Scott Burger 
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Re: “Crimes of Expression

In contrast to the ruling corporate duopoly:

http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID…

Green Party seeks abolition of Prison Nation and Police State abuses in the US

GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
http://www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:
Friday, March 16, 2012

Contacts:
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org



Greens promote sane justice system and security policies, including a halt to the War on Drugs and constitutional violations

2012 Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention, July 12-15, 2012 in Baltimore, Md. http://www.gpconvention2012.com


WASHINGTON, DC -- As more and more Americans express alarm at the curtailment of rights and privacy and the increasing numbers of citizens locked up in prison, Green Party candidates and leaders are calling for rational security, law enforcement, and justice system policies.

"The US cannot be called a 'free country' as long as Prison Nation and Police State abuses are allowed to continue," said Darryl! Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "The War on Drugs, privatized prisons, and other outrages have led to America's record-high incarceration rate, with the proportionally highest prison population in the world. Racial disparities in arrests and sentencing have devastated black and brown communities. Instead of providing safety and civic peace, these policies have eroded our freedoms, safety, and the rule of law."

Greens pointed to bipartisan landmarks in the growth of the Prison Industrial Complex and erosion of the US Constitution: President Reagan's efforts to criminalize the poor and people of color, beginning with the Drug War and rhetoric about 'welfare queens'; President Clinton's expansion of the War on Drugs, privatization of prisons, programs to train civilian police in military tactics, and the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; and 9/11, which the Bush and Obama Administrations have used to justify attacks on constitutional rights in the name of the War on Terrorism.

"The billions of dollars made available for Homeland Security and the War on Terrorism quickly became a feeding trough for corporate contractors and lobbies that have a financial interest in the assault on freedom, privacy, and constitutional rights," said Muhammed Malik, co-chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party and former racial justice specialist at ACLU Florida. Mr. Malik currently works with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition as an advocate for the restoration of civil rights for formerly convicted felons.

Greens listed a set of necessary reforms and reversals of current justice system policies:

Cancellation of the War on Drugs, which Greens call a colossal waste of billions in taxpayers' money that has had virtually no effect on the drug trade, except to target the poor and place more ground-level drug pushers behind bars, while leaving criminal cartels in place to satisfy the high American demand for drugs. The Green Party supports drug legalization and treatment of addiction as a medical rather than criminal problem, which would put violent cartels out of business.

An end to racial disparities in policing and sentencing, which have resulted in mass imprisonment of young, black, brown, and poor Americans. Such disparities, which include brutal treatment by police and prison personnel, and the cheap labor provided by inmates have in effect continued the convict-lease system, which maintained slavery for blacks long after emancipation. The prison labor system pays inmates substandard or no wages for products made in poor safety conditions that undercut the prices of companies that don't exploit prison labor.

An end to the private prison system, which has created financial incentives to lock up more and more Americans in order to increase the profits of private prison corporations and contractors.

Automatic restoration of civil rights for formerly convicted felons, with an end to policies that prevent them from reintegration into society, such as denial of housing, education, public benefits, and the right to vote. Greens say that such policies impose "permanent criminal" status on exconvicts and disenfranchise the poor and people of color who are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.

Release of political prisoners (or retrial in cases of conflicting evidence), e.g., Bradley Manning, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal; release of prisoners locked up on the basis of violations of rights by police and prosecutors, and prisoners detained by racist border patrols, raids, and "Arizona laws" targeting Latinos. Greens have expressed concern about the expanded and unchecked power of prosecutors through policies like mandatory sentencing, zero tolerance, three-strikes laws, and severe limits imposed on judicial discretion.

A halt to the expansion of military operations into US civilian law enforcement and use of military tactics by civilian police departments. Some of these practices have been used for the brutal suppression by police of legitimate political dissent by US citizens, such as the protests by the Occupy Movement. The "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011" (HR 347) was passed by Congress recently to enable further police suppresson of protest by groups like Occupy Wall Street.

Abolition of the death penalty. The disregard for exculpatory evidence in the case of Troy Davis and other death-row inmates indicates that innocent people are being executed.

Repeal of the USA Patriot Act and cancellation of boondoggle "Homeland Security" contracts that contribute nothing towards public safety and only enrich favored companies at taxpayer expense.

