Saturday, December 17, 2011

NHLA Bill Review Training

The latest Legislative Bill Review Training Session, presented by the NH Liberty Alliance, Research Director Emeritus Denis Goddard presiding. Hosted by Murphy's Taproom, Manchester, NH, 12/14/2011. If ya wanna play, this is what ya gotta know...

Part 1


Part 2

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beleaguered Citizens of Weare: It's Time. Long Past Time...


TITLE VII
SHERIFFS, CONSTABLES, AND POLICE OFFICERS

CHAPTER 105-C
POLICE COMMISSIONS

Section 105-C:1

    105-C:1 Establishment Authority. – Any town which adopts this chapter may establish a police commission, consisting of 3 commissioners, who shall have been residents of the town for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of their election or appointment.
Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:2

    105-C:2 Referendum. – The following questions shall be submitted to the voters of a town on the regular ballot for the election of town officers if a petition is presented to the selectmen in accordance with RSA 39:3 requesting the same:
    I. "Shall the government of the police department of the town of __________ be entrusted to a police commission?''
    II. "If so, shall such police commissioners be chosen by:
       (a) Popular election at town election; or
       (b) Appointment of the governor with consent of the council?''

Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:3

    105-C:3 Establishment. – 
    I. If a majority of those voting in a town in any town election answer the question posed in RSA 105-C:2, I in the affirmative and select the method of establishment set out in RSA 105-C:2, II(a), the voters of such town shall, at the next succeeding annual town election, elect such a police commission. The term of office of each such commissioner shall be for 3 years, except that of the first commission elected under this chapter in any town, one member shall be elected to serve a term of one year and one member shall be elected to serve a term of 2 years. Any vacancy occurring on the commission shall be filled by appointment of the board of selectmen until the next regular annual town meeting.
    II. If a majority of those voting in a town in any town election answer the question posed in RSA 105-C:2, I in the affirmative and select the method of establishment set out in RSA 105-C:2, II(b), the governor, with the consent of the council, shall promptly appoint such a commission. The term of office of each such commissioner shall be for 3 years, except that of the first commission appointed under this chapter in any town, one member shall be appointed to serve a term of one year and one member shall be appointed to serve a term of 2 years. Any vacancy occurring on the commission shall be filled by appointment of the governor, with the approval of the council, for the duration of the unexpired term.
    III. No person holding office as a selectman, treasurer, collector of taxes, auditor, highway agent, or head of a police department shall be elected or appointed as a police commissioner under this section.

Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:4

    105-C:4 Duties; Powers. – It shall be the duty of the police commissioners to appoint such police personnel, including police officers, staff, constables and superior officers, as they deem necessary and to fix such persons' compensation. The commissioners shall make and enforce all rules necessary for the operation of the police force in the manner most beneficial to the public interest. The commissioners may at any time remove police personnel for just cause and after a hearing satisfying the requirements of due process, which cause shall be specified in an order of removal except that special police officers appointed and designated as such shall serve at the pleasure of the commission and may be removed for other than just cause.
Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:5

    105-C:5 Prohibition; Police in Office. – After the election and qualification of the police commissioners under this chapter, no chief of police, police officers, constables or superior officers shall be appointed in any town adopting this chapter except as provided in this chapter. Any chief of police, police officer, constable, or superior officer in office on the date the commission has been duly established, shall be deemed to have been appointed by the commission, subject to the terms and conditions of his original appointment.
Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:6

    105-C:6 Compensation. – Police commissioners shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for all actual expenses incurred in the discharge of official duties.
Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Section 105-C:7

    105-C:7 Option to Rescind Action. – Any town which has voted to establish a police commission under this chapter may rescind such action by submission of an article in the town warrant as provided in RSA 39:3.
Source. 1981, 277:1, eff. June 16, 1981.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weare PD and Their Expensive Denial of Reality

So finally, thanks to the Law Offices of Martin & Hipple, we have some resolution. A year living under a warrant. Under bond conditions the violation of which could instantly have landed your humble chronicler in jail for any (equally) concocted offense. And a quarter-year waiting for the judiciary to rule on the motion to acquit, despite it being supported by established law: that you have a right to record your servants. Judge Tenney finally has seen fit -- an eighth-year after (even then, only eventually) promising a ruling within 2 weeks -- to sweep away my personal (if still comparatively minor -- a shout-out to CopBlock, NeverTakeaPlea, et al) Sword of Damocles. This is the first such ruling by a NH court. (Hey, Mom! Look at me! I'm a precedent!)



More reaction: 
Right to record: It's yours, people
Right to know lives: Good news for NH public

New Hampshire Judge Drops Wiretapping Charge Against Man Who Recorded Cop
Oh, and Weare PD are live 24/7.

Needless to say, I've been waiting to publish this post for quite some time. So finally, here's what happened. This is what would have come out at the trial that Weare PD inexplicably insisted on pursuing. At taxpayer expense. Even following the 1st Circuit Court's 'Glik' ruling. My arraignment can be seen here. Hearing on defense motions, which (eventually) precipitated this bench ruling, here.

On the date in question, Saturday, July 10th, 2010, several dozen individuals gathered for a rally at Palmer's (now Boondocks) Tavern in Weare, NH, to support a friendly small business that was -- along with its customers -- the ongoing target of Weare PD harassment and intimidation, and to object to general department thuggishness (further details regarding which can be found here). (Goes to state of mind, your honor.) There were multiple and ongoing reports that the department was singling out patrons simply for leaving the parking lot. That they were constantly prowling back and forth in front of the business on Rt 114. That they would park themselves in lots north and south of the Tavern, and stop anyone seen leaving the lot, often on the pretext that the driver had "touched the white line." Some detainees reported they'd been told to "stay away from the Tavern" in the future. One activist had already reported being physically threatened by Weare PD while under arrest at the station -- and related "official" recordings had gone mysteriously and conveniently missing. Even the Board of Selectmen had told them to knock it off, reportedly. A Select Board, it must be noted, that may well come to regret its "hands off" approach to dealing with its unaccountable "attack dogs."

