Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Fighting for Home...Lyle...
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Fighting for Home...Lyle Barkley

Anne Stanton - October 3rd, 2007
You want to feel sorry for Lyle Barkley, you want to help him, and a lot of good people do. But you gotta think, this is a guy who creates his own chaos.
Do you remember Lyle Barkley? In the summer of 2002, he had asked for a zoning permit to enlarge his two mobile homes, and got it from the township. He lost it again after the zoning administrator realized the additions were mobile homes and too narrow by four feet. Barkley was outraged. After a court ruling in September of 2003 that permitted seizure of his homes, he called on national and Michigan militias to defend his property rights. An aura of violence hung over the Barkley spread as he made bold threats to defend his homes by force, if necessary. It could have been Waco or Ruby Ridge, Northern Michigan style. The situation seemed one mistaken shot away from tragedy. Yet it ended in a peaceful sunrise meeting with the sheriff.
The township is poised again to seize his trailers, but the supervisor can’t find anyone to do the job.
And last week, Barkely filed a $100 million lien against Charlevoix County and county commissioners, and another $100 million lien against Bay Township and township trustees. His daughter filed identical liens against the same parties.
It’s a move that could land them in prison for three years.
Lyle Barkley knows this, but said the lien was filed for the “damages they caused me and for taking the life of my wife,” who died of a heart attack on Valentine’s Day this past year.
The liens include a litany of what they’ve suffered in this dispute. The fact they couldn’t get a jury trial. The fact they couldn’t build a handicapped ramp for Lyle’s wife, Shirley. Their constant fear of losing their property.
There’s a saying, “Bad facts make bad law.” Reviewing the facts of the Lyle Barkley case, from the viewpoint of elected officials and attorneys and administrators, the old saying seems truer than ever. The law may bury Lyle Barkley, and there are some good people who think that is bad.

A court order is now looming that gives the township authority to remove the offending trailers—the home of Lyle’s daughter and her family, and half of Lyle’s home. There’s another trailer to haul away, but it’s rain damaged and no one lives there. This past summer, Bay Township Supervisor Larry Moeschke asked two different companies to do the job. He even promised to bulldoze the trailers into the road to make things easier. Both moving services refused, fearing violence. Yet several public officials spoke up, believing that Bay Township had a role in this mess and owes it to Barkley to mediate, so that he can live in peace.
“The zoning administrator originally issued him a valid permit for his additions, and then he yanked it,” said Charlevoix Prosecutor John Jarema. “He said he didn’t realize they (the additions) were manufactured homes, but I believe the ordinance doesn’t say additions have to be stick-built. The township should admit that it doesn’t have totally clean hands in all this either and try to make it right.”
Barkley wants to bring the homes up to code, but can’t because he needs a building permit, and he can’t get the building permit unless the township grants him a land use permit. If he had built the handicapped ramp, he could have been put in jail. It’s been a Catch-22.
Jonathan Scheel (not the original zoning administrator in the case) said the case isn’t black and white—the zoning ordinance is open to interpretation. Homes need to be at least 16 feet wide, but that may not necessarily apply to Barkley’s additions that measure 12 feet wide.
“It’s not to say that Lyle can do anything he wants, but there’s a lot of subjectivity to this particular question. There’s a way to help everyone win, and that’s the bottom line. I want to see what’s best for the common good. But it doesn’t mean an individual has to suffer abnormally. The Michigan militia pushed the emotional level up so high that we lost sight of what’s really going on. What consequences are going to come out of this? It gets very worrisome, when you hear reports of the government tapping phones on a daily basis and taking those rights away. It gets weird when the government’s thumb starts pushing so hard.”
In July, Charlevoix County commissioners attended a Bay Township meeting to plead with the board to negotiate with Barkley, but to no avail. The township board voted 3-2 to give Supervisor Larry Moeschke authority to remove the trailers. County Building Inspector Ken Doty said it would be impractical to bring the trailers up to code, but not impossible.
“Lyle and I have both agreed to sit down and work it all out. If the township would grant his permits, he’d allow me on the property and make a list of what he had to do, and he’d do his very best to get it done,” Doty said, adding that the safety of Lyle and his daughter’s family is now at stake.
The last five years have involved a judicial odyssey that’s postponed the seizure and cost the township $60,000 in legal fees (not to mention the expense of court employees).