Greens also asserted that an equitable justice system requires punishment of powerful people who have enjoyed impunity for serious crimes:

Officials responsible for war crimes and other serious violations of the US Constitution. Such violations include misleading the public to justify invasions of other countries (e.g., manipulation of intelligence and false claims that led to the Iraq War), the use of torture and extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and denial of habeas corpus, and warrantless surveillance of US citizens. The Obama Administration has refused to investigate and prosecute Bush-Cheney officials for such violations and in many cases maintained the same abuses. The Obama Administration even introduced a new violation -- assassination of suspected US citizens on orders from the White House, without due process. The targets of these violations have very often been Muslims and people of Middle-Eastern origin and political dissidents.

Corporations and corporate executives responsible for the fraudulent practices that triggered the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and 2008 economic meltdown; punishment has so far been rare and limited to SEC slaps on the wrist.

See also:

"Greens urge President Obama to condemn police brutality against Occupy protesters"
Green Party press release, Dec. 12, 2011
http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID…

"Green Party members speak out to stop execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, urge abolition of the death penalty"
Green Party press release, Sept. 16, 2011
http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID…

"Investigate 'Ongoing Pattern' of Inmate Abuse Georgia Green Party Demands of Governor Deal"
Georgia Green Party press release, Feb. 14, 2011
http://www.georgiagreenparty.org

"Green Party leader to receive award from the Drug Policy Alliance for leadership in drug law reform"
Green Party press release, Dec. 2, 2007
http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_12_02.shtm…

"The Disproportionate Impact of the Criminal Justice System on People of Color in the Capital Region"
Dr. Alice Green, The Center for Law and Justice
(Dr. Green is a former Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor of New York and Mayor of Albany)
http://www.cflj.org/thedisproportionateimp…
(News article: "Report cites disparity in arrests of minorities" in the Albany Times-Union, Feb. 16, 2012, http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/…)

Georgia Green Party: End Mass Incarceration
http://www.georgiagreenparty.org/Issues/is…

The Campaign to End Mass Incarceration
http://endmassincarceration.org

"What Could Go Wrong? Alabama Deploys Prisoners To Transport Primary Ballots"
Mediaite, March 13, 2012
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/what-could-go-w…

"Mumia's Death Sentence Has Been Officially Dropped! Desmond Tutu Calls For His Release"
Press Release: Response to DA Seth Williams' decision on the Mumia Abu-Jamal case
http://www.freemumia.com/?p=777

"Inside that new anti-Occupy bill: HR 347 is drawing fire -- but many of its shameful restrictions already exist"
Natasha Lennard, Salon.com, March 7, 2012
http://www.salon.com/2012/03/07/the_inside…


MORE INFORMATION

Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org
202-319-7191

Green candidate database and campaign information: http://www.gp.org/elections.shtml
News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers
Ballot Access Page http://www.gp.org/ballotstatus
Video Page http://www.gp.org/video/index.php
Green Papers http://www.greenpapers.net
Google+ http://www.gp.org/google
Twitter http://twitter.com/gpus
Livestream Channel http://www.livestream.com/greenpartyus
GP-TV Twitter page http://www.gp.org/twitter
Facebook page http://www.gp.org/facebook

2012 Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention
July 12-15, 2012 in Baltimore, Md.
http://www.gpconvention2012.com

Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States
http://gp.org/greenpages-blog


~ END ~

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Scott Burger on 03/17/2012 at 7:28 PM

Re: “After-Dinner Mint: The Mealy Politics of 11%

Sorry, Fanresident, this is an alternative weekly, not simply a 'bleed it leads' corporate mainstream news source.

Should Style do a story on VCU drinking problems? Sure. But that has little to do with this story on the meals tax increase, which has a huge effect on our economy and says a lot about Richmond politics.

Perhaps you would rather we all be distracted by the latest horrific car crash than focus on who caused the meals tax increase?

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Scott Burger on 02/26/2012 at 7:04 AM

Re: “Stadium Talks Forge Ahead With "Ballpark Nutz"

If all the Ballpark Nutz are about is beating up on the City government while leaving the counties to walk, then don’t expect any support from me.

What I have seen in recent months is county leadership shirking away from any regional committments as their budgets have fallen. SHOW US THE MONEY!