I do not trust them. I fear them. Certainly, I suspect that a feeling of foreboding, of trepidation -- not of comfort or security -- is a virtually universal response to any cruiser pulling in behind a traveler on the public road, but for anyone paying attention, Weare has become special. And as Jefferson said, "when the people fear the government, there is tyranny." This was the state of things in Weare in July of 2010. As events unfolded this particular night, for my own self-preservation, I felt a strong rational need to "produce proofs that may be beneficial," and to hold "officers of government ... at all times accountable," as are my explicit Constitutional rights.

Approaching midnight, there were, to my knowledge, only 2 of our party left at the Tavern. There had been reports of several traffic stops related to merely leaving the gathering already. Given the foregoing, we concluded that it was in the interest of our own safety and peace of mind to leave together, to try to slip out of the battle zone using the buddy system. We would head north, and part ways at the intersection of 149 and 77.

As fate would have it, Keith (he can out himself in the comments, if he chooses) pulled onto Rt 114 first. I followed. As I pulled out, I observed headlights coming around the bend heading south toward us. I immediately thought, "aw, shit" -- just as, I have every confidence, the officer thought, "got one!" As the vehicle passed by me, I verified that it was, indeed, a prowl car. In the rearview mirror, I then observed it, now probably still less than 100 yards behind me, make a u-turn in Palmer's driveway -- a u-turn that I suspect the officer would have pulled me over for, had I made it.

I was resigned right then that the die was cast. There was nothing I could have done from that point on to avoid being pulled over. I had been seen leaving Palmer's Tavern (an observation that Keith had mercifully just barely avoided), and the officer had his orders. I was now nothing more than prey. All I could do was not provide a conveniently legitimate reason for the inevitable stop. He quickly pulled in behind me -- needfully exceeding the speed limit to do so -- and the hunt was on. I learned later from Keith that he was also well aware of the officer's presence at this point. Both of us, needless to say, were in heightened driving awareness mode, and certainly well aware of the department's favored "touched the white line" gambit.

The prowl car followed us up Rt 114. Then followed us on a left across Short St. Then followed us on another left south on Rt 77. Approximately 2 miles, in all, in point of fact, before finally turning on the lights some distance down. Once stopped, I called porc411 to alert as to my condition and location. Meanwhile, Keith turned around, and briefly stopped alongside me, asking if I'd like him to video record this forced and empirically unwarranted inconvenience. I responded that I thought that would be lovely. He told me later that he then pulled off the road, got out of his vehicle, and informed the officer that he'd be recording. He said the officer had acknowledged that, so before he'd even approached my vehicle, the officer had already been given an explicit reminder that he had absolutely no expectation of privacy.

Particularly knowing full well that I'd succeeded in providing no legitimate excuse to interrupt my evening, and thus rendering this an entirely extra-legal stop by an entirely extra-legal officer, when he returned to my vehicle, I chose to continue to exercise my NH Constitution Part 1st Article 15 right to produce my own evidence, and so called porc411 again. As I compose this, I still have a perfect recollection of the conversation, even now, a year and a half later, precisely because of that decision. Imagine that. One might expect the state would appreciate that, too, considering Weare PD's repeated inability to produce their own recorded evidence...

The officer -- at this point revealed to be one Brandon Montplaisir -- asked me if I could hang up my phone. I asked if I was required to by law. He said he was just asking so we could have a "conversation." I replied that that wasn't what I'd asked him. He responded that if I was recording, I needed his permission. I helpfully informed him that the RSA required an "expectation of privacy" first (see "Oral communication," 570-A:1, II), and that being in a public space, he had no such expectation, a glaring initial hurdle to invoke their cherished 'wiretapping' statute. He insisted he just wanted to have a private conversation, but he'd "let it be." That, for some reason, was also the end of our "conversation." Now, what it was that he'd wanted to say that he nevertheless didn't want the taxpayers -- his employers -- to hear, well, you'd have to ask him about that -- indeed, I'd encourage it, since I'd really like to know, my own self. But I was and am absolutely confident it had something to do with... staying away from the Tavern.

True to reported form, the officer informed me that all he was claiming in order to justify inconveniencing me this evening was that I had "touched the white line" while he'd stalked me. Touched it twice, in fact. Twice in 2 miles. And around 2 corners, to be precise. An assertion, needless to say, that didn't surprise me, but that I strongly contest, then and now. Which also leaves curiously open the question of what prompted that questionable u-turn to begin with. What was it that attracted his obsessive attention in the first place? Brandon? Any comment...?

Having not done even what he weakly claimed, the officer was on nothing but a "fishing expedition" from the very start, prompted exclusively by my observed place of origin, and he could not legally justify detaining me. He was acting unlawfully. I knew it. He knew it. Indeed, his objective had been to violate my rights. And particularly given their recent history, I felt in fear of my welfare and my liberty. Per Article 8 and RSA 91-A, public servants are "at all times accountable," records of their proceedings accessible (and again, Weare PD's own records somehow keep going missing). Additionally, there's no expectation of privacy, as required by RSA 570-A, on a public road, regardless. And the "proof" that I produced became (officially, prosecution) evidence "that (nevertheless) may be beneficial," as guaranteed by Article 15.

When all was said and done, Weare PD had to admit -- even at the scene -- that I was successful: after following me for 2 miles, taking 2 turns to do it, and detaining me for a quarter-hour, I had provided them no legitimate reason -- no reasonable suspicion -- to detain me that night. None. No truthful reason at all, in fact, other than my observed place of origin: a tavern regarding which the Goffstown District Court has heard testimony that Weare PD had threatened to shut down over the owner's refusal to perjure himself in support of the department's preferred narrative. If it weren't a government agency, surely the Justice Department would be looking into RICO charges, wouldn't ya think...?

And, just perhaps, the only reason I wasn't warned to "stay away from the Tavern" before finally being turned loose was because I was "producing proofs" per Article 15, and holding officers accountable per Article 8 and RSA 91-A.