For Lyle Barkley, this is about far more than the township zoning code. It’s about the Michigan and U.S. constitutions.
He began attending Constitutional Property Rights Association meetings in Antrim County around the time the issue flared up, and recently joined a fairly new chapter of the U.S. Constitution Rangers, whose mission is to enforce the constitution. Members often wear badges, carry official-looking I.D., and drive a car with a siren and a star on its side, although Barkley doesn’t. Activists interpret the state and federal constitutions literally, and conclude that people shouldn’t have to pay property or federal taxes nor carry a driver’s license nor submit to the myriad of local regulations.
Barkley, 59, lives a mile or two outside of Horton Bay, a little town known for its memories of Hemingway and humorous parades. Many folks around here think of Barkley as a scary guy. Yet he was pleasant in a recent interview at his picnic table.
His daughter, Kim, is not easy-going. In fact, she started yelling at me as she was leaving for work and then ordered her dad not to talk to me. He asked her to calm down.
Barkley said he is using his case to prove several constitutional questions in court. First, the Michigan Constitution says that all government workers must take a public oath, and that the assistant prosecutor bringing the charges has not. Secondly, his land is owned by a historic land patent, which he believes is not subject to contemporary zoning laws. Finally, he contends the township does not have the legally required population (1,800) to impose zoning. He adds that the township held a strange 11 p.m. meeting back in 1974, and approved zoning when there was no prerequisite master plan in effect, he said.
District Judge Richard May has ruled only on the oath issue, saying it was rejected in an earlier case of Greyhound Corporation versus the Michigan Public Service Commission. Taylor takes strong issue with May’s interpretation of the Greyhound case, and will continue to appeal, asking again for a “stay” on the seizure of his trailers.
Behind the high-level arguments, however, is a stark reality that Barkley and his daughter’s family may lose what little they have. And now with their filings of four $100 million liens, the stakes get even higher. It’s a three-year felony to file a “harassing” lien without a statute or court order behind you, or the consent of the lien party.
Barkley spends several pages legally justifying the liens, but one top official in the area believes that “he may have gone too far on this one.”

Barkley and Kim’s family (she and her husband have three children) are situated on four-acres in a beautiful valley. About 20 years ago, Barkley put two single-wide trailers on the property. Bay Township allowed them at the time, but later—as a back-handed strategy to phase out single-wide trailers (it’s illegal to outright ban them)—set a minimum core width of 16 feet for all buildings. Barkley’s trailers were grandfathered in.
In the summer of 2002, Barkley needed more room to house his son and daughter’s young families. He applied for a zoning permit to put two 16 x 32 foot additions onto two of his existing mobile homes. He received the permit, as well as a temporary building permit for the school building. He told the building inspector that he planned to enclose the three residences inside of a pole building. It was strange, but the county building inspector was working with him.
Soon after, the zoning administrator learned that Barkley had changed his plan to add two single-wide mobile homes measuring 12 x 60 feet. He told Barkley to revise the dimensions to get an updated zoning permit.
Barkley did not, but did try to contact the zoning administrator for three weeks. When he finally did, the administrator said his answer was in the mail, and the answer was no.
Yet Barkley still moved the 12 x 60-foot trailers onto the property in October, even after getting a “cease and desist” order. It should be added that Barkley has had a long history with the township in which he felt he’d been wronged. The following spring, Barkley went in front of Judge May to challenge the township’s permit rejection. During the hearing, Kim Barkley asked plaintively: “But what makes it right? Just because it’s a manufactured home, I have to remove it?”
Good question. In fact, the zoning ordinance did not ban mobile home additions. The reason for the permit denial was that Barkley hadn’t “properly described” the dimensions of the trailer additions, the zoning administrator testified during the hearing.
Another reason the township revoked the permit was that there should be “one principal use of property” on a single lot. Barkley’s attorney argued that could be interpreted as a single use of land for residential purposes.
Judge May ruled in favor of the township, for several reasons, including the fact that the trailers did not meet state building code and it was a practical impossibility to bring them into compliance; the number of residences exceeded the code; and the township’s original temporary permit had “specifically warned the holder that they proceeded at their own risk.” (Jarema asserts that the building code is a county, not township issue.)
Yet the trailers stayed. Lyle’s son’s family lived in the portable, Kim’s family lived in one “double wide,” and Lyle and Shirley Barkley lived in the other double-wide. May ruled in September that the township could seize the offending trailer additions, along with a portable classroom. He also authorized the seizure of personal property to pay fines of what then amounted to $800. Now the fines total $8,000.
It came to a near showdown in September of 2003. Several dozen militia came into town and called the sheriff at home and work and drove into his driveway to talk. (Property rights activists believe the county sheriff is the only true law enforcer.)
School bus routes were altered around the property, where several dozen militias had gathered. Charlevoix Sheriff George Lasater and Barkley agreed to meet at 6:30 a.m. to negotiate. At 6 a.m., Lasater received a call from Norm Olson, a local militia leader, saying the meeting was canceled because the Detroit militia rep couldn’t be there. He received another call at 6:10 a.m., same message. (He said it was from Barkley—Barkley denies making the call.)
“I suspected that I was being set up,” said Lasater, who lives three miles away. “So I ignored the calls, and showed up anyway … and, yes, everybody was there, including the media. I had an idea they were trying to embarrass me, so I went with my gut reaction. I resented what they did.”
Lasater said his goal then—and now—is to keep the peace. He assured Barkley that the seizure was not imminent, but he’d have to pay his $800 fine and make repairs. Barkley agreed to the repairs and to sever ties with the militias (which he did). He later appealed to the circuit court and succeeded in getting a “stay” on the seizure order.
But their agreement didn’t hold. Barkley could make no significant repairs because he couldn’t get the requisite building permits. (As a result of not being able to build a roof, he lost one of his trailers to rain and snow damage.) What he has done is unsuccessfully and repeatedly appeal his case to the circuit court, to the appeals court, and to the state supreme court.

