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Democratic Party History: a Revealing Rap Sheet

A history of the Democratic Party's role in coopting and diverting independent social/political movements, and how it relates to the coming presidential elections. For this article, and much related stuff, see
DEMOCRATIC PARTY HISTORY: A REVEALING RAP SHEET

Within the last month or so, the "progressive" and "alternative" media have been filling up with articles and programs advocating that activists work for one candidate or another within the Democratic Party. We're told that getting rid of George Bush is the most important item on the agenda, trumping all else, and the question is merely which particular candidate to throw support to, and that if enough of us get involved, "we" can bring the Democrats back to where they should be. Many advocate Dennis Kucinich, the "most radical member of Congress" (Leslie Kean, Pacifica Radio's Berkeley station KPFA). Others such as web writer Lloyd Hart advance former Vermont governor Howard Dean as more electable. And some such as Geov Parrish even argue on "pragmatic" grounds that the right move is to back Senator John Kerry, deemed the most "progressive" of the front runners. Each of these candidates needs to have his record closely scrutinized and exposed (and i will do so below), but the main point of this article is not to debunk specific individuals. Rather, it is to reveal an important aspect of the Democratic Party, its historic role as a counterinsurgency operation whose aim is to co-opt and sidetrack political activists, keep them from creating an independent political movement, and divert their energy into legitimating and reinforcing the political system which maintains the status-quo. Furthermore, the notion that the current Democratic Party represents a total break with that party's tradition will be debunked, revealing that not only today's Democrats, but the essentials of Bush's policies, are rooted in actions taken by Democratic Party administrations.

Woodrow Wilson and the Beginnings of the Shadow Government

By the last quarter of the 19th Century, if not before then, the Democratic Party was already operating as a front for wealthy interests , as revealed by the union-busting policies of Grover Cleveland. But its aspect as a tool of cooptation did not become operative till the re-election campaign of Woodrow Wilson in 1916. At that point in time, a large social/political opposition movement existed in the U.S., one that in spite of a late start compared to Europe had developed into quite a strong political force, outside the conventional political arena. It included some groups working within electoral politics, many others outside that frame, and with many people in it embracing politics that looked beyond capitalism, debating both theory and tactics. One place to read about this is Kenneth Rexroth's autobiography. Wilson had issued many proclamations about the need for the U.S. government to forcefully pursue the needs of US businesses overseas, proclamations which were acted upon via the dispatch of troops into nations such as Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (see "War is a Racket" by Smedly Butler). Yet quite a few left activists argued in 1916 that the Republican candidate Charles Hughes represented a threat to peace and human rights which was so great that it was necessary to support Wilson's re-election bid, as his campaign slogan was "He kept us out of war". John Reed was one who made such an argument, re-created in the movie "Reds".

Wilson won re-election, the first Democrat to do so since before the Civil War. Within a month of his re-inauguration, he took the U.S. into World War I, a step increasingly demanded by large New York banks who saw their loans to the "allies" threatened by a stalemated war between imperial blocs. The drift had been quite clear,however, since 1915, when the Wilson administration began setting up incidents with the German navy over American ships carrying war supplies to Britain, e.g the Lusitania. At the same time, the Wilson administration adopted extremely repressive measures at home, exemplified by raids against radical groups conducted by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer. Many radicals were thrown in jail, deported, a few even executed, radical groups such as the I.W.W were smashed, while even relatively mild socialists like Eugene Debs were jailed, and xenophobic anti-German measures became law, one of which outlawed the sale of cole slaw (to be re-named "liberty salad"; sounds familiar?). Amongst other things, a new agency which was to be named the F.B.I. emerged out of all this. John Reed was one of those who had to leave the U.S. Amazingly enough, some folks still throw Wilson's name out as a "progressive". And his secretary of state William Jennings Bryan is primarily known for being the "populist" Democratic candidate in 1896.

Wilson's administration domestically put into effect many features of "Progressive" politics (i.e. Teddy Roosevelt-style Progressives) which revolved around the regulation of capitalism towards the aim of eliminating or at least hiding the worst excesses of the system,while acting to increase the concentration and centralization of capital, as discussed very thoroughly in Gabriel Kolko's "The Triumph of Conservatism". The most far-reaching of these was the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank, which amounted to turning over the nations's money system to a central bank that was nominally a public institution, but in reality a unit owned privately by international financiers. Wilson's advisers and their associates, people from the more forward-looking elements of big business, particularly the finance sector, also wanted to put into effect on a global level measures to rationalize the operation of the capitalist market, seeing as they did that the system's international mode of operation was leading to mounting instability and clashes between large national capitalist interests. Their domestic measures outlasted the rule of the Democrats, and became part of a bipartisan consensus. So did their police state repressive measures, which took out much of the more radical sector of the American left, leaving behind those who favored slow-paced reformism within the political structure or those whose allegiance lay with the new Soviet state. But Wilson's international aims were abandoned as the Republicans took over the reins of power in 1920. The Democratic global agenda became a lobbying goal for groups such as the newly created Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and other outfits funded by foundations which received their money from corporate coffers, particularly from the Northeast. And these continued to have a home in the Democratic Party.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Deal?

Republicans ruled through the Roaring '20s. But then the Wall caved in. The "boom" turned out to be fed by a stock market speculation bubble, which burst and revealed a world mired in deepening crisis. Many Americans found themselves impoverished to an unbelievable extent, and quite a few even began radical political practice just to survive, e.g. collective resistance to evictions, unemployed councils, expropriation of business property for use. This pressure mounted as the '30s began, with no sign whatsoever of a recovery, in fact the conditions kept on worsening. Something had to be done quickly to head off a possible revolutionary upsurge. And this led to the election of FDR. Roosevelt actually campaigned in 1932 on a fairly conservative platform. But once in office he faced a huge emergency, the collapse of the banking system. He and his advisers devised a makeshift set of policies which primarily consisted of unprecedented state intervention and regulation, with the idea that government spending could prop up the collapsing market system and eventually would lead to recovery.This policy, which came to be known as the New Deal ( a version of the economics espoused by John Maynard Keynes), did not aim at superseding capitalism, but at rescuing it. Its main designers were in fact captains of capital, men such as GE's Reginald Jones, W. Averel Harriman of Union Pacific and Herbert Lehman of Wall St. And their policies differed little from other schemes of state intervention of the day such as in Germany. One FDR adviser even stated that the New Deal was doing some of the same things that Hitler was, but "in an orderly way". ("The Secret Diary of Harold Ickes: The First 1000 Days", New York, 1953, p. 104). The main result of the New Deal was in fact further concentration and centralization of capital, especially in the finance sector.

Many on the Left, seeing the New Deal as being inherently good since promoting government influence is a step towards socialism (a complete misidentification of socialism as state control), and being pragmatists, a tendency which put emphasis on "getting things done" vs. acquiring a theoretical understanding of capitalism, socialism and how to go from one to the other, turned into supporters of the New Deal, eschewing work intended to promote an independent political movement aimed at radical change. Some beneficial changes did ensue. A social welfare system which provided a safety net under working people did help ameliorate the worst symptoms of the misery, but without dealing with the causes. Labor unions were finally granted the right to organize, but in turn had to accept the right of capital to own the means of production, a "right" upon which capital's superior social position is based, which in reality represents centuries of blatant theft of land and labor power. The free-fall of economic conditions was stopped, and many working people saw actual material improvements in their lives, though much of that was achieved and defended by extra-electoral means. Those leftists who took their marching orders from Moscow found out Stalin wanted the New Deal to be supported. Thus, the Left pretty much supported FDR's 1936 re-election bid, which solidified a control of the US political process by the Democrats that was largely to last till the '70s. But the basics behind the global crisis were not addressed. State intervention measures thus ran their course, as they did in the European countries which resorted to them. By 1937, the Depression resumed a downward course, and FDR began to talk of the need for the US to win overseas markets and sources of raw materials if its economy was to truly recover. The New Deal was ready to enter a new stage, the international one. Contrary to current beliefs, the New Deal did not end the depression; economic conditions remained miserable well into World War II (with inflation joining unemployment as a problem by Pearl Harbor time) and the Depression ended only due to the war.