I am tired of City taxpayers being shaken down for the region’s entertainment (yes, I am also talking about Center Stage). I like the Squirrels, but please don’t demand a new ballpark to be the City of Richmond’s first priority.

We need regional transportation, regional resource management, regional cooperation in general. If the RMA can’t supply that, then maybe its time to get rid of the RMA, or at least get the RMA out of the ballpark business altogether so it can concentrate on the PUBLIC interests.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Scott Burger on 02/07/2012 at 7:54 PM

Re: “Outlook Hazy

Last night hipsters held a 'drunk and disorderly bike rally' in which they deliberately got drunk, purposely road their bikes up one way streets the wrong way while yelling and making all sorts of different noises in a protest against the noise ordinance. Feeling empowered, they did a couple of circuits like this after waiting for the police to finish driving through each time.

As this went on, more working families decided they could no longer sacrifice their sleep and their children's sleep to hipsters and made plans to move out of the neighborhood no matter what they will lose on their home investments.

In the end, the City continues to lose tax base and school children because once historic, vibrant neighborhoods dwindle to jobless, mainly student, single and childless, hipster renters. Urban neighborhoods that once were recovering from suburban flight decay again. Absentee landlords ignore.

Meanwhile a clueless local media continues to rail against an enforced noise ordinance because it might hinder 'creativity'.

Posted by Scott Burger on 01/28/2012 at 3:43 AM

Re: “Authors Back Out, Leaving CenterStage Story Un-Rewritten

And the travesty continues....

3 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Scott Burger on 01/19/2012 at 7:20 AM

Re: “Rattle and Run

As a lover of music of ALL types, a free speech advocate, and a Richmond citizen who also enjoys some peace and quiet occasionally, I want to add more information to the local noise ordinance debate in order to get better results. I would like see musicians and nightclubs not be tripped up by the noise ordinance and interested parties come to some good compromises.

I included lots of stuff from Houston because their noise ordinance debate seems to be very similar to Richmond's, not because I think Houston is a particularly progressive place (it's not at all). But there are lot of places in the world that have enforced noise ordinances, a robust street life, strong political activism, and great music scenes. Richmond could be one of them with the right input, respect for ALL citizens, and careful consideration.

However, I have to say, if all the media is going to do is fan the flames of personal attacks and racial animosity, then its going to be a hard road ahead. C'mon, Richmond, you can do better than this.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Scott Burger on 01/14/2012 at 10:28 AM

Re: “Rattle and Run

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_regulat…

Noise regulation includes statutes or guidelines relating to sound transmission established by national, state or provincial and municipal levels of government. After the watershed passage of the United States Noise Control Act of 1972,[1] other local and state governments passed further regulations. Although the UK and Japan enacted national laws in 1960 and 1967 respectively, these laws were not at all comprehensive or fully enforceable as to address generally rising ambient noise, enforceable numerical source limits on aircraft and motor vehicles or comprehensive directives to local government.

Many city ordinances prohibit sound above a threshold intensity from trespassing over property line at night, typically between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and during the day restricts it to a higher sound level; however, enforcement is uneven. Many municipalities do not follow up on complaints. Even where a municipality has an enforcement office, it may only be willing to issue warnings, since taking offenders to court is expensive. A notable exception to this rule is the City of Portland, Oregon, which has instituted an aggressive protection for its citizens with fines reaching as high at $5000 per infraction, with the ability to cite a responsible noise violator multiple times in a single day.[3]

In fact, by 1973 a national poll of 60,000 U.S. residents found that sixty percent of people considered street noise to have a "disturbing, harmful or dangerous" impact.[5] This trend continued strongly throughout the 1970s in the U.S., with about half of the states and hundreds of cities passing substantive noise control laws. Noise regulation subsided sharply in 1981, when Congress ended funding for the NCA.

