Tag Archives: eminent domain

The CIG Hosts Body Parts

feet020517

The Cosmic Improv(e) Group
hosts BODY PARTS
of katharineotto.planetearth,
independent country of one

 by Katharine C. Otto
October, 2005
(Updated February, 2017)

Seth* validates my deepest beliefs.

The only reason for suffering is to learn how not to suffer, says he.  So, I flop on the couch and send healing energy to my painful, throbbing left foot, but I haven’t learned how not to suffer yet.

My foot and gut are having an argument, because the couch flop followed a gustatory fest that made my stomach hurt, too.

“I wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t weigh me down,” says Left Foot.

“I would eat less if we could walk,” Gut replies.

“Hey, guys,” says my Total Self, “We all have to live in this body, so can we find a way to get along?”

Then I fall asleep.

Then I wake up, limp to the kitchen, and eat some more.

The Cosmic Improv Group–that gaggle of nags inside my imagination and unheard by others–steps up to the plate.

They remind me I’ve had a busy, active week, have spread understanding far and wide, and have penetrated the local Shape Shifting Alien Reptiles’** lair at their eminent domain meeting.  Yes, I lanced that abscess, burst that bubble, and shriveled those egos.  My foot begins to hurt immediately after that.  My heel, actually.

Heels that they are.  Heal myself.  I decide the SSARs in local politics sent a thought bomb to cripple me, aiming for my Achilles heel.

“Sure, Kath,” says the CIG.  “As if they care enough to hurt you.”

“I didn’t think so, because I was okay with it.  Yes, I unsettled them, but they are used to boring each other to death.  My departure should have let them return to status quo.”

“You know it didn’t.”

“I didn’t know they could get to me this way.  Seth says trust your impulses.  I say fine with me, but not if my impulses cause me pain.”

“You underestimate your power,” they say.  “This is why you must up-level it.  Your pain shows you are not ready to release your passionate appeal.  It will assume a painful timbre, and this is not your intent.”

“You’re right.  I want to uplift and inspire.  My foot pain is associated with many (possibly imagined) lives, in which it manifested in different contexts—shackles, mine fields, frostbite, gangrene.  Bound feet as an Oriental woman.  It is symbolic of my fear of entrapment, limitation, and imprisonment.  Burned as a witch, too, feet first.  Burned again as a monk heretic in the Spanish Inquisition.”

I talk to my left foot and discover it feels “left” out, ignored, and unappreciated.  It reminds me I have lived many lifetimes (possibly) with dysfunctional or missing left feet, and lifetimes with “two left feet.”  I’ve been “left to heal or die.” An image of a wounded foot soldier in Stalin’s army during a cold Russian winter comes to mind.

“You are crazy,” says the CIG.  “Don’t tell anyone but us this, because they will lock you up.”

“Not for long, because the jails are too crowded.  They won’t put me in a psych hospital, either, because I refuse to have health care insurance. Ain’t that swell?”

“Crazy like a fox.”

“Lack of insurance keeps me safe from hospitalization.”

So I decide to make a concerted effort to bring the foot back into the fold, to appreciate that it is a perfectly good foot this lifetime, and its pain is karmic memory.  Up-level the memories, release the grudges and resentments, and the foot will heal.

Same with sacrum, which I believe is associated with my lower body stiffness and pain.  Here, the root chakra blocks qi in a defensive strike position.

The female body is a symbol for humanity’s greatest creativity, passion, and fear.  I hated that my body was female, because I believed it disappointed my parents.  Both parents misunderstood and were unreasonably afraid of feminine power, but so is the world.  We have few role models for fully creative feminine expression.

My physical body is my greatest asset, on this material plane.  It is my science lab, an instrument of pleasure and pain.

If, as Seth says, groups of people reincarnate together, everyone on the planet shares past and future memories. Puritan Salem comes to mind, and Cotton Mather, when I think about the eminent domain meeting.  I was a witch or prostitute, or perceived that way.  Perhaps I was just too independent to be tolerable.  Either way, my contempt for them made a victim of me.

I want to play it smarter, this go-round, and the foot pain reminds me not to move too quickly.  I am more out of phase with the environment than I know, and it hurts me first if I try to try to force it.  I want to be a catalyst for change, a destroyer of limiting beliefs and outdated systems.  At the same time, people have to be ready to change, or you set them up to fail, and they become more afraid than before.

On October 4, weight is up to 143.5 pounds.  Ibuprofen, 200 mg came to my foot’s rescue sometime between five and seven a.m.  I’d taken it at 3 a.m., too, in obeisance to Western medicine, which does some things right.  Just took another one.

I just poured my third cup of coffee, complete this time with real half-and-half and brown sugar.   “No, no,” shouts the CIG’s Should/Shouldn’t Chorus.

“You should only have two cups of coffee in the mornings.  You shouldn’t put sugar or real half-and-half in them.  You weigh 143.5 pounds, remember, when you used to weigh 123.  Disgusting.

“And you know coffee raises your blood pressure, which is borderline high, already.  Remember your bleeding disorder?  You are setting yourself up for a stroke or a heart attack, like the one that killed your father, or pulmonary embolisms, like the ones that killed Rhea, your mother.  Dump a third cup of coffee in that mix, and we can’t be responsible for what happens to you.”

