The article below appeared in The Blaze, Dec. 21. Houston County, Minnesota, appears to be further along on the same road we're traveling here in the Middle Peninsula. Are we looking at our future?
"The Letters Came in Droves"
Letters to the Editors hit the local newspapers as fast as people could write them. The landowners of Houston County, exercising their freedom of speech, used the local media as a venue for their voices, as they "wondered why no one was listening or even cared."
Titled "Arrogance or Ignorance?" ,"County is Wrong!", "Agenda 21," the letters filled the newspapers- until one newspaper pulled the breaks.
A new headliner popped up from the editor of the Spring Grove Herald. The article, "New Policies for our Opinion Page," explained that the paper will "stop publishing letters to the editor on the land rights issue."
Feeling that the letters were "repeating themselves," the editor, Heather M. Gray, went on to say, however, that they "will accept a limited amount of letters from any individuals who support the county's current zoning ordinances."
In a nutshell, those who opposed were not allowed to submit letters, however those that were in support, had the allowance to do so.
In a phone interview, Gray stated she, "did not feel that she was taking away the residents' right to Freedom of Speech because they had said everything they needed to say."
"They were just trying to sway people to think like them, but were saying the same things over and over again," said Gray, who ironically, was also the Mayor of the town at that time.
Gray, when asked if she, in fact, felt it was acceptable to take away a venue for the people's voices, stated, "Yes, for that period of time. We had published plenty of points of views. In my opinion, they had said enough."
The landowners, who felt there was certainly more to say, were denied the publishing of letters from that point on. However, the Herald did allow them to take out "ad space" for their statements. The group was spending approximately $500 a week, just to say what Gray thought, "they said enough of."
Today, the "freeze" is lifted, however, the residents are held to a 500-word limit, with the editor having the right to "edit as she feels fit."
What is really going on here?
Why do the Commissioners and Planning Board members of Houston County, Minnesota feel as if these strict, nearly impossible demands and rules are acceptable? Why is the local media turning their heads away from the truth?
The answer lies respectably in the Constitution, or lack thereof.
"At some meetings, we are told not to talk about the Constitution and the protection it guarantees to US citizens," claims the landowners spearheading this revolution.
On March 13, 2008, at a planning board meeting, this group continued to bring up the Constitution, freedom, and rights. "The board members would bristle in anger," says the group.
Finally, Curren went to the podium and asked the commissioners if they "knew what they swore to uphold when they took their oath of office." No one answered. After repeating the question several times, the board replied the same- with silence.
Soon after, a conversation was had between some landowners, Curren, and one of the commissioners.
"I know we've sworn to uphold the Constitution but it is an old document; times have changed," stated Commissioner Tom Bjerke.
Surrounded by many landowners as witnesses, Bjerke continued on to say, "Quit bringing up the Constitution."
Bjerke did not return any of the repeated calls in regards to this statement or situation.
The Houston County property owners have endorsed new litigation to get government back in the hands of "We the People." The Complaint, which was filed in the Minnesota Federal Court, asserts that the Houston County Commissioners, Houston County Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan, the Board of Adjustment, as well as the Planning Commission and Environmental Service Director Richard Frank are violating the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the landowners in the county.
The case, which was filed October 3, 2011, will be seen in court on December 16, to decide on " a schedule for the case."
"We are not a litigious group," said Robert Ideker, a Houston County landowner. "We have tried to work with the county, we have attended dozens of meetings and hearings, we have written dozens of letters, but no one will listen," said Ideker.
In 2010, the group also filed litigation in the state court, challenging the land use plan and zoning ordinance, but during research and discovery in the case, many landowners learned that "the issues between the county and its citizens were significantly deeper than state level."
"Those issues go to the heart of the Guarantees in the US Constitution, and are protected by the Federal Civil Rights Act."
The landowners are now dismissing the state court case and have endorsed the Federal Case instead.
County landowner, Tom Groesschner said, "It is disappointing that it has come to federal court litigation but there is nowhere else to turn. It seems impossible, but we must get the government back into the hands of 'We the People."
The Landowners Concerned About Property Rights say, " We are doing this because of our faith. We believe that the earth is the Lord's and that men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. We all need to care for our families, run our farms and businesses, and better our lives as we so desire, being stewards of what God has given us."