anyone in this town can tell us what to do and that our government truly has no jurisdiction over the people and our Sovereignty!

Eminent Domain and Brownfields: What the future holds.

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2012 at 1:02 AM

I just watched the local channel 9 news and saw a bureaucracy run amuck! I just saw Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland threaten federal or other charges against the citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County for someone informing the community via “flyers” for exercising their right to inform the people of the governments plans for their future.

He also asked that if anyone happens to know who is passing out these “flyers” to notify the police! Wow! I thought we were a few years from being a police state, but I think it is now upon us!

The Mayor of Cleveland asking all citizens to report those informing the community of his plans via Brownfield redevelopment using TIF and eminent domain as a tool of implementation is such a disservice to our community!

Obviously those reporting on this act of tyranny and those in our local government do not know what brownfield Development is or what implications it has on our community. Eminent domain is a frequently used tool of brownfield development often purchasing the people’s property at fair market value then reselling it to developers for a huge profit thus increasing property value thus increasing their property tax that makes it’s way into our budgets every year. Redevelopment is done this way! Our Mayor cannot do all he wants to do downtown without someone losing their property. A huge Tom Rowland Convention center cannot be without someone losing their property.

Many within the machine will argue with you that if someone wants to sell their property then that is their prerogative, I agree! The part that makes my blood boil is that person that was living in that house last year would still be there if not for the Mayors lofty plans to “save the city!” with his tyrannical government.

Assume that same person refuses to sell their property and wants to hang onto it as the mayor suggests they have a right to do. That person will face new land use regs, zoning regs, huge property tax rate increases and God knows whatever else them and the EPA wants to place on them. You did know that brownfield development is a direct project of the EPA, never mind, guess that small fact is being left out of the equation and will require further education to our elected bodies on a different day.

But that person, perhaps of limited income would have great difficulty paying for this newly appraised property and would perhaps lose their property anyway! A vicious circle has started and the fittest and wealthiest survive. This is the plan that the mayor forgets to unveil while wanting to charge you with federal charges!

Often when our elected leaders make decisions that will affect many negatively, they frown upon those civilians that stand against the tyrannical government that is trying to impose these dastardly deeds upon it’s contingent base. Often times it only takes a simple google search to find out what they are up to and they may not even know the content of what they are proposing.

When the public has to inform our elected leaders of the decisions they are making then we are in trouble. At this point and it has been proven time and again, any attempt by a citizen to explain their side, the bureaucrat steps up to the plate and calls it a lie or a conspiracy! This is the simple thing to do and it works in the short time but with time it often doesn’t hold water and the elected official offering his or her version of free spin often looks like the devil incarnate holding a pitch fork that is frequently buried within a citizens chest, sweat on the brow of the bureaucrat holding the forked instrument and shouting “its a lie.”

What is illegal about putting information out to the public. Let’s just assume that it is off base, which I’m pretty sure it is not because it is sitting squarely on the mayors phrenic nerve or he would not be reacting so strongly.

There is nothing illegal about passing information out in public regardless of it’s harmless content. What TCA code is anyone violating? What code or regulation is being broken? What grounds does a sworn officer, upholding the Costitution, have to arrest anyone? NONE! so please stop using scare tactics to disperse the freedom loving people of this county.

I have not a clue who is placing these “flyers” that have so inflamed our elected body but I can tell you, at present there is not a court in the land that would tell him or her that legally they cannot do that! Not a one! You know why? Because the Constitution of the US states we have freedom of speech and can file grievance with our government at any time we the people feel that it is necessary! Period! End of sentence!

If someone wanted to pass out literature saying the sky is made of mashed potatoes and it’s gonna rain gravy. They have the Constitutional right to say it. Would I like it? Not necessarily! Is it illegal? No? Distasteful or against someones opposing view, perhaps, but not illegal!

Mr Mayor, please attempt to constrain your self from overreacting like a king beheading it’s citizens, it’s highly unecesary to threaten your constituency with federal or other charges for speaking out against your policy! It’s not a flattering road for you to travel!

By Shawna M. Bligh
The Session Law Firm
Kansas City, MO

Eminent domain is often an essential development tool utilized by local governments to acquire contaminated sites and pursue bold Brownfields redevelopment strategies that can be a catalyst for community revitalization. Brownfields are abandoned, idle or under‑used real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. However, using eminent domain for private projects, such as Brownfields redevelopment, is always a divisive issue. This is even more the case since the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London.

