Quite a bit of press coverage has been given to the arrest by federal authorities of Rochester's Marine Corps veteran Jerry DeLemus, for his involvement in the Cliven Bundy grazing land case in Nevada. Before passing judgement on Mr. DeLemus, please take a few minutes to digest some background information.
The grazing land in question, in Clark County Nevada, had been the property of the Nevada territory until it was taken over by the federal government as part of the agreement for Nevada to become a state. For about the last 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been arguing with Mr. Bundy over fees for the grazing area. Bundy has, for decades, maintained the fencing and the water supplies that are necessary for the cattle to graze. His family and others have been grazing their cattle on the land for over 150 years.
In 2014, things came to a head when BLM personnel went into the grazing area, which is over 150,000 acres, and began rounding up Bundy's cattle, to get them off the property and to try and sell them. That's when local ranchers/citizens, and others like Mr. DeLemus, joined together to protest what they believed to be significant government overreach.
A number of Western states have been meeting with the objective to have the federal government return their control over the public lands back to the states. There are many reasons for doing so but, primarily, the lands contain a plethora of valuable natural resources the state's believe should be under their and/or their citizen's control and ownership. (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Cliven-Bundy-Western-federal-lands/2014/04/21/id/566804/)
Since that protest standoff in 2014, the federal government has been targeting people who were involved in the protest . . . Jerry DeLemus is part of that targeting effort. At this writing, he is being held in federal custody, without bail, and will be transported to Nevada to be prosecuted. News reports have indicated that rancher Cliven Bundy, if convicted, may face life in prison.
Now consider this other sequence of events that occurred during those same time lines. Back in 2011, Senator Harry Reid's son, Rory, was a commissioner in Clark County, Nevada. Senator Reid and his son went on a trip to China and met with a large manufacturer of solar panel equipment, the ENN Energy group.
Upon returning to the United States, Commissioner Reid arranged for 6,000 acres of Clark County Nevada land to be sold to the ENN company, at less than market value, so that they could build an extensive solar panel energy farm on the property. But, a significant problem arose as the acres in question were the habitat of the "Desert Tortoise", which just happens to be an endangered species. And, if the solar panels were to be installed on the property, they would generate so much ground heat, it would kill the endangered tortoises. A decision was made to relocate those creatures to a different spot . . . apparently the grazing area that had been maintained and used by the Bundy family and other ranchers for over a century and a half.
Rory Reid is now an attorney/lobbyist for the ENN Energy group and, the person who heads up the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, who was on the staff of Senator Reid, from 2003 until 2011. He was then transferred to BLM to serve as acting deputy director for Policy and Programs. He served in that position until November of 2013, when he was nominated for the position of director of the BLM. He was confirmed in April of 2014.
The First Amendment gives the people the right, ". . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Tenth Amendment states, ". . . powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
Those wonderful words seem to lose their effectiveness when they have to compete with the power of political insiders. In this case, Bundy and other ranchers have felt, and are feeling, the full strength of the federal government . . . which is arresting them with the prospect, if convicted, of serving long-term jail sentences. And, even if the ranchers/protesters are acquitted, it appears the government has taken away their right to make a living doing what they and their families have done for over 150 years.
I don't think the founders intended for government to be so oppressive. Nor do I think the founders intended for well-connected individuals to be able to profit at the expense of the citizenry.
You be the judge.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
- Category: Columns
- Hits: 812