I take a sip of coffee and contemplate their suffering.  I have heard this song before and have learned my stomach will tell me when to stop.

“143.5 #,” say the devils.

“That’s only 65 kilos, another excellent reason to convert to the metric system,” I reply.

“Your stomach has its own agenda.  It wants to hoard fat fuel in the Greater Omentum.”

“Are you saying my stomach is an energy hog?”

“Just look in the mirror at the facts.”

“The coffee doesn’t taste that great, anyway, but it gives me an excuse to sit.”

“So do I,” says Left Foot.

“Indeed you do,” I reply.  “and I’m practicing taking better care of you.  I took 400 mg of ibuprofen this morning, because the pain was so bad last night that I thought something was broken.

“Drink less coffee,” it says.  “The caffeine causes vasoconstriction in your extremities and starves me of oxygen.”

“Thanks.  I suppose you’re going to tell me to lose weight, too.”

“It would sure take a load off me.”

“Fat cells have rights, too,” my Greater Omentum chimes in.  “We’re just doing our job.”

“How’s about shipping some fat to the bottom of my feet,” I say, “to add some padding on my heel and some lubrication in my leg joints?”

“We’ll vote for that,” say the feet.

“Us, too,” say all the lower joints.

“How much will you pay for my largesse?” asks the GO.

My other body parts and I consult with each other.  We don’t have a ready answer.

I speak first.  “I’m about ready to invite a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism, preferably three all together, so they take me out completely.  That would cure the foot pain.  But please, please, please don’t cast me on the health care system,” I beg.  I take a sip of coffee.

“Remember how hospital coffee tastes?” Fukyoo asks.  “It’s gotten worse.”  Everyone except me laughs.

I dump the last little bit of coffee that was doctored the way my taste buds like it.

“Thank you,” says Left Foot.

“At least you fed me some peanut butter and wheat wafers,” says the Greater Omentum.

“I want you to share that,” I tell the GO.  “And not with the Lesser Omentum, either.  Send that fat downstream to my legs and feet, where it can do some good.

“Oh, all right,” moans the GO.

“Make him dance, too, lying on the floor, so we don’t have to carry him,” say my lower body parts.

“That’s called sex,” I reply.

“Whatever,” say the feet.  “Make him have sex, then.”

“Other body parts may have something to say about that.  Vagina?”

“No way, Jose.  Don’t inflict any barbarians on me.”

“Well, I haven’t found anything else.  I respect your right to opt out, since you’re not overweight.  You don’t need to dance.”

The Should/Shouldn’t Chorus is grudgingly relieved I sacrificed the last of my coffee.  One looks at a watch.

“Well, she hasn’t gone overboard in her caffeine addiction yet, but it’s just a matter of time.”

“Sad, isn’t it?” says another.  “Tomorrow it’ll probably be five cups, then six, and the next thing you know, she’ll be in ICU with a Broca’s area stroke, unable to speak or communicate in any way, but understanding everything around her.”

“Not so different from the way things are now, if you ask me, only my living room isn’t as noisy or expensive as the hospital.”  I say.

“We didn’t ask you.”

“Nope.  Proves my point.  You just tell me, don’t you, then prophesy dire consequences if I put sugar in my coffee.”

“Want to step on the scales and say that again?”

“Nope.”

“At least you didn’t stuff yourself with peanut butter on salty wheat wafers, this time.”

“Right,” says Right Foot, which has been doing double duty since the left went out on disability.  Both benefit from the rest, I figure.

“I like walking,” says Right Foot.

“Well, you two need to get together and discuss your relationship,” I tell them.  I put my soles together so left and right feet can bond.  Toes of right touching heel of left, cold toes to hot heel.  “We can start by evening out the temperature gradient.”

Yes, my feet are connecting on a sole level.  They both feel good about it.
*Seth is the channeled entity of the Jane Roberts’ Seth series.
**The concept of Shape Shifting Alien Reptiles (SSARs) comes from David Icke’s Tales from the Time Loop, 2003.

Eminent Domain: That Itchy Spot Below the Belt

wsjpipeline012517

By Katharine C. Otto
February 1, 2017

 On January 25, The Wall Street Journal ran a front page article claiming “Trump Revives Pipeline Projects.” The article states that President Trump gave a thumbs up to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both stalled by former President Obama.

The WSJ is all for this, as noted in its editorial “No More Keystone Capers” the same day, which asserted the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are good for “the economy.”

The WSJ says those in the industry are divided about whether the pipelines are needed.  Some say they are not needed yet. Other sources indicate energy use is declining worldwide, there is a glut of oil, and prices are down.

The WSJ’s slant is well known.  It supports Wall Street, assuming that what’s good for big business is good for the country.  It glosses over the long term costs of large-scale industrialization, manufacturing and exporting of natural resources.  The cost effectiveness of pipelines (and other large projects that benefit big business at the expense of residents) rides on the use of “eminent domain,” the government’s self-proclaimed right to confiscate private land for public purposes.

