A Corporation Does the Right Thing …For the Right Reasons

February 9, 2006 By Tom DeWeese Government is to be feared because it has the power to enforce its will on its citizens. It has guns. It has jails. It has money. The average citizen lacks all of these, making it difficult to fight back. The ballot box and the court of public opinion are about our only weapons. Yet, government has grown so large, so distant from the voters, that it frankly fears little from either. So what is left for the defense of our rights and our property? A principled leader is a grand ideal. Such a leader in a position of influence who actually believes in right and wrong rarely happens. When it does, there is no more powerful force on earth. The free market, given a chance, is a potent force; a place where consumers control policy and products with their dollars. No need for government ...
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A Bad Law Must Be Repealed

February 6, 2006 By Tom Deweese Congress is going through the process of trying to fix the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Why do they think it needs fixing? Because, quite simply, the ESA is the worst law ever to be enacted by Congress. For thirty two years the ESA has taken control of private land out of the hands of the owners in the name of protecting endangered species. Yet, the ESA is actually responsible for the destruction of whole industries and the towns they supported, as lumber mills are shut down for lack of cut trees. Farmers and ranchers have lost vital grazing land. Urgently needed minerals are left in the ground and imported from foreign countries because the ESA blocks mining efforts. The ESA has become a very powerful tool, used by radical environmentalists who want to stop literally any use of certain lands for any purpose. They ...
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Living Under the Threat of Eminent Domain

October 13, 2005 The nation remains outraged over the Supreme Court’s Kelo Vs New London, CT decision, which ruled that local governments can evict homeowners and demolish their homes to make way for wealthy, politically connected developers who promise to use the property to funnel money into government coffers under the excuse of community development. Polls show that 89% of citizens in Connecticut (where the Kelo case was born) fear the use of Eminent Domain and want it stopped. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has called the decision by her colleagues "pretty scary In response to the ruling, the U.S. Congress is moving to enact legislation to restore the property rights protections in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Meanwhile, more than 30 states have proposed or passed to counter the Kelo decision in order to guarantee property rights. ." Yet, the United States Conference of Mayors, in an official statement ...
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The Tyranny of the ESA and the Threat of Kelo 2

September 7, 2005 By Tom DeWeese The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the worst, most destructive, and most powerful law ever to come out of Congress (with the possible exception of the federal income tax law). For thirty two years the ESA has robbed property owners of their land; killed jobs; destroyed whole industries, and created a government tyranny that would have had our founding fathers in the trenches, locked and loaded. Americans have clearly seen, through the recent Supreme Court ruling in Kelo Vs New London, that local governments can now take private property for any scheme they can devise. However, the precedent for such cavalier disregard for property rights comes directly from the ESA. Since it’s enactment in 1973, the ESA has penalized landowners for their stewardship of their property. Farmers, ranchers, tree farmers, homeowners and other landowners who harbor endangered species on their property or merely have ...
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Center Announces Creation of ‘Property Rights First!’ Coalition Cites need to stop ‘Kelo II’

July 28, 2005 Washington, D.C.--Today, the American Policy Center joined several organizations concerned with property rights to help form "Property Rights First!," a coalition designed to push property rights to the center of the debate over the Endangered Species Act. APC is warning that draft legislation released by Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) titled "The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005" (TESRA 2005) would do more harm than good to American property owners. The Center has dubbed Pombo’s draft bill "Kelo II," as it represents a massive sellout to landowners. "I don't want the worst piece of legislation since the income tax to be ‘updated and strengthened’ -- I want it repealed," said APC president Tom DeWeese. "When lawmakers refuse to stand up for what’s right, it’s our duty to stand up to lawmakers." Property Rights First! is a collaborative effort of the American Policy Center, the National Center ...
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Sustainable Development, Smart Growth and Kelo – Organized theft by any name

July 13, 2005 Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes. You buy a home for your family. Perhaps it’s even handed down from your farther or grand father. It’s a place you can afford in a neighborhood you like. The children have made friends. You intend to stay for the rest of your life. As you plant your garden, landscape the yard, put up a swing set for the kids, and mold your land into a home, unknown to you, certain city officials are meeting around a table with developers. In front of them are maps, plats and photographs – of your home. They talk of dollars – big dollars. Tax revenues for the city, huge profits for the developer. A shopping center with all the trimmings begins to take shape. You’re not asked for input or permission. You’re not even notified until the whole project is finalized and the only ...
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Policy Center Warns: Beware of ‘Kelo II’

July 5, 2005 Washington, D.C.--Unfortunately, the dreadful Kelo v. City of New London ruling isn’t the only nightmare facing property owners this summer, the American Policy Center (APC) reported today. According to draft language obtained by the Center, the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005" (TESRA 2005) is a major sellout to property rights advocates nationwide. Appropriately, the Center has dubbed the bill "Kelo II." "I can’t believe what I’m looking at," said APC president Tom DeWeese referring to the draft language. "Just as the Supreme Court’s decision on Kelo has strengthened local governments’ ability to run roughshod over the Fifth Amendment, TESRA 2005 strengthens the federal government’s ability to steal private property under the Endangered Species Act." According to the documents obtained, the TESRA 2005 language was produced by Congressman Richard Pombo’s House Resources Committee office. The language states that the federal government can take up to ...
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Group Calls for End to the Endangered Species Act’s ‘Reign of Terror’

