President of CAPR (Spokane Citizens Alliance for Property Rights), Cindy Zapotocky opened their annual Christmas Dessert Party on Dec 10th with the following disclaimer: “CAPR is a pro-constitutional property rights public interest group. Our meetings are open to the public. At meetings, we invite visitors and members to speak about what is on their minds. The opinions of those who speak at our meetings do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of those who attend our meetings or those of our members or those of our leadership. We ask that speakers confine themselves to speak about issues that impact property rights only.”
She then said that the evening was to be dedicated to recognizing some of the heroes of this last year’s hard work on behalf of the rights of Spokane areas property owners.
REGULATORY ATTACKS ON LANDLORDS & PROPERTY OWNERS BY TENETS UNION
Those hero speakers were led off by landlord, Ron Devonport, who is dealing with the Tenets Union that has come to Spokane to say Spokane has not been fair to people that are tenants and Spokane needs 200 pages of regulations added to its code. He then introduced Roger Trainor, Executive Director of the Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest. Trainor said homelessness and the lack of affordable housing has become a real issue nationwide.
Trainor stated “Unfortunately a real burden has been thrust upon small landowners and private property owners to solve what is essentially a social problem. The Tenets Union, among others, has been very successful at coercing public officials and city councils in particular. They’re following a path similar to other places such as Seattle and San Francisco. Legislation is being made in secret behind closed doors.”
Trainor’s organization acquired last week, through a public records request, a copy of the Tenants’ Bill of Rights with a raft of tenants’ protections that seriously infringe on landowners or individuals’ property rights. Also mentioned was, that buried in the pages of proposed regulations, is a law that they can do inspections with their housing group of all homes in the city of Spokane, not just rental units.
AKNOWLEDGEMENT OF NEPA PROCESS INITIATED IN WASHINGTON
Spokane County Treasurer, Rob Chase was acknowledged for his part in the struggle to stop the Avista takeover, particularly in his filing for the NEPA Coordination Process. He stated at the time of that filing, “I have a fiduciary authority of trust to protect the tax base of Spokane County and I am acting within my duties of Spokane County Treasurer to compel you to Coordinate with me and other Avista Customers and residents of Counties who would be negatively affected by the acquisition of Avista by Hydro One of Ontario.”
Chase stated at the meeting, “The Idaho effort by attorney Norm Semanko, Angela Lonzisero and others over there has been fought to a standstill and then the Washington PUTC denied the entire application here. I then wrote a press release to the commissioners congratulating them on doing the right thing.’
It should be mentioned that Avista spent $100,000 of rate payers’ money to support the opponent of Rob Chase’s in his recent bid for Spokane County Commissioner. And Avista’s top managers stand to personally share in over $50 million dollars if the deal goes through.
Zapotocky thanked those present who wrote letters to the commission. She said there were hundreds of letters written that effectively helped the cause. She and Chase both mentioned that donations to Idaho Attorney Semanko would be greatly appreciated especially since donations have fallen off because most people aren’t feeling so threatened now.
RECOGNITION AWARDED DAVID BOLENEUS
Geologists and avid researcher on both climate change and most recently the Avista takeover by Canada’s Hydro One, David Boleneus was given a special award for meritorious community service. He was acknowledged for having kick-started the movement to stop the acquisition of Avista by Hydro One in both Washington and Idaho.
IDAHO REPORT ON AVISTA/HYDRO ONE FIGHT
Leader for the Avista Customer Group and liaison for the group’s Idaho Attorney Norm Semanko, Angelo Lonzisero, gave an update on the Avista Hydro One battle. He stated that Avista and Hydro One are looking to take control of our utilities and water away from us. “Their driving that control forth, right toward the North American Union. You can go to a website called North American Energy Integration which is a GAO federal government website and read the document, which is 50 some pages long. It talks about our government’s assent and how they’re going to integrate all the energy between Mexico, Canada and United States. They’re going to do it through private companies, public partnerships, you name it. What we have here in Avista Hydro One is the first salvo in accomplishing that. Avista Hydro One will take control of 13 dams and control of electrical generation and distribution in five states as well as some gas distribution.”
He reported that when ACG was formed they hired attorney Norm Semanko who went before the Idaho PUC and fought for intervenor status for the ACG. As such they fought for an evidentiary hearing, however they were told they were not going to have an evidentiary hearing, the commission wanted a truncated process. He said they wanted to slip this by us without any problems. However, they did get an evidentiary hearing a few weeks back.
Lonzisero announced, “The state of Washington’s PUTC had denied the application for the merger, however today, Dec. 10th, Avista and Hydro One filed papers for reconsideration of that denial. They’re not going to stop, they’re going to keep going, and they have judicial places to go after that. They can go to the Washington Supreme Court and asked for relief there.
“We made all our efforts in Idaho. We briefed the Idaho commission, they requested a brief on the legality of selling these Idaho energy assets to a government entity, which would be the province of Ontario. We’ve proven, and it’s been proven by what has transpired since the deal was announced that Hydro One is ruled by and operated by the province of Ontario, Canada, a foreign government. So now, the way we stand, we filed our briefs, we made all our points and they’re into the Idaho PUC. They’re up to make their decision, they have until March to make it. I think they’re probably going to wait till Washington goes through their process to see what happens here. But I may be wrong, they may come up with a ruling.
“We fought them on the foreign ownership by a foreign government because according to the Idaho Constitution we cannot sell an Idaho energy company to a foreign entity. So what Avista and Hydro one are trying to do is wordsmithing what a foreign entity is. They’re saying what a foreign entity is, is another state in the union and not another government in another nation.