And for all my trouble, Weare PD wished to threaten my Article 18 ('Penalties to be Proportioned') and Article 33 ('Excessive Punishments Prohibited') rights by, at minimum, harassing me through the expensive (both to me and to the rest of Weare's taxpayers, but not, it should be noted, to Weare PD -- at least not yet...) court system, and potentially arrogating, among other things, my ostensibly unalienable 2nd Amendment right to self-defense via a willfully invalid felony charge, by making the argument, apparently, that EVEN I wasn't aware I was recording. For protecting my rights against my aggressive government by exhibiting the temerity to insist on holding it accountable for its actions. Actions it would prefer that you, its employers, don't learn about, by claiming that you have no RIGHT to learn about them. Back in line, citizen. Or else. These here are SECRET police.

Anyway, what followed was an arraignment, where immediately upon the bang of the gavel, Weare's persec- er..., I mean prosecutor conceded felony charges were laughable. Two trial dates came and went, the second postponed for rescheduling by the court following a hearing on defense motions (to suppress, and for acquittal). Three months of ostensibly learned yet interminable judicial ruminating, while other courts like the directly relevant 1st Circuit made it clear that recording public servants is a protected 1st Amendment right, and already established law.

Finally, we come to this. Motion granted. Weare PD, you lose. Again. Do ya feel the heat yet? Oh, you will. You will...

As Judge Tenney so succinctly put it:

Secondly, RSA 570-A:2 I, does not criminalize activities described in the undisputed facts above because public officials, carrying out official duties in public places, have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Therefore, words they utter do not constitute "oral communication" as defined in RSA 570-A:1 II. ...
'Glik' leaves no doubt that engaging in an audio recording of a police officer in the course of his official duties in a public place is protected speech under the First Amendment. ...
The fact that Officer Montplaisir may have been unwilling or unhappy being recorded does not make a lawful exercise of the defendant's First Amendment rights a crime.
What would you have done, citizen? What would you have wanted to do? What would you rationally expect you have a RIGHT to do in an ostensibly free society, in a non-police state, under a SERVANT government? What, indeed, supports the profound arrogance that imbues these public servants with the ludicrous presumption that they're ACCOUNTABLE to that public only on THEIR terms? What activities that even THEY consider questionable, evidently (or else why waste so much of your money covering it up?), is Weare PD trying to be able to continue to hide from its employers? To continue to obligate its employers to unknowingly fund?

The police work for the People. It's time they remembered that. Police, you're all "officers of government ... at all times accountable" TO that public. If you want to be a private citizen, you gotta take off the badge, and relinquish the special privileges that have been granted with it BY THE PEOPLE (yet even then accept the fact that public spaces afford no expectation of privacy, regardless).

And if you didn't enjoy the privilege of hunting me down on a vendetta and detaining me on the side of the road against my will on that summer night, then the issue of recording you never would have come up in the first place, now would it? Face it: you brought this all on yourself. Take some responsibility.

On the job means on the record. Deal with it or get off the job, employee. That's how accountable servant government works. If that's not how it's working, then it's simply not an accountable servant government. Right?

You good with all this, Mr. Citizen and Ms Taxpayer? Are you to be their next prey? What has just this particular farce already cost you? Are you willing to continue to fund this sort of (increasingly typical) police department abuse, from both the standpoint of your civil liberties and fiscal accountability? Will I see you at Town Meeting next February? I believe there's a department budget that can use substantial trimming...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can Government Order Government About?

By special request of Rep. Dan Itse, Chair of the NH House Constitutional Review & Statutory Recodification Committee, the 10/12/2011 House floor debate on HR13, "repudiating Opinion of the Justices, 162 N.H. 160 (2011), and urging the senate to remove from the table and pass 2011 HB 89." Here's some -- surprise, surprise -- less-than-sympathetic, judiciary-deferential, collectivist coverage in The Atlantic from NH Constitution "scholar" Andrew Cohen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Break It

That (along with 'given the mounting appeals court evidence that recording cops is established protected speech, so it's long past time to resolve this and stop the state from continuing its abuses of its delegated authority and of the People and their time and money -- at least on this issue') is the primary take-away for your humble chronicler from this work session of a subcommittee of the NH House Criminal Justice Committee on HB127, "relative to the definition of oral communication." Don't create fresh ambiguity that will do nothing but precipitate more litigation from petulant servant law enforcement.

The crux of the discussion is presented here by Attorney Seth Hipple, upright citizen Bill Domenico, and Rep. George "On the job means on the record" Lambert. (I have expended uncounted pixels on this matter, myself, of course.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Study! WE NEED MORE STUDY!!

*groan...* So close. So-o-o close. Senator Groen leads the committee by the hand. But then they stub their collective toe on the ludicrous question of WHO OWNS THE RECORDING MEDIUM. Seriously? Was there ever an issue?

The answer, of course, is no, faithful reader. There is no case of which your humble chronicler is aware in which the cops have confiscated media based on the assertion that the "offending" journalist didn't actually own it. Just an excuse to delay acknowledging that, as per NH Constitution's Part First, Article 8, "All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them."

Don't wanna be accountable to them, don't be paid by them. Seems pretty clear to me...

Anyway, herewith, the NH Senate Judiciary Committee's Executive Session -- where they (usually) vote on their recommendation to the full body -- on HB145, "permitting the audio and video recording of a law enforcement officer while in the course of his or her official duties," followed briskly by HB146, "relative to the right of a jury to judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy," AKA jury nullification.

The latter went slightly more rationally, yet nevertheless resulted in "MORE STUDY!" Because, well, there's no reason you should understand your legitimate power, citizen. That would merely make your servants' jobs all that much harder. And they wouldn't want that, now would they...?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Seriously, Weare Taxpayers. Is This Appropriate Use of Your Money?

Weare PD continues to arrogantly insist on forging ahead with the preposterous notion (in a free society, anyway) that it's simply not accountable to its employers -- that's you. Or at the very least, only on its own terms. As we've seen previously, it's not as if it's remotely the first time, certainly. You, faithful taxpayer, apparently have no right to demand to know what they're up to in your name, on your dime, in public. And they'll go to great expense to keep it that way. Hey, it's not their money -- or their liberty -- right? Are you good with that? What are you gonna do about it?