Roosevelt's election led to people from the CFR and other elite groups taking over U.S. foreign policy. This policy from the start involved the assertion of global interests of American business. By the late '30s, the U.S. government had embarked on a policy of pushing exports, securing access to materials, and securing control of its own spheres of influence, in particular Latin America and Asia, policies that its competitors were pursuing with zeal as well. Elite planners determined that Japan and Germany were rivals whose aims were increasingly in conflict with the interests of American capital ("Trilateralism", by Holly Sklar, Chapter One). This was to lead to active planning aimed at inducing Japan to initiate a war with the US, a plan that succeed quite well with the (fully anticipated!) attack on Pearl Harbor and which led to a nation united in its support of a war effort whose real goals were not quite visible to the general public. The war solidified support for the New Deal once again, with the Left on board, especially with the Soviet Union as an "ally", and never mind the American workers cannibalized in the factories, mines and offices, who had to watch out for their own interests (often via wildcat strikes). The war also meant that a bipartisan consensus emerged around a policy designed by the CFR, whose essence was a global empire run by the U.S. Out of this came institutions of global coordination of capitalist interests such as the I.M.F, World Bank, a global financial system built around the dollar, and the U.N., as well as U.S. domination of Middle East oil fields, the world's fuel tank. These are still the essential features of the American empire.

FDR's death led to the Truman presidency, and the Fair Deal. The post -War era saw an increase in economic problems, and soon the "peace" turned into a "Cold War", a situation initiated by the U.S. to justify rearmament and steps to forcefully assert American domination around the world. A crucial part of that policy was the Marshal Plan, a program whose essence was the coercion of European governments into accepting integration into an American-dominated global economic plan and rejecting any role for even mildly left political groups, but which was packaged as a charitable act of the highest order. At home, the "radicals" who helped win the war with their support of the Democrats were attacked and turned out of unions, academia, and politics. FDR's second Vice President Henry Wallace led an insurgent Progressive Party effort against Truman in '48, but his campaign faltered at the end, as many on the Left felt that Truman was better than having the Republicans back.

Truman won re-election, and promptly escalated the Cold War with measures such as NATO and later the Korean War. National Security Council Directive 68 enshrined the target of total U.S. global military domination, 50 years ahead of the Project for a New American Century that "progressives" moan about today. And the new CIA and Department of "Defense" enabled this policy goal, with, amongst other projects, "Operation Mockingbird", a total infiltration of American media by the CIA. Truman's regime also stepped up repression of dissidents at home. By the time Joe McCarthy, the person most associated with the "witch hunts" got started, the job had mostly been done by the Democrats. When the Republicans took over in '52, it was a Republican party that had largely bought the state-coordinated economic policies (based upon an ever-growing expansion of credit/debt) and globalist/interventionist foreign policy of the Democrats, while forces outside the two-party corporate consensus had largely been eliminated. We were ready for the Eisenhower years. In fact, since the New Deal, American politics have been totally dominated by forces associated with the corporate elite's various groupings and think-tanks.

New Frontier to New Cold War

By the late '50s, new problems were arising. Several recessions had created many doubts about economic stability, while international financial problems created by increased economic competition and centered upon the instability of the dollar mounted. African Americans began mounting campaigns aimed at securing civil rights supposedly accorded them almost 100 years earlier. Protests were mounting about the growth and testing of nuclear weaponry, as more and more information about the harmful effects of nuclear fallout from testing spread. And social pressures were threatening U.S. control of various sections of the empire, particularly Asia and Latin America. John Kennedy won the 1960 elections with promises to deal with such challenges. Much is made nowadays of JFK's supposed enlightenment that grew while he was in office, and how he could have brought about a much better world had he survived. He indeed did not fulfill the agenda of some of the elite regarding Cuba, and may have dragged his feet way too much regarding an escalation of the war in Indochina, though he did initiate quite a step-up in the war effort, and these factors probably played a role in his assassination, very much an inside job (regardless of what Noam Chomsky may say). But he fulfilled his role quite well in the essential sectors.

JFK's most enduring domestic measure was a tax cut that was heavily tilted towards business. His "Alliance for Progress" in Latin America was based upon the formation of the region's notorious death squads, and included coups in El Salvador and Guatemala. The government of Canada was removed in a semi-coup in early '63 when it failed to go along with Kennedy plans for deployment of nuclear weapons. And a CIA-managed coup in Iraq in February of that year brought to power the Ba'ath Party, whose ranks included a young officer (and CIA asset) named Saddam Hussein. The CIA then . Also in the Middle East, JFK in the Summer of '63 stood firmly behind the Shah of Iran as he bloodily put down demonstrations against his dictatorial regime. And Kennedy's Secretary of "Defense" McNamara undertook the building of a conventional war fighting capacity, which enabled the U.S. armed forces to fight actual wars on the ground.Some folks like to claim that JFK had planned to destroy the power of the Federal Reserve. One would wonder then why he appointed Robert Roosa of the CFR and the New York Fed Bank, the most important component of the system, to Assistant Treasury Secretary, and why Roosa not only stuck with JFK, but became an adviser to Robert Kennedy when he ran for president in '68, and brother Ted when he ran in '80. Do the Kennedys enjoy appointing advisers they disagree with? And do people from the top of the Fed system support those who would do away with their power? Likewise with McGeorge Bundy, CFR member and an adviser so close to JFK he was considered a family member, who stuck around for LBJ and later headed the Ford Foundation, a critical component of the elite's control mechanism.

JFK's assassination brought to power Lyndon Baines Johnson, who essentially carried out the New Frontier's policies, including more protection for the civil rights of African Americans, coupled with a massive increase in social welfare spending ("The Great Society") and a relentless escalation in the U.S. military commitment in Indochina. In '64, leftists on the whole swallowed whatever doubts they had about Johnson, frightened as they were by the GOP nominee Barry Goldwater, who seemed to promise a rollback to pre-New Deal policies and an attack on the minimal progress made in civil rights, and a reckless foreign policy, as he even attacked the ban on the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons agreed to in 1963, which received overwhelming bi-partisan support. Meanwhile, a new political movement was growing out of the struggles around civil rights and nuclear weapons testing. In general it supported the Democrats, in spite of signals such as the Tonkin Gulf Incident, a staged event (it turned out) which led to congressional authorization to pursue a virtually limitless war in Indochina. Johnson won an overwhelming victory, which also left Congress under the most one-sided control of the Democrats since the mid '30s. Less than a month after LBJ's re-inauguration, the U.S. government dramatically escalated the war in Indochina.

With the expansion of the war, along with more and more military interventions such as in the Dominican Republic, and the massive growth and spread of the civil rights struggle, the new political movement found itself having to outflank the power structure on the left. At the same time, a cultural underground which was restricted to a few souls during the Beatnik era got a huge boost with new trends in popular music exemplified by the "British invasion", as well as the spread of the use of psychoactive substances. The political and the cultural found themselves increasingly merged, even if not always on the same page. The U.S. had its first homegrown mass movement in decades, one that came to be labeled appropriately enough "The New Left". It generally eschewed rigorous political analysis, to its disadvantage, but its strength lay in its insistence upon grassroots democracy and break with existing models of "socialism" such as the Soviet Union(which were nothing of the sort). By 1967, in spite of a massive escalation of the U.S. military effort in Indochina in both the extent and the sheer numbers, the war was stalemated due to unexpectedly strong resistance by the Vietnamese. Disaffection was mounting even inside the military ranks. Growing unrest in the African American community led to mounting urban riots. All this, plus the growth in the organized opposition movement in all its aspects, was leading to a situation in which the stability of American capitalism was being called into question, and there seemed to be no way to contain this challenge within the political system.

At this point, certain elements within the ruling elite, expressed via the Democratic Party, began to openly break with the Administration, and moved towards even exploring a challenge to LBJ's renomination for the '68 election. This came in the persona of Minnesota senator Gene McCarthy. Seemingly overnight, people involved in the movement began to be bombarded by the message of "Clean with Gene", i.e. clean up the scruffy,often even hippy-ish appearance effected by many of the activists, eschew radical tactics like the October '67 siege of the Pentagon,and work to do what was deemed "really effective", electing a new president who would change the bad policies. The fact that these policies were the result of systemic imperatives that were independent of the identity of the president, imperatives that McCarthy did not at all question, was lost upon many well-meaning activists who had still to move beyond instinctual reaction to a bad situation, especially when this approach promised a much greater acceptance by the mainstream (and critical parents). Public discontent with the war, and with economic problems that were being exacerbated by it (e.g. yet more international financial crises, inflation), as well as the increasing ungovernability of the U.S.), led to surprising successes for McCarthy, bringing Bobby Kennedy into the race, and leading LBJ to drop out.