The Dakota Access pipeline is at the hub of the Standing Rock Sioux’s protest against the US government.  The Sioux claim the pipeline, slated to run under the Missouri River, endangers sacred ancestral and hunting grounds, as well as their drinking water supply (and that of others downstream).  Their resistance has drawn support from other Native American tribes, numerous environmental, other land-friendly and taxpayer-friendly groups.  The group is staking out its territory through the winter, justifiably worried that bulldozers will move in as soon as protesters look the other way.

While eminent domain has been in use over a century, it got a jump start forward in June, 2005, with the infamous “Kelo decision,” in which the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the New London, Connecticut City Council to eminent domain Susette Kelo’s neighborhood to build a convention center.  Pfizer, the massive pharmaceutical company, was a heavy hitter behind the move, as it had promised to build a $270 million research facility next door.

It was a bitter fight, as several of the neighbors had lived in their homes in the Fort Trumbull area for close to 60 years, paying property taxes all that time.  After the Supreme Court decision, Kelo’s neighborhood was razed.  Four years later, when Pfizer’s tax credits expired, it announced that it was abandoning the project, not to return.

Meanwhile, the precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court has had devastating consequences, including using eminent domain to condemn property for oil pipeline construction.  It reaches deep into the pockets of all property owners and taxpayers and raises questions about what, exactly, is guaranteed by land ownership.

Shortly after the Kelo decision, there was a stampede by municipalities and other government entities across the nation to confiscate private land on the flimsiest of pretexts.  It got so bad in Georgia (and over 40 other states) that the state legislature put brakes on it, much to the dismay of our city and county governments.

In Savannah, title searches were being conducted by city officials to determine which properties the city might claim.  It was irrelevant to them that property taxes were being paid.  Now municipalities are lobbying the state legislature to remove the limits and maybe expand them, too.

Worse, eminent domain is rearing its ugly head in ever more ominous guises.  President Trump has said he would like to expand the its use.

This power of the state to confiscate private land for corporate cartels has run amok.  In Georgia, the latest assault on private property comes from corporate giant Kinder Morgan (of Enron heritage), which is lobbying the Georgia government for direct eminent domain rights.  There is a newly formed legislative committee studying how to slip this egregious theft past taxpayers and still get re-elected.

Meanwhile, multiply-subsidized Southern Company (a Fortune 500 company), has recently paid $1.5 billion cash for a stake in Kinder Morgan’s future.  Never mind that Georgia taxpayers, energy users, and captive SoCo market customers are already paying for two unneeded nuclear power plants upriver from Savannah.

I contend the industrial age has peaked.  Long term costs, like widespread contamination of shared resources, are becoming increasingly apparent, yet these are not factored into the government or corporate prognostications.  The “global economy” works when you’re talking about electronic money.  It’s a different matter when you’re exporting valuable natural resources and leaving the waste behind.

Eminent domain cuts both ways.  The impact of the Kelo decision has been for government to determine what is in the interests of “the public good,” to the great indignation of “the public.”  Remember that property owners pay property taxes every year to secure their protection from land confiscation, among other things. Guarantees such as water quality come with property tax payments.

By comparison, in the mid 1800s, much of the US rail system was built on government granted land, acquired by the government by “treaty” with natives, ”purchased,” as in the Louisiana Purchase, or presumed US territory because no one contested it.  Abraham Lincoln and his successors, such as Andrew Johnson and Ulysses Grant, gave 10-mile wide swaths to private rail companies.  During the War Between the States and during Reconstruction, the North was desperate to insure a food supply for the cities, since it had eviscerated the South’s agricultural economy.  Let’s not forget that Abraham Lincoln was a corporate railroad lawyer before he was president.

So the race to link the continent’s coasts as quickly as possible gave rise to government bonds and favors, and railroad stock speculation, with the so-called “Robber Barons” like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie playing both ends against the middle and profiting on all sides.   They skillfully manipulated the government and stock markets to do their bidding, at maximum public cost.

Immigrants from China, Ireland, and other places were tricked into leaving their homes to come to the “land of the free” to do the grunt and dangerous work, like laying the tracks.  They were now destitute, unable to return home, and forced to do maximum labor for minimum wages and the worst possible living conditions.

Back to the 21st century, the most outrageous difference between the rail and the highway systems now is that the highways are owned by the public, and the rail lines are owned by corporate rail giants, like Norfolk-Southern, CSX, and Western Pacific.

To allow the rail infrastructure—an invaluable public resource–to languish in corporate hands distorts US perceptions so badly that we lose track of the obvious.  Rail is the most efficient, enjoyable, and effective land transporter of goods and people ever devised.  Rail has versatility, accessibility, and practicality that pipelines can never provide.  It’s out in the open, so people can see what’s broke and fix it easily.  Best of all, the infrastructure is already in place, just needs a little of The Donald’s magic wand in terms of claiming it for the public good and using some of that infrastructure funding to spiff it up and make it safe for all.

If the new President wants to use eminent domain for the public good, he would do well to look at the rail system, but don’t expect him to think of this on his own.  It is in every citizen/taxpayer’s best interest to look at who benefits from eminent domain as it is currently wielded.  Once again, it favors large institutions over individual taxpayers, while taxpayers suffer the costs.

And now the world knows my solution to the pipeline problem.

Coming soon . . . my solution to the health care problem.

 

 

 

 

Revive Passenger Rail

traintraincommi20896November 11, 2016

Now that we have a Republican president-elect, one who some say will support infrastructure re-building, I’d like to put in my bid for passenger rail.  This is not a new issue for me.  In fact, I wrote President George Bush a letter about it in December, 2005, posted it on my now-defunct website, and sent copies by snail-mail to multiple players on House and Senate committees.

As I see it, the primary reason passenger rail has given way to the private automobile is that the roads and highways are under the public domain and maintained by various Departments of Transportation, but the rail lines are owned by private corporations, like CSX, Norfolk-Southern, and Western Pacific.

President-elect Trump has indicated he wants to expand eminent domain, but no one has suggested eminent domain should be used to acquire corporate land, especially land that holds such a nationally valuable asset such as rail infrastructure.

For a little background on this particular subject, I’m posting below the un-edited letter I wrote to President Bush in 2005.  I have not followed Amtrak since but still believe the passenger rail system deserves careful consideration in light of the energy crisis, global warming, oil pipelines, fracking, automobile congestion, traffic fatalities and and other unhealthy and energy inefficient practices that we have inherited.

 

December, 2005

All Aboard for
DAVID GUNN
 former CEO of Amtrak

A Voter-Citizen-Taxpayer  Apology  For the way he was treated by
the United States Government

George W. Bush
Chief Executive Officer, USA Corporation
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear George:

The jig is up, Prez.  The plutocracy can no longer hide the garbage it has dumped in our laps, and the “oil crisis” is the pivot point. This latest ploy to churn public assets into private friends’ hands is the last straw.  Let’s compute taxpayer costs of the artificially created markets, fake wars, price supports, subsidies, duties, tariffs, and taxes, at every step of the exploration-to-drilling-to-gas pump vampirism.  Let’s add up the costs to voter-taxpayer-citizens of US government spending to assist US corporations engaged in domestic and foreign oil exploitation, and all the political “friends” who are selling war machines to every country with the money to pay for them . . . and then explain why you want to starve the US public transportation system.

Yes, I am talking about Amtrak. I last traveled Amtrak in May, 2004.  When was the last time you did?  Even though the House last week has tentatively approved $1.315 billion for Amtrak, your original budget provided no money for passenger rail service.  Meanwhile, Amtrak ridership has grown for three straight years, reaching 25,374,998 in FY 2005.

I learned a lot on my Amtrak trip.  Bureaucratic red tape delayed my Silver Star five hours.  I know, because I spent that time shooting the breeze with off-duty conductors and engineers.  They told me how much they respected David Gunn.  They said he’d made a monumental effort to locate un-catalogued warehouses full of parts, supplies, tools, and other equipment that had been lost for decades.  By indexing these supplies, he made it easier for Amtrak employees to find the items necessary to fix problems quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.  They said Amtrak employees at all levels of the system respected and liked him.  Their attitudes showed it.

You might understand why I was horrified to learn the Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney, Esquire fired Mr. Gunn November 9.  It doesn’t make sense to this aging Boomer, who believes I’m more competent to provide for my future than you are. How, in this “oil crisis” can you justify disabling the most efficient and time-tested use of transportation energy ever devised?

Are you crazy?  I must be crazy to subsidize this incompetence.  So I work and spend as little as possible, to reduce my taxes legally.  The best things in life really are free, so far. Meanwhile, this is how I vote my tax dollars:

DEFENSE – 0%
AMTRAK- 100% of my tax dollars for the rest of your term
(except for 2005, which I’ve already promised to West Central Psychiatric Hospital in Columbus, GA)

One citizen = one vote

Here’s what we need to do.  Eminent domain all the intercity train tracks back.  Passengers have priority over freight, because the passengers pay the taxes and buy the freight.  If the United States Supreme Court can take Susette Kelo’s neighborhood for Pfizer Corporation, the US government can nationalize the rail lines and maintain them as part of the transportation grid.  Link them to the interstate highway system under the Department of Transportation’s maintenance budget, and voila, Amtrak begins to look a lot more attractive.

This cost-saving move will liberate Amtrak to run a user-friendly railroad passenger and freight service. First, we fire the idiots who are quibbling about food cars.  Can’t the US government make a profit on a food monopoly in a hungry, captive, market, with money to spend, on a long distance trip?  Lease me a franchise food car on any Amtrak train, and I’ll show you how.

Better still, lease me a franchise cyber café car with a liquor license.  Think you could pull some strings and get me one of those?  Solar panels on the roof, and an outdoor smoking patio at the back of the car?  Did you know the government gets $3.50 for every legal fifth of liquor sold?  And the tax on cigarettes was 76 cents a pack, last time I checked.  It stimulates the economy to encourage these vices.  Why fight it?  If you want to privatize government, let’s do it in style.

As for Express Trak Freight . . . Do UPS and FedEx pay you to lose money?  They’re getting good value for their shareholders.  I wish the CEO of the USA Corporation could claim as much.

I believe the USA has the worst public transportation system in the world, but I haven’t been everywhere you’ve been.  Tell me, does anybody have worse public transportation than us? Not counting Iraq?  I’d love to see some pictures.  Remember, I pay your travel expenses, but you don’t pay mine.  I stay home, monitor the domestic front, and write letters.  Lots of them, as you probably know.

So George, ask DOT Secretary Mineta to look into that fancy Japanese railroad technology, but make sure he understands we don’t want the equipment unless they teach us how to install and service it.  The technology is worthless if you don’t have local skilled labor to keep it running right.  Besides, if China blows Japan out of the water, we lose if we can’t maintain our own stuff.

This way, we could bring soldiers home and put them to work on the transportation infrastructure. Same salary and benefits.  Help local communities upgrade local systems, so people who can’t afford cars can still work.  I’d support that taxpayer expense.  Help them help themselves, and all that.  Teach a man to fish.

Speaking of the Department of Transportation, what is that $1.1 billion federal grant to Georgia’s DOT for?  Our local legislators plead ignorance.  Is it to promote this Interstate 3 idea between Savannah, Augusta, and Knoxville, Tennessee?   I hear you want to cut a wide swath with barricades at eye level along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.   I can understand why you’ve kept this funding bonanza quiet.  It appears you don’t want Americans to know how you’re spending our money here.  We live here, George.  We have a right to know.

Now, if you want to allocate that $1.1 billion to reviving the Nancy Hanks passenger train between Savannah, Macon, and Atlanta, I’ll be happy to help, if you’ll  re-hire David Gunn.  I would eagerly support that taxpayer expense.  Mention it to Governor Sonny Perdue, if you think it’s a good idea.  I write letters to him, too.

You and I begin to speak the same language if you talk about an environmentally friendly passenger trains through our lovely country.  Train travel takes us beyond media hype, to the America that exists in three dimensions.

Next question.  I’ve been doing research on the National Rail Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) Board of Directors.  Let’s see if I have this straight.  The board is supposed to have seven members, but it only has four.  As a member of your Cabinet, DOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta holds one seat.  Of the three remaining members, all are Bush appointees, but only one of them has been confirmed by the Senate.  This gentleman is David M. Laney, Esq., Chairman of the National Rail Passenger Corporation Board of Directors and the man who fired Amtrak CEO David Gunn on November 9, 2005. The other two members, Enrique Sosa (announced April, 2004), and Floyd Hall (announced August, 2004), were recess appointments and were never confirmed by the Senate.  Not only that, but their terms are due to expire this month.

Of course everyone questions whether Mr. Gunn’s firing was legal, a point raised by Transportation & Infrastructure RR Subcommittee Chair Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and echoed by others.  What, exactly do the NRPC’s by-laws say about this?  We need to clarify them so this doesn’t happen again.  In fact, I believe the NRPC should be scrapped, and the Department of Transportation should embrace Amtrak under its protective funding umbrella.  This would elevate passenger rail to the same status as the private automobile and dramatically reduce our perceived dependence on foreign oil.

In any case, George, which member of the current board represents any opinion but yours?  And who gave David Laney that $100,000 for your election campaign?  What do these mysterious benefactors say about Amtrak?

I longer feel obligated to put up with this.  As government costs more and more to do less and less, I begin to wonder what I need government for. Not just you, George, but the entire federal government, including the Legislature and the Supreme Court.  Especially the Supreme Court, after the Kelo decision, but I can deal with only one problem at a time, since don’t get paid for this and have to make my time count.

You made a big mistake firing Mr. Gunn.  He came out of retirement to work for you in May, 2002, so what changed?  Makes you look awfully wishy-washy. I vote for you to offer him an apology and a raise, and beg him to come back.

That he had to fight the US government to protect the US public transportation system was a pathetic waste of his talent.  Government isn’t supposed to make a profit.  That’s why it extorts taxes to support inherently unprofitable services.  Like the presidency, for instance.

This taxpayer wants someone who can get the job done right, on time, with a minimum of hassle. How much does he need?  Give it to him, Prez, then get out of the way. That’s my vote.

Government has a public obligation to insure good value for our taxpayer money.  Its primary responsibility is to pay for the infrastructure that ensures a smoothly functioning society.  By doing this, it shifts larger costs to the larger group, which maintains the balance by using the services.  This makes it easier for individuals and businesses to profit from genuine free-market capitalism in a social context.

Sincerely,
Katharine C. Otto, MD
President, Chair, and CEO
Psychiatrists for Sanity
(and so far, the only member)

cc:

David Gunn
Former CEO of Amtrak
Wherever You Are

National Association of Railroad Passengers
(NARP) www.narprail.org
Another great source

David H. Laney, Esq.
Chairman of the Board
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC  20002

Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
US Dept of Transportation
400 7th Street, SW
Washington DC  20590

US Rep Don Young (R-AK), Chairman
Transportation & Infrastructure
2111 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5765
Fax:  202-225-0425

US Rep Steven LaTourette (R-OH)
Transportation & Infrastructure
RR Subcommittee Chair
2453 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5731

US Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
416 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-3521

US Sen Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
120 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-3643

US Sen John McCain (R-AZ)
Commerce, Science & Transportation
241 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-2235

US Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA)
2242 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5831
Fax:  202-226-2269
Savannah office:
1 Diamond Causeway, Ste 7, 31406
Phone:  912-352-0101

US Rep John Barrow (R-GA)
226 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-2823
Savannah office:
400 Mall Blvd, Ste G, 31406
912-354-7282

US Rep Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
2452 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC  20515
202-225-4101

 

Friends of Amtrak  www.trainweb.org/crocon
A great resource for Amtrak information

US Rep Corrine Brown (D-FL-JAX)*
Transportation & Infrastructure
Ranking Member of RR Subcommittee
2444 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-255-0123
Fax:  202-225-2256

US Rep Joe Schwartz, MD (D-MI)
128 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC  20515
202-225-6276
Fax:  202-225-2681

US Sen Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Commerce, Science & Transportation
324 Hart Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-3224
Fax:  202-228-4054

US Sen Trent Lott (R-MS), Member
Commerce, Science & Transportation
487 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington, DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-6253
Fax:  202-224-2262

US Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT)
187 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-2644

US Rep Mike Castle (R-DE)
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-225-4165

US Rep James Oberstar (D-MN)
2365 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-225-6211

US Rep Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA)
Transportation & Infrastructure
1118 Longworth HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5901
Fax:  202-225-2515

Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street NE
Washington DC  20543
202-479-3211

Justice John Paul Stevens
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street NE
Washington DC  20543
202-479-3211

Harold Linnenkohl, Commissioner
GA Dept of Transportation (GDOT)
2 Capitol Square SW, Room 102
Atlanta, GA  30334
404-656-5206
Fax:  404-657-8389

*Our sister to the south, US Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL-JAX), is the ranking Democratic member of the Railroad Subcommittee of Transportation & Infrastructure.  She is also a strong Amtrak advocate and supporter of re-hiring David Gunn.  See her press release at http://www.house.gov/corrinebrown/press109/pr051109.htm.

On November 9, 27 members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure sent a letter to Mr. Laney, expressing their “outrage” at David Gunn’s  dismissal.

Voter-citizen-taxpayers who support apologizing to Mr. Gunn, offering him a raise, and guaranteeing him as much money as he needs to get the job done right, please send a train to the Prez.  I don’t believe he’s ever had one.

President George W. Bush

United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Phone:  202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
e-mail:  comments@whitehouse.gov
Congressional switchboard:  1-202-224-3121
Senators:  www.senate.gov
Representatives:  www.house.gov
A public service initiative courtesy of  www.mhconnections.com

trainrrcros2mi0896

Here’s How 061916: Government Creep by Eminent Domain

Five days ago, I posted a blog that referenced the Supreme Court’s 2005 “Kelo” decision about eminent domain.

Four days ago, I read in the Savannah Morning News about the latest example of government creep by eminent domain.  At issue is the request by oil-and-gas pipeline corporation Kinder Morgan for eminent domain privileges through 210 miles of coastal Georgia.  The so-called “Palmetto Pipeline” is intended to transport oil, gas, possibly natural gas and ethanol (although this is not clear) to ports at Savannah, Brunswick, and Jacksonville for export.

Now Richard Kinder, head of Kinder Morgan, was one of the principals at Enron, when it collapsed in bankruptcy, following an internal scandal revealed in October, 2001.  Enron’s was the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history, at $63.4 billion in assets, until WorldCom surpassed it a year later.  (Wikipedia, 100415)

More recently, in 2014, one of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipelines spilled 370,000 gallons of gasoline in Belton, SC.

In 2015, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal did something right, for a change, and denied Kinder Morgan’s bid for eminent domain.  Kinder Morgan appealed the decision, but a Fulton County judge (Atlanta) upheld it, and Kinder Morgan officially withdrew its application.

Now comes the Georgia Legislature to help Kinder Morgan out.  The SMN’s article “Pipeline study group forming,” by Mary Landers, says House Bill 1036, signed into law May 3, 2016, has created a “study commission” tasked with recommending changes to the way Georgia evaluates gasoline and diesel pipelines.  This “State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines” has until December 31 to “conduct a detailed study to ensure the exercise of eminent domain powers by petroleum pipelines is carried out in a prudent and responsible manner consistent with the estate’s essential public interests.” (Quoted from the Savannah Morning News’ quote of the press release).  (KO Translation:  “We are trying to find a way to grant eminent domain privileges to Kinder Morgan.”)

Yours truly, here, has been keeping her finger on the pulse of the planet for forty years, and she has been right too often to doubt her assessment now.  This is how government works to benefit asset plunderers and money churners, at the expense of the taxpayers who pay the costs of the industry as well as the environmental costs on land they thought they owned.

Before Governor Deal denied the original application, I wrote letters to him and to Richard Kinder, threatening to look into stock investments of everyone involved in the decision, including judges.  I sent copies to everyone I could think of, because this is cheaper than filing lawsuits and dealing with the perpetrators in their own lair and on their terms.

As a tactical move, it also shows how legislators and bureaucrats at every level of government have an inherent conflict of interest as long as they have or control pension plans invested on Wall Street.  As long as they are making decisions that affect us all, we have a right to know where their taxpayer-funded investments are going.  After all, the biggest eco-rapists, like the energy companies, pay the highest dividends, and corporate and pension fund managers want to show high rates of return.

I posted the following satirical article about the Kelo decision on my now-defunct website in October, 2007.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

–news from the event horizon–

A RETROSPECTIVE: October 28, 2007

by Katharine C. Otto

VIAGRA BLINDS US SUPREME COURT
United States Government Implodes Following Eminent Domain Decision

Homeowners quit buying homes and paying property taxes after the United States Supreme Court sold them out to a higher bidder. On June 23, 2005, the High Court sided 5-4 with the New London, Connecticut City Council, allowing the city to take Susette Kelo’s and her neighbors’ homes by eminent domain.  When Kelo, et al. lost their property rights, homeowners everywhere realized US law no longer guarantees ownership, so property taxes are invalid.

Multibillion-dollar international drug manufacturer, distributor, university and medical education grantor, researcher, lobbyist, political donor, NYSE high roller, and advertizing giant Pfizer, Inc. denied a role in the Supreme Court decision. A spokesman for Pfizer, who refused to be identified, claimed the mega-corporation has not leased or purchased any part of the conference and convention center planned atop Kelo’s neighborhood and next door to Pfizer’s new, $270 million, global research facility.

Pfizer also says its popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra does not cause blindness–despite litigation to the contrary–but a source close to the labs hints this is how Viagra works. (“FDA Was Told of Viagra-Blindness Link Months Ago:  Senator Criticizes Delay in Alerting Consumers After Safety Officer Warned Agency About Drug,” washingtonpost.com, by Marc Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, July 1, 2005.)

Viagra blinded local governments, though. Running with the Supreme Court’s balls, city and county governments drove thousands of people from their homes, offering zoning changes and tax incentives to commercial developers.  Sadly, no one could pay the price.

This caused a general collapse of US currency. “The dollar no longer makes sense,” said a famous economist who asked for anonymity.  “This means there’s no difference between rich and poor.  And, since we have no property rights, tu casa es mi casa, as any illegal alien can tell you.”

Hoards of homeless men, women, and children hailed the news. They swarmed the White House, governors’ mansions, and other public housing, where they spread blankets and took up residence.

Government officials and bureaucrats, fearing angry mobs, barricaded themselves in government buildings, but no one tried to get in. When they attempted to leave with their hands up, they found doors locked from outside.

Ex-taxpayers gathered outside and questioned whether public servants serve the public. One woman insisted they could be taught.  She recommended re-writing their job descriptions, but others doubted they could learn anything new.  A janitor claimed it’s theoretically possible to rehabilitate federal employees with short job titles, but it would be taxing.  They could start by cleaning out their own offices.

A former property owner, who still lives at home, said quarantining public servants taxes no one but the government. It protects neighborhoods and keeps cities safe from democracy.

“We discovered the blockhead period of architecture—so popular with the feds since the 1950s—is perfectly suited for housing our surplus supervisors until we figure out what to do with them.” When asked how they would feed the thousands of incarcerated deciders, she replied, “Let them eat paper, since that’s all they produce.”

Junk food corporations broadcast outrage at this cold-hearted attitude. They have responded by donating millions in food and drink for the trapped victims.  Now, inside sources say the prisoners are far from starving, and many can finally stay on their diets.

But angry environmentalists are threatening to torch the burgers with the packaging, if McDonald’s and others don’t pack out their own trash. In a furious back-lash, the fast food and packaging industries are lobbying Congress to require more trash cans outside government buildings.

But Congress has more urgent problems. Legislators are locked in the Capitol and strapped for bathrooms and toilet paper. They are working on bi-partisan emergency legislation for men’s room rationing and other limitations on dumping. Already, government waste has backed up the sewage system and flooded the nation’s capitol, creating the most blighted neighborhood the world has ever smelled.  The President has declared a national emergency and is pumping trillions of electronic dollars into the sewer system.

Sadly, nationwide polls show little sympathy for Washington’s plight. “Let ‘em eat shit,” said a Kansas farmer who was paid not to farm.  “Nobody owns this land now.  Money has no value, but my family still has to eat.  People around town are helping out.”

He laughed when offered federal assistance. “Pay them to stay away,” he said. “I’ll distill corn ethanol, stay home, and party. Can we tighten that Beltway some more?”

He suggested selling or leasing government employees to third world countries. When reminded money was worthless, he suggested giving the public servants away, but admitted this may not be feasible, either.

An Alaskan book dealer said the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seems safe, for now. People who worked only for the money have quit their jobs and no longer drive so much.

A Montana rancher didn’t know the government had collapsed, because he had no TV. He asked if that explained why road projects through nearby National Forest lands were abandoned.

A Georgia shrimper wondered about the sudden disappearance of the DNR, EPA, DEA, FBI, CIA, Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services, Department of Homeland Security, Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, city and county police, and military aircraft from the coastline.

Large retailers, who expected mass looting when the dollar collapsed, discovered nobody wanted anything they had. The stores have been abandoned.  When asked why she no longer visits Wal-Mart, one former shopper said she just enjoyed spending money.  Now, she uses what she has.

The packaging industry is in crisis, because like the government, fast food, and Wal-Mart, it provides nothing of lasting value. Similarly, bankers, accountants, and lawyers have found their skills obsolete in a cashless, lawless society.

The rest of the world has questioned why the US stopped bombing Iraq.

“Economics,” everyone says. “When no one gets paid, the relative value of life goes up.”

The collapse of the US economy has surprised no one except the economists, who claim the dollar really does have value, despite appearances.

Overall, the implosion of the United States government has not been the disaster everyone feared. Of course, creditors with liens against the country want to collect what they can, but they are finding little worth taking.  Some have even resorted to accepting government employees.  It is hoped that outsourcing the largest worker force in the nation will spread democracy around the globe and provide the balance of trade so crucial to world peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walmart Sweeps Up

walsandscreen1103

I took the above photographs in November, 2003, as Walmart moved in on Sandfly, a 200-year old black community that had already lost housing by eminent domain for the Truman Parkway.  The parkway is a SPLOST-funded north-south highway the length of the city, from the Savannah River to International Paper’s gated real estate development on Skidaway Island.  Sandfly was in the way, as was the first air-conditioned drive-in theater in the world, discontinued long ago.  Walmart breezed through Chatham County’s approval process with the collusion of all the real estate developers on the Metropolitan Planning Commission as well as the Chatham County Commissioners.  The process was engineered by the county attorney, who struck panic in the ruling elite by claiming Walmart threatened to sue if denied.

Now, the same county attorney has been given authority by the County Commission to conduct negotiations in secret to eminent domain other parcels for road (and possibly other) improvements, with payment by SPLOST.  At the top of the eminent domain list is Speedwall United Methodist Church, in Sandfly, where the major Walmart opposition held its meetings.  The tax collectors want to replace the church with a roundabout, a totally unnecessary waste of taxpayer money and yet another kick in the groin to Sandfly.

Coincidence?  Let’s just say that Chatham and probably other counties have used the twin weapons of eminent domain and SPLOST since 2005 to run roughshod over the community, primarily the disenfranchised black community, using the power to seize property under any pretext (such as “blighted neighborhood”) and to provide government contracts to insiders to build buildings and roadways funded by SPLOST.  The practice is so entrenched that people have come to believe this is normal.

Probably the best way to stop the bulldozing of middle America is to defeat SPLOST, locally, as well as in other communities that have been conned into this sales-tax add-on.

I wrote the following vignette in November, 2007, after the new Walmart was opened and operational.

WALMART SWEEPS UP
by Katharine C. Otto

I stormed the Walmart bastion at 2 a.m., after machine noise from its street sweeper woke me up, one-half mile away.  I started in the parking lot with the machine’s sweet-looking operator, then spoke with the “Securitas” driver.  She sat with lights flashing while I took pictures of her and the poor little black man who runs the street sweeper and was just doing his job. Then I went inside and accosted Arthur, the assistant manager, who has no last name.  I told off the cashiers and the lone customer inside the store, amidst the acres of Walmart’s trash on the shelves.

“If you didn’t sell so much cheap plastic junk encased in too much packaging,” I suggested, “you wouldn’t have so much litter in the parking lot.”  I didn’t tell him how vigorously I campaigned against this monstrosity of a spot-zone, and it’s not too late to shut it down, if I can’t sleep.

Poor Arthur just looked at me and claimed he didn’t hear the noise.  I should have said that’s because the machine noise inside the store is even louder.  I could have said you get paid to listen to it, but I don’t.  In fact, as a taxpayer and disgruntled neighbor, I pay multiple times to listen to that noise.  Is deafness a job requirement here?

My only cost was the gas and time. A good time was had by all.  Even Arthur had a chance to show how he could be of service.  I told him on the way out – he wanted to hear for himself – that Walmart was exporting money out of town as fast as possible, it was spot-zoned, etc.  I said I’m ready to shut the place down.  Next time, maybe I’ll call the head of the Chatham County Commission at home, so he can hear the noise, too.

Now I wonder why Arthur took me outside, as if he didn’t know what a street sweeper sounds like.  Of course the sweeper was quiet, since I had put the fear of the Lord in the driver before storming Walmart’s inner sanctum

A small audience sat outside the entrance, presumably off-duty employees waiting for the bus.  As Arthur and I stood there, listening to the blessed new silence, I told him I should not be here.  I should be sleeping.

I turned to leave, saying “Good night, everybody,” over my shoulder. I stalked to the car, parked in a handicapped spot in the vast parking lot, empty but for litter, security, the street sweeper, and one or two stragglers.

Actually, we had 2 a.m. twice that night, because we went off Daylight Savings Time. I probably confronted Walmart’s attitude between 2 a.m. and 2 a.m. The clock in the car said something like 2:40 when I drove home.  I relate machine noise to Shape Shifting Alien Reptile vibe sucking. According to author David Icke in Tales from the Time Loop, the Shape Shifting Alien Reptiles (SSARs)  sap human psychic energy and funnel it to their home dimension between the spaces of physical reality.

The fact that I chose the window between the 2 a.m.’s to attack the SSARs in their own dimension is a story for science fiction. I wonder if this has cosmic significance. Of course it does, if I believe it.  The people I met seemed almost grateful to have me raise a stink.  The battlefield has been quiet ever since.

You want entertainment?  Turn off the TV.  Life is in the now.