Everybody Hates Red Lights


It seems only two groups like red light cameras, city councils and the companies that sell and operate red light cameras. It’s easy to see why, set up cameras and start raking in dollars. If they don’t bring in enough money, shorten the yellow lights. What are citizens to do when politicians and their cronies find a new way to farm drivers for revenue? In some municipalities they can do initiative petitions.

Letting citizens vote to shut down red light camera programs is a slam dunk at the pols. In St. Charles County, Missouri voters banned the red light cameras. In Arlington, Texas Faith Bussey and other camera opponents gathered signatures with an all volunteer petition drive.

Unfortunately it’s not always a slam dunk. Politicians are fighting against the voters in St Charles County, suing to try to save this revenue source. In Arlington another citizen is suing to prevent voters from having a say on red light cameras. In Willis, Texas the city council is ignoring a petition by Kelli Cook and other residents calling for a vote on red light cameras.

It seems voters are opting to get rid of red light cameras every chance they get. In many places calling a vote is only possible because citizens have the power to petition and call a vote using the municipal initiative process.


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Top 7 Election Manipulations of 2014

Election manipulation is a problem. It happens when elected government officials manipulate citizens by using their power to trick voters at the ballot box or preventing a ballot question from reaching voters. It happens more often than you would think, bond proposals placed on special low turnout election dates, deceptive ballot language, or undercutting citizens when they attempt to place initiatives on the ballot. Here are the top voter manipulations of 2014.


7. California’s AG shut down an initiative with biased ballot language.

California’s Attorney General used political power to stop a petition drive before it started. Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose proposed a statewide amendment to allow changes to future pensions in California. The AG wrote language naming the most popular state workers (teachers, nurses, peace officers) and suggesting their retirement security would be compromised. Voters never had the chance to decide this issue.


6. Election to increase road taxes scheduled for the worst month for potholes.

Michigan voters were justifiably angry last spring when it became obvious the legislators had neglected one of their core duties, funding road repair. All year the legislature avoided the issue, promising to find a resolution after the November election. Late in the session a senate proposal for $1.2 billion in new taxes was pitted against a revenue neutral ($0 new taxes) house proposal. Elected officials then avoided the issue by proposing a constitutional amendment for a $1.7 billion tax increase. They chose to have a special election will be in early May, during Michigan pothole season.


5. Change the law to undermine petition gatherers.

Petitioners in Michigan gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to change the state minimum wage law. However, as they neared the deadline to submit the signatures politicians passed a lesser minimum wage increase. When the legislators passed their increase they changed the law and negated all the petition signatures that had been gathered. This was not an example of legislators passing a law to compromise. The legislature went out of its way to prevent a vote on increasing the minimum wage, most likely to avoid higher democrat voter turn-out in November.


4. Lie on the ballot.

Phoenix voters voted against something that was never proposed. The issue? The city council wrote ballot language that lied to voters, the section of interest “prohibit City contributions to any other retirement plan, including deferred compensation plans, post-employment benefit plans and the police officer and firefighter retirement system.” The initiative did not affect police or fire employees (the pension programs for police and fire are covered under state law not touchable by city initiative).  At the ballot box voters were mislead to believe they were protecting public safety employees but they were instead protecting the city council’s ability to continue promising benefits without paying.


3. Cheat voters through legal loopholes.

After legislators passed a law allowing wolf hunting the HSUS (Human Society of the United States) petitioned to call a vote using the Michigan’s referendum process. Rather than back down, legislators passed another law to allowing wolf hunting, again the HSUS stepped in and gathered signatures using Michigan’s referendum process. Yet a third time the legislature passed yet another law to allow wolf hunting, but this time they included a spending provision to preclude another referendum petition. In November Michigan voted against wolf hunting (twice) but wolf hunting goes forward due to this voter deception.