Political activists were now appealed to on the basis of Kennedy's popularity with African American and Mexican Americans, the poor in general, and the Kennedy mystique, leading to the increasingly popular feeling that LBJ was the usurper of JFK's legacy, that the nation needed to return to the path of Camelot. Kennedy's acceptance of systemic imperatives, indeed his association with ruling class figures such as Robert Roosa (see above), were simply not questioned. After all, theory/analysis was deemed "unhip" and useless. One result was that the political movement did very little between the time of the Pentagon and the Chicago Democratic Convention in August '68, aside from the Columbia University revolt. One wonders what could have happened had there been an independent political movement with massive street presence in May '68, at the same time France was undergoing a national general strike and near-revolution. The government had already launched a counterinsurgency operation against dissidents, COINTELPRO, in fact had begun a long-term project of planning the use of the military for domestic policing, and this had its effects; but this pacification via the political process seemed even more effective.

Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June '68 (likely by the state), with the nomination seemingly within reach. McCarthy's challenge did not stand up either, and by the August convention the forces which still supported LBJ managed to nominate Vice President Humphrey. The repression of the dissidents on both the convention floor and outside in the streets of Chicago was so intense that the political process appeared to most activists to be shutting them out. Many of them turned against the system in a more fundamental way, though a few did come back to support Humphrey against the "greater of two evils" Nixon. Late '68 and '69 saw a dramatic growth in the numbers of those who thought that the kind of changes necessary in American society could not be achieved via electoral politics, as well as a growing convergence between the political and cultural wings of "the movement", symbolized best by the events of People's Park in Berkeley in the Spring of '69. A radicalization of many young Americans proceeded in spite of the fact that more and more elements of the ruling elite began to openly call for disengagement from the war in Indochina, recognizing that the very governability of American society was being threatened. Within the movement , new forces arose, most notably focusing on the oppression of women and gays and the destruction of the environment, tendencies whose critiques implicitly questioned the very nature of the organization of life under capitalism. Increasingly, dissent spread from the ranks of college students and professionals to the factories and the armed forces, where a breakdown in social discipline threatened the very conditions of capitalist (re)production.

In April 1970, U.S. forces openly invaded Cambodia in pursuit of a "solution" to the Vietnam war. America's campuses exploded, and in the process demonstrators at the campuses of Kent State in Ohio and Jackson State in Mississippi were shot dead by National Guard troops. This led to a national campus strike and a nation-wide wave of outrage. At this point, Democratic Party operatives stepped in with suggestions that dissidents turn away from "violent" demonstrations and other forms of direct action, and put their efforts into electing a better Congress. Their efforts resulted in a massive diversion of energy. The strike failed to sustain itself or build political structures which could coalesce the dissident energy into a systemic challenge, and never again did the opposition manage to regain these heights. The 1970 congressional elections failed to produce much change either, but by then falling troop levels in Indochina (and with that, falling numbers of people being drafted) began to cool the anti-war opposition. COINTELPRO was also doing its number, as many people either got "removed" or scared or became paranoid to the point of paralysis and inability to function effectively. And the cooptation operatives, armed with lots of experience in the maturing advertising and PR industries, launched a campaign of recuperation, diverting the various sectors of the movement away from working within a collective wider struggle with its goal being the replacement of the system and into seeing themselves as interest groups pushing their particular competing causes within existing political and economic institutions ("equal pay", "black capitalism", "green consumerism", "peace candidates"). Those who pushed for radical changes got branded "unrealistic" and were pushed aside. Once again, "pragmatism" won out.

By 1972, forces working for reform within the Democratic Party managed to actually capture control of the party's nomination process, resulting in the McGovern candidacy. His campaign already resulted in the massive electoral involvement of many previously active in more radical forms of political activity. I was to meet many of them while working in the campaign, which for me was actually a pretty radical departure from a conservative past. As i kept on learning more and more things about the nature of American society and capitalism, i was also encountering messages from campaign figures about staying practical and pragmatic, and that change was going to come slowly, and that capitalism is not really the problem, it's the lack of good enlightened management. Many of the volunteers knew better, but stayed quiet, or else justified their involvement with "most people aren't ready", and "we owe it to the Vietnamese to at least elect someone who'll stop the killing". Good ol' guilt-tripping. The more i found out about the nature of the McGovern campaign -- the corporate financing behind it, the ideas of many of the advisers, McGovern's own support for the essential features of the empire, its actions at the convention (New York Times, 7/13/72) when it moved to keep out of the platform "radical" planks like support for abortion rights (only months before Roe vs. Wade) while supporting ones that called for strong U.S. military presence in Europe and the Middle East -- the more radicalized i became. Yet i saw around me what was the tail end of the Berkeley radical scene becoming more stagnant, more self-absorbed, more willing to compromise, as the campaign went on.

By McGovern's landslide loss in November, it seemed like an era had ended.The energy had been totally taken out of the Berkeley radical community. It was to last a few more years, but those were definitely years of decline. Much the same ensued all across the land, be it in Ann Arbor, Madison, Boston or New York. McGovern went on to a career of lobbyist for U.S. Middle East business interests and a propagandist for the biotech industry, though he's still regarded as an extreme leftist by many commentators. Of his top aides, Gary Hart went on to chart a pro-military career as a "new" Democrat in the Senate (and the CFR), and Kennedy associate Frank Mankiewitz, proceeded to head his own corporate PR firm. Meanwhile, many if not most former activists had dropped out, cynicised by the experience with McGovern and/or convinced that the public was just too conservative to listen (though almost 50% didn't even bother voting), tired by years of seemingly endless struggle with no light at the end of the tunnel, and increasingly focused on material survival as economic conditions worsened and their communities of support melted away.

Interestingly enough, Nixon's domestic agenda looked a lot like the Great Society, in many ways this was the most welfare capitalism administration of all, and this was true about Nixon's successor Gerald Ford as well. Nixon's '72 triumph was short-lived. He was cut down by "Watergate", in reality a ruling elite media-led coup brought about by the systemic need for a scapegoat as economic problems matured into a fully-blown crisis marked by inflation, in particular with the price of oil and food, and mounting instability in crucial areas like the Middle East. Nixon also probably won a few enemies by trying to muscle in on the CIA's drug-dealing network. This set up a '76 showdown, another opportunity for the Democratic Party's "left". McGovern couldn't keep the New Deal-forged Democratic Party coalition together, in particular the minions of the AFL-CIO. But he did manage to divert many former activists into a career within the party, where they stayed and "moderated" their course. By 1976, they had splintered into their various interest groups. It was funny to watch one guy i knew who started the year backing former senator Fred Harris, the "populist" candidate backed by Rolling Stone, whose idea for a new economic system was a blend of statist regulation and free market competition. By April, my friend was backing California governor Jerry Brown, who at the time was a messenger of "Buddhist" voluntary simplicity and more discipline. And by convention time he was OK with former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, who seemingly came out of nowhere to pick up the nomination. It wasn't till later that we all found out about the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission, and Carter's membership in it. Most people didn' t care anyway, what mattered was that he wasn't a Republican. And it didn't matter that his Vice President (Mondale) and just about his entire cabinet turned out to be members(Sklar, "Trilateralism").

Carter's first couple of years were marked more than anything else by an "energy crisis", which was pushed as a major reason for why Americans should accept lowered living standards, sold as "the moral equivalent of war", and necessitated by the end of the ability of capitalism to afford its welfare format as debt levels began reaching hard-to-manage levels. That was to be the raison d'etre for the imposition of the Trilateral Commission's agenda, a blueprint for pushing back what was called "democratic distemper" by the likes of Samuel Huntington (more recently known for "The Clash of Civilizations"), the destabilizing attempt by everyone to participate in decision-making, and promoting instead more "governability". But this didn't stick. By the second half of Carter's term, the drift was towards a new hot phase of the Cold War. It became a reality thanks to a CIA operation which initiated guerrilla war inside Afghanistan in July '79, bringing within months a Soviet intervention, leading to yet more covert war efforts, out of which came the so-called "Islamic Fundamentalist" armed struggle and groups like al Qaeda, with full U.S. assistance and guidance. In addition, the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and increasing tensions between the U.S. and the new government were to lead to an outright confrontation by the end of '79. Both these developments led to a massive U.S. armed forces build-up, the adoption of draft registration, and for the first time, via the Carter Doctrine, a declaration that the U.S. government would use its armed forces to secure the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, the administration began wholesale cuts in social welfare spending, portending the Reagan era, and drew up plans for cracking down on a looming air traffic controllers' strike, plans which were put into effect by Reagan, launching a still-continuing all-out war on union rights. Attempts were made to pull leftists into the Democrats to support a challenge to Carter by Ted Kennedy, who again had Robert Roosa (now also a Trilateral Commission member) on his roster. But Camelot take 3 failed to pull in many people, in part due to the fact that this Kennedy was sponsoring a bill called Senate Bill 1, which prefigured today's PATRIOT Act.. Appeals at the last minute to unite behind Carter and prevent Reagan's win failed to generate a wave of support.