Weare PD: 603.529.7755
Selectmen's Office: 603.529.7525

This is my hearing on defense motions (to suppress, and for judgment of acquittal), at Goffstown District Court, Judge Edward B. Tenney presiding, 7/29/2011, related to (originally) felony wiretapping charges for exhibiting the temerity to call an answering machine in the presence of a detaining officer, one who had already been informed he was subject to recording -- something of which he should ever be cognizant just as a matter of course. Assume we're watching. Because increasingly, we are. (The 4/5/2011 arraignment can be found here.)



You'll note that the state's case comes down to the question of whether the officer consented. Well, he did, actually. Expressly. It's even among her stipulated facts. And at 20:25, she even reads it. Twice! Arguably 3 times. And then a mere 45 seconds later at 21:55 (the times might be slightly off after YouTube processing), she concedes that if consent had been obtained, "then we wouldn't be here today!" Umm. So is it your contention, then, counselor, that the officer can selectively choose who may or may not  record him simultaneously in a public place? How is that not a blatant infringement on free speech and free press?

But even more problematic for the state, it needs to first establish that consent was required in a public place, let alone from said public employee on a public thoroughfare, interrupting with implied force a peaceful traveler's evening without probable cause. Liberty says it isn't. Reason says it isn't. My tax dollars say it isn't. As I've outlined previously, the Constitutions and the RSAs say it isn't. And perhaps most significantly for the court, the mounting case law -- limited (well, nil, actually) as it still nevertheless is in NH, given the state's ongoing efforts to avoid a (surely unfavorable) ruling in a misguided effort to protect its "intimidation factor" -- says it isn't. What's there to consider? What, indeed. No expectation of privacy in a public place -- much less for public servants on the job -- therefore no case. "Notification" or not, "consent" or not.

One more time for clarity. There is no RSA 570-A-defined "expectation of privacy" to justify requiring either "notification" or "consent." They're red herrings: the first hurdle hasn't been cleared in order to get to them. Yet even if that necessary hurdle had been cleared, the prosecution has, herself, already stipulated that the officer consented to an environment where he was to be recorded (and it's only barely plausibly arguable that he didn't also consent to me, as well). He had no other reasonable expectation. So why are we here today? And why are we likely to have to come back again, at taxpayer (not to mention my own and my much-appreciated supporters') expense?

Another tangent in the state's case is that the functionality of modern phones somehow no longer constitutes the "ordinary" use of a phone, so therefore the reference to phones in the statute somehow doesn't apply anymore. Similar arguments are asserted against the 2nd Amendment: that it somehow only protects firearms contemporary to the colonial period (while servant government's own arsenal can evolve and grow unabated, of course, because that upside-down disparity between servant and master, we're told, in a document otherwise devised to limit government oppression, is what was intended to be protected).

Also, although we never hear it, for some reason, the identical argument could effortlessly be employed against the 1st Amendment, as well, thus limiting the fourth estate -- including you, citizen journalist -- to Gutenberg's press. No electronic signs. No radio. No tv. No computers. No internet. No cameras. No phones. Hell, no ball-point pens. Not protected speech. Not protected press tools. Would we accept this identical argument in that context?

Technology advances, even as the Founders (consider the inventions of Franklin or Jefferson, themselves, just for example) would have expected. And in our system (as it was intended, I mean), things aren't considered prohibited by default until our magnanimous government expressly permits them to us. Get over it. And expect to be held accountable.

Lastly, if you really insist on going down the "hypotheticals" road, counselor, what if the officer had beaten the defendant, a la 'Rodney King,' and the cell phone was the only record? What of the defendant's Constitutional right to produce his own evidence? The distinction may be lost on you, but this is a judicial hearing, not a legislative hearing. The law -- Part First, Articles 8 & 15, and RSAs 91-A & 570-A (the one in the statutes, not the edited version in your fevered imagination), just to get ya started -- already exists. You just need to respect it.

On the job means on the record. The very nature of government, and its intended relationship to the People demands it. Public servants must expect to be so held accountable. Or get another job.

Citizens of Weare, you should rightfully feel embarrassed and outraged -- not to mention made economically poorer -- by the actions and conduct of these petulant, recalcitrant, profligate, bullying servants. I know I do. They need to be brought to heel or fired. Clean house. They work for you.

Their budget certainly needs to be addressed come Town Meeting, 'cause they clearly have way too much of your money to frivolously squander for their own self-serving unsupervised ends.
"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
-Justice Hugo L. Black-
What's your police department up to today...?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Alliance of Economics and Liberty

Investment manager and early Ron Paul supporter, Larry Lepard delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Liberty Dinner hosted by the NH Liberty Alliance, at the Chateau Restaurant, Manchester, NH, 7/10/2011.




And here, Master of Ceremonies Mark Edge of Free Talk Live explains why you -- yes, you -- should be involved with the NH Liberty Alliance, and announces the 2011 legislative Liberty Rating Report Card, and the recipients of this year's Legislator and Activist of the Year awards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why is NH the Freest State?


"Freedom in the 50 States"
Ranking NH Most Free State
Monday June 27, 10:00 a.m.
Legislative Office Building Room 210

The Josiah Bartlett Center will hold a briefing with Profs. Jason Sorens and William Ruger, authors of the Mercatus Center study “Freedom in the Fifty States” which ranked New Hampshire as the most free state in the country on Monday at 10:00 in the Legislative Office Building. Center president Charlie Arlinghaus said “Sorens and Ruger have created a very provocative objective index based on freedom. The index is thought-provoking and there’s definitely enough here to not only please and annoy both Republicans and Democrats but to make all of us think differently about policy.” The briefing is free and open to the public.

