Local Politics

The old adage, "All politics is local" is oft quoted, but not so often applied.

Over the last two years, as Chairman of the US Taxpayers Party of Michigan, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that all politics is unquestionably local.  I have watched as people look to Washington for answers and as people blame Washington for the problems.  Elections tend to get people talking about the presidential candidates, but little is spoken about School Board candidates, County or City Commissioner or Township Trustee candidates.  Very few bother to even show up at the polls for these elections.

I have also watched with a great deal of curiosity as local officials have openly violated and stated their intent to violate the natural and lawful rights of the people of their districts, and it goes by without so much as a turned head from the people.  Property rights have been grossly infringed upon, unfunded mandates are often placed upon residents of communities, churches have been required to obtain business licenses and local laws are being set in place that will, upon circumstantial implementation severely restrict the freedoms we now enjoy.  Very few people even realize it.  They don't take the time to attend public meetings that so directly influence their lives and the lives of their children.

This is not an article intended to scold anyone for apathy, although the case can easily be made.  Rather, I intend to offer hope to the reader.  My desire is certainly that every American be involved to some degree in the political processes that govern their lives.  Believing that cannot happen, based on the historical fact that it never has, I retain hope that my message of hope will be well taken, and that readers will see a method of solution that they have so long desired.

Allow me to first expose you to some of the recent activity I have seen firsthand from local governments in the Grand Rapids area.

In one of Grand Rapids' suburb cities, already known to some of my readers, the City Clerk had decided to begin enforcing an ordinance that had been put into place some years prior; an ordinance requiring religious organizations (churches included) to adhere to the city's business licensing requirements.  It was done under the umbrella of a concern for the safety of the fire department and other emergency crews that might respond to a call to the establishment.  The city just needed to know about any potential threats lurking in the building.

There were numerous problems associated with this ordinance, only some of which I will address here.  First, the ordinance was enacted without notice long before the enforcement began.  This is true in many cases currently.  Are you familiar with the ordinances, enforced or not, in your local government?  You might be surprised as to the ordinances in place, but not yet enforced.  Yes, I'm talking about your local government.

In this case, once a church submitted the business license application as required by the city, it placed itself under many unconstitutional and unreasonable regulations, which again, were already in place but not yet enforced.  These regulations included the city being able to search the premises and records of the church at their discretion "with or without a search warrant."  The city also demanded the right to give the City Clerk the sole liberty to withdraw a business license at his/her will, at which time the business is required to cease doing business until a license is again obtained.  This means that the City Clerk is able to shut down the operations of a church at his or her unchecked will. 

Then there is another suburb city in which the City Manager is pushing for an ordinance that would require every new residential property, even owner occupied, to install a $3000 sprinkler system in the name of saving their fire department money.  This is the same city that recently began requiring inspections and licensing for rental property, not that the former was causing problems in any way, but that the latter increases revenue and sounds good in discussions regarding public safety.  This is the same city that recently asked for a tax increase to ensure the retention of police and fire services, and then expanded their parks. 

In yet another of Grand Rapids' suburb cities, the Mayor announced recently that homeowners, even owner occupied, with broken windows or damaged screens will be cited.  There will be no more mercy, and "for every one that will be upset, there will be four or five happy neighbors."  This city also recently asked for a tax increase to maintain the police and fire protection, and then promptly built a new library, and it is a nice one. 

The point in saying all of this is that governments, big and small are sliding ordinances (law) right under the noses of an unaware public.  A subcommittee of the Kent County USTPM took the first city mentioned to task on their business license ordinance and beat it.  The thing that concerns me most about this is that no one knew about the regulations on the churches until they decided it was time to enforce it, making it much more difficult to defeat.  There were several churches that just went along with the request without batting an eye.  What are they thinking?  Furthermore, at one of the meetings during the time we were fighting this battle, they went ahead and adopted the International Building Maintenance Code.  (Yes, that is what it sounds like.)

I dare not say which party all of the above people subscribe to for fear that every Republican reader will stop reading at this point.

Blatant constitutional violations, attacks on personal property rights, implementation of international code (Wait until that one is enforced, maybe it will wake you up.), lies, deceit, elected officials forcing their will on the people; when will it all end?

I promised hope.  Here it is.

American Policy Center sent me a letter last week, one in which I was very much encouraged.  It shows how a majority in local government can, in fact, alter policy to the right (moral, not political).  A majority in Carroll County, Maryland recently overturned a long list of personal property violations formerly set in place in their county.  This is not being done without attacks from those powers that are driving these atrocious policies, but it is being done.  Portions of this letter can be found at the bottom of this article.

Residents of Carroll County elected officials that are willing to stick their necks out and do what is right, regardless of repercussion.  I don't know the details of the election that placed these officials in office.  Maybe the residents were aware of the ordinances that would soon compromise them, causing them to answer to international standards and powers.  Maybe they had just gotten tired of the harassment by local government, the high taxes and overspending.  It might be that these officials were determined enough to run strong campaigns, finding enough frustrated people to support them and aid them in their efforts.  The fact is that five courageous county commissioners are literally taking on the world and reversing bad policy, and thereby ensuring appropriate liberties and freedom for a number of Maryland residents.

The job can be done, and will be done, but only by the knowledge, wisdom and will of the people.  This is where we must join hands. 

OK, the people in governing positions in all of the cities I mentioned above are predominantly, if not all, Republicans.  I watch as they are misled by attorneys who greatly profit from bad policy.  I am convinced that their hearts and minds have been steered away from the American way and the glory of the constitutional mandates by associations with politicians and power; also the conventional globalist mentality allures their thought processes. 

We must begin electing constitutional thinkers into local offices.  It is local government that won the Revolution.  The Minutemen were not lone wolves.  They answered collectively to the local governments, taking a part in policy making as well.  I'm not advocating civil war at this point, but political strength is in local government.  Local government is also more easily accessible to the masses.  We can't all go to Washington to lobby lawmakers, but we can all go to a meeting of the City Commissioners or Township Trustees from time to time.  Local officials can also be more easily held accountable.

Don't believe me?  Let me ask this, Why is Detroit in shambles while Grand Rapids is still reasonably strong?  It is not Washington's policies that ruined Detroit.  It is not state policies that ruined Detroit.  It is/was local mismanagement that ruined Detroit.  The Grand Rapids area has had much better policy implementation for decades, and it is in much better condition than Detroit.  That is changing as time goes on and office holders go unchecked.

Carroll County, Maryland has proven that proper governance can still prevail in these uncertain political times.  We need to take strength from them and move forward in our own areas.  Please join hands with the political party that holds its candidates accountable and stands for the principles that made us who we are (or were) as a nation, the USTPM.  It's time the people took it back.  It's time Americans awoke to the cares of their own interests again.  Many of our Founding Fathers pledged their lives and fortunes for the making of this great nation and their posterity (you).  What will you do? 

Portions of American Policy Center's letter is following.  Reprinted by permission.  The USTPM is not affiliated with American Policy Center in any way, but I would recommend that everyone become familiar with the organization.  Their website is:  http://americanpolicy.org

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