Attack of the Bush-Clinton Clones

During the Reagan-Bush years (many people contend that Bush was in charge from the very beginning), the Democratic Party was the scene of a vigorous debate between those who wanted to hold on to the New Deal/New Frontier/Great Society/'70s reforms idea of what the party was, and those who argued that the party was becoming out of touch with a conservative trend, and needed an image and ideological makeover. At the same time, the political activist community gained new momentum due to campaigns for a nuclear weapons freeze, against military involvement in Central America, and for totally isolating the Apartheid regime in South Africa. While the forces in favor of a more conservative makeover, e.g.The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) slowly won influence within the party, efforts continued to incorporate the activist community. These particularly were focused on the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson in '84 and '88, with the color aspect and the sometimes radical-sounding rhetoric scoring points with the politicos, who were often either too naive to notice Jackson's deep support for the essentials of capitalism, or were confident in the face of historical evidence about the ability of small steps to bring about eventual fundamental changes. Jesse's volunteers were delivered to the eventual nominees in their losing efforts, as once again vital energy was spent in charges against windmills. This was one important reason that the movement didn't really grow far beyond the usual activist ghettos, and in spite of surprising support at the beginning of the '91 Gulf War, the movement fell silent soon after, and seemed to pretty much disappear. Bush fell not so much due to mass resistance at home as due to souring economic conditions and a division of the more conservative electorate by the candidacy of Ross Perot. And it was one of the "new" Democrats, Bill Clinton, a DLC operative, as well as a member of the CFR and Trilateral Commission, who did win.

It would be hard to imagine a Republican who could accomplish as much for capital as did Clinton in his two terms. He pushed through NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and other globalization measures. His administration enacted the '96 Telecommunications Act which was the largest give-away of public domain to private interests in U.S. history. matched with a giveaway in the realm of the Internet. It went all-out to promote the bio-tech industry. The <'A HREF=http://www.citypages.com/databank/24/1168/print11196.asp>'96 Anti Terrorism Act, which followed the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in April '95 (about which serious questions remain) paved the way wholesale for today's police state measures, and words were backed by action in the streets of Seattle in December '99 as U.S. military units were used in domestic policing operations, part of a far-reaching planning process which preceded today's developments re Homeland Security/Northern Command. Welfare "reform" went further than any other bill to undermine what remained of the social welfare measures of the New Deal which provided a safety net for living standards.The Iraqi trade embargo and pretty regular air attacks on that impoverished country led to over one million deaths and massive misery. The attack on Yugoslavia in '99 in complete violation of international law opened the way for moves being undertaken by Bush Junior today, and was coupled with a reorientation of NATO towards being openly an intervention force whose task is the enforcement of corporate global interests anywhere in the world. Yet it would be a complete mistake to paint Clinton as a "traitor" to the ideals of the Democratic Party. These "ideals" have never amounted to more than salad-dressing on top of a corporate elite dinner whose essence was the securing of enough legitimacy at home to secure continued capital accumulation everywhere, ultimately by any means necessary. There was much more continuity with the Democratic past than a break with it, as i've tried to show so far.

Yet many a leftist made the argument in 2000 that Clinton's VP Gore, like a DLC operative as well as elite-connected, should be supported because he wasn't a Republican. Others supported Ralph Nader and the Green Party to send a message, never mind the fact that what he stood for, a "green" capitalism, showed a total ignorance of what we actually face and what is needed. Luckily, little energy was lost in the presidential election, in part because the political movement in the U.S, rejuvenated in a major way with the anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle in '99, and often showing a radical edge, was now part of an international struggle that in no way could be contained within the Democratic Party. The American scene of that movement , however, did (and does) feature the presence of many non- governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the same corporate foundations that fund elite think-tanks, which are still maneuvering to impose their reformist visions of "a seat at the table" alongside corporate decisionmakers and marginalize those many who would contest global capitalism in its entirety and fight for direct (i.e. genuine) democratic decision-making in all aspects of life. It's with these NGOs that the Democratic Party still hopes to use to bring the anti-corporate global opposition movement under control.

Supreme Court Coup to 9/11 and Beyond

The Clinton years were synonymous with an unprecedented economic boom that seemed like it could last forever; at least it was a boom for a tiny wealthy elite, the average household in fact was barely making as much as it did in 1977 in real money. But this was all a speculation boom, the biggest speculation bubble in history in fact, and one that required ever more intense looting of the rest of the world to sustain itself. The bubble burst in March 2000. Luckily for Clinton's legacy, the results of the burst took a year or more to manifest themselves, by which point he was out of office. Many people still spout horrible ignorant trash about wishing to return to the pre-Bush boom, showing not the slightest inkling of what that period entailed (or are they just oblivious?). Bush managed to steal the election, but could not stem the tide of history, and the global anti-capitalist movement continued to grow not only in size, but intensity,a s shown by the events at the G-8 summit in Genoa in July '01.The plans for a massive step-up in U.S. efforts to police both America as well as the world, plans that were already clearly drawn well before Bush was even nominated, had to be quickly put into effect. The 9/11 provocation did take place under a Republican administration, but it had the clearly-defined legacy of the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor and Gulf of Tonkin (as well as Oklahoma City, i believe) behind it, established during Democratic regimes. And the operation itself was well into the planning stage by the time Bush took office. While Clinton called for an all-out fight against al Qaeda,his administration was cooperating with that group in operations set in the Balkans. Likewise with plans for U.S. military intervention in Central Asia, first discussed openly by Carter's national security adviser Zbig Brzezinski in his '97 book "The Grand Chessboard", in which he also discussed the desirability of a Peal Harbor-like event (what an excellent analogy) to justify the coming war, 3 years before the PNAC made a similar statement. The crackdown on civil liberties since 9/11 is the culmination of decades of strategic state planning i've discussed above. And the Democrats have played along, providing total support for the "war on terrorism" and the PATRIOT Act., completely accepting the official version of what happened on 9/11, the most ridiculous conspiracy story of all.

And now, with 2004 approaching, we hear yet again the pleas to get Bush out of office at any cost, and how the Left must work within the Democratic Party to do so, be it from the pages of The Nation to the airwaves of Pacifica Radio Network to events like the April town hall meeting in Mill Valley, California with Daniel Ellsberg and David Harris. The common theme is "work for the best candidate, but unite behind whomever is nominated". Much is made of what certain candidates *say*, as if that has ever amounted to anything. As Watergate's "Deep Throat" said, "follow the money". Dennis Kucinich is funded by the left foundations whose job is still to funnel elite money in such ways as to construct a Left that is unthreatening to the powers-that-be and which acts as a safety valve, warning policymakers of excesses. He voted for the bill giving Bush post-9/11 authority to fight "terrorists" anywhere he wants, a blank check even more outrageous than the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. When the House passed a bill in March backing not only the troops in Iraq but Bush's conduct of policy, Kucinich did not vote against it. And his vision of a reformed America is a mush of warmed-over New Deal platitudes. Howard Dean, promoted by the likes of MoveOn, a subsidiary of the Democratic Party masquerading as a hip protest group, is a supporter of AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the U.S. (in general, the Democrats have outdone the Republicans in supporting Israeli policies of aggression, occupation and ethnic cleansing), and of the "war on terrorism", and an advocate of slashing social benefits. His funders include Goldman Sachs and AOL-Time Warner. John Kerry is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the CFR, an alumnus of the secret fraternity Skull and Bones(just like both Bushes), and an outright supporter of the war on Iraq. And it gets worse from there. The argument that getting rid of Bush can't help but improve the situation doesn't hold water even on its face. All the candidates support the contrived "war on terrorism", and differ with Bush only over the specifics of that war. In fact, even those candidates who opposed the Iraq war, such as Dean and Kucinich, did so on the basis of that war diverting resources from the effort against "terrorists", a direction towards which the foundation-funded pseudo-Left has been trying to divert the anti-war movement.

But there are deeper problems with the electoral strategy. Real power in the U.S. is wielded not by the president, who is really but a glorified janitor, a frontman, but by the members of elite unelected bodies such as the CFR and Trilateral Commission. Policy decisions are made out of the public view, and elections are merely ways to select the time and manner of how these decisions will be enforced. In a sense, the public gets to do a taste test, to see which brand of governance, which slick rhetoric, it prefers this year. Elections also are contests between different groups of elites to see which one would get to dominate the political process. We "democratically" legitimate elite control of every aspect of our life, we help deny to the world the dictatorial reality of America. Since at least the New Deal, the same CFR-associated group of elites have controlled both parties. Since JFK's assassination, the entirety of the U.S. government has been a debating club hiding a military-industrial dictatorship. The willingness of lots of people to take to the streets in defiance of the bipartisan consensus, even in defiance of the law-and-order apparatus as in New York City at the 2/15/03 mass anti-war rally, demonstrates that lots of people are willing to go outside the consensus, to challenge the very nature of power in this society. Merging back into the Democratic Party is a totally needless and indeed disastrously bad move, precisely why those with interests to protect are promoting it.

