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Archive → November 7th, 2015

Pushing back against the small town that bilks hapless residents for violating petty laws


Posted on November 5, 2015 by Ben BullardViews: 1,005

In the St. Louis suburb of Pagedale, it’s hard to live without violating some small rule. If your curtains don’t match, if your porch light’s out or if you simply cross the street on the left-hand side of the crosswalk, you can be cited and fined — again and again and again.

The micromanaging efforts of the Missouri city leaders have resulted in thousands of petty cases for its municipal court and a flood of revenue for the city. There are 3,300 people in Pagedale. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Pagedale residents received 2,255 citations last year — “nearly two per household.”

The small city tops a long list of St. Louis-area towns whose ordinance enforcement rates have soared in recent years. Since 2010, Pagedale’s citation rate has increased 495 percent. Over the same period, Frontenac, on St. Louis’ west side, has seen an increase of 364 percent.

Anecdotes of zealous enforcement — as well as the burden it’s placed on citizens — read like accounts of tedious and chronic oppression, the stuff of Soviet-era backwater towns where little bureaucrats drowned their unhappiness in the perverse pleasure they could take in mistreating the handful of unlucky people under their charge.

From the Post-Dispatch:

Vincent Blount, 54, and Valarie Whitner, 55, have lived in Pagedale for 20 years. For at least the last seven, they’ve been battling Pagedale’s municipal court.

The couple say they’ve been ticketed for everything you can think of: high grass and peeling paint, an overgrown tree, not recycling and more.

“Every year. Every year,” said Blount, sighing. “They just got me again.”

The latest citation was for a tree limb that fell onto their garage during a winter storm, the couple said. They waited until their insurance company assessed the damage, then placed the chopped up limb on the empty city lot next door. Before a tree service could pick it up, the city’s housing and sanitation inspector arrived.

The couple explained the situation but said it didn’t matter. They received another ticket.

In April, the inspector sent a list of 17 demands for the property.

The couple were given a 30-day deadline to, among other things, add screens and curtains to the windows; remove a dead branch from a tree out back; replace a missing shingle; use weedkiller; finish repairing the garage; install a rear screen door.

The repairs cost money — money the couple have been using to pay the court. They pay $100 a month on a tab that has grown to $1,810. About $1,000 of that was due to nontraffic violations. They still have $800 to pay off.

Blount and Whitner both work full time — he at a container store; she at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“We get by, but we don’t have all this money in the bank,” Blount said.

Compounding situations like Blount’s is the city’s mandatory appearance rule: You must go to court for every citation “because there’s no set fine to be paid by mail.” With so many citations to juggle, inevitable lapses have led to detention for Blount on four separate occasions. The detentions, reports the Post-Dispatch, lasted “a day or two each.”

Pagedale’s population is 90 percent black, so political opportunists who like to find racism lurking under every rock might even describe the law as racist — if they saw opportunity for themselves in doing so. They certainly saw plenty of opportunity three miles up the road in Ferguson, where social justice crusaders swarmed last year to capitalize on a police shooting.

But Pagedale’s abuse of its citizens is slow, incremental and — this is the key — too aligned with the statist cause for the left-wing outrage industry to galvanize in protest. So it’s up to the Institute for Justice (IJ), which has fought and won some significant pro bono litigation battles in which some government entity or other was crushing the little guy.

Source: Will County News

Washington must love ISIS

Bomb on Dollars

Posted on November 5, 2015 by Sam Rolley

The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department recently decided that pumping billions of U.S. dollars into the war-torn Iraqi economy might not be such a great idea after all. Why? Because, like non-interventionist and fiscal conservatives have been saying all along, that money flows straight through its intended recipients into the hands of Islamic extremists.

The U.S. has been propping up Iraq’s cash-dominated economy with massive inflows of American dollars — pulled from Iraq’s very own Fed account — since the U.S. invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

After toppling Saddam and rendering the dinar useless by devastating the Iraqi economy, the U.S. helped set up a Central Bank of Iraq that operates in the image of the U.S. fiat currency system and is funded largely by oil reserves.

The Fed has a similar arrangement set up with a number of other countries which tie up as much as two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion fiat dollars the U.S. has in circulation at any given time.

“The Federal Reserve seeks to accommodate other countries’ need to have access to their dollar deposits in the form of U.S. bank notes for legitimate purposes,” a Fed spokeswoman noted in a recent statement. “A number of central banks around the world, including the Central Bank of Iraq, maintain accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and at times withdraw currency from their accounts.”

But Iraq poses a special problem brought on by U.S. failures in the country over the past decade. Toppling a government is pretty easy for America’s mighty military, but establishing any semblance of order and accountability with handpicked puppet governments has always been tough for U.S. officials.

It’s no different for the current puppet regime heading Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal explained recently how the U.S. dollars make their way into Iraq:

Foreign central banks hold dollars and can call on the Fed for currency distribution. The new $100 notes are flown to Baghdad after leaving a Fed facility in East Rutherford, N.J. In Baghdad, the bills are moved to the Iraqi central bank, where they are sold in daily auctions in which Iraqi financial firms request dollars that they pay for largely using dinars, the country’s currency.

Early on, U.S. concerns centered on roughly 2,000 financial firms called exchange houses, which are active participants in these auctions.

U.S. officials believe several of these Iraqi firms have ties to Islamic State and have deep concerns the exchange houses are being used as conduits of dollars to the group, said a U.S. official and another person familiar with the matter. While the U.S. inevitably loses control at some point over the dollars it sends abroad, the Fed is barred from sending cash to entities it knows will distribute it to U.S. enemies.

Let’s break that down. U.S. $100 bills hot off the press have for years been flown into Iraq where they are exchanged for dinars — which the U.S. made useless — by financial institutions with ties to the Islamic State terror group.

Sure, U.S. officials got around to quietly shutting off the terror dollar faucet over the summer, but not before $13.66 billion flowed into the country in 2014. That’s a lot of U.S. money. In fact, it’s three times more than the $3.85 billion shipped to Iraq in 2012.

U.S. officials have long wondered why simply lobbing dollars at Iraq hasn’t helped the country’s economy. But they have now discoveredthat the money isn’t making it to Iraqi businesses and markets but into the hands of the well-funded ISIS terror organization and even into Iran.

Still, the U.S. is allowing money to trickle into Iraq in smaller amounts because, as Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (how’s that for a title?), put it: “From a counterterrorism perspective, it is not in our interest for there to be an economic crisis in Iraq derived from a lack of U.S. dollars.”

But there’s already an economic crisis in Iraq. And there’s already a terror problem in Iraq and throughout the Middle East — one U.S. foreign policy created and U.S. dollars are funding. If the American public doesn’t start pushing back, D.C. bureaucrats with titles like “assistant secretary for terrorist financing” are going to continue doing just that: financing terrorists.

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Source: Will County News