2. Politicized courts block initiative.

Illinois courts stopped voters from voting on term limits. In 1994 petitioners in Illinois gathered signatures to place term limits on the ballot. Courts at that time decided the proposed law was only structural and must be structural and procedural due to this clause in the state constitution “Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” This year an amendment was proposed that included structural and procedural changes. The courts this year changed their justification and simply shot down the measure as “unconstitutional.”


1. Trojan Horse, hide something people don’t want in something they like.

Arkansas legislators tricked voters on term limits and pay increase. Arkansas legislators are allowed to put three legislative referrals on the ballot every 2 years. Historically this has worked to limit legislative attempts to push through too many constitutional changes each election cycle. However, in a move to trick voters in to passing an unpopular term limit extension and avoid asking voters for a pay increase politicians rolled thirteen amendments to the state constitution into one ballot question. This twenty-two page proposal labeled “ethics reform” gave lip service to popular issues like banning gifts from lobbyists, stopping legislators becoming lobbyists, and a commission to set pay for elected officials. The last phrase of a long ballot title (written by the politicians) “establishing term limits for members of the General Assembly” was obviously intended to deceive voters. Arkansas had 6 and 8 year term limits, this amendment more than doubled those limits to 16 years. Pay raises will now be approved by a commission appointed by the people getting the raises. Voters were duped and approved this measure 52%-48%.




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Does NYC Case Undercut Body Cameras?

Police body cameras can definitely be a force for good, but not Excalibur.

Now a New York City grand jury has decided not to indict a white policeman caught on film by a bystander putting an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner, who died. Some suggest this shows that police body cameras won’t work.

Two thoughts: (1) It matters that police officers know their actions and conversations are being recorded. Studies show that both the police and the people they come in contact with behave better when police wear cameras. In the NYC case, police didn’t necessarily know they were being filmed.

(2) Cameras won’t guarantee an indictment against an offending police officer, of course, nor should they, even when you and I might think the video evidence warrants it. Nor guarantee a policeman is cleared when we believe that’s the right decision. But it is irrefutable that the additional evidence gathered by a video and audio recording can be invaluable in any case. Regardless of whether or not a court or grand jury decision is correct.


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Ferguson: Problem & Solution

Months of unrest, including the riots and looting in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision earlier this week not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, might have been avoided.

How, you ask? The use of personal police cameras is growing.  These cameras are worn on the officer’s uniform and record what goes on during their sh1408552000000-AP-Stop-and-Frisk-Camerasifts.  Having a video record of what is said and done by officers and by others who interact with the officers can make a world of difference in determining fault in a violent incident, and also on a daily basis, even when there is no such incident.

In Rialto, California, near Los Angeles, these body cameras have been used by 70 of its uniformed officers and a study conducted after their introduction showed public complaints filed against officers plunged an incredible 88 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Moreover, officers’ use of force fell by a whopping 60 percent.

The use of these cameras can only serve to help police do their job more effectively. The video recording can be a strong factor in keeping the police from abusing their powers and in protecting those same law enforcement officials when they must defend themselves.  Had Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson been wearing such a lapel camera, the events of that fateful day in August might have turned out differently. But almost certainly the events since that fateful August day, which have split the community and to an extent the entire country, would have been far different.

Knowledge is power. The truth shall set us free.


Townhall: Justice Vision by Paul Jacob



CNN: Protesters torch police car in another tense night in Ferguson



The Guardian: California police body cameras cut violence, complaints




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by | November 26, 2014 · 5:07 pm

Leading the Charge for Term Limits

Michigan native and Liberty Initiative Fund Field Director Scott Tillman and his father Jeff are leading a grassroots effort in the Wolverine State to keep legislative term limits as they currently exist.  He has created an organization called Citizen Cavalry to bring attention to the efforts of outgoing State Senate majority leader Randy -486c9a655825d994Richardville, who is making the weakening of term limits one of his priorities of the lame duck session.

Tillman is touring the state with a 10-foot wooden horse, adorned with banners bringing attention to Richardville’s efforts.  The legislative term limits were approved by voters on a 1992 ballot measure, which amended the state’s constitution.