June 21, 2005 Washington, D.C.—In a letter to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), the American Policy Center (APC) and over 50 public policy groups called for an end to the federal government’s unconstitutional practice of taking land and property rights under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chairman Pombo plans to make reauthorizing the ESA a priority of the current Congress. "There are some who claim that the Act needs to be ‘strengthened,’ ‘updated,’ or ‘modernized,’" said APC president Tom DeWeese. "How absurd. For three decades this law has done nothing but steal property, destroy economies, shatter livelihoods, cost billions of dollars, and even take lives. The ESA needs to be repealed, not ‘modernized.’" The letter APC signed notes that "the ESA is a direct affront to the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment," and warns: "Those who don’t understand what’s wrong with the ESA -- its almost unchecked power to ...
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Fraudulent Feds Caught Red-handed Caught in Government’s Vise

June 21, 2005 By Henry Lamb For years, Jesse James Hardy tried valiantly to avoid the day when the State of Florida would take his 160-acre "patch of heaven," 30 miles east of Naples. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering studies and legal fees trying to convince the state that his land was not necessary to the Everglades Restoration Project. The state disagreed. The court ordered one final mediation session between Jesse and the state to see if Jesse would become a "willing seller," rather than another victim of eminent domain. The courts had already taken the land of nearly 17,000 other landowners. Jesse was the last holdout in a 55,000-acre parcel that lies 50 miles from the Everglades. Jesse was accompanied by two attorneys, one of whom had filed an extensive lawsuit on Jesse's behalf, alleging a variety of illegal actions on the part of state ...
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Good Riddance: Clinton “Roadless Rule” Dead

May 6, 2005 By Peyton Knight Finally, more than four years after its hideous birth, the Clinton “Roadless Rule” is dead. The Bush administration and the Forest Service just announced a final rule that effectively undoes Clinton’s reckless decree. Dying with the “Roadless Rule” are the following: - threats of catastrophic wildfire - threats of forest infestation and disease - lack of public access to public lands - improper resource management - unhealthy forests - top-down federal overreach Recall that Bill Clinton, just eight days before he left office, in the dark of night, penned his infamous, unilateral, executive order that locked up over 58 million acres of public land. No congressional deliberation. No public input. Just one constitutionally-challenged man overriding the will of the U.S. Congress, the states, and the public at large, in a bold attempt to give a last minute gift to his loyal green buddies. Predictably, ...
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APCTestifies before Congress—Slams Park Service

Statement of J. Peyton Knight Executive Director of the American Policy Center Concerning Oversight of our National Park System Read before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform April 22, 2005 Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Peyton Knight. I am executive director of the American Policy Center in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the principles of private property rights, free markets, and limited government. In addition, I am the Washington, D.C. representative for the American Land Rights Association (ALRA). ALRA promotes the protection of property rights, public access to federal lands, and the wise use of our nation’s resources. America’s park system is in trouble. Our nation’s 388 national parks, historic sites, battlefields, landmarks, ...
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People, Progress and Planet – Earth Day 2005

This year, let’s remember that billions still face real, life-threatening dangers April 22, 2005 Paul Driessen Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore says the environmental movement "has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity." This Earth Day, let us dedicate ourselves to restoring those essential virtues. When I helped organize the first Earth Day on my college campus in 1970, I never dreamed we’d be celebrating #35 this year, or that we’d come so far in cleaning up our environment. But the improvements are remarkable. Since 1976, airborne sulfur dioxide has been reduced 72% … carbon monoxide 76% … lead 98% – according to the Pacific Research Institute’s annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators. Automobile tailpipe emissions are down 95% from 1975 levels. About 80% of US community water systems had no violations of health-based EPA standards in 1993. Last year, 95% had no violations. For the past five years, our wetlands ...
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Peyton Knight’s Testimony on National Heritage Areas Submitted to the US Senate Subcommittee on National Parks

Statement of J. Peyton Knight Executive Director of the American Policy Center Concerning S. 175: The Bleeding Kansas National Heritage Area Act S. 322: The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership Act S. 429: The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area Act S. 323: French Colonial Heritage National Historic Site Study Act Read before the Subcommittee on National Parks of the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources March 15, 2005 Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Peyton Knight. I am executive director of the American Policy Center in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the principles of private property rights, free markets, and limited government. In addition, I am the Washington, D.C. representative for the American Land Rights Association (ALRA). ALRA promotes the protection of property rights and ...
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Measure 37 To The Rescue