In Kelo, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a city violates the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause if it takes private property, through its powers of eminent domain, and sells it for private development to further the local government’s overall economic growth plan. On June 23, 2005, the court held that local governments could use their powers of eminent domain to take property for private, economic development. The Kelo opinion has prompted an avalanche of legislation at both the federal and state level.

At the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation, which would withhold, for two years, federal money from state and local governments, which use their powers of eminent domain to take property intended for private, economic development. This legislation, H.R. 4128, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005, is a direct response to the Kelo decision. H.R. 4128 defines “economic development” as taking private property for commercial, for-profit projects intended to increase tax revenues, the tax base, employment or improve general economic health. H.R. 4128 passed the House on November 3, 2005 by a vote of 376-38, and is currently before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. While hearings have been held on the bill, no legislative action has been scheduled.

Fortunately, a bipartisan amendment, H.AMDT. 612, to H.R. 4128 added an exemption, from the definition of “economic development” for the redevelopment of brownfield sites, as defined in the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfield Revitalization Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-118). The amendment, introduced by Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), would allow cities to responsibly use eminent domain to redevelop brownfield sites. On the House floor, Congressman Miller stated “owners of brownfield sites are frequently unwilling to sell them for fear of cleanup and cost of contamination. Eminent domain can often help break through legal and procedural barriers to the sale of land.”

The United States has more than 450,000 vacant or underused industrial sites as a result of environmental contamination. While not only improving and protecting the environment, cleanup of Brownfields restores the sites to productive use, facilitates job growth, and substantially increases tax revenues for local governments. Additionally, cleanup revitalizes otherwise dormant urban core areas, thus promoting smart growth by taking development pressures off undeveloped, open land. Without eminent domain for redevelopment purposes, local governments would be less likely to redevelop Brownfields because of the liability for all costs and cleanup of the polluted land as the owner and operator of the site. Therefore, it is imperative that eminent domain legislation, at both the state and federal level, include exemptions for Brownfields redevelopment. Without such exemptions, Brownfields redevelopment would be significantly impaired and contaminated lands would sit idle.

At the state level, the Missouri House and Senate have proposed various limitations on the use of eminent domain, and, unfortunately, none of the proposed legislation provides an express Brownfield exemption. Examples of presently proposed limitations include prohibiting the state or local governments from exercising its powers of eminent domain to acquire property for the purpose of economic development; limiting the definition of “blighted areas” under Missouri eminent domain laws; requiring businesses in areas taken by eminent domain to reimburse persons displaced from that area; and even placing a moratorium on the use of eminent domain until 2007.

Missouri has several state Brownfields including the Kansas City Riverfront Development and the St. Louis Arena. The state of Missouri benefits greatly from Brownfields redevelopment and eminent domain is an important tool in these redevelopment areas. Eminent domain was an essential component in the redevelopment of Kansas City’s Central Industrial District. This is the oldest industrial area of the bi-state Kansas City region where the Kansas and Missouri Rivers meet. Blight and fear of contamination threatened to drive away remaining businesses and private investment in the late 1990’s. Efforts to retain a leading business were frustrated by a private owner’s refusal to maintain the site in violation of City codes, which later led to a catastrophic fire that devastated the West 8th Street area. The owner refused to cooperate with City officials who planned to use local, state and federal funds to acquire the ruins and prepare the area for redevelopment. Ultimately, what came to be known as the Lewis & Clark Redevelopment Area Project succeeded, in large part because of the City’s eminent domain powers. Improvements in the area led to over $100 million in private investment, the creation of 421 jobs and retention of more than 1,100 jobs. Without the City’s powers of eminent domain, the many benefits of this Brownfield redevelopment project would have been lost.

The Missouri Brownfield Redevelopment Program is administered by the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Natural Resources. The program’s purpose is to oversee cleanup and provide various financial incentives for the redevelopment of contaminated properties. If the legislature is concerned about the potential misuse of eminent domain powers by municipalities, serious consideration should be given to conferring with the Department to address these concerns while at the same time furthering the goals of this Program.

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