A U.S. County Votes in Self-Governance*
By Jamie Lee
“The sacred rights of mankind, are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” ~ Alexander Hamilton
Mendocino County, in the pristine northern lands of California, where the magnificent ancient coastal Redwood trees meet the inland California Oaks, has voted itself into the constitution writing (righting) business.
Yesterday, by a significant margin, they became the first county in California, and only the second county in the country to pass into law a very powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights in their communities over state and federal jurisdiction. Over 67% of the votes cast were in favour of the measure.
The ordinance provides for
- waters free from toxic trespass
- pre-emptively bans all fracking activities countywide with heavy fines and penalties for violation of the ordinance
- establishes a Community Bill of Rights to, for, and by the residents of Mendocino County while checking corporate powers as well
- Gives the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish without toxic trespass whereas previously Nature had no standing in the court of law
Here is some of the powerful language in the proposed ordinance which you can read (source):
Right to community self-government
All residents of Mendocino County possess the right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on the people’s consent.
Use of Mendocino County government by the sovereign people to make law and policy shall not be deemed by any authority to eliminate or reduce that self-governing authority. Rights as self-executing, fundamental and unalienable.
All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance are inherent, fundamental and unalienable; and shall be self-executing and enforceable against both private and public actors.”
The people of Mendocino County have made history once again after being the first county in the nation to ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in 2004. Now these Mendonesians of premier wine making, medical marijuana growing and self-declared independence are continuing to assert and reclaim their inherent rights to decide for themselves what the laws will be in their communities and their county.
What may seem radical to many is only following in declarations and rights acknowledged to, by, and for them by the California State and U.S. Constitution’s as well as the Declaration of Independence:
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.
Article 1 of the California State Constitution of 1849:
Sec. 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property: and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
Sec. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.
Across the nation a truly grass-roots movement of taken back power by, and for the people at the local levels has begun in earnest.
In California, in this election alone, two other counties, Santa Barbara and San Benito, put anti-fracking measures in front of the voters while Big Oil spent over $7 million to defeat them. Santa Barbara was defeated last night but San Bernardino County’s measure passed into law.
Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania have in recent years passed into law local ordinances banning everything from toxic pig sludge dumping to Community Bill of Rights legislation as well as legal standing for the Rights of Nature to exist. In 2010, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made history by becoming the first city to pass a local ordinance banning hydraulic fracking.
So far, state courts have upheld these rights in Colorado and Ohio. However, a bigger challenge comes in coming months as a federal judge will make ruling on Mora County, New Mexico’s recent local ordinance passed that bans fracking in their county. It will be high stakes for all as over 30% of the states revenues comes from the oil and gas industry.
Yet clearly the people of Mora County are choosing to protect their health and well being over profit, jobs and revenues for their county.
Last week NASA released photos taken from space showing mass methane gas releases from the four corners region of the Southwestern United States, stunning all as to the widespread drastic effects that intense and increasing fracking activities are having on our environment.
Up north in Oregon, Lane and Benton Counties are bringing to vote local ordinances to preempt Oregon state laws for the right to determine local food sovereignty. Last year, Oregon had preempted local counties from banning GMO’s in their communities. Communities are now empowering themselves and fighting back.
Who is the Author of Authority?
The real basis of the question of the ability of local communities to write laws becomes just who is the final author of Authority?
Put another way, who has the power to make law, the people in the communities, counties and cities where they live or unreachable legislatures and Presidents residing hundreds and thousands of miles away?
Who are backed by huge corporate funding sources, that few can look, touch or feel, yet are called by many to be our “representatives” for what is best where we live, work and breathe.
It is estimated in the United States alone there are some 26 million plus laws, rules, regulations, permits, codes, violations, infractions, et. al., where ignorance of the these laws are not excusable in court and our government schooling never teaches to anyone.
And to enact state and federal laws, the powers that be must really on fear, force, coercion, ignorance and threat of being caged to get their laws obeyed. In other words, they demand obedience and compliance, or else coercion and force may be used no matter how amoral, immoral or destructive the laws may be.
Is it Legal?
Many in Mendocino County are asking about the legality of writing their own laws pre-empting the power of state and federal law over their county. One answer is provided by the founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Thomas Linzey :
The law is not currently on your side. Over the past century, both corporations and state government have restricted the authority of municipal corporations so that the people of the municipality have very few rights at all. Your right to govern your own county has been cancelled out by the “rights” of corporations, and the authority of the State to pre-empt your lawmaking.
Measure S is about changing that. It is about changing the law by challenging the law. Openly, frontally, and directly. The current system of law does not allow you to say “no” to fracking within the County. You therefore have a choice – you can either accept that current status of the law, or you can work to change it. Measure S is about asserting your right – as residents of the County – to change how the municipal system operates.
Measure S is about challenging what the law “is” and adopting a new system of law which enables you to control what happens in the County.
(CELDF), along with Global Exchange of San Francisco, have been instrumental in providing assistance and guidance across the country to help we the people take back our rights and reclaim our power to decide for ourselves what laws we wish in our communities. For over 14 years they have been active in helping communities pass local ordinances across the nation. Currently there are over 8 states and some 800 communities who have recently passed local ordinances yet it has not been easy.