By Peyton Knight (January 2005) Victims of Oregon’s tyrannical web of land use restrictions, ordinances, and regulatory takings can finally seek justice. Measure 37 passed on November 2 and it allows Oregon property owners who have been wronged by any myriad of radical land use restrictions imposed by the state and local governments to seek just compensation for their monetary losses. And if the governmental body responsible for the offending regulation can’t pony up the dough, the Measure calls for the property owner to be immune from the regulation. Measure 37 is right. It is fair. It is brilliant in its simplicity. Measure 37 is the brainchild of Oregonians in Action, which describes itself as a "non-profit organization devoted solely to fighting for property rights and against excessive land use regulations." The radicals at the Sierra Club have gleefully counted Oregon as second only to California in terms of suffocating ...
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Stealing Property Rights in the Name of Historic Preservation

December 6, 2004 By Peyton Knight Pop quiz! Who should make the decision whether or not to raze your decrepit, century-old home and build a new one in its place? A)  Your local government. B)  Your neighbors. C)  Both A and B. D)  You. If you answered D, you obviously don’t live in West Bridgewater, Connecticut, where your neighbors and the local government want to call the shots on your property. The West Bridgewater Historical Commission announced in early October that it wants to create a “demolition delay bylaw” whereby any property owner who wishes to demolish his old, decrepit home and replace it with a new one, must file a “notice of intent to demolish a significant building” and wait for up to half a year to receive (or not receive) a “demolition permit.” Once a property owner files his request to do want he wants to with his ...
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Invasive Species: The Newest Threat to Property Rights

September 27, 2004 If you have foreign weeds, grass, trees, or shrubs on your property (and you most certainly do), you’re in trouble.  Under “Invasive Species” provisions currently sitting in the Senate’s version of the Federal Transportation Bill (S. 1072), your property could quickly become the target of radical environmentalists and bureaucrats. Imagine the Endangered Species Act on steroids. Now multiply its devastating effect on property rights by one million. That should give you a pretty good idea of what “Invasive Species” legislation will mean for property owners in every state, county, city and suburb in the nation. “Invasive Species” is the radical Greens’ and international socialists’ key to controlling every square inch of land in the United States. This nightmare all began when Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13112 in 1999, creating an “Invasive Species Council” to monitor and control “alien species.”  What are alien species?  According to Clinton’s ...
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At Last, a Property-Rights Victory!

August 19, 2004 By Henry Lamb Landowners across the nation can breathe a deep sigh of relief because of a decision rendered by the Michigan State Supreme Court July 30. The court reversed a 1981 decision that has allowed state and local governments to take the private property of thousands of landowners and then give or sell it to other private entities. In 1981, the same court allowed the city of Detroit to condemn an entire community known as "Poletown" so General Motors could build a new factory. More than 1,000 homes, and 600 businesses and churches were bulldozed, justified by the city's argument that the jobs and tax revenue the new factory would produce provided a sufficient "public benefit" to warrant the use of government's eminent-domain power. Since that decision, tens of thousands of individual property owners have been uprooted in every state in the name of "economic development." ...
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Bush Administration Sells Out Property Rights

July 29, 2004 By Peyton Knight During his 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush repeatedly promised the nation that "Help is on the way." Property rights victims, especially those in Midwestern and Western states, cheered the President’s message and came out in droves to support him on Election Day. Finally, there would be an end to the reckless Clinton regime that treated landowners like second-class citizens and barriers to radical green utopia. Or would there? The Endangered Species Act is still thriving as the number one tool of federal agencies and green extremists to pry landowners from their property. Government land grabs continue unabated. Private property rights protections are nowhere to be found. And the green dream of a National Heritage Area program has seen its most momentum in a decade. It’s been four years since Bush took office and property rights advocates are still waiting for that promised help ...
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Sustainable Development 101

July 16, 2004 As the American Policy Center steps up its war against Sustainable Development and the UN’s Agenda 21, many readers have asked me to supply an overview of the issue. To answer that request, I have gone to the foremost expert in the nation on the subjects of Sustainable Development and Agenda 21—Henry Lamb. Below is a series of articles written by Henry back in 1996. These are the articles that first taught me about Sustainable Development. The only update necessary is to point out that most of what Henry warned about has now taken place. Every single community in the nation is now developing "sustainablism." Read them, as I did years ago, learn, and begin the fight to take back your communities. -Tom DeWeese Sustainable Communities—Vanquished Freedom By Henry Lamb "Sustainability" is a term that is just beginning to reach Joe A. Citizen; in the months and ...
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APC’s Recent Senate Testimony on the National Heritage Partnership Act

Testimony of Peyton Knight Submitted to the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks Concerning the National Heritage Partnership Act (S. 2543) and its impact on property rights, private lands, and local communities. June 24, 2004 Chairman Thomas and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to submit the following testimony on the behalf of property rights advocates across the country who are concerned with the impact of National Heritage Areas (NHAs), and the "National Heritage Partnership Act" (S. 2543) in particular, on land use, private property rights and local communities. National Heritage Areas undoubtedly lead to restrictive federal zoning and land use planning. Funding and technical assistance for Heritage Areas is administered through the National Park Service (NPS), a federal agency with a long history of hostility toward private landowners. The recipient of these funds and NPS direction is a management entity, which typically consists of strictly ideological special ...
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