The authors’ analysis of New Hampshire’s standing follows:

New Hampshire is, by our count, the freest state in the country. Depending on weights, however, it really shares the slot with South Dakota. New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy. Under unified Democratic control in 2007–2008, the state saw a respectable increase in freedom. A smoking ban was enacted, but so were same-sex civil unions. Taxes, spending, and fiscal decentralization remain more than a standard deviation better than average, and government debt actually went down slightly. Gun laws are among the most liberal in the country, but carrying a firearm in a car requires a concealed carry permit. Effective retail-tax rates on wine and spirits are zero. Marijuana laws are middling; low level possession could be decriminalized like it is in Maine, while low-level cultivation could be made a misdemeanor like it is in both Maine and Vermont. New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no seatbelt law for adults. It lacks a motorcycle helmet law but does have a bicycle-helmet law and authorizes sobriety checkpoints. State approval is required to open a private school. Homeschool laws are slightly worse than average; standardized testing and recordkeeping requirements are stricter than those in most states. Eminent-domain reforms have gone far. The state’s liability system is one of the best, but campaign-finance regulations are quite strict. The drug law-enforcement rate is low and dropping, while arrests for other victimless crimes are high and dropping. Asset-forfeiture law is definitely subpar, with potential for abuse.
NHPR coverage.
Union Leader coverage.
Response by Sorens and Ruger.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Behind every blade of grass...

Apocryphal or not, the quote from which that phrase is taken embodied the spirit -- and, indeed, even the tactics -- of the men and women who fought the first American War for Independence over a century and a half earlier, as well. The objective of Project Appleseed is to instill that spirit of independence and those skills at arms in the current generation.

Project Appleseed visited Goffstown Fish and Game Association, Weare, NH, 6/4~5/2011, for the club's inaugural Appleseed shoot. Herewith, the weekend in 34 minutes. "Drinking from a firehose." Concentrated.

Review the "After Action Report." Read more about the history of the Battles of Lexington and Concord -- and NH's own Fort William and Mary's involvement -- in 'Paul Revere's Ride' by David Hackett Fischer. And Steve Martin concurs.

Watch the sites for our next shoot. Don't forget plenty of ammo...

Friday, May 27, 2011

In a Free Society, Recording Cops CANNOT Be Illegal

Essentially by definition, in fact. Unfortunately, public servants all too often hold a differing -- and somehow weightier than yours, citizen -- opinion. Herewith, an open letter to the NH Senate (previously submitted to my own Senator Sanborn, to enthusiastic support, as expected) regarding government accountability and transparency. In a phrase, its intended subservience to the People for whom it ostensibly works. Following which, the referenced hearing record in toto, and selected testimony from William Kostric, Seth Hipple and John Lewicke. And serendipitously, a little something extra from Reason.tv...

Senators,

HB145 as originally introduced, "permitting the audio and video recording of any public official while in the course of his or her official duties," served particularly to clarify the rights of citizen journalists and detained "suspects" (to produce their own evidence, as per Part First, Article 15) in the face of continued legal threats by, particularly, less-than-transparent local police departments -- arrogance that will inevitably cost the taxpayers, in liberty as well as lucre.

It reflected, in good faith, the NH GOP's own platform, in fact ("Will work to amend the wiretap statute to allow citizens to make audio/visual recordings of interactions with public officials"), as well as the fundamental concept that in a free society, public servants are, as Part First, Article 8 states and RSA 91-A reinforces, "at all times accountable." On the job means on the record. Public servants, rationally enough, are accountable to that public. "Private" citizens need to take off the badge.

The bill as currently amended, however, in addition to muddying what should logically be an already clear legal picture with regard to audio recording of public servants on the job, as well as limiting its scope to law enforcement only (who are nevertheless still granted "wiggle room"), also for the first time appears to introduce purely video recording (such as, say, security cameras) to the ranks of potentially prohibited activities in NH. And it makes no allowance for recording with the permission of someone "personally interacting with the officer." Whither, then, Rodney King?

This is altogether entirely unacceptable. In as much as, for example, (actually) interfering with law enforcement is already illegal, prohibiting "surreptitious" (audio) recording of public employees is certainly the limit of what a proper bill might restrict. But then where would investigative news teams, exposing government corruption, be?

HB145 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 26th. I was there, brazenly recording the authoritarians without their consent -- the evidence is below -- because I have a right to hold my employees accountable. Particularly, it should be noted, the ones with a (granted and revokable by the People, let's never forget) monopoly on force and the tools to impose it. And citizens who can't be personally on-scene -- whether in the State House or at a traffic stop -- nevertheless have a right to know what their government is up to, in their name, on their dime. "At all times accountable."

I trust that we, the liberty community, the "small government" community, the "accountable government" community, the "citizen journalist" community, can count on your earnest efforts to amend HB145 back to its simple, straightforward, clarifying, proper original form. And then compel the House to stand with the courage of its declared convictions against the special interests of clandestine -- and as recent history, particularly, has clearly demonstrated, capricious and petty and vindictive and profligate -- government agents. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Thank you.

The committee, later that day, voted to recommend more study...





Friday, May 13, 2011

"Three times a charm"

Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul announces his candidacy for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination, Exeter, NH, Town Hall, 5/13/2011.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Manchester Finally Going to the Dogs

And it's an impressive community-directed thing. An unused city-owned longtime eyesore (too bad government never cries "blight!" and somehow relieves itself of its "own" property, handing it off to private interests, eh?) begins the process -- more a ground-covering than a ground-breaking -- of being transformed into a functional center of Manchester, NH, neighborhood activity -- a dog park, the city's first -- all through voluntary funds and effort, on this otherwise dreary (snow spitting between the rain and sleet -- no traditional New England Easter blizzard, thankfully, but the ground was white when I got home) Saturday, 4/23/2011. (Pushing the envelope of electronic prudence rather too hard resulted in some, um, technical difficulties, and thus this substantially delayed posting -- oh, the sacrifices we make for activism, eh? -- up-side: hey, I'm gettin' a new camera...)

Now if we could only convince the city to divest itself of property it has no business "owning" in the first place ("the city" is a fictional entity, of course: it owns nothing, it produces nothing -- you own it, whether you like it or not. But then they'll threaten you with trespassing! On your property! Does that seem right to you...?). And how did this government-controlled property even arguably benefit the taxpayers before people finally managed to overcome government opposition to these improvements?