Some people say—and always off the record—that Barkley was abandoned in his mission by the Constitutional fundamentalists who got him revved up in the first place. Barkley could really use their help, legally and financially. His excavating business fell away after this issue hit, and he’s sinking into debt.
“I haven’t had no money coming in. My daughter’s working and she’s supporting me,” said Barkley, who cares for his grandchildren and was busy canning this fall to store up food for the winter.
His wife’s death in February was another blow. Barkley said the overwhelming stress contributed to her death—not only the court battle, but also a spat with his uphill neighbor, who often set off a siren to make his dogs bark (at which point, they both called the sheriff).
Over the years, Barkley and daughter have served as their own legal counsel. A high school drop out, Barkley is no lawyer, although he’s come a long way in understanding
the law.
Yet Barkley has not been abandoned by his good friend Bob Taylor, a former Bay Township supervisor, who helps him prepare his legal filings. Taylor wrote a 2005 letter to the ownship supervisor, asking some pointed questions:

- Is not one’s homestead exempt from seizure?
- Are they going to be also taking his trucks, which are his livelihood?
- I assume that during the time in the interim, they can sleep on the floor, and hopefully the community can provide them with food to eat, or maybe we can watch them starve to death as has become an American pastime.
- If we are at the point of taking real property from citizens without the right of a jury trial, this is not something that should happen in this country.

Townspeople differ on what they think should be done. Barkley has alienated many with the menacing signs on his lawn (“If you can read this, you’re in range”). He threatens to sue people for $10,000 if they come onto his land. He asked that the building inspector pay him $1 million in silver coins for taking pictures of his property without permission. Yet there are also those who think the township supervisor is over his head, and someone more capable should step in to mediate before more cash is spilled. And now, it surely will.

Most agree that the case has become personal.When either Taylor or Barkley try to argue their case at township meetings, Township Supervisor Moeschke sets a three-minute timer, looks down, and doesn’t say a word except to announce the time. In fact, Moeschke doesn’t even talk to the other trustees at board meetings about the Barkley case.
Prosecutor Jarema has urged mediation. Barkley is willing, but neither the township attorney nor supervisor will call Barkley back.
“I wrote a letter of compromise to the township and they wouldn’t accept it,” Barkley said.
“There are two people who have refused to mediate,” Taylor said. “One is the supervisor and the other is the township attorney—James Murray. But look at the money Murray’s making on this. If he had agreed to mediate, he never would have made $60,000.”
Neither Moeschke nor Township Attorney James Murray returned phone calls to the Express, but Murray said in court filings that Barkley has abused the court system with his endless appeals. The time has come to remove the “offending structures,” he said. Barkley said he will appeal again and file for a “stay” on the seizure.

If Barkley weren’t so focused on questions of oaths and land patents, he might have a better chance arguing the “takings” clause of the Constitution’s 5th and 14th amendments. That’s when the government devalues or seizes your property without just compensation. Instead he has made “weird legal arguments,” Prosecutor Jarema said.
This other route would involve Barkley taking a couple of steps that he’s refused to do: either appealing his permit to the Zoning Board of Appeals or applying for a new zoning permit.
A denial in either case would open up a new path in circuit court, where he could argue he has a property interest and that the township is acting arbitrarily as opposed to truly protecting an individual’s health, safety or welfare. If the township took his trailers, he would have to prove it violated the taking clause, explained Al Quick, an attorney and constitutional scholar.
Barkley could also argue—and has argued—that the township has illegally excluded single-wide mobile homes in the township.
“They’ve made an issue of going after people in trailers, but, by law, they’ve gotta have a place where they’re allowed in the township,” Taylor said. “It’s been brought up in court, and they ignore it.”
For the township to win its case, it would have to show that it was acting rationally and could rightfully remove the trailers because
of a compelling interest, such as deeming them a nuisance, Quick said. Prosecutor Jarema believes it’s time for the legal wrangling
to end.
“Look. The township wants him to remove the homes because they look junky. Lyle wants a place to live in. Can we let him keep it and make him do what it takes to look good and fulfill the requirements of the building code? Can we make everyone happy?”

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