Tag Archives: OKC

Oklahoma Property Rights Protection Bill or Property Rights Destruction Bill?

 

little house

Kaye Beach

May 1, 2014

As promised from the start, HB 2620 which is supposed to prohibit cities from mandating vacant property fees and registration, and HB 3363 which defines “abandoned buildings” as a public nuisance, have been combined. The title for the new version of HB 2620 remains “Protect Property Rights Act”  (Call me cynical but such titles of bills always make me think “PATRIOT ACT”)

There are some grave issues with this measure but for now I am only going to address the first portion.  (I will post the about the rest of it before this weekend in over)

The reasoning for merging the registry ‘ban’ bill (HB2620)  with the abandoned property definition bill (HB3363) is so that owners of property with ‘bad’ vacancies CAN be targeted, forced to register and accrue a variety of fines and fees which if not paid will result in a lien being placed on their property.

Both bills were passed by the House and sent to the Senate (Hb3363 with title off) HB3363 was not heard in the Senate but was combined with HB 2620 after the bill was passed by the senate.

What we have now is a mess that is due to be heard in the House General Government Conference Committee  next week.  I am almost certain that our legislators will not pass this monster of a bill in anything resembling its current state but you never know….and I am concerned enough about it that I am going to begin squalling now rather than taking the ‘hide and watch’ approach and end possibly up regretting that later on.

The first portion of the committee substitute for HB2620 is supposed to prohibit municipalities from implementing mandatory fees and registries for real property.  Rep. Steve Martin, the House author,  says he wants to  protect property owners from onerous and expensive city mandates such as the recent OKC vacant property registration ordinance which he feels goes too far.

Residential properties that are vacant for 30 days must register the property with the city.  If your property is,  at a minimum, 1. vacant  and 2. water and electric has been shut off for more than 60 days, you are required to pay a $285 fee and an annual renewal fee of $190.  It doesn’t matter if the building is entirely up to code.  If those two conditions apply, your property is designated a “vacant property” that requires you to pay for some special attention from the city government.  Read more about OKC’s new vacant property registry here

I agree with the House author of HB 2620 that state intervention in municipal actions that violate city residents’ right’s is appropriate.  However, it is doubtful that the current language will survive to passage of the bill.

For one thing, it is too broad. As currently written this measure would not only nullify all existing vacant property registries and fees but also other existing registries such as for storm shelters which allows rescuers to find and search all shelters in the aftermath of a disaster. Not only will the cities vehemently oppose such a measure, citizens might as well.  Whether or not you agree with the premise that there should be no mandatory registries of real property, understand that the bill is not likely to survive to address the stated goal of halting vacant property registries when written this broadly.

More concerning than what may appear to be merely a stubborn stance on principle (which I usually don’t criticize) is that numerous statements made by the bill’s authors clearly indicates that they do not really oppose all “registration of real property” as the bill states but simply mandatory registration of otherwise perfectly maintained property that happens to also be vacant.

‘Treat also sponsored House Bill 3363, which defines abandoned buildings and how they should be handled by a city. He said he could merge the two bills to help better define what is an abandoned or vacant building. Treat also said Oklahoma City’s fee requirement will not reach those it is intended for – improper property owners’ Link

Its going to be a real trick to separate these proper and “improper” owners, I’m afraid.  In fact, it will be impossible to pass such a measure that will not inevitably harm what you and I might classify as good property owners.

When you consider the fact that state law already allows for the city to deal with “improper” property owners which are those whose use or neglect of their property harms the general right of others, you might wonder what it is we are missing here.   Protecting our rights is precisely the purpose of government in the first place and they are well-seasoned to the task.  City government has broad police power to intervene anytime the rights its residents are threatened furthermore, city governments in this state also have specific statutory authority abate common public nuisances. (See Title 11 )  So what problem do we have that is so new and extraordinary that we need to grant cities some brand new powers?

I don’t agree that some vacant property registries are necessary or proper and think It would be a grave mistake for the state legislature to further burden  property owners with such registries or fees at all.   

Registration is not necessary as cities already know where the problem properties are and how to contact the owners. For example, this is from a 2013 City of Norman Council Oversight Meeting where the issue of a vacant property registration was discussed.

‘Ms. Leah Messner, Assistant City Attorney said locating the property owners is not an issue’

It is important to note that city, state and federal properties are exempt from enforcement of such city ordinances. Government properties (even the ones that may have been taken fro you for being an ‘improper’ owner) can sit happily vacant for as long as the government wants them to with no penalty.  As noted by the Norman assistant City Attorney, banks can be exempt and the outcome of recent federal lawsuit indicates that federal mortgage holders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also exempt from such city ordinances.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Exempt From Chicago Vacant Building Ordinance

 However, there are no exemptions for the average property owner or financially struggling individuals.  When the Norman Assistant City Attorney was asked if there were any exemptions from a vacant property registry and the attendant fees for low-income property owners her answer was simply “No

It is easy to see why property owners might feel that vacant and abandoned property programs are open to abuse and possibly a racket that will result in an even greater transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizen to government and their cronies.  In fact, in cities across the nation where vacant and abandoned property programs like the one Oklahoma City is apparently embarking on,  are well advanced, there is plenty of evidence that such fears are complete warranted.