Many cities throughout the U.S. also have noise ordinances, which specifies the allowable sound level that can cross property lines. These ordinances can be enforced with local police powers.[6]

Thousands of U.S. cities have prepared noise ordinances that give noise control officers and police the power to investigate noise complaints and enforcement power to abate the offending noise source, through shutdowns and fines.[6] In the 1970s and early 1980s there was even a professional association for noise enforcement officers called NANCO, "National Association of Noise Control Officials." Today only a handful of properly trained Noise Control Officers remain in the United States. A typical noise ordinance sets forth clear definitions of acoustic nomenclature and defines categories of noise generation; then numerical standards are established, so that enforcement personnel can take the necessary steps of warnings, fines or other municipal police power to rectify unacceptable noise generation. Ordinances have achieved certain successes but they can be thorny to implement.

http://www.lawhog.com/c/RealEstate/Neighbo…

General Ordinances

Noise levels in neighborhoods are governed by the town or local government. Nearly every town has a general noise ordinance, which designate "quiet hours" from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays, and until 9 a.m. on weekends. To determine what your town’s ordinance is, call your city hall and ask for a copy of the noise ordinance. Many towns also designate decibel levels, and restrict certain decibel levels at all hours of the day. Some towns have ordinances directed specifically at particular noises, like car horns, dogs, lawn mowers, boats, leaf blowers, and whatever other source of noise is a problem in that particular community.

Some ordinances specify a decibel level, but most describe the noise level as that which is more than “reasonable”. As visitors to LawHog.com are well aware, “reasonable”, “reasonableness” and the “reasonable man” are all concepts known in the law that are not specifically defined, which allows particular rules and laws to be flexible enough to deal with a specific situation. In this instance, a unreasonable level of noise is the level which the average person would find too loud, too long or too disturbing.

Parties

Many towns have ordinances regarding the noise generated by parties, particular towns with large college populations. Such ordinances provide for money penalties, and proscribe hours when excessive noise is not permitted. A typical ordinance prohibits noise from any party or social event that "interferes with the peace or health of members of the public or is audible through walls between units within the same building, from another property or from the street."

Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants and bars which are located in residential areas are also a problem, and many towns have ordinances specifically directed at the noise emanating from these businesses. A typical ordinance requires that restaurants with outdoor seating restrict amplified music to 10 decibels above background sound level in the area, , provide that music may be played only from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., bans shops from putting speakers outside.
City of Bloomington, IN

http://bloomington.in.gov/documents/viewDo…

http://www.noiseoff.org/neighbors.php

Dealing with the Authorities
A common problem is that noise complaints are not handled properly by many police departments. Police officers may not always have sufficient training to properly use a decibel meter if the noise ordinance requires it to determine enforcement. Officers do not always follow the correct procedure in handing noise complaints. Officers are afforded a great deal of protection from public complaints, there is little consequence for officers not properly handling your noise complaint.
Police officers act in the best interests of the police department. If noise pollution enforcement is not mandated by police officials, even with a noise ordinance, they may elect to ignore your noise problem. If you call them repeatedly, they can entirely ignore you or respond only to the extent that they assume you will not bother them further.
When you call the police with a noise complaint, it can either be categorized as a crime in progress report or a quality of life complaint. Most noise complaints are categorized as a quality of life complaint. Whenever possible, get a reference number that is a record of the complaint. In New York City, the biggest numbers of calls to 311 are noise related.
Sometimes noise complaints are closed out without any investigation. Callers who habitually complain about noise are sometimes dismissed outright, because the system keeps a log of the caller's prior complaint history.
The patrol supervisor is responsible for coordinating the officers on patrol. The patrol supervisor has discretion of which complaints are handled and how they are prioritized. Factors affecting that decision include the number of serious calls that needs to be handled and available officers on duty. In addition to noise complaints, officers routinely handle traffic stops for possible DUI, domestic violence, traffic accidents, theft and shootings.
When the police come out, explain the problem and if possible, find other affected neighbors willing to speak to them as well. Let the officer know that you are keeping a record of the complaint and that it is an ongoing issue. Remain civil with the officer at all times, no matter the outcome of their investigation.
Later, obtain a copy of the police incident report as evidence that there is a continuing noise problem. If the neighbors ever threaten you, notify the police immediately by calling 911. Make it clear that you believe they are fully capable of carrying out their threat, and tell them that you are concerned for you and the safety of your family.
If the police do not effectively handle your noise complaints, ask to speak to the patrol supervisor or the community affairs officer. Be sure to call during the hours that the noise has been known to occur. If they will not speak with you or do not seem to take the issue seriously, meet with the police commander at the station. Several police departments also have community council meetings for the public to discuss enforcement issues.
Bring a copy of the complaint log and incident reports. Make it clear that all civil efforts to resolve the issue with the neighbor has failed. When you make further complaints to the police about the problem neighbor, where possible, be sure to also notify the patrol supervisor and the police commander directly.
This is a process that can take several months. To the extent that you are determined, you can effectively resolve the situation. The neighbor may have provoked you, but you can choose how to handle it. You have gathered evidence, you are showing the police that you are not going away, and you are working with them.
When the problem is resolved, send a thank you letter to the police and a copy to the local media. It will let the neighbor know that not only is the law on your side, but the police are on your side.
Toxic Neighbors
ABC News 20/20 (2006)
Boom or Bust: The biggest purchase of your life could be poisoned by toxic neighbors. Celebrities Jim Belushi and Julie Newmar are featurerd.
Morgantown, WV noise ordinance

http://www.morgantown.com/noiseord.htm

Houston Chronicle

Revisions to make it easier to enforce noise ordinance
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/ar…

The City Council on Wednesday made it easier to prosecute people for being too loud with the first overhaul of Houston's noise ordinance in a decade.

The police now can cite revelers, musicians and other noise makers for bass notes that officers can feel from the sidewalk. In addition, police and prosecutors were given legal language to describe how loud is "too loud."

Previously, the vagueness of the "plainly audible" standard made it difficult to enforce in court, according to a memo by the city's sound regulators.

The revisions also double the fines on violators to $1,000.

Wednesday's action does not change the legal levels of acceptable noise - 75 decibels with a permit and 65 without. Nor does it change the practice of using sound meters to support charges of exceeding those levels.

The city, however, cannot afford enough $800-to-$2,500 sound meters to investigate all complaints, according to the Department of Administration and Regulatory Affairs. In other cases, department aide Christopher Newport said, a mechanical measurement may not fairly assess whether a violation is occurring - for example, barking dogs, pounding on walls or the revving of a motorcycle.

Therefore, the city will continue to use the "plainly audible" standard for non-bass noise, which it now defines as sound that "unreasonably disturbs" others. The new standard continues to give police officers leeway to make judgments based on volume, time of day, whether the sound is intermittent or constant, and whether it can be controlled easily.

Critics: Too subjective

Opponents of the revisions criticized the continued subjectivity built into the ordinance.

"Expecting an officer to issue violations based on what they arbitrarily hear is akin to asking an officer to write speeding tickets based on what they see," said Omar Afra, co-owner of Fitzgerald's and publisher of Free Press Houston.

Newport said that analogy was faulty because police will continue to use sound meters to measure decibel levels of amplified sound at bars and clubs. However, in other cases - such as a boom box in an apartment window - an officer already has and will still need leeway in determining who deserves a citation.

Newport said the more accurate analogy was citing motorists for reckless driving. A driver who veers onto the shoulder of a road may or may not warrant a ticket, he said, depending on whether the car swerves, whether children are present and whether other factors exist that cannot be weighed against an objective standard. Subjectivity is part of the new ordinance, he acknowledged, but it also was part of the old one.

In taking on a leading cause of urban aggravation, as evidenced by the 58,000 noise complaint calls received annually by Houston police, the ordinance update aims to strike a balance between residents' desire for tranquility against free speech rights.

"Believe it or not, amplified sound is a constitutional right," Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck said as the Council heard public testimony on Tuesday.

The review of how to regulate noise levels came about as a result of a U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year on a lawsuit filed against the city by a labor union seeking permits for rallies in support of a strike. The court found the city's restrictions on noise permits to two per month was unconstitutional.

One dissenting vote

Meanwhile, the recent development of Washington Avenue has created a corridor that puts residents and bars in close proximity. The intensity of complaints along the corridor, if not the number, has made it a hotbed of discussion about noise limits, Newport said.

Councilman Mike Sullivan was the lone dissenter in the 13-1 vote to revise the ordinance. He said he opposes telling someone when they can mow their lawn, and he compared the increased volume allowed with a permit to the banking of carbon offsets - buying the right to pollute.

The city spends an estimated $2.3 million annually to investigate noise complaints, resulting in 3,400 cases of "citation issuance or a written report," according to the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department.

More from Houston:

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/20…

http://houston.backpage.com/Groups/houston…

http://www.khou.com/news/local/Noise-Ordia…

http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/bay_area/ne…

3 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Scott Burger on 01/10/2012 at 11:23 PM

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