“We’re hoping the commissioners have seen the light in this deal. When we first started the commissioners and their staff were pretty much in the bag for this deal. They thought the deal was the greatest thing since sliced bread. We showed them all the problems with the deal, and all the commission’s hearings that we’ve had, even the off the stage comments have resulted in our seeing that they’ve changed. They have gone 180 degrees in the other direction. I think that we are going to get a positive ruling out of the Idaho PUC. But if we don’t, we still have avenues like going straight to the Idaho Supreme Court and asking for a decision on our bar and the Idaho State Constitution.
Lonzisero wrapped up his comments on a plea for financial help in the fight. His organization, the ACG, has a bill for attorney fees totaling $20,000 that many are reluctant to help with since they aren’t feeling so threatened about losing. “We need help from everybody to try and pay our bill off and go forward with this deal. We have to fight these people. These three governments, the US, Canada, and Mexico, are going toward the North American Union and this is the first block in that wall.”
He also pointed out that the talk between the governor, legislators, and bureaucrats in California are that they are interested in selling Pacific Gas & Electric in California, all their assets, of which includes gas and electric for the entire state of California to the highest bidder. He said, “Who do you think that biggest bidder will be?” He said if this deal goes through they will go straight to California and get those politicians to carve up that company, buy all those assets and then they’ll have the energy integration from Alaska to Canada through Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon all the way to California to Mexico.
It should be acknowledged that those behind this Avista Hydro One ‘project’ are very driven and have very big money behind them. There are many ways, with their means, to sway decisions by non-elected board members who answer only to their political governors for such that they do. See an extensive article written a year ago by Karen Schumacher that awakens you to us losing our sovereignty, ‘Canada Now Owns Part of Idaho’ and David Boleneus’s ‘Links for ‘Eye-Opening’ Info on Ontario’s Hydro One You Should Know BEFORE they Own Avista!’
CONCERN FOR DISAPPEARING PASTURELAND
Mike Cummings a former Spokane County Planning Commissioner stated that he saw that we are incrementally, piece by piece taking our agricultural resource lands and using it for other purposes. So he asked the question, “Where do you want to get your food from in the future?” He made the point that if we can’t grow it here we will have to get our food from overseas and we no doubt don’t wish that for our grandchildren. He also expressed concern about labeling practices on our foods by other countries.
A cattle rancher, Cummings is sickened by seeing several parcels of pastureland near him being sold off for housing developments. He stated, “The three ways that that land is disappearing are 1. Sales to housing developers, 2. The government is buying large parcels of land, such as in Spokane County. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge just bought two large pieces of grazing land this year which is lost now to grazing since refuge will not allow it on their land and 3. Operations of older owners are often not taken over by children and likewise are eventually sold off in smaller parcels for other purposes.”
Property owner Grant Rodkey gave a short update on his neighborhood irrigation district, Model Irrigation, which had decided to increase rates significantly and decrease the allowed usage of the allowed value from 10,000 gallons to 2,000 gallons. To make matters more upsetting the rate increase in March for instance, a non-irrigating month was three times what it was formerly. Rodkey was pleased to add, “A neighbor who protested the large drop in maximum usage was successful in getting it adjusted back to 6000 gallons. This is an example of how getting involved as an activist does work.”
SPOKANE VALLEY’S ENTERPRISING ATTITUDE
Mayor of Spokane Valley, Rod Higgins, was pleased to boast, “The City of Spokane Valley is doing magnificently, in fact, you should drive up Barker Road and look at Katerra. Katerra will be the anchor for a major development out on the northeast section of Spokane Valley. And why is that? Because we have made it easy for people to do business in The Valley. We have a philosophy, set the table and get the hell out of the way. That’s what we done and we’re succeeding.”
Spokane City Councilman Arnie Woodward added, “We’re not done in The Valley, we have defeated what our opposition wanted, and that was to increase open space on mixed-use. It’s a battle every week.”
Cindy Zapotocky asked that an ovation be given for the hard-fought efforts of Dave Lucas and Jenny Graham who are true heroes for running as candidates in downtown Spokane having door belled incessantly against the machine and not winning,
COMPLETING THE COLUMBIA RIVER RECLAMATION PROJECT
WA State Representative Mary Dye from Pomeroy of the 9th Legislative District in Washington State, is from a farming family south of Spokane. She gave a presentation on the task force she is serving on. She stated, “The goal of meetings with Trump administration officials, is to discuss and hopefully implement the completion of the Columbia River Reclamation Project, begun with the building of Grand Coulee Dam, to finish irrigating lands in the southeastern area of the state.”
She noted that Lind, WA is one of several communities in that area where wells are going dry, and that are already trucking in potable water. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell has helped get some initial funding budgeted to look at the proposal more closely.
CAPR’S REFLECTION ON THE YEAR
Cindy Zapotocky commented after the meeting, “Tonight we had a really good meeting of CAPR. We brought together a lot of people from different groups and constituencies and we had a wonderful conversation about who the heroes are who have really worked hard on property rights this year in Washington and Idaho states.
“We feel like we had a wonderful year, made some good friends and we’ve accomplished some things and we’re very pleased about that. So it was a very positive meeting. Again there is a lot to be positive about. We can use a constitutional system that we have to defend ourselves. We know that.
“So if anybody says it is not working, the only reason it doesn’t work is because we are not standing up. We the people have the power to stand up to our government and say no. And more people need to stand up because all the tools are there in the constitutional government that we have. We don’t need any more rules, we don’t need any more laws, and we need people to stand up. Tonight we celebrated that.”