Sell off publicly-owned real property, thus immediately generating cash the government claims it needs, and return it to the tax rolls, thus increasing the property tax base (and concomitantly decreasing the rate -- if you keep an eye on 'em, that is), and letting the (invested) market -- not uninvested bureaucrats, with no personal skin in the game, just other people's money -- decide its most sustainably productive use. In the mean time, do the best you can to minimize the harm government intentionally and methodically does to civilization.

So kudos to tenacious Manchester (now) state Representatives Tammy Simmons and Phil Greazzo for finally bringing their vision to fruition. For providing an example of what people can accomplish voluntarily to improve their own lives despite their government's best efforts to thwart them. May your dogs always be content. See some earlier debate on libertarian perspectives on this project here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Redress of Grievance with Weare PD

Well, an honest attempt, anyway. Unfortunately, honor ain't hardly their strong suit. Here's the text of the event, Weare, NH, 4/27/2011:
After repeated attempts to get in touch with the police chief of Weare, NH the time has come for action. The police of Weare cannot get away with felony arrests of multiple people for recording said public officials.

Join me in a public protest over the actions of these rouge officers and a police chief who has refused to address these serious issues within his department.

If he decides that he would prefer some sort of press conference or public forum, then the event will be changed. But for now plan to show up with video cameras, signs, and all of your charming personalities. The event has been made on a Wednesday, but can be changed to Saturday if enough people make the request. I figured that if it was on a weekday, the chief may be in his office and would not be able to ignore us any longer.

Again let me reiterate Chief Gregory Begin. I would prefer some sort of press conference or public forum. But if you will not get back in contact with me then there is no other course of action but a public rally against the actions of your department.
Short description: When bullies are challenged, they run away and hide. Sometimes then they taunt from the safety of distance. 'Course, these bullies are paid by the taxpayers. Accountability is comin', fellas. Next up: the Board of Selectmen...

UPDATE: Weare police practices protested

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Just In: Society, Yet Again, Doesn't Collapse

420.4:20.4/20/2011 at -- and in -- the NH State House. Well, where would you hold it...?

And we get an update from old friends, Jonathan Irish and Stephanie Taylor, on their battles with NH DCYF, et al, over previously kidnapped newborn daughter Cheyenne, reported first here, and most recently here in these chronicles.

Also, separately, the entire '420' anti-prohibition concert, direct from the State House lobby...



Let the Games Begin!

Former NM Governor Gary Johnson announces his candidacy for the 2012 GOP nomination for US President, State House, Concord, NH, 4/21/2011. I am absolutely giddy at the prospect of seeing Johnson and Ron Paul tag-team this cycle's version of Rudy McRomney in the primary debates...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Power to the People

HB146, 'relative to the right of a jury to judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy' -- that's jury nullification, a plank of the NH GOP's own platform -- before the NH Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/14/2011.

There's really no question about the existence of the natural and common-law right of jury nullification. Juries find contrary to the government's desires every single day, and need give no accounting of themselves whatsoever. They already do it, and there's nothing that can stop them.

The issue at hand is merely whether your servant government may continue to suppress this information, or must instead acknowledge this "inconvenient truth," must inform you, the juror, of your rightful independence, of your inalienable, Constitutionally protected (Part First, Article 4) natural right of conscience, a Constitutionally recognized right that (at the very least) thereby clearly supersedes any RSA a legislature can fancifully dream up. As Jim Rockford once relatedly admonished, "General, I'm a civilian. I outrank you."

Government cannot be allowed the hubris of presuming to be the ultimate arbiter of its own authority. The jury of these government-outranking peers of civilians is the final 'box' available to a civil society before the revolution comes:
  • the soap box to persuade
  • the ballot box to instruct
  • the jury box to overrule
  • the ammo box "to alter or abolish"
By what point in that progression would you, dear reader, prefer resolution be found? When government is unresponsive to its bosses, the People, the jury is the last peaceful refuge of a free, moral society against tyranny. And that is why government is so deeply loath to recognize the jury's inherent and intended independence over its servants.

Grand thanks to Ed Comeau for babysitting my second camera while I covered the concurrent HB442 medical marijuana hearing next door.

Yes, Medical Marijuana Prohibition Is Socialized Medicine

It's government overruling the market -- not to mention self-ownership and basic common sense -- to inflict its opinions (and those of its buddies in Big Pharma, of course) on you and your thus arbitrarily and capriciously limited healthcare options. Whimsical government control of healthcare.
"We don't want government-run healthcare for a reason. They shouldn't be involved in the decision-making of doctor-patient relationships."
-Rep. Phil Greazzo-
Now, there's a meme that really needs to catch on relative to medical marijuana. Your health care decisions are too important to trust them to centralizing -- and medically ignorant -- "one size harms all" bureaucrats and politicians. To submit them to their whims and prejudices and superstitions. And to their cozy crony capitalism. You pay your doctor for health care advice. Shouldn't your doctor be free to help you make the best choices for you?

We've heard it all before, of course. Ad nauseam. But it now seems almost as if the authoritarians' malevolent little spirits have been broken, doesn't it? Where ever is the ever-hysterical Chief Crate, just for one obvious example? Almost sad, in a way. Na-a-ah, who am I kiddin'? Only time will tell, though, if the political opportunist Gov. Lynch will irrationally insist on continuing to side with them regardless...

HB442, 'relative to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,' before the NH Senate Health & Human Services Committee, 4/14/2011.

But first, Rep. Greazzo speaking truth to power, on government making medical decisions, regarding the determination of the effectiveness of drugs, for individuals.



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rent Seekers On Parade

"We love captive markets! Make them pay us! It's for their own good!" Sure, they'll tell you they're "merely" authoritarian nanny-staters selflessly looking to protect their fellow man from himself against his will -- not that I'd contend they're not that, too, of course -- but I'm not buyin' the "beneficence" act for a second. This is about preserving their income stream at the cost of your liberty with the force of government. OK, so for the bureaucrats, it's about control. Justifying their fine hats...