Here is what I’m afraid might happen;  if the HB 2620 is amended at some point prior to final passage to protect only perfectly pristine vacant properties  registration and fees wouldn’t it also, by omission, bless city ordinances to mandate registration of any other vacant properties?  This would end up being a case of the exception that swallows the rule.

I guess the question is do you support subjecting property owners (except for the government and big banksters) to more bureaucracy, fines, fees and risk of having their property taken?  Do we have a right to own property that is vacant?

If you think we do have the right to really own our private property then you might want to encourage the members of the  General Government Conference Committee  to be careful and not allow HB2620 to be amended to turn a what is supposed to be a property rights protection measure into a property rights destruction law.

All vacant property registries should be prohibited.

The rest of the measure is an utter nightmare and deserves it own separate post which will go up sometime this weekend.

El Reno Okla. couple flees home from ill effects of smart meters

smiths smart meter 2

2/22/13 correction.  Mr and Mrs. Smith lives in El Reno Oklahoma rather than Edmond.

Kaye Beach

Feb. 21, 2013

Fox News 25 OKC reports;

Couple says smart meter forced them out of their home

A family in the Metro says smart meters forced them to move from their home.. into a trailer. OG&E says its smart meter system has helped each customer save hundreds of dollars. But, Fox 25′s Kisha Henry shows us a family who says it makes them feel like they live in a microwave.

Read more and watch the video report by Kiesha Henry  http://www.okcfox.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/kokh_vid_9908.shtml

Drones, Phones and RFID; PRIVACY Unites Left and Right in Oklahoma

ok dragonfly

Kaye Beach

Jan. 10, 2013

Despite the uncomfortable level of political division among Americans, there are still issues that bring us together.

This legislative session the left and right are pulling together for privacy.  I couldn’t be more excited about this development becuase when the battle between our right to privacy and big corporation’s desire to make money intersect, our numbers are everything.

On Sat. Feb. 23rd at the Oklahoma State Capitol, we will have an opportunity to assemble and to demonstrate those numbers and make it very clear to our elected representatives that Oklahomans expect their privacy rights to be respected!

Speakers:

Amie Stepanovich, EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, on drones and privacy

Ryan Kiesel, Director, OK ACLU

Amanda Teegarden, Exec. Director od OK-SAFE  – Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise will be our Master of Ceremonies-

IDP13 OKC flyer

Here is a copy of this flyer for you to download and share!

International Day For Privacy Oklahoma City

If you would like to connect with others online who are excited about and are attending this event, check out Oklahomans For Fourth Amendment Rights at State Capitol on Facebook.

KFOR reports Feb. 5th, 2013:

Unlikely groups join forces to support privacy bills

The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union along with Rep. Paul Wesselhoft held a joint press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday to explain the three bills aimed at protecting the privacy rights of Oklahomans.

House Bill 1559: The first bill would prohibit the Department of Public Safety from installing RFID radio frequency identification in a driver’s license.

House Bill 1557: Another bill would require law enforcement, absent an emergency, to first obtain a warrant before they access the geo-location data stored by a cell phone.

House Bill 1556: Finally, the third bill would limit the ability of law enforcement to use drones for surveillance without a warrant. 

Read more from KFOR

http://kfor.com/2013/02/05/unlikely-groups-join-forces-to-support-privacy-bills/

OCSO Vet. Maj. Waldenville Says Promises Broken, Donations Missing

Kaye Beach

Oct. 22, 2012

Remember Major John Waldenville?

May 21, 2011, just after midnight, Waldenville was ambushed while carrying the nightly deposit from the restaurant where he worked as a security guard to the bank around the corner. The 25-year law enforcement veteran didn’t have time to react or plead his case before the gun went off. The bullet went in just above his right eye, severing his optic nerve, and through his ear before shattering his jaw and settling in his jowls.

The bleeding and swelling caused so much trauma to his brain he has spent the past year just learning how to function again.  Read more: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-county-sheriffs-major-to-be-honored-for-courage-after-life-changing-injury/article/3704046#ixzz2A3KdllAD

Yesterday,  Waldenville,  made several alarming allegations about his treatment after the shooting by Sheriff John Whetsel and the OK County Sheriffs Office where he has served for 25 years.

“I just felt like I’d literally been thrown to the curb.”

Among these allegations is that donations totaling thousands made towards his medical recovery were never received by him.