“It takes a big horse to scare away lame ducks.” Scott Tillman said of the horse. “We don’t want professional politicians, we want citizen legislators.”

Tillman has already found support in a Lansing area lawyer, Gregory Schmid.

“Long-term power breeds corruption,” Schmid said. “We want smart people to be in the legislature and to be experienced in government, but not entrenched. We’re trying to stamp out longtime fiefdoms.”

Read more from: Michigan Live

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by | November 21, 2014 · 9:05 pm

DC Council Tackles Police Takings

The Washington, D.C. City Council voted unanimously to advance legislation making significant reforms to the use of civil asset forfeiture by the city’s police force.  A second and final vote will take place on December 2.

Throughout the United States, the rules of civil asset forfeiture allow police officers to seize personal property such as cash, cars and even houses without charging the owners of that property with any crime. Police are also allowed to keep the proceeds in most jurisdictions around the country and a large part of the proceeds when they work through the federal “equitable sharing” program.

The legislation in Washington, D.C., will end the requirement that citizens have to post cash bonds to challenge such seizures, provides greater transparency about what is taken by police and how citizens can challenge those takings, would put all proceeds into the city’s general fund and not allow police to keep the funds they seize, and it will also end the city’s involvement in the federal program that shares the proceeds from civil asset forfeiture with local police departments.

Still, many rightly complain that the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough. For instance, it would allow asset seizures until 2018 through the federal “equitable sharing” program, justified because $670,000 per year has already been budgeted for the police operations from those proceeds.

Liberty Initiative Fund has launched a “Stop Stealing” campaign, working with local and state-level activists to put reform measures on the ballot, which will bring an end to the abuse of civil asset forfeiture.

Washington Post: DC Council votes to overhaul asset forfeiture

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Mass. Voters End Automatic Gas Tax

Last week, Massachusetts voters stopped automatic gas tax hikes by voting YES on Question 1, which repealed the legislature’s bill requiring the tax on gasoline to automatically rise with the rate of inflation in Massachusetts.

Supporters of Question 1 were outspent better than 17 to 1, but voters could not be dissuaded from a good idea. Liberty Initiative Fund was the largest single donor in favor of Question 1.

Opposition to the measure came almost entirely from construction companies likely to gain additional state business if the measure was defeated – a NO vote being to uphold the legislature’s enactment. A handful of companies and their related associations raised and spent more than $1.7 million against Question 1.

The election results saw the “Vote Yes” campaign win a 53 percent majority, garnering 1,091,131 votes versus 968,909 votes, 47 percent, against Question 1.

Boston.com: How Your Life Will (or Won’t) Change From the Massachusetts Ballot Question Results

Ballotpedia: Mass. Automatic Gas Tax Increase Repeal, Question 1

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Add 22 Pages to Arkansas Constitution?


Have YOU Read It?

While you’re reading this story, thousands of Arkansas voters are being cheated, robbed of their right to vote – at least, to vote without their votes being counted against them.

Issue 3 on the Arkansas ballot kills and guts the term limits law voters enacted by citizen initiative in 1992 and supported again in even higher numbers ten years ago.


Now comes Issue 3 to weaken the current House limit of 6 years to a whopping 16 years! Senators now limited to 8 years would be able to stay in power for 16 years as well. SIXTEEN YEARS? That’s no limit!

WORST OF ALL? The ballot wording doesn’t tell voters this simple fact. If it did, as the politicians who devised this dirty trick well know, Issue 3 would go down in flames.

Instead of informing voters that the amendment lengthens the limits, the ballot wording actually lies to voters, telling them that the measure is “setting term limits.”

Here is what voters will read on their ballot about Issue 3:


The first part of the ballot wording is about contributions because Issue 3 outlaws corporate contributions. Not mentioned is the fact the U.S. Supreme Court has already said that provision is unconstitutional.