Herewith, HB540, 'Relative to motor vehicle inspections,' extending the inspection period from 1 year to 2, before the NH Senate Transportation Committee, 4/7/2011.

This is not about safety. The opposition is to free-market capitalism -- providing what the market wants, rather than what government and its friends want. It's about rent-seeking. It's about protectionism and crony capitalism. This is private business asking government to order you to pay them, for no demonstrable benefit (indeed, quite the opposite), and your government obliging them. "Government force is great. And your constituents love it. Really, they do. Trust us. But they'd never take responsibility for their own safety and preserving the value of their own investments if you don't continue to bring for force of government to bear. They're just too stoopid to take care of themselves if you don't order them to. Well, yes: until they get elected, of course, Senator. Then they're suddenly very wise..." How has the species ever survived...

You know what to do, citizen: call and tell your Senator, tell the Committee members -- go ahead and tell all of them, in fact -- that you are perfectly capable of tending to your own affairs, and assessing your own safety needs, thankyouverymuch. You actually have more invested in your safety and that of your family than bureaucrats or rent-seekers do. And you're certainly at least as capable as the majority of US citizens are already acknowledged to be by their respective governments. Hell, more so: you're a New Hampshirite, after all.

Society won't crumble. There won't be carnage in the streets. People will take responsibility for themselves. Life will go on. We even have the data...

Some of prime sponsor Rep. Keith Murphy's talking points:
• Annual inspections are proven to be ineffective and an unnecessary cost of time and money for our citizens.

• NH is one of only three states that require statewide testing for both safety and emissions annually.

• This bill would save our citizens $11 million per year in inspection fees while being revenue neutral to the state. This is a free market, pro-jobs bill.

• Emissions testing would not still be required annually, as some have said.

• 30 states do not require safety inspections at all, up from 19 in 1976. These include snow states such as CT, MI, CO, NJ, WI, MN, etc.

• Five additional states almost never require inspections (MD, NV, DE, etc).

• Of the remaining 15 states, three require biennial inspections (RI, MO), 12 including NH require annual inspections.

• Of five studies done on this topic in the last 20 years, four show that inspections do not reduce accidents. Cars are better-made and safer than ever, which is why the federal government repealed its mandate.

• Of the 11 states that repealed their inspection mandate, not one has ever re-enacted it.
But first, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, as is often the case, to be sure, sums things up rather eloquently...



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Are You Listening, Weare Taxpayers?

I told ya this was comin'. Being the main attraction in Prosecutor Baumann's (already voluntarily de-escalated -- 'cause, y'know, there's that 'law' thing -- but still...) little circus this day, my camera work suffers. And so does your wallet. And your liberty.

The State v Your Humble Chronicler, Arraignment, Goffstown District Court, 4/5/2011. I'll update here with the trial date when they settle on one. One of these days, I'll even be able to tell the story...

Motion to record in District Court.

EDIT: Watch the Watchmen


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Attention Weare Taxpayers

This is an example of how your police department and your prosecutor choose to spend your tax money. Your humble chronicler will leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide how appropriate, professional, prepared, competent, effective, and fiscally and litigiously prudent they are. Whether they're actually honorably serving your interests and simply keeping the peace, or just persecuting a fellow citizen for not bowing deeply enough to "authority." Whether there's something else going on here. With your money. I warn you this will be painful. But you're strong. (And just btw, they're scheming to do it again even now. Trust me. I know. Pay up, citizen. And don't you dare question your masters...)

The State of NH v George Hodgdon, Goffstown District Court, 3/15/2011. Catherine Baumann for the prosecution. Seth Hipple for the defense. Read more about the trial here. Read more of the (just recent) history here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Just to get ya started. Pattern? Don't forget the comments...

And more just from this blog here, herehere and here.

The Offense



The Defense

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Denying Pain Relief Is Barbaric

(Hey, lookit me! I'm recording public servants in the performance of their duties -- even cops! -- without their permission...!)

Yes, I said barbaric. There is no accurate yet appropriately genteel euphemism. Deal with it. The time of the authoritarian drug warrior must end. Now. Starting with the atrocities committed against those who are suffering. Civil liberties, human rights and self-ownership must be restored. Government as servant, not master. If we make any claim to being a civilized -- let alone free -- society, we must stop forcing our fellows to live in misery for our own ostensibly "high ideals." "Misguided" doesn't remotely begin to cover it. You. Mind your own goddamn business, and "allow" your neighbor to mind his. In return, he'll do the same for you. What a concept.

Two years ago, the NH legislature finally did the right thing, with HB648. They almost even did it twice, but the Senate couldn't quite muster sufficient basic humanity to override Gov. Lynch's promised callous, soulless veto -- of a bill he effectively wrote. When Democrats can't be counted on for even drug reform, I am left wondering what at all they might still be good for.

So this year, the NH legislature -- now under theoretically veto-proof GOP control -- is taking another whack at compassion with HB442, 'relative to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.' Mind you, it's said to be the most restrictive such legislation in the country, so it's hardly something over which to get overly excited, other than as a start. But if the only reason they finally pass medical marijuana is to put it to the castrated lame duck in the corner office, well, I can live with that.

Can Lynch live with the damage he's done to peaceful, pain-ridden lives? Can't really say I care. Or hope he can, to be honest. There really need to be more consequences for arbitrarily screwing with people, making their painful lives even more difficult, particularly for mere venal political calculation. John, you should experience a little of those shoes. Hey, as Captain Mal Reynolds says, "Mercy is the mark of a great man. Guess I'm just a good man. Well, I'm all right..." (at about 8:40)




Anyway, so here's testimony before the NH House Health & Human Services Committee, 3/1/2011.




And here, the hearing's culminating testimony from Clayton Holton. Actually, I know you're willing, Governor. I just want to hear you say it to his face...




And in the interest of equal time -- 'cause every opinion is equally valid, right...? -- law enforcement's position can, as always (so you don't have to bother slogging through the hearing), be summed up by the following tried-&-true, peer-reviewed scientific analysis.