In 2008 and again in 2010, Spokane, Washington tried to pass local ordinances banning corporate power in their city and protection of their waterways but failed by a few percentage votes while being heavily outspent by outside corporate interests. They plan to try again in the next election cycle.
In 2008, the City of Mt. Shasta organized and began the process of empowering themselves when they learned that the corporate/state power company for Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric, was actively spraying the skies above them with toxic chemicals through Geo-engineering.
PG &E cloud seeding, where the energy giant launches a cannon of silver iodide into passing storm clouds, forces the unnatural release of rain in one location to increase hydroelectric power for increased company profits from their dams.
Additionally, Mt. Shasta City citizens attempted to ban water withdrawal from the local aquifers by corporate water bottlers, who were taking water at will from local tributaries. The community wanted to stop these unwanted practices which posed serious environmental damage to their very pristine ecosystem at the base of Mt. Shasta.
Measure A had nearly the entire community support and was likely to pass until forces unseen got involved and due to “clerical error” removed Measure A from the ballot just two weeks before elections.
What is highly suspicious about the “clerical error” was the same city voter registrar who helped the citizens of Mt. Shasta write the legalese language to the measure was also the same person who declared the measure invalid. You can read more about this act of subversion here.
Who Will Enforce These New Laws?
We will take America back, Sheriff by Sheriff, County by County, State by State. -Sheriff Richard Mack
We are the watch keepers of Mendocino County – Sheriff Tom Allman, Mendocino County
The next question that invariably comes up about the new local law is who will enforce it? Over the past few years a national organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) was formed to protect the people and their constitutional rights in the communities they serve over state and federal jurisdictions.
Among other things, CSPOA makes claim that they are being adherent to the U.S. Constitution and that first, last, and foremost, it is the local sheriffs and community police officers who have final law and protection of its people authority.
Just this year, in 2014, CSPOA wrote their own constitution which in part states:
The people of these united States are, and have a right to be, free and independent, and these rights are derived from the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” As such, they must be free from infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, unreasonable searches and seizures, capricious detainments and infringements on every other natural right whether enumerated or not (source).
As of November 4th, 2014, over 650 police officers, sheriffs and public officials have put their signature to the CSPOA constitution. Sheriff Allman, of Mendocino County is a member of CSPOA.
Mendocino County is known for growing medical marijuana and is legal by state and local laws. Most growers pay per plant taxes to county and state for the right to grow weed that helps and heals. This summer, local growers were stunned to see several private, for-hire para military Blackwater type operations swoop down on ropes from helicopters, in full military regalia with guns drawn and no ID badges.
They were apparently employees of Lear Asset Management Services and harvested (read stole) people’s crops to presumably sell for profit. Sheriff Allman was at a loss to as to who was doing it and why. To date no arrests have been made and no further disclosure as to who was behind the taking of people’s crops. As Time magazine reported about this action:
They are hired by large land owners to do the work of clearing trespass gardens from private property, and perform forest reclamation, sometimes funded by government grant. Deep in the woods, they cut down illegal pot plants and scrub the environmental footprint produced by the backwoods drug trade. They carry AR-15 rifles, lest they meet armed watchmen bent on defending their plots. (source)
It is probably not by sheer coincidence that this is happening when states are legalizing medical marijuana across the country and companies like GW Pharmaceuticals are selling marijuana based drugs like “Sativex”, which is derived from the Sativia strain of the plant that is shown to help with cancer treatments.
Probably, and not so coincidentally, the World Health Organization came out this year and stated that cancer was predicted to increase by 70% over just the next couple of decades alone in developed countries and an estimated 100% increase in so called under-developed nations as corporate pharmaceutical companies salivate with future huge profit potentials. (source)
Another main component of the ordinance passed is the establishment of a Community Bill of Rights for Mendocino County.
Nature’s Laws and Earth’s Ways
Maybe the most critical and exciting piece of the local ordinance that passed in Mendocino County yesterday was the recognizing the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish. To this day Nature has no legal standing in our courts of law throughout the nation.
In 2008, the nation of Ecuador made history when it became the first nation in the world to legally recognize the Rights of Nature as well as language to provide for the long term protection and security of her natural resources over all other interests.
Few are aware that our Founding Fathers specifically chose Nature to guide them in their new governance as stated in the very first paragraph, of their very first document, declaring independence from the tyranny of Great Britain:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,
This has been followed by the international expansion of a Rights of Nature legal standing with the creation of a Rights of Nature Tribunal involving many of the world’s most revered environmental activists. They will act as trustees for Nature’s Rights. Over 850,000 people from 122 countries have now signed petitions advocating for Rights of Nature. (source)
In this critical time, where Nature herself is under grave attack from Man’s century of transgressions against her, caring people across the planet are actively and passionately beginning to realign themselves with ancient and native peoples by giving the highest respect to the life giving forces of Father Sun and Mother Earth.
By taking back our power at the local level we are setting in course actions to arrest the gross degradation of our planet from those in near and far away places who are hell bent to destroy without conscience and who seek only profit and power over all.
As We the People once again reclaim our rights to be the legal primary stewards of our soil, air and waters we are reconnecting with the immutable Laws of Nature and Source of all that is.
By coming together (to gather) to be the change we all wish to see, we bring hope and show future generations that they too have the power to change what must be changed or our children will have no future to exist and flourish in health, abundance and beauty.
If not us, who? If not now, when?