The second part says it will bar gifts from lobbyists to certain state officials. But this watered down provision will continue to allow plenty of gifts to legislators, including all-expense paid travel junkets from the biggest, richest lobbyists and special interests.

The third part of the ballot wording says the measure “provides for setting salaries.” Care to know how it “provides” for those salaries? Issue 3 sets up an “independent citizens commission” to set salaries. Elected? No. They’re appointed. By whom? By the very same politicians behind Issue 3.  So much for “independence”!

Issue 3 allows a group of cronies appointed by legislative leaders to hike the pay of legislators and other elected officials. How high, you ask? Well, there is no limit. The pay raise could be $25,000 or $50,000 or $100,000.

What can citizens do about that? If Issue 3 passes, NOTHING. This crony commission has absolutely no check on their power to set salaries – and to set them as high as they wish.

Last, but not least, is the ballot wording’s FLAT-OUT FALSEHOOD about “setting term limits.” Issue 3 is a world record for lies and deceptions – even for politicians!


Virtually no one – including the media – has read the entire 22-page, more than 7,500-word longest constitutional amendment in Arkansas history and knows what’s in it. And there has been a nearly total news blackout about its numerous provisions, with little if any reporting about the UNLIMITED PAY RAISE in Issue 3 or the DESTRUCTION of TERM LIMITS.

Already about a third of registered voters in Arkansas have cast their ballots in early voting completely unaware that the “tough-on-politicians” sounding Issue 3 is a lie written by politicians to destroy their term limits and snatch a big fat pay raise.

If you live in Arkansas, please warn your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And do it NOW. If you know people in Arkansas, please call them or email them a link to this story. Don’t let the politicians and special interests steal their vote.


Issue 3 – Longest Amendment in AR History




by | October 30, 2014 · 7:50 pm

Massachusetts’ Question 1 Questions Automatic Tax Increases

After the Massachusetts Legislature raised the state’s gasoline tax and then passed a law making future tax hikes automatic, tied to cost of living increases, citizens mobilized to gather enough petition signatures to put the issue of the automatic tax increases to a voter referendum on this November’s ballot. The referendum is known as Question 1.

Unless Question 1 passes, whenever the cost of living goes up, the cost of driving your car will go up as well. At a protest against the automatic tax increases, Richard Sourcinelli expressed a popular sentiment, “Let’s raise taxes, they never have an alternative, it’s always let’s just raise taxes.”

Voters should have a say in how and when the gas tax is raised, if at all. Question 1 would eliminate the automatic hikes, requiring a vote in the legislature to increase the tax.

But winning a Yes vote for repealing the gas tax law won’t be easy. CommonWealth Magazine reports that, “The Vote No campaign has raised nearly $1.7 million, far more than the $91,000 raised by the Vote Yes group.”

Why the disparity? The gas taxes collected are slated to go toward road construction and maintenance in the Bay State. And – surprise, surprise – the biggest opponents of Question 1 are construction companies doing business with the state.

“The big supporters of gas tax indexing are the Construction Industries of Massachusetts Advancement Fund of Framingham ($200,000), Suffolk Construction ($100,000), the Utility Contractors Association of New England ($100,000), the Massachusetts Aggregate and Asphalt Pavement Association ($100,000), and Hostetter ($90,000),” the magazine reports.

“The biggest donor to the Vote Yes campaign is the Liberty Initiative Fund of Woodbridge, Virginia,” according to the magazine, noting that LIF is “a group whose stated goal is to hold government accountable, fight crony capitalism, and protect individual liberties.”

WWLP-Channel 22: Locals protest Massachusetts automatic gas tax
Gas taxes automatically increase every year

CommonWealth Magazine:Breaking down big donors to ballot campaigns

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Term Limits coming to Your Neighborhood?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan has  made a short video highlighting the grassroots efforts of dedicated individuals to establish municipal term limits in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Visit the Mackinac Center’s website: http://www.mackinac.org/

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