So, to recap...
Law enforcement: opposed.
Citizenry: in favor.
Reason, federalism, liberty, Constitution: in favor.

Who works for whom here? Who's the boss of you? Can ya tell I'm gettin' really tired of this tyrannical shyte...?

EDIT: 'Why Would Anyone Object to Government Monitoring of Pain Treatment?'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is the NH GOP Aware It HAS a Platform...?

A curious theme appears to be emerging in the Granite State with regard to the NH Republican Party and its stated objectives. The NH GOP's platform specifically states that the party supports expressly acknowledging the right of jury nullification (find some historical opinions on the matter here). Just as the NH GOP's platform specifically states that the party supports the right to record cops, thereby holding public servants accountable (which also resulted in some recent confusion).
The Legal System
The Republican Party believes that the New Hampshire Advantage is, in part, secured and promoted by a legal system that upholds the safety, values and freedoms of law-abiding citizens. We will work to maintain a legal system that provides every citizen prompt and impartial justice by: ...
* Support jurors being instructed on the right of jury nullification
And yet somehow the GOP-dominated House Judiciary Committee nevertheless managed to unanimously recommend killing HB146, 'relative to the right of jury nullification,' NH's 2011 "fully informed jury" bill. Here's the majority opinion blurb published in the House Calendar, where it was placed on the Consent Calendar, with other "non-controversial" bills:
HOUSE CALENDAR
CONSENT CALENDAR
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23

JUDICIARY

HB 146, relative to the right of jury nullification. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Gregory M Sorg for Judiciary: This bill would require judges in all court proceedings to “instruct the jury of its inherent right to judge the law and the facts and to nullify any and all actions they find to be unjust.” The committee concluded that, as drafted, this bill would incorrectly instruct the jury to put the law on trial rather than the application of the law in the case actually before it. The committee further concluded that the so-called “Wentworth” instruction, by which the judge instructs the jury that if it finds that the prosecution has proved all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, it should find the defendant guilty, adequately informs the jury of its unquestioned right of nullification without misleading it. Vote 15-0.
By all indications, much party chaos, embarrassment and hysteria ensued, as it discovered the transparently tenuous nature of its own allegiance to principle, on display for all to appreciate. Here is the subsequent floor debate, mere days later, to salvage both intended citizen control over government, and Republican self-respect, 2/23/2011. The result? Back to Committee. We're gonna keep doin' this until you get it right...! Thank you, Speaker O'Brien.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beer, Glorious Beer...!

The NH House Commerce Committee hears testimony on HB262, 'relative to beverage manufacturers,' 2/22/2011. Less vaguely, "This bill establishes a nano brewery license for businesses that manufacture up to 2,000 barrels of beer or specialty beer annually. This bill also eliminates the quantity restriction on sales by beverage manufacturers to the general public." A new industry could flourish in NH.

Is it just me, or does the Committee come off as more authoritarian and micromanaging than the Liquor Commission (starting at about 28:30)...?



And as a special bonus: why it's so gorram important. From the Discovery Channel, so you know it's righteous, right? 'How Beer Saved the World'...


How Beer Saved The World from College Curb on Vimeo.

Son of REAL-ID

How the hell do we KILL this thing...? HB455, 'authorizing optional enhanced drivers' licenses and optional enhanced nondrivers' picture identification cards,' before the NH House Transportation Committee, 2/22/2011. More history here.

But first, The Man, NH's channeler of Patrick Henry, our primary champion on nullifying REAL-ID in NH already, my own Rep. Neal Kurk, dissects -- eviscerates? -- the bill line by line...



Friday, February 18, 2011

Scenes from a Big Day at the State House

Many big bills addressed in hearings by NH House Committees this day, 2/17/2011. Education, parental rights, 'freedom to marry' (you can still "enjoy" some of the last go-round on this topic, which ultimately resulted in NH becoming the first state to recognize gay marriage without a court order, here -- it's unlikely the arguments have changed much...). Far too many to hit even many of them. So, here's a selection.

First up, this year's version of 2009's HCR6 -- NH's first 'sovereignty' bill. HCR19: 'affirming States' powers based on the Constitution for the United States and the Constitution of New Hampshire,' heard by the House State-Federal Relations Committee.

Here, co-sponsor freshman Rep. George "On the Job Means On the Record" Lambert speaks truth to power. Then the whole hearing, including the non-typical step (at least in the House) of an immediate 'Executive Session,' where the Committee votes on its recommendation to the whole House. The result was 'Ought to Pass,' 10-2. At about 0:42, Rep. Theberge exhibits some character when he protests voting to recommend a bill he professes he isn't "well-versed" on. More of the People's representatives -- especially at the federal level -- should show such honor, IMHO. However, as you can almost hear, he commences writing the "minority opinion" before the session even concludes! Now, if that opinion will be simply that House members should actually understand bills before they vote to pass them, shouldn't there be sufficient time to become educated by the time the House reads it? Surely he's not rendering judgment on the substance, on which he admits he's not "well-versed"... I'll be interested to learn his official objection, which will be printed in the relevant House Calendar for the scheduled floor vote, which is currently slated for 2/23.






Next, while I'm waiting for the 'Obamacare opt-out' bill, I sit in on HB225: 'relative to the return of personal property confiscated by law enforcement agencies from a person charged with a crime,' before the House Criminal Justice Committee. It would seem a non-controversial concept, wouldn't it? Surprisingly, the tone while I was there reflected that rational perception. The AG's office is there purely informationally? What else should they be there for? Isn't their job to enforce the laws we tell them to?




Finally, here we go. HB126: 'prohibiting interference with access to medical services and health insurance of New Hampshire citizens' -- Obamacare nullification, effectively -- before the House Commerce Committee. Don't miss the final speaker, who regales us with this revelation, from a government employee: force-based government thinks government is good. Presumably, more force-based government is good-er.

But let's lead off with co-sponsor freshman Rep. Andrew Manuse speaking more truth to power.