Tag Archives: fines

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.

The Rape of Delaware County, Oklahoma

Kaye Beach

May 24, 2012

Who knew little Delaware was up to so much deviousness? Sexual abuse of captive prisoners, illegally collected fines from traffic stops, secret meetings. . .

Article written by William N. Grigg, posted May 22, 2012 on Pro Libertate

In Oklahoma’s Delaware County, Sheriff’s deputies were too busy figuratively raping motorists in the village of Bernice to supervise guards who were literally raping inmates in the county jail. As a result, the County Commission has put the screws to the entire county in the form of an 18 percent sales tax increase in order to pay the victims a $13.5 million settlement.
Bernice, which has a population of about 600, is bisected by Highway 85A. For the past quarter-century, the town has been one of the most notorious speed traps in the Midwest. Until recently, the town didn’t have a police department; instead, it contracted with the Delaware County Commission, paying $5500 a month to rent sheriff’s deputies to write speeding tickets and other citations.
A recent investigation conducted by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary A. Jones  discovered that since 1977, the municipal government had never published its ordinances as required by state law – which meant that its schedule of fines and court fees was invalid: The trustees never published the ordinances, as required by state law.
“Any ordinances (other than those pertaining to the appropriation of money) that are not published within 15 days of their passage are not in force,” notes the audit.  As a result, “the municipal court should not have collected fines of more than $50. The court has over-collected approximately $106,308 in fines through the end of June 2011”; in addition, the court also “over-collected” nearly $8,000 in court costs. The auditor directed the Bernice Town Board to reimburse those who had been subjected to illegal fines (in one instance, a motorist was given a ticket for $545). More importantly, from the perspective of those higher up in the tax-feeding chain, the auditor slammed the Town Board for withholding a cut of ticket revenue and court fees from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

 

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New Mexico: City Shuts Off Water, Sewer for Photo Ticket Nonpayment

Kaye Beach

April, 27, 2o12

Now how is this logical?  Answer:  It isn’t!  Since the circumstances neither warrant nor call for the cutting of vital services for non-payment of a traffic fine, it is bullying plain and simple.  I hope the people of Las Cruces gets a hold of their city government fast!

From TheNewspaper.com

New Mexico: City Shuts Off Water, Sewer for Photo Ticket Nonpayment

Las Cruces, New Mexico is threatening to cut off water, gas and sewer service over unpaid red light and speed camera tickets.

With more and more vehicle owners simply deciding refuse to pay red light camera and speed camera tickets, private, for-profit companies and municipalities are growing increasingly desperate. America’s second-largest city shut down its photo ticketing program last year largely because residents who could not afford the $500 citations did not pay them. On Monday, Las Cruces, New Mexico announced it would shut off the utilities of city residents who refused to pay Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras.

“The city is notifying offenders by mail that they have until the due date stated in the letter to pay the fines or make satisfactory payment arrangements,” a Las Cruces press release warned. “Failure to comply will result in termination of utilities services.”

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Delaware Pilots Mass Surveillance Devices for Revenue Enhancement

Kaye Beach

August 8, 2011

Delaware gets some fancy new mass surveillance tracking and revenue enhancement devices namely ALPR or Automatic License Plate Recognition.

One of the main concerns voiced  by Delawares pesky privacy pirates is ‘where will the data collected by these spy scameras go’?

It’s not just Delaware either.  Most of these these tracking, monitoring, and revenue enhancement schemes are either already in use in your community or look for them to be coming soon.  All a part of Intelligence Led Policing, the technology and data dependent form of policing/intelligence embraced shortly after 9 11.

We are all “share” like Barney now.

LINK

From DelawareOnline.com

State troopers used to park behind billboards or underpasses as they quickly typed the license-plate numbers of passing cars into computers to find scofflaws.They were lucky to record the plates of 50 passing motorists per shift.But that’s changing because of new technology that allows them to instantly check license plates to see if motorists owe everything from traffic fines to back taxes. And they can check up to 900 plates per minute.

“I can drive 55 mph on I-95 and I can pass a parked car on the shoulder and I can still read that tag,” said state police Cpl. Todd Duke, who has the device — known as a License Plate Recognition (LPR) system — mounted onto his patrol car. “With the new technology, as the machine is operating, I’m able to scan a license plate and immediately read the plate to determine if it is stolen and/or suspended.”LPR is one of the latest surveillance systems officials across the state have started using. They range from red-light cameras to facial-recognition software.

. . .Data collected by troopers will be stored and managed by the state department of technology and information for one year. After that, the data will be retained in an archive database for up to five years, depending on system storage capacity, to assess the validity and operational efficiency of LPRs, said Kimberly Holland Chandler of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.State police conducting active investigations will have access to the data, Chandler said. Other law-enforcement agencies also could be granted access.

. . .

Many uses for scans

The LPR system, which is still in the pilot stage, is a collaboration between the state Division of Motor Vehicles and Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

It began after officials noticed the number of uninsured motorists in Delaware reached about 10 percent, Schiliro said. The solution was to tie in the DMV’s uninsured database to a state police license-plate reader system. Once that was solved, they began seeing possibilities for other problems, including tracking people who have not paid tolls or are wanted for other crimes.

. . .You can use it for a lot of different things,” Schiliro said. “You can use it for parking violators, stolen vehicles.”State police began using the system at sobriety checkpoints because of the number of cars that pass through them.

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