The material conditions with which both the elites and those seeking a different world are faced are what will determine the actions of those in power, not party labels. At this point, those conditions can be summarized into three points. One is the growing global economic crisis, rooted in the very structure of capitalism, whose effects are becoming more visible and more disastrous by the day. The second is mounting global ecocide, careening quickly towards unimaginable disasters and the likelihood of a planet no longer able to support life within a couple of generations at the most. The third, in a way tieing the first two, is Peak Oil, the looming (if not already here) peak in world oil production, which will have incredible effects both economic and ecological. The needs of capital accumulation dictate the policies that elites, and the governments which enforce their interests, must undertake: ever-more savage austerity measures, ever more efforts to pursue control of markets, investment opportunities and resources, with resort to war increasingly necessary, and ever-more repressive police state measures to be able to carry out the first two. This is what we face regardless of which party, which group of elites, is in power. Only a totally different social system, a radically new way of living, can get us out of this mess, and that will not be accomplished by electing someone, it will not be accomplished by a series of small steps over a period of many years. We just don't have the luxury of time, the hour is getting late. An exploration of coherent political practice outside the existing system is very much an imperative on today's menu.

Jack Straw June 12, 2003


Errata 17.Jun.2003 11:32

Jack Straw

Several errors in the posting of the article, may be due to the length of the piece, or software glitches, these involve sections that are supposed to be hot links but are not highlighted as such unless you point at them.

In the Truman section, these are "Marshall Plan" (though that link seems dead, it's early Indymedia), "National Security Council Directive 68" (live) and "Operation Mockingbird" (live). In the Kennedy section, right after the '63 Iraq coup, there are some words missing, about how the CIA then.. gave lists of radicals to the coup regime, and thousands were killed, that's supposed to be the link that somehow got highlighted as the Robert Roosa passage (islamonline), which has nothing to do with it. And right after that, "McGeoorge Bundy" is linked (live) though not highlighted unless pointed at. And towards the end, when John Kerry is discussed, "Skull and Bones" should be highlighted, it is only if pointed at (it's live).

Also, check out this article and much related work at leftgatekeepers.com, a new website.


Leftist revisionism 17.Jun.2003 12:50

James

No time to comment further...Beautiful writing, poor facts.

Perhaps more later.

More 17.Jun.2003 12:55

Jack Straw

In fact, every time i check back in, other hot links don't seem to be highlighted. Scan through with your cursor, hot links will be revealed.

Well Jack 17.Jun.2003 13:13

Firetruck

Some things require a one step at a time approach. Unless you can bring about the big "revolution" that everyone is talking about, and start things over from scratch, without hurting innocent people, I just can't agree. I would rather take an evolutionary approach. Let's get the people into power who will work for decency. Let's turn the Peter Principle on it's head.

Thanks, Jack 17.Jun.2003 14:04

Jimmy Row

Excellent article. We need more analysis like this.

Have a revolution that guarantees the safety of all???? 17.Jun.2003 14:14

StevetheGreenarchist

Some things require a one step at a time approach. Unless you can bring about the big "revolution" that everyone is talking about, and start things over from scratch, without hurting innocent people, I just can't agree. When I read quotes like these, I can only sigh deeply and shake my head. If the necessary changes to our system could happen within the constructs of our current sham of a democracy, we wouldn't be talking about revolution to begin with. If normal attempts at reform were historically successful, we wouldn't be talking about revolution. If starting things over from scratch within the construct of our current system were possible, we wouldn't be talking about revolution. Revolution has become necessary, not because it is one solution to the current global emergency we now find ourselves in, but because it is the only solution. Wishing that we can escape this current emergency just by holding signs on the corner or speaking of the need to stay within the acceptable rules that "the powers that be" have laid down for us is not only unrealistic, but it spits in the face of the facts. Every single piece of progressive change that has occured in our countries history has taken place as a result of a few brave souls leading the way through direct action. Traditional reform has failed to stop the rape of our planet and the explotation of it's people. Speaking of feelgood solutions that are based in adhering to one's principles is acceptable to me as long as you acknowledge that victory will come in spite of you, not because of you.

SteveTheGreenAnarchist 17.Jun.2003 14:52

James

The reasons the reforms you desire are not possible under our democracy are much less sinister than you propose. The real reason is democracy itself.

Most people don't believe there is a global emergency. Most people like this government.

You're an extremist. That's okay -- so am I. "Revolution" will not bring about the changes you desire, not because the government would supress it, but because the people you wish to impose the changes on don't want them. A revolution in thought is your only hope. You have to convince people that your way is the right way. And you can only do that by working within the system. By producing literature, protests when you feel particularly enraged, etc.

The extremists of today are sometimes the majority of tomorrow. But in every case, a revolution in thinking has come before a revolution in power or government.

Consider the fact that an overwhelming plurality of Americans would consider the Clinton presidency decidedly progressive -- and that gives you an idea of just how large a revolution in thought would be required for your reforms to become reality.

the more things change... 17.Jun.2003 16:09

concerned

Many people know that something is wrong; they may not fully understand what is wrong, or how things got to be this way, but deep down they know that things are in trouble. And we have a whole system of indocrination in this country that is anti-government: the government is corrupt, they lie, they cheat, they steal, they serve the rich. That's one of the reasons people act so unconcerned and apathetic when they see these things happening every day. It's the government, this is what they do.

But I agree, a revolution in thought, in beliefs, is the only solution, for there is no force that can forever enslave people in a system they don't agree with. Violence and force can only be used for so long (as in this country) before a critical mass of people rejects it. And that is what is needed, not a majority, not a plurality, just a critical mass of people with a new set of beliefs and the courage to stand up and express them. Therefore, the solution is not to convince people to "the one right way to live" as has been tried and failed for so many millenia, but instead, to simply believe in a new way of life that should be allowed to exist. If others want to continue to live under capitalism as it currently exists that is their choice, but don't force me or anyone else to do the same.

And without a revolution in thought and belief we will assuredly destroy our species and perhaps all life on this planet. That is simply the outcome of the behaviors which we continue to engage in, like dumping poisons into our land, water, and air as well as into our food supply and the continued development and improvement of our nuclear arsenal and disregard of internal treaties, laws, and institutions which appears to only encourage other nations to do the same. We expect that the use of violence against other nations will reduce the violence used against us, when history shows that the opposite is the far more likely outcome.

Remeber that the majority of people in this country have always favored the status quo, from before the revolution, through our history of slavery, through our history of discrimination and disenfranchisement, through our presidential coup's, through all of our wars. And yet change has occured despite their desire for stagnancy and resistance to evolution. I suspect this time will be no different.

I am no extremist! 18.Jun.2003 08:29

StevetheGreenanarchist

I object to being called an extremist! Is it extreme to advocate social justice? Is it extreme to desire to protect our environment? Is it extreme to suggest that "corporate personhood" is a lie that should be eliminated? Is it extreme to say out loud that our constitution not only gives us the right to overthrow our government when they fail to represent us, but cites it as our responsibility? What makes those things extreme? The fact that the detached American public answers corporate media poll questions a certain way, thus putting "politically aware" people in some perceived minority? Extreme? What is extreme, is for any progressive anywhere to ignore the "failure of traditional reform" and continually repeat the 60's dogma about peaceful resistance. What is extreme, is for any progressive anywhere to fail to take direct action when the consequences of failing to do so, have been revealed to them.

Political chart 18.Jun.2003 11:42

James

Hold on there, Steve.

I'm not saying your beliefs are extreme. Just that they're at the extremes of the political spectrum. They're not just far to the left, they're at the extreme left. And they're not just libertarian, they're extremely libertarian. (Actually, I don't really know your politics. So it's hard to say. Going by your name, mainly.)

If you truly believe that your's (and my) political beliefs are only in a "perceived" minority, you dilute yourself. Trust me, they're not the same beliefs held by the common man buildings widgets at Acme Co.

Correct URL 18.Jun.2003 11:47

Jack Straw

correct URL for info on CIA providing new Iraq regime in '63 with list of radicals to be killed is
 http://www.muslimedia.com/archives/features98/saddam.htm. Sorry!

Thanks 18.Jun.2003 12:59

anon

You have stated many truths that people refused to acknowlege. Thanks.

Bank and Market Lootings Using LAND CONS 04.Mar.2007 20:26

Judson Witham

It's in the TITLE ABSTRACTS, PLAT DEDICATIONS and TAX ASSESSMENTS associated with the Clinton Land Deals.

Kenneth Starr took a HUGE DIVE because there are THOUSANDS of Crooked Illegal Land Development CONS in Bush's Texas. IT's FACT

Whitewater and Castle Grande are amongst THOUSANDS of Bank Looting CONS associated with LAND FRAUD. Ms. Clinton knows she's a LAWYER and the ROSE LIE FIRM worked for FSLIC and RTC. Read The Following and LEARN FROM IT

Note To Montgomery County Commissioners, DA Mike MacDougal and Marcus Winberry, Nelda Luce Radabaugh Blair, WB Etheridge, Phillip Swisher and LUCY PROCTOR

Hello Houston FBI: Robert L. Vickers, W.G. Horne III, WB Etheridge, Thomas Eikel, Donald Clesson, Harreal Blackshear, Western Bank, Eagle Title Company Conroe, The First American Title Insurance Company, Nelda Luce Radabaugh Blair, Lucey Proctor, William Pack and Hundreds of Thousands even MILLIONS of Americans NOW UNDERSTAND how Houston and Dallas Banks were looted with the assistance of Title Insurance Companies like Hope and Mayes of Conroe Represented. Former US Attorney Toney Canales certainly understands as does Marcus Winberry, Jimmie C Dozier, Jimmie Edwards, Mark White, Jim Mattox, Dan Morales and you know the Commissioners Court of Montgomery County, Bill and Hillary Clinton understand AS DOES Quapaw Title and Ken Starr, oh I almost forgot Katheryn Woolford formerly with RTC / FDIC / FLSIC. now with USAID and BEARING POINT.

" Peddling Texas swampland is just one of the dirty jobs facing the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the U.S. agency that opened shop in early August to administer the coup de grace to sick thrifts. The mop-up has landed federal regulators in the same muck that mired the S&L industry: Thousands of white-elephant properties, most located in markets as soft as quicksand. "




Greetings Arizona and Cochise County:

For a little background first I cut and paste an except from your site:

COCHISE COUNTY TREASURER'S PROJECT - LAND FRAUD
 http://www.co.cochise.az.us/treasurer/LandFraud.htm

Every Arizona County and hundreds of thousands of trusting land purchasers were victimized by the rampant land scams of the 1960's.""

My name is Judson Witham and as you may know I have been working on unraveling the MASSIVE land fruads and Bank - S&L lootings in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, California, New Mexico, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah and even ARIZONA to Hawaii just to name a few States. Oooops I forgot to mention ARKANSAS land of the Madison S&L Job traceable to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

You may find it interesting so I refer you to these links and facts: When the Lincoln Savings and Loan Mess of Charles Cheating was abstracted and researched by FSLIC and RTC investigators it was discovered that he had engaged in widespread speculative Dirt Road and Paper Subdivision activities.

FACT : In taking over Charles Keating's notorious Lincoln Savings & Loan, the RTC acquired some $1 billion worth of property, including plots for 17 planned communities in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Louisiana. One of them is the 20,000-acre Estrella Project in the desert 20 miles southwest of Phoenix. Although Lincoln invested $200 million in preparatory work, only three homesites have been sold. !! That $200 Million was why a PAPER SUBDIVSION can be so LUCRATIVE.

See also

Planning in the Wake of Florida Land Scams Planning in the Wake of Florida Land Scams. by Hubert B. Stroud, Professor of ... Considerable attention is apparent in the literature on consumer fraud, ...
www.spikowski.com/landscam.htm - 73k

AND Last but not leasrt understand that Montgomery County, Texas was exposed in US District Court in Houston for more than 635 paper, dirt road or RED FLAG SUBDIVISIONS by you guessed it YOURS TRULY.

To emphasis my points, when President george W. Bush # 43 was Governor and US Senator John Cornyn was Attorney General many MILLIONS of Trusting Land Purchasers were VICTIMISED by the rampant land scams of the 1960s,70s,80s and 90s IN TEXAS.


Now for my Arizona Freedom Of Information request, and a personal question or two.


Your Official Cochise County Project land Fraud site states that ARIZONA had RAMPANT LAND SCAMS during the 1960s. This is coincidently the same type of matters Mr. Don Bolles was investigating immediately before his MURDER.

ie "and much like"

"Land fraud, bankruptcy, murder, suicide, incarceration and greed surround the history of Cochise College Park subdivision. Located in Cochise County, consisting of 2 phases of 12 units totaling 8,647 lots, it was the worst fraud in the states and possibly the Nation.



QUESTION ONE

What records, newspaper articles, investigation records, notes, memoranda, tapes, photos or films does Cochise County control or possess that reflects the RAMPANT LAND SCAMS of the 1960s ??

Question Two

What records, newspaper articles, investigation records, notes, memoranda, tapes, photos or films does Cochise County control or possess that reflects the names of reporters, witnesses, title abstractors, law enforcement personel, tax assessors or tax collectors, reserachers, authors or individuals, employees of Cochise County included that have knowlege of the RAMPANT LAND SCAMS OF THE 1960s or information or records of any kind associated with your claims at

COCHISE COUNTY TREASURER'S PROJECT - LAND FRAUD
 http://www.co.cochise.az.us/treasurer/LandFraud.htm


Question Three

What records, newspaper articles, investigation records, notes, memoranda, tapes, photos or films does Cochise County control or possess that reflects the names of FEDERAL AGENTS or US SECRET SERVICE, US TREASURY, or US ATTORNEY GENERAL INVESTIGATORS, or reporters, witnesses, title abstractors, law enforcement personel, tax assessors or tax collectors, reserachers, authors or individuals, employees of Cochise County included that have knowlege of the RAMPANT LAND SCAMS OF THE 1960s or information or records of any kind associated with your claims at

COCHISE COUNTY TREASURER'S PROJECT - LAND FRAUD
 http://www.co.cochise.az.us/treasurer/LandFraud.htm


I would kindly ask that any information or records your Office or that Cochise County, AZ and including the same catelgories of information that The State of Arizona reveal and produce the same records and information, that is responsive to my request for information. I ask that it all be catalogged, listed and it's existance revealed in accordance with Arizona Open Records or Freedom Of Information Laws.

Thank You Very Much

Judson Witham
 jurisnot@yahoo.com


Some additional excerpts and back ground for your enjoyment !

Houston Post Head:
LANDOWNERS FACE LONG, HARD BATTLE FOR ROAD REPAIRS

VICTIMS OF 'SHYSTERS' Date:
SUN, 3/30/1986
WILLIAM PACK, Post Reporter Post photos by Jerry Click

Dreams of paradise have been shattered for scores of Montgomery County landowners who face a seemingly never-ending struggle to obtain various public services.

"You really feel like you're being abused," said Tommy Gage.

Gage moved to a southwest Montgomery County subdivision four years ago only to find the roads there so bad that school buses were not allowed on them.

Vicki Burleigh, who lives at a mobile home subdivision in the southeast part of the county, said many residents have moved out because of poor roads, bad drainage, troublesome septic tank systems and uncaring neighbors who litter their property with junk.

"My husband doesn't want to leave," Burleigh said. "We had to clear the land and put in a lot of work out here. But I'd almost rather take a loss and start over somewhere else than get this place paid for in a few years and be living in a slum."

Donna Meek, one of Burleigh's neighbors in Pinewood Village, said her family's move five years ago was part of a dream to get "farther out and have some room to breathe."

"We love it out here," Meek said. "We don't want to move, but we may be forced to."

Landowners with similar problems voice their complaints at almost every meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.

"We all pay county taxes and yet the county won't do anything to keep the roads from tearing up my truck," Gage contended.

But it appears the county's attitude is changing.

Officials say the problems many of the landowners describe are the result of unscrupulous developers who never recorded plans for their subdivisions with the county.

"They would buy up some acreage, mark off a road, grade it and put a little gravel on it and say the county will take care of it," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Oliver Hance. County Judge Jimmie C. Edwards III described such developers as "shysters who came in, did the deal, made some money and hooked it."

By failing to have the development recorded, developers avoided requirements in effect since 1967 that stipulate, among other things, how roads should be built, what type of drainage studies should be done and when septic tanks are allowed.

Officials contend they have no authority to make improvements in unrecorded subdivisions where county building specifications have been ignored. They also concede there are more than 600 such subdivisions in the county.

"Can you believe that number?" asked the county's new health director, Dr. Sydney Garrett.

He said drainage, sewage and septic tank problems can generate health hazards that should be addressed in any proposed remedy.

The focus of the county's initial response will be poor roads, since officials said that is the problem most often identified by landowners.

Gage and other landowners said the roads have deteriorated despite their efforts to maintain them.

"My brother and I had a tractor and we tried to keep the roads up as best we could until times got hard and we had to sell the tractor," said Johnny Thibodeaux, who lives in an unrecorded subdivision north of Splendora. "But grading the road doesn't take care of the holes or clean out the ditches."

If the roads are bad enough, buses, postal officials and at times garbage haulers will not come down them, landowners said.

"We're on our fourth garbage hauler," said Burleigh. "I assume they quit coming because of the roads . . . I imagine one of the reasons family doesn't come visit anymore is because the roads are so bad." Hance said landowners are perplexed when they learn the county can't improve their substandard roads, noting that commissioners often have yielded to political pressure and provided such improvements.

"Commissioners did that in the past when the county had 40,000 people," observed Precinct 2 Commissioner Carol Shelton. "But now, the county has grown so much and funding is so limited, you don't see it anymore."

Shelton said commissioners do not have enough money to keep existing county roads in proper shape. Adding improvement and maintenance costs on roads from unrecorded subdivisions would "penalize the rest of the citizens for the benefit of these few taxpayers," Shelton said.

Others contend the county simply does not have enough money to improve all of the roads in unrecorded subdivisions, now estimated to cover some 450 miles.

Edwards said he is most interested in finding those developers "who misled their investors" by telling them roads and other facilities would be upgraded.

He contended the worst violations occurred in the 1960s and 1970s when the area economy was robust and land was cheap.

W.B. Etheridge, a real estate attorney in Conroe who has developed small subdivisions, said some landowners were victimized during those years by high- pressure salespeople who "made promises but never followed up on them."

"That should never happen," Etheridge said.

He and other developers contended, however, that in recent years, subdivision regulations have been honored.

It is primarily moderate-income families that were victimized by developers who never recorded their subdivisions, officials reported. They say solutions will take a long time to accomplish.



Inadequately Developed Issues

The trial attorney for Du ROI stated that the corporation was R.V. King's and that King owned its stock. The defendant's attorney stated that there were 500 unrecorded subdivisions in Montgomery County and that people who lived in some of these unrecorded subdivisions wanted better roads and maintenance.

Note :The case Below Is But A DROP IN THE BUCKET involved in the Land Fraud, Financial Fraud and PUBLIC CORRUPTION associated with the Land Fraud and Banking and S&L DEBACLES in TEXAS
698 S.W.2d 178

Court of Appeals of Texas,
Beaumont.
La COUR Du ROI, INC., Appellant and Cross-Appellee,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.

No. 09 84 288 CV.

Aug. 29, 1985.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 18, 1985.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Tex.App. Beaumont 1985.
La Cour Du Roi, Inc. v. Montgomery County
698 S.W.2d 178


"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists".
J. Edgar Hoover, former head of the FBI

Du ROI urged that its rights had been violated, arguing that it had been singled out for unfair treatment. We think these issues were not adequately developed. They may be important as equitable defenses since the county sought equitable relief. The doctrine of balancing the equities and the doctrine of clean hands may become relevant. There was more than a scintilla of evidence to show that the father of a county-wide elected official was alleged to have developed an unrecorded subdivision as well as the husband of the secretary of the elected official. Further, reviewing the whole posture of the case, we perceive that the City of Conroe was a proper party to the litigation and may well have been a necessary party. R.V. King may be a necessary party also.

An order had been entered in this appeal concerning the problem of overburdening this record. That order was improvidently granted. It is set aside. We have examined the entire record.



Paper: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Date: SAT 12/23/1989
Section: A
Page: 17
Edition: 2 STAR
$14 million frozen in lawsuit alleging mortgage fraud

By RAD SALLEE
Staff
.
A federal judge here Friday agreed to freeze up to $14 million in South Texas bank deposits after a New York lender alleged that officials of five companies in Corpus Christi and Houston , including two lawyers, engaged in mortgage fraud.

A lawsuit by Pioneer Commercial Funding Corp. says the defendants created bogus documents to obtain funds from Pioneer, ostensibly to be reloaned to buyers of homes in Houston 's Runningbrook subdivision and elsewhere. Instead, it says, the money was stolen.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of racketeering, which allows the court to award triple damages if proven. Pioneer is seeking $14 million in actual damages and $42 million in punitive damages.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt signed an order taking control of the deposits in two accounts held in the Bank of Robstown by Mortgage CreditCorp Inc. of Corpus Christi .

Pioneer's attorney Steven Zager said he does not know how much money is in the accounts. He said Pioneer will go after any funds held by any of the defendants, but knows only of the two accounts in Robstown.

The list of 19 defendants is headed by William J. Cartwright Sr. of Corpus Christi , named as president and majority owner of Mortgage CreditCorp and two other companies there, The Cartwright Group Inc. and First State Investors Inc.

Other defendants in Corpus Christi are his sons, William Jr. and Robert H. Cartwright, and Veronica J. Cartwright, who are officers and stockholders in the three companies; Rosmare Saldivar and Melvin Smoots, officers of Mortgage CreditCorp and The Cartwright Group Inc.; William H. Whittle, an attorney and stockholder in Mortgage CreditCorp; and James P. Page. The companies are also defendants.

The Houston defendants are John S. Pipkin, an officer and majority stockholder in Beau-Bay Development Corp. here; his brother Roger W. Pipkin III and his son Roger W. Pipkin IV, both officers and stockholders in the company; and three persons employed by C&P Realty here, attorney Robert L. Vickers, real estate appraiser Steven F. Thomae and Kelly Alan Wohlers.

Pioneer, a "warehouse lender," advances funds to mortgage companies, which lend them in turn to home buyers. To obtain funds, a mortgage company sends Pioneer a package that includes the home buyer's credit application, promissory note, deed of trust, property appraisal, title policy commitment and proof of insurance.

The lawsuit says Pioneer agreed to provide Mortgage CreditCorp up to $35 million for such loans, but sometime in 1989, the defendants began creating packages including "fictitious deeds of trust, counterfeit title commitments, fraudulent credit applications, phony appraisals and bogus insurance policies.' The lawsuit says William J. Cartwright Sr. and others conspired to buy more than 90 vacant lots, most of them in Runningbrook, at foreclosure sales at bargain prices, then transferred the titles to Beau-Bay and C&P Realty.

Fraudulent packages for a number of fictitious buyers were prepared by other defendants, who presented them to Pioneer.

"Neither the houses nor the underlying mortgage transactions actually existed," the lawsuit says. It says Pioneer lost at least $14 million as a result.

Zager said that attorney Whittle's signature is on the deeds of trust and that attorney Vickers' is on the title policy commitments.

The latter were on Stewart Title letterhead, but a Stewart official said the company did not provide them, Zager said. The title tracking numbers are assigned to Associated Title, but that company also disclaimed them, Zager said.

An affidavit made Tuesday by Wohlers' fiancee, Leslie Ann Lehman, says she signed false loan documents for four homes at his request after he told her "it was all right.' "I have never seen the property, did not purchase the property and these documents are false," her affidavit says.

Page said he worked for Mortgage Credit for about six months and "warehoused mortgage loans with Pioneer," but knows nothing about the alleged scheme. John S. Pipkin declined to comment until he sees the lawsuit, as did former U.S. Attorney Tony Canales of Corpus Christi, who represents The Cartwright Group. The other defendants could not be reached for comment.

 http://www.canaless imonson.com/ DynamicAttorneys .shtml?wldpid= 2473629_1&mailpagename= ObfuscatedForm&p=yes
Past Employment Positions
Southern District of Texas , U.S. Attorney, 1977 - 1980

Paper: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Date: FRI 12/29/1989
Section: A
Page: 28
Edition: 2 STAR
Funds at more banks frozen in fraud case

By RAD SALLEE
Staff
.
A federal judge here Thursday froze accounts in four more banks at the request of attorneys in a lawsuit alleging a $14 million mortgage fraud scheme by companies and at least two lawyers in Houston and Corpus Christi .

U.S. District Judge Norman Black issued sealed orders to freeze defendants' accounts in Memorial Bank and Texas Guaranty National Bank in Houston , Mason Road Bank in Katy and First National Bank Gulfway in Corpus Christi .

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt last Friday authorized freezing two accounts in the Bank of Robstown near Corpus Christi on request of the plaintiff, Pioneer Commercial Funding Corp., a New York "warehouse lender" that advances money to mortgage companies for home loans.

The defendants allegedly prepared fraudulent loan application packages involving vacant lots in Houston 's Runningbrook subdivision and elsewhere, claiming they had 20-year-old homes on them.

Pioneer's attorney, Steve Zager, said Thursday's orders were sought from Black because Hoyt, whose court has the case, was out of town.

The defendant companies allegedly obtained loans from Pioneer by submitting bogus documents, including credit applications, promissory notes, deeds of trust, property appraisals, title policy commitments and proof of insurance. At least three potential witnesses have said they falsified such documents for a small fee or at a boyfriend's request, Zager said.

The list of 19 defendants is headed by William J. Cartwright Sr. of Corpus Christi , named in the lawsuit as president and majority owner of Mortgage CreditCorp and two other companies there, The Cartwright Group Inc. and First State Investors Inc.

Other defendants from Corpus Christi are Cartwright's sons, William Jr. and Robert H. Cartwright, and Veronica J. Cartwright, who are officers and stockholders in the three companies; Rosmare Saldivar and Melvin Smoots, officers of Mortgage CreditCorp and The Cartwright Group Inc.; William H. Whittle, an attorney and stockholder in Mortgage CreditCorp; and James P. Page. The companies are also defendants.

The Houston defendants are John S. Pipkin, an officer and majority stockholder in Beau-Bay Development Corp. here; his brother Roger W. Pipkin III and his son Roger W. Pipkin IV, both officers and stockholders in the company; and three persons employed by C&P Realty here, attorney Robert L. Vickers, real estate appraiser Steven F. Thomae and Kelly Alan Wohlers.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of racketeering, which allows the court to award triple damages if proven. Pioneer is seeking $14 million in actual damages and $42 million in punitive damages.

Zager said federal marshals served Black's freeze orders Thursday after wire transfers were traced to the Houston area accounts from the Robstown accounts of Mortgage CreditCorp, which Hoyt had frozen. The latter turned out to contain about $300,000. Up to $14 million may be frozen if found.

Zager said the Mason Road account here is in the name of Vickers, who denies any connection with it. Zager said another attorney here withdrew about $10,000 from the account on Wednesday, emptying it.

Zager said Vickers, 58, was sentenced to five years in prison on Oct. 12, 1988, in Arizona for money laundering and conducting an illegal enterprise.

Investigator Clyde Wilson said he reached Vickers by phone in a Yuma , Ariz. , prison, and Vickers told him his name is being used by others, but he is not involved in the scheme. Zager said Vickers'signature, provided by his wife here, does not match those on the allegedly bogus documents.

Zager said Robert Cartwright was sentenced in 1979 to 12 years in prison for misapplying funds, conspiracy and making false loan applications, but has been released.

Zager said First State Investors has accounts at Gulfway and Mason Road banks; C&P Realty has accounts at Gulfway , Texas Guaranty and Memorial; and Wohlers' company, Inland Towing and Transportation, has accounts at Memorial.



"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists".
J. Edgar Hoover, former head of the FBI


Austin Texas May 19th 1931


Texas Legislature - House Bill 473 - By Wenert et al
Passed 31 ayes to O nays
HB 473 - Section 3 see former Texas Penal Code 1137h

The fact that many parties have delivered to purchasers deeds and contracts to real estate described according to some subdivision or resubdivision when in fact no such subdivision or resubdivision was of record then or thereafter resulting in great confusion of titles and fraud to purchasers, and the fact that such practices will continue unless prohibited, creates an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the Constitutional Rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each House be suspended, and said rule is hereby suspended, and that this Act shall be in effect from and after its paaasge, and it is so enacted.

Witnessed by Edgar Witt President of the Senate

Sent to Enrolling Clerk May 19th 1931

contracts to real estate unambiguously and in plain English means ANY and ALL or Every Contract

The Cardinal Rule Of Statutory Interpretation applies and If Properly Parsed and ALL words within the enactment are given the ordinary meaning

Texas Penal Code 1137h and Article 6626c et al APPLY to ALL CONTRACTS TO REAL ESTATE

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article 6626c, V.T.C.S. The provision provides:

Section 1. No party shall file for record or have recorded in the official records in the County Clerk's office any map or plat of a subdivision or resubdivision of real estate without first securing approval therefor as may be provided by law, and no party so subdividing or resubdividing any real estate shall use the subdivision' s or resubdivision' s description in any deed of conveyance or contract of sale delivered to a purchaser unless and until the map and plat of such subdivision or resubdivision shall have been duly authorized as aforesaid and such map and plat thereof has actually been filed for record with the Clerk of the County Court of the county in which the real estate is situated.

Sec. 2. Any party violating any provision of Section 1 of this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in a sum not less than Ten Dollars ($10.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or confined in the county jail not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both such fine and imprisonment, and each act of violation shall constitute a separate offense, and in addition to the above penalties, any violation of the provisions of Section 1 of this Act shall constitute prima facie evidence of an attempt to defraud. (Emphasis added).
This article was transferred from article 1137h of Vernon's Penal Code by authority of section 5 of Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., ch. 399, at 995, enacting the new Penal Code.

A person may be prosecuted under article 6626c, V.T.C.S., in two separate circumstances. First, for the act of recording, and secondly, for the act of selling property making a reference to an unrecorded map or plat. In Attorney General Opinion M-390 (1969), this office held that the second circumstance makes a misdemeanor offense of a conveyance by a subdivider where the property description depends for its location upon reference to a subdivision plat which has not been duly authorized as provided by law and/or has not been filed for record. Use of the subdivision description is not cured by additional metes and bounds descriptions, which in themselves must rely upon the unrecorded plat for location of the property on the ground. (Emphasis added).


Former Texas Penal Code 1137h was the Codification of HB 473 of May 19th 1931 the Texas Legislature was reacting to the MASSIVE Bank and S&L Lootings and Failures associated with MASSIVE TEXAS Land FRAUDS of the 1920s. (These Massive Land Schemes also were rampant in FLORIDA during the same period. The FHLBB and Later HUD enacted the Land Sales Registration Act Texas AG Greg Abbott READ SECTION 3 of HB 473



See Ol "Kat" Woolford at:
Hint She Set Up IRAQ's NEW BANKING SYSTEM FOR GEORGE BUSH and CARLYLE GROUP'S - BEARING POINT and USA AID

SEE  http://www.geocitie s.com/jurisnot The Great Texas Bank Job IT's NO JOKE


Kat Woolford (BBA '72) of Baton Rouge, La., has done a little bit of everything since graduation: exercised race horses, worked for the Liquidation Division of the FDIC, and served as an advisor to the Bank of Latvia and the National Bank of Romania.

CIA LIKE I SAID

 http://www.uga. edu/~gm/1298/ Notes2.html

 http://www.usaid. gov/locations/ europe_eurasia/ mt/images/ fsnl.pdf# search='Woolford ,%20FDIC'

 http://www.findarti cles.com/ p/articles/ mi_m1218/ is_n23_v107/ ai_n12428575


For sale by owner: junk real estate
US News & World Report, Dec 11, 1989 by Monroe W. Karmin

For the grab bag of less luxurious listings that constitute the bulk of the RTC portfolio - foreclosed homes, motels, shopping malls, office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and vacant land - the market seems even more forbidding. Still, plucky sales agents are rising to the challenge. "The roof dips a tudge on one side, the porch has a hole in it and there are termites," admits Kat Woolford, who is hawking a $7,500, two-bedroom shack on a third of an acre in Tomball, Tex., north of Houston. "But it's a cute hideaway."


Arizona real estate for sale: For sale by owner: junk real estate

For sale by owner: Junk real estate

Just as Americans have grown used to the idea of junk bonds, a new financial bugaboo looms on the horizon: Junk real estate. Set in desirable communities, many of the properties now being jettisoned by insolvent savings and loan institutions seem to be paradise. But like the 9-acre swath of Long Island beachfront off the Texas Gulf Coast, spectacular vistas rarely live up to a developer's dreams. Over half of the $400,000 Laguna Madre parcel lies underwater. There is no sewer hookup and no sea wall, and there are high fees to maintain a private bridge that connects the island with Port Isabel on the mainland. "It could all go underwater in a hurricane," admits a spokesman for La Hacienda Savings Association in San Antonio, which holds the property.

Peddling Texas swampland is just one of the dirty jobs facing the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the U.S. agency that opened shop in early August to administer the coup de grace to sick thrifts. The mop-up has landed federal regulators in the same muck that mired the S&L industry: Thousands of white-elephant properties, most located in markets as soft as quicksand. The collection includes such exotica as a $900,000 equestrian center (reduced from $1.5 million) north of San Antonio, the $25 million StarPass golf-course community in Tucson, