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Farr Punts Again: Doesn't Vote Against Final War Bill

The final April 12th vote on the floor of the House found Farr backed away from his recorded "no" vote against the Supplemental War Appropriation. Also a Farr piece from the Monterey Peninsula Herald, A Berkeley Excess War Profits Tax, and a few other comments.
On April 12, at the final House voice vote on the Supplemental Military Appropropriation ($63 billion for the Bush's Iraq War), Farr did not vote at all--neither "yes" nor "no". According to Craig, a local Farr aide, reached at his Santa Cruz office on Monday morning, Farr didn't vote. Though not clear on all the details of a "voice vote" as distinguished from a "rollcall vote", this seems to me like a retreat from his previous position of voting against the War Appropriation in early April.
The April 13th guest editorial below spends lots of time clarifying that he is not criticizing the conduct of solidiers (without mentioning the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Iraqi solidiers, the killing of hundreds of civilians, the looting, etc.). If you go to his website, you will find Farr giving six pages of agency references for soldiers, but not one mention of a peace organization or resources for those seeking to avoid becoming a killer in this war. Nor is there any indication that he supports "troops out now!"--a key demand to those seeking an end to the occupation.
My thanks to Robert Nahas for making this editorial available and reading it aloud during the Williams-Rotkin Free Radio Santa Cruz debate on Sunday. I hope to have this debate posted on the indymedia website at some point in time future. I have also invited Williams and Rotkin to debate the War on the Poor in Santa Cruz at a future time.
I am also posting a Berkeley resolution passed recently which the Santa Cruz City Council might want to consider--one of the 7 demands activist presented to Farr last week at his office. It's actually rather tepid. Putting some teeth in it might mean investigating where the City current invests its money and deinvesting in firms involving weaponry and/or Iraqi exploitation.
Finally, there's a new resolution passed recently by Arcada which puts teeth in the Patriot Act by directing City officials not to cooperate with it. How about it, Santa Cruz City Council?
Last word from Mayor Reilly was that she didn't propose an emergency vote on a "troops out now!" last Tuesday (when City Attorney Barisone said that the failure of Council to file a NOtice of Continuance blocked any action) because she didn't think of it.

Barisone, when reached this morning suggested an anti-war resolution April 8th still wouldn't have been legal because emergency findings would not have been able to cite a "new" circumstance that would allow an "urgency" action. So he can recommend urgency passage of a Downtown Ordinance in January, but not of an anti-war resolution in April? Sounds like a double standard to me.




FARR'S GUEST EDITORIAL

Votes of conscience, patriotism
By SAM FARR Guest Commentary (from the Monterey Peninsula Herald, April 13, 2003)

I deeply respect Herald letter writers who have chosen to share their views of the war in Iraq. It is a hallmark of our democracy that we are free to
engage in this dialogue. By exercising this right to speech, we ensure that the freedoms we defend are real and not academic abstractions.

I also have the highest respect and admiration for the men and women who serve in our military. As a member of the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, I have seen up-close the skill and professionalism of our armed services.

Quality of life for our military personnel is the primary responsibility of my subcommittee, and I am proud of the work we have done to increase the basic housing allowance, expand military child care facilities, and modernize and bring up to code existing military housing at the Presidio of Monterey.

I have worked hard to improve the quality of life for our troops around the world, and here at home at the DLI and the NPS. Because of the work I have done here in Congress, military service personnel in our region now have a
top-notch veterans clinic and special rates at Blackhorse and Bayonet golf courses. No one can argue I haven't worked to improve our soldiers' and our veterans' well being. There can be no dispute that we owe our American troops a debt of gratitude and respect for winning the war.

What I do not respect and what I cannot support is the president's policy that has led to this war. My recent votes concerning the war in Iraq reflect the distinction I have made between supporting the troops on the ground and
dissenting with a foreign policy run amuck. In doing so, I have made the only decisions my conscience could allow, starting with my "no" vote last October on the Iraq Use of Force legislation and, most recently, voting "no" on the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations bill.

These votes haven't been about the troops; they have been about the administration's policy and its failed diplomacy that dragged us into war. The president was never committed to resolving the crisis with Iraq through peaceful negotiation. From the beginning, he spoke of "regime change" in Iraq.

He came before the United Nations to silence critics, not out of sincere respect for the institution. The same is true of the president's attitude towards Congress. International organizations and the legislative branch of the U.S. government have been merely hurdles between the president and his ultimate goal -- the overthrow of the Iraqi regime. These votes are not about international law, democracy or human rights; they are about combating this administration's dangerous unilateral policy.

Nevertheless, these recent votes -- the misleadingly named "support for our troops" resolution, and the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for the war -- were difficult votes to take. I would have gladly voted to express support for the American men and women in Iraq.

Regretably, the Republican congressional leadership gave us a resolution that vindicated every aspect of the president's policy. It mentioned support of the troops almost as an afterthought. I voted "present" -- an expression of my displeasure at this partisan statement in support for war and the unprecedented pre-emptive policy that got us there.

On the Emergency Wartime Supplemental funding bill, I voted "no." This bill skimped on funding for homeland security; did not address the crumbling relations between the U.S. and the international community, and failed to
provide for post-conflict reconstruction. I also object to the lack of information regarding the full cost of this war and the cuts to domestic programs which the president has yet to articulate.

When President Kennedy asked what I could do for my country, I served two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia. I have dedicated my life to public service. It is my honor to serve today in the people's House here in Congress. In every decision I make, I weigh the interests and opinions of
the citizens in this district, as well as the well-being of the more than 1,200 Central Coast residents in Iraq right now.

Disagreements over votes notwithstanding, I know we are all united in support of restoring confidence in the American people and their shared desire for peace on earth.

Sam Farr, D-Carmel, represents the 17th Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives


BERKELEY'S EXCESS PROFITS TAX RESOLUTION

RESOLUTION TO TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF WAR

WHEREAS, the people of the City of Berkeley believe in the U.S. Constitution and are committed to the rule of law and not of men in government, and support U.S. troops in all
lawful actions, and believe in peace and in the peaceful settlement of disputes; and

WHEREAS, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Congress July 1, 1940: "We are engaged in a great national effort to build up our national defenses to meet any
and every potential attack, ... It is our duty to see that the burden is equitably distributed according to ability to pay so that a few do not gain from the sacrifices of the many.

I therefore recommend to the Congress the enactment of a steeply graduated excess-profits tax, to be applied to all individuals and all corporate organizations without discrimination," and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Defense is now making contracts for more war materiel to complete the war in Iraq, and is also making contracts to deal with the
so-called "rebuilding" of Iraq after the end of the bombing and military actions; and

WHEREAS, the members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not making excess wages out of this war, but are suffering now, and some will suffer for the rest of their lives, from the
actions they are now taking and will take in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, Senator Bob LaFollette fought and won an excess profits tax in World War One because "Doubling of profits was common, while a few firms experienced increases
of a factor of ten or even close to fifty [percent],"

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Berkeley City Council strongly urges our Congress members in the House and Senate to introduce legislation calling for a high
percentage tax on all excess profits on every contract dealing with U.S. military action in Iraq and/or the "rebuilding" of Iraq, including renegotiation of all such contracts made to include this tax; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Resolution be sent to every California Congress member, the U.S. Department of Defense, President George W. Bush, the
United Nations Security Council President and the United
Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
 
 


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Arcata Trumps Santa Cruz with Tougher Anti-Patriot Act

The following San Francisco Chronicle story, while biased against the Arcata law and making some preposterous claims (that Proposition 215 is "illegal" and a "non-starter") does provide some information about the Arcata law--though I haven't checked to see how accurate it is.

I understand Santa Cruz, as well, cut out enabling provisions of its opposition to the Patriot Act, which should have stayed in.

It was nice to see the notices go up in the libraries---but that happened more than a year and a half after the Patriot Act was passed.

It would also be nice to see some local "sunshine laws" and some open exposure of SCPD practices dealing with the illegal gathering of ID photos of youth on Pacific Avenue, the illegal practice of detaining and IDing the raggedy downtown for warrant checks, the sanctified use of selective enforcement downtown, and the harassment of guitarists for excessive noise while motorcylists rev on through.

Political repression doesn't merely come from Ashcroft's Washington. It's easiest to condemn that which is far away and "associated with" the Republican Party (though Reilly's Democrats fell in line with it too).

We have power to expose local hypocrisy and abuse. This kind of exposure is badly needed to correct the local Ashcroftian policies of the Reilly Council.

--Robert Norse


Arcata the defiant
Town ordinance penalizes officials who cooperate with Patriot Act, but law may not stand up in court

Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, April 13, 2003


Arcata, that tiny North Coast bastion of the robustly liberal, has quietly made itself the first city in the nation to outlaw voluntary compliance with the USA Patriot Act.

Town leaders know their new law outlawing the bigger law is probably illegal. And they don't know anyone local who's had troubles because of the Patriot Act.

But the very existence of the sweeping federal policy -- passed by Congress swiftly after Sept. 11, 2001, to expand powers to search, conduct surveillance and throw people in jail during terrorism probes -- so rubbed them the wrong way that they felt they had to make a stand.

So about a week ago, the Arcata City Council approved an ordinance telling its management workers they cannot "officially assist or voluntarily cooperate" with any investigators trying to carry out what the city
considers provisions of the Patriot Act that violate the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Which, city leaders said, is pretty much all of the act except the heading on the governmental letterhead.

"We already had a resolution condemning the Patriot Act, and that was all well and good, but we needed something with some bite in it," said David Meserve, the councilman who introduced the ordinance. "A resolution makes a
recommendation, but this now actually takes on the force of law.

"Call it a pre-emptive attack. Only not a violent one."

The fine for breaking the new law is $57. The ordinance officially kicks in May 2. It applies only to the top nine managers of the city, telling them they have to refer any Patriot Act request to the City Council.

Brian Willson, the national peace protester who lost his legs trying to block a Concord munitions train in 1987, lives in Arcata and helped draft the law.

"I think a lot of people are freaking out," he said. "You can see the developing police state, and we have to start opposing it."


LIBERAL BASTION
Arcata has about 16,000 residents, about 5,000 of whom are students at Humboldt State University. Its biggest claims are the university, an annual race to determine the best or weirdest human-powered sculpture, and its liberal resolutions or legal actions to oppose seemingly everything from the war in Iraq to global warming.

So even though few outside the city limits have so far noticed the new law, it is right in line with the city's tendency for "never a dull moment," said City Attorney Nancy Diamond.

The law also seems to be right in line with most townsfolk.

"I don't blame them (the council) for saying 'no,' " Susan Mattson said as she rang up customers at her Garden Gate gift shop overlooking the rustic little town square. "I don't know anyone in town who likes the Patriot Act."

She said she's never seen any FBI agents probing around Arcata. "But they're certainly welcome -- if they want to buy something," she said with a chuckle.

The vote on April 2 for the law in Arcata was 4 to 1, but even the lone "no" voter said his quibble was more with the tactic than the concept.

"I find the act very troubling and very scary in many areas, but this is not the right venue to challenge it," said Councilman Michael Machi. "You take it through the court system."


CONSIDERABLE PUBLIC INPUT
Several council meetings leading up to the vote drew dozens of public speakers, and city officials recalled a stray few who thought the Arcata measure wasn't a good idea. Machi said he still feels "disappointed" the whole issue wasn't discussed more before passage.

"Just remember that this is the only city in the whole United States that has done this, so I am not in the minority," he said.

Resolutions condemning the Patriot Act already have passed in 83 cities from San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley to Baltimore and Detroit, and Mill Valley joined the list just Monday. But no city had gone all the way to an ordinance, said Nancy Talanian, co-director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Florence, Mass.

Talanian, whose organization has been urging cities to pass anti-Patriot Act resolutions since 2001, was "delighted" that Arcata pushed the envelope.

Among the main objections to the act are that it gives investigators greater authority to jail suspects, plant wiretaps, sift through e-mails and scrutinize what library books people check out.

So far, there seem to be no opportunities to use Arcata's soon-to-be-enacted law, because no federal or state agents have ever tried to use the Patriot Act in Arcata. But that's not for a lack of wanting. City leaders are actually itching for a fight.

"We're not going to go looking for it, but we'd welcome it," said City Manager Dan Hauser. "Maybe then this act could actually be tested in court."


LAW PROBABLY ILLEGAL
He admitted that the law is "probably illegal, if you accept the Patriot Act as legal" -- and that viewpoint was shared by veteran San Francisco trial attorney John Keker, who compared Arcata's ordinance to local medical marijuana laws, which have been squashed in federal court challenges.

"I applaud Arcata, but the law is completely illegal," Keker said. "We used to have something called the U.S. Constitution, and supposedly we still do -- and the Constitution says the federal law is supreme in the land. So it's a nonstarter."

If City Manager Hauser or anyone else is hoping to stare down some agent holding a Patriot Act subpoena, he shouldn't hold his breath, cautioned LaRae Quy, spokeswoman for the San Francisco FBI office, whose jurisdiction
includes Arcata. She said there are no plans to go dashing the 279 miles up to Arcata anytime soon. And even if there were, she doubted there would be trouble.

"I really don't understand what the concerns are with the act," Quy said. "What it did was primarily streamline existing laws on the books. I know some people feel their privacy rights are being violated, but I think there's some hysteria out there . . . some misunderstanding.

"We still have to show probable cause for any actions we take," she said.

"It's not just an agent descending and saying, 'Hey, I want to go in and see what this person is doing.' "
 

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