. . .they discovered thousands of dollars missing from various fundraisers held in his name. Read  more 

But according to  the OK County Sheriff’s Office, Waldenville received every bit of money.

the Oklahoma County Fraternal Order of Police handled the fundraising efforts. The FOP maintained detailed accounting of every penny that was raised totaling $142,205.79. The funds were deposited in a separate account and every penny raised was given to an attorney representing the Waldenville family on October 6, 2011. link

Waldenville says he  was assured by Sheriff Whetsel that  workman’s comp. would be forthcoming and has dated text messages from the Sheriff to prove it.

He said since the shooting, his wife Marjorie received several text messages from Sheriff John Whetsel, assuring them that he would receive worker’s compensation benefits. But the Waldenville’s say that never happened.

The sheriff’s office is now denying any culpability in the matter saying that;

“Issues of workers compensation, disability, and health care are handled by the Oklahoma County Human Resources Department, not the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.”

Waldenville mentions failed attempts on his part to resolve these issues (see News 9 video report) but  the Sheriff’s Office gives an entirely different perspective on the matter implying that the Waldenville’s have not made any effort to resolve these problems;

“We would have preferred for any issues the Waldenville family had to at least contact us first so we could have sat down at the table and discussed specifics.” Link

The accounts given by Waldenville and the Sheriff’s Office are at odds here but the truth will come out.  Given the history of scandal that follows Sheriff John Whetsel,  I would put my money on Major Waldenville.

New Oklahoma Driver’s License Stirs Privacy Concerns

Kaye Beach

September 30, 2012

KOKH Fox 25 covers growing concerns over changes in Oklahoma driver’s licenses and the possibility that the state is moving toward implementing Real ID which is prohibited by Oklahoma law.

New Oklahoma Driver’s License Stirs Privacy Concerns

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK– The new driver’s license in Oklahoma raises some questions about privacy.

“It’s something every Oklahoman should be concerned about,” said Seth Rott, former legislative aide to Senator Randy Brogdon.

Rott says he worked closely with Sen. Brogdon when he helped lead Oklahoma’s efforts to opt out of the Real ID Act.

“What we’re starting to see is the taking of Biometric data, and moving it away from criminal aspects to a more civil usage,” said Rott

Read more and watch the video

Fox 25 Covers Consumer Concerns About Driver’s License Scanning

Kaye Beach

September 8, 2012

Back in April I looked into the practice of retail stores scanning driver’s licenses as a condition for returns that was really making some customers angry.

Best Buy’s Worst Policy-Swiping ID’s and Destiny Management

The practice is becoming more and more prevalent.

Swiping of driver’s licenses is being required for buying gas (in case you try to leave without paying), for entry to public schools (in case you might be child predator and if you are misidentified as a sex offender, which happens often enough, well, stinks for you!), for buying cold medicine, for entry to bars and casinos, San Francisco wants ID swipes for most public events, Harlem wants tenants to swipe to gain entry to their homes,  and now, the TSA is swiping  airline passengers’ ID’s .

Turning our driver’s license into an all purpose access and identity card is contributing to the creation of a 24/7 digital footprint that can be recalled on each of us.  While it may be more convenient and efficient for corporations and the government, it makes us less secure.

Last night Fox 25 News took a look into the practice.  I talk about a sticker trick you can use to protect yourself from ‘sudden scanning shock’ and Fox 25 News Legal Analyst, David Slane gives his opinion on the matter and says that the the ‘sticker trick’ does not run afoul of any state laws. (I have to credit Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst for the ACLU as the source of inspiration for the sticker trick-Creative solution!)

Once again, Fox 25 stands apart from the pack for their willingness to investigate and cover news that we care about.  Thank you Kisha Henry and Fox 25!

Tonight at nine, Fox 25′s Kisha Henry introduces us to a woman who currently is in legal battle with the Department of Public Safety over her right to privacy associated with her state driver’s license. We’ll also hear what stores are legally allowed to do with that information, and what you can do to prevent them from having it.

Read more and watch the video here

Oklahoma Lawmakers Contemplate Health Insurance Exchange Via Existing Structure

Kaye Beach

July 6, 2012

Oklahomans do NOT want Obamacare!  Creating a Health Insurance Exchange is a key part of the health care reform plan.

Please show up tomorrow to register your NO! on the implementation of Obamacare in our state!

Rally For Healthcare Independence Sat. July 7, 2012 9-11am at the Oklahoma State Capitol

Insure Oklahoma eyed for exchange by some lawmakers

If Oklahoma decides or is forced to implement an online marketplace for businesses and individuals to shop for health insurance, a likely or at least logical landing place for the program could be Insure Oklahoma.
Insure Oklahoma was created in 2004 when voters approved an increased tax on tobacco, thus funding a subsidy for the health insurance of low- to moderate-income employees at small Oklahoma Businesses.

Read More

Rally For Healthcare Independence Sat. July 7th 9-11 AM Oklahoma State Capitol

Kaye Beach

June 28, 2012

Save the date!

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Healthcare Reform law, a Rally for Healthcare Independence has just been announced by the Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center who is sponsoring the event.

More details will be provided as they become available.

**Update**

July 2, 2012-The Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center has begun to announce speakers for the Rally.  So far, Howard Houchen, Republican candidate for Oklahoma’s Senate District 5 and Toby Pedford, highly regarded liberty activist and speaker, have been publicly announced.

If you are a Facebook user, you can RSVP online here.

Invite your state senator or representative. 

Senate Directory

House Directory

Sample invitation letter

If you are not sure who your legislator is, go here; http://www.oklegislature.gov/FindMyLegislature.aspx

Flyer to download and share here

The ruling can be read here

OKC: Homeland Security Raids T Shirt Store

Kaye Beach

June 7, 2012

Why is Homeland Security raiding t-shirt vendors for the NBA??

 

Homeland security raids Thunder t-shirt seller

OKLAHOMA CITY — The staff at Hi-Performance on N. May Ave. said they were surprised when agents came in the store on Wednesday and took all of its Thunder t-shirts.

“They just came in and kind of bum rushed us,” employee Chadd Hook said. “Six guys came, one was Homeland Security and his gun was exposed. The others said they were NBA officials. They said they were going to confiscate all our shirts now or sue us.”

Read more

Study finds warrantless police cell-phone tracking widespread and OKC PD response to FOI request

 

Kaye Beach

April 5, 2012

 

Warrantless cell-phone tracking widespread, study finds

By Donald White  Apr 02, 2012

Many U.S. police departments are tracking the location of cell phones without a warrant or court supervision, according to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Starting last summer, ACLU affiliates around the country began filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests with law enforcement agencies to find out about their policies and procedures governing cell-phone location tracking.

Many agencies didn’t respond at all. But based on more than 5,500 pages of documents from the 200 agencies that did respond, the ACLU found that although police departments routinely use cell-phone location tracking in their investigations, “only a tiny minority reported consistently obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to do so.”

Read More

 

From the ACLU;

Cell Phone Location Tracking Public Records Request

April 4, 2012

Of all of the recent technological developments that have expanded the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement agencies at the expense of individual privacy, perhaps the most powerful is cell phone location tracking. And now, after an unprecedented records request by ACLU affiliates around the country, we know that this method is widespread and often used without adequate regard for constitutional protections, judicial oversight, or accountability.

Cell phones register their location with the network several times a minute and this function cannot be turned off while the phone is getting a wireless signal. The technology’s threat to personal privacy is breathtaking.

All cell phones register their location with cell phone networks several times a minute, and this function cannot be turned off while the phone is getting a wireless signal. The threat to personal privacy presented by this technology is breathtaking: To know a person’s location over time is to know a great deal about who a person is and what he or she values. As the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. explained:

“A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

The government should have to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution. In United States v. Jones, a majority of the Supreme Court recently concluded that the government conducts a search under the Fourth Amendment when it attaches a GPS device to a car and tracks its movements. The conclusion should be no different when the government tracks people through their cell phones, and in both cases a warrant and probable cause should be required.

Until now, how law enforcement agents use cell phone tracking has been largely shrouded in secrecy. What little was known suggested that law enforcement agents frequently tracked cell phones without obtaining a warrant based on probable cause.

In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed over 380 public records requests with state and local law enforcement agencies to ask about their policies, procedures and practices for tracking cell phones.

What we have learned is disturbing. While virtually all of the over 200 police departments that responded to our request said they track cell phones, only a tiny minority reported consistently obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to do so. While that result is of great concern, it also shows that a warrant requirement is a completely reasonable and workable policy.

The government’s location tracking policies should be clear, uniform, and protective of privacy, but instead are in a state of chaos, with agencies in different towns following different rules — or in some cases, having no rules at all. It is time for Americans to take back their privacy. Courts should require a warrant based upon probable cause when law enforcement agencies wish to track cell phones. State legislatures and Congress should update obsolete electronic privacy laws to make clear that law enforcement agents should track cell phones only with a warrant.

Below is an overview of our findings and recommendations.

Read more

 

 Is Your Local Law Enforcement Tracking Your Cell Phone’s Location?

In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 35 ACLU affiliates filed over 380 requests in 31 states with local law enforcement agencies large and small to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. Click on a state in the map below to see what requests we filed in that state, and what documents we received. Click here to learn more about the requests.

http://www.aclu.org/maps/your-local-law-enforcement-tracking-your-cell-phones-location

 

Here is the response from Oklahoma City Police Department;

http://www.aclu.org/files/cellphonetracking/20120328/celltrackingpra_oklahomacitypd_oklahomacityok.pdf