October 18, 2019

Removing Citizens’ Ballot Initiative For Wildlife Management is Not Wrong

The Bangor Daily News editorial staff made some good and sound points about alternatives to changing the process involved with gathering signatures and getting a proposal put onto the ballot for voters to decide. However, the staff made two statements that I think need clearing up and providing a better and more accurate explanation.

To be forthcoming, I have stated in the past that I hold some reluctance in a flat removal of the right of citizens to petition the state and the referendum process. In this article, it makes reference to a proposed bill, LD1228, that would amend the signature gathering process for ballot initiatives. I haven’t finished a thorough examination of this proposal, but on the surface it appears to be a sound proposal.

However, I do think there are instances in which an exemption from the ballot initiative process may be necessary. The Bangor Daily News states: “…taking away the citizen initiative when it comes to hunting and fishing laws, or any other area of law, is wrong.” I do not agree. “Any other area of law,” is not specific to hunting and fishing laws, which, in and of itself, is an inaccurate labeling of what bill proposals that exist are attempting to do.

Hunting and fishing laws, i.e. rules, are set by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). The Legislature can amend those laws/rules and/or force the department to do things it might not think is in the best interest of wildlife management. In the existing format, there are many opportunities for Maine voters to participate in the rule-making process. This is the same throughout all law making proposals, with or without the referendum process.

In my mind, this really isn’t the issue. The issue is that wildlife management, including fish and game management, is a scientific process and should be a scientific process driven by goals set and established as a complimentary effort between the wildlife department and voters. Science should be the determining factor. It is my opinion that when MDIFW began putting too much emphasis on what social impacts their scientific decisions had, proper and responsible wildlife management took a back seat to social pressures, many coming from special interest groups. This result is far worse than any perceived fallout from eliminating a ballot initiative.

For this reason, we may be looking at a terrific example of why an exemption from the petitioning of the state government to change it’s wildlife management plans, should be seriously and honestly considered.

The second issue is directly connected to the first. The Bangor Daily News called a potential law to limit ballot initiatives on issues pertaining to fish and wildlife management as “draconian.” When this issue is viewed from a totalitarian perspective of forcing lifestyles onto others, I can understand why the newspaper, with their history, would consider this exemption as draconian. It appears the newspaper’s importance is weighted toward socialistic issues rather than science.

I hate laws in general because all laws limit and steal away my rights and my God-given right to self-determination. Playing within the rules, what is good for the goose is most often good for the gander.

And just one more thing. The editorial states that, “Twenty-four states allow citizen-generated initiatives on the ballot.” Why didn’t the report state that 26 do not? More than half do not provide for citizen-generated initiatives. Clearly there are other means of ensuring that all citizens can be heard, or made to think they are heard, other than the current and very expensive process Maine now has.

Changes in this process should be forthcoming.

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Democracy in Action

TwoWolvesLambIt is commonly stated that democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for lunch. I suppose a democratic form of voting must be accomplished by having an exact representation of all registered voters. In fact, all registered, and legal, voters should participate in voting. So, should we then jump at the notion tossed out by President Obama a few days ago suggesting that all those eligible to vote should be forced to vote? I hope not. Maybe some of the processes leading up to a vote should be looked at.

Consider, if you will, the false paradigms that everyone engages in – Left vs. Right, Republic vs. Democrat, Liberal vs. Conservative, Blue vs. Red, Urban vs. Rural, North vs. South, East vs. West, etc. Convinced that there is a difference, we are continuously distracted from the realities around us.

Many years ago, when I began investing my time and money into Online projects, one of the first things I learned was that for every rule that was devised supposedly to make the Internet experience better and more fair for everyone, thousands of people went to work to beat the system. Is this not true for everything, everywhere? Where’s the honesty anymore?

I also remember many, many years ago when I coached in a town little league baseball program, each Spring all the coaches within the county league would meet to discuss the upcoming season. This was also a time to discuss any possible rule changes. I learned right away that the process was wrong. Each rule change proposal that was made was done so for the clear advantage to deal with one particular coach’s team circumstances and not for the betterment of the league. Eventually, I became commissioner of that league and one of the first changes I sought was that no rule changes would go into effect immediately. It would have to take at least two seasons. There was a process to deal with actual emergencies. Is this same process at play in many, if not all, of our everyday lives? Do we react in a knee-jerk way to find a cure for the short term with little thought for the future?

The state of Maine has in the past few decades been called “The Two Maines.” This title came as the result of the more densely populated, “liberal” coastal region of the state and the inland and northern rural portions of the state thought to be “conservative.” Maine is not unique in this geographic and social and economic dynamic.

Today, I was reading an article found on HotAir about this very topic. It wasn’t Maine specific, but it did deal with the distinct problems that exist between densely populated city regions and those people who live there, and their ideals, opposed to those living in rural areas. The article is an interesting read as well as the comments left after the article. Please visit the site.

If there exists a distinct and unfair advantage to this demographic, that makes it easier for one group to force their ideology onto others, then what if anything, can be done about it? Surely this is the way of our society today.

The Maine Legislature will be considering a bill proposal that might help with this problem if a problem does exist. I don’t have access to voting data and statistics to know the demographics of who votes in Maine and from what region, county or town of each ballot cast. Therefore, I can only present what is being said and the bill that is being proposed.

A bad democracy (there are no real good democracies) becomes two wolves and a sheep discussing what’s for lunch when only two wolves and one sheep show up to vote. What happened to all the wolves and all the sheep? The truth is not even a majority of registered and legal voters participate in most elections. Therefore the system is flawed, but that is the reality that must be dealt with.

What happens then when certain voters, often with similar interests, congregate in densely populated cities? Can those voters have a distinct and stronger influence in political, economic and social issues? Some think so.

In Maine, which is not unlike other states, an example of this appears when the legal process is undertaken to get a citizen’s referendum onto a ballot. One of the requirements for that would be for petitioners to gather legal signatures of at least 10% (a number not actual names) of the number of those who voted in the last election. There are no stipulations on where those signatures can be gathered across the state.

Maine has been inundated over the past decade with ballot initiatives from the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights/environmental groups in attempts to change the way of life or many Maine people. They want to put an end to hunting, trapping and fishing, among other lifestyles. This is a classic example of two wolves and a sheep discussing lunch.

Because of the expenses, time, effort and energy that it takes to fight against such efforts, there are many bill proposals and a lot of discussion of what can be done to stop this attack. In 2004, the Humane Society of the United States lost a referendum vote to end trapping and hounding of bears. This past Fall, another referendum ended the same way. Many want this to be made more difficult or to stop altogether.

There are constitutional amendments being considered. Some are to exempt wildlife management from referendum votes. Others are to guarantee that Maine’s residents have a right to hunt, trap and fish.

LD1228 attempts to change the “fairness” of the signature gathering process.

Sec. 1. 21-A MRSA §902-B is enacted to read:
3 §902-B. Signatures on petitions for direct initiative of legislation from congressional
4 districts
5 The required number of signatures on petitions for the direct initiative of legislation
6 specified in the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 must include a
7 number of signatures of voters registered to vote in each congressional district that is
8 equal to 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in that congressional district in the last
9 gubernatorial election preceding the filing of the direct initiative.
10 SUMMARY
11 This bill provides that the required number of signatures on petitions for the direct
12 initiative of legislation must include a number of signatures of voters registered to vote in
13 each congressional district that is equal to 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in that
14 congressional district in the last gubernatorial election preceding the filing of the direct
15 initiative.

Maine has two Congressional Districts. Supposedly (I haven’t counted) each district comprises the same number of people. In the last bear referendum vote, according to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, 73% of the signatures gathered to get the referendum on the ballot, came from the First District, which is mostly comprised of the southern coastal regions where it is more densely populated and with distinct socio-economic differences than the Second District.

LD1228 proposes to mandate that at least 5% of signatures come from each district that would make up the 10%.

Does this help to level the playing field? Is this a false cure for a false paradigm? Some argue that for government to be better and more in the hands of the people, a big government needs to be whittled down to small pieces, putting more of it in the hands of the people where they reside. If this is true, would this proposal do anything worthwhile in that regard?

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A Bill To Prevent Non Residents Collection of Petition Signatures

For all of you who expressed concern about HSUS trying again. We have been working very hard to see it NEVER happens again. Please share this message from David Trahan and this report he penned everywhere you can. Follow the link, print it, send it to everyone you know, and let’s never be victimized again, by those with agendas and huge expense accounts from other states.
—————–
SAM ALERT
Important SAM Bill Coming Up for Public Hearing

LD 176, An Act To Amend the Law Governing the Gathering of Signatures for Direct Initiatives and People’s Veto Referenda

Veterans and Legal Affairs
Feb 25, 2015, 10:00a State House, Room 437

LD 176 is a SAM bill to address the serious abuse of our petition gathering process by the Washington D.C. based Humane Society of the United States. This bill will stop non-residents from violating our State Constitution’s ban on the use of non-residents to collect signatures during Maine referendums. Below are excerpts from an expose written by SAM Executive Director detailing the abuse. Please forward to as many people as possible and come to the hearing if possible. To read the whole expose, go to: http://www.sportsmansallianceofmaine.info/…/HSUS_Exposed_Fi…

BILL SUMMARY

This bill prohibits persons who are not residents of the State from collecting signatures on a petition for the direct initiative of legislation or a people’s veto referendum and from handling such a petition in any manner. The bill permits persons who are not residents to provide others with information about a petition. The bill requires a person employed by a petition organization to register with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and to disclose to the commission information regarding the person’s place of residence, employment history, compensation, +number of signatures gathered in a month and petitions circulated and to wear an identification badge when collecting signatures. The bill requires a petition organization to post a $2,000 bond on a circulator receiving over $2,500 in compensation. The bill makes a violation of any of these provisions a Class E crime.

HSUS Expose Excerpts

“Yet, fully two-thirds (2/3) of the signatures approved for the bear referendum, and probably thousands more, were bought and paid for by PCI Consulting, a professional petition signature collection firm from California.”

Some interesting facts:

“According to Maine Ethics Commission reports, on November 30, 2013, HSUS kicked off their Maine bear referendum petition signature-gathering efforts by reporting a $50,000 check paid for “signature gathering support”.”

“Total paid for signature gathering management – $228,574.00.”

PCI Consulting and HSUS

“PCI Consulting is a professional petition signature collection firm, with a long history of referendum campaigns all over the United States, and with a wide array of wealthy, politically connected clients, ranging from the likes of anti-gun rights billionaire George Soros to organizations advocating the legalization of marijuana. PCI Consulting has worked extensively with HSUS for more than a decade, collecting and managing signature-gathering efforts on other state ballot initiatives.”

Who did PCI Consulting and HSUS hire to collect petition signatures in Maine?

“According to documents supplied by the Secretary of State, and Internet ads paid for by PCI Consulting contractors, PCI and HSUS paid for the signature collection services of several separate groups,”

The Lewiston Team

“Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting and PCI Consulting hired Auburn resident John Michael, a 7-term, ex-State Legislator, to manage the hiring and daily operations of paid signature collectors.”

The Green Party Connection

“State Representative Ben Chipman, Green Party, Portland, is also a professional signature collector and campaign organizer who was deeply involved the effort to collect bear referendum signatures. Chipman collected signatures, and acted as a Notary for petitions. In what can only be described as a potential conflict of interest, he also served in the Legislature when the referendum bill was heard.”

Why did HSUS hire professional out-of-state petitioners?

“Because the bear referendum was not a home grown effort. It was concocted completely in Washington D.C, by HSUS.”

Who Is Blake?

“There is a common name and phone number in the HSUS and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting ads that solicit non-resident petitioners. That name is Blake, which is his first name; he does not reveal his last name. Using his cell phone number and information collected from the Internet, he can be connected to referendums in Utah (ballot access), and Washington State (universal gun sales background checks). He appears to be a contractor or middleman for PCI Consulting.”

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Um, Like Dude! You Want to Sign My Petition to Ban Pressure Cookers

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White House Petition Seeks Predator Control Groups Listed as Terrorists

It’s come to this!

Declare all anti-predatory animal organizations as domestic terrorist groups

Groups like Lobo Watch, Big Game Forever, Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, NRA, Safari Club, etc., are a menace in our midst. Not only do many of them want our native predators like bears, wolves, wild cats, and the like decimated to the brink of extinction, but some of them have the nerve to harass, threaten, and downright intimidate anyone who dares to oppose them, even the government. And they’ve got some powerful people in their corner, too. They throw their mammoth monetary weight around, and think they can buy their way into power in America and put down anyone who’s got a backbone and might provide resistance. It’s time to put these groups in their place and strike them down. Time to protect our carnivorous wildlife from those who seek to decimate them!

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And to go along with that:

Animal Rights Activists Want NRA Labeled ‘Domestic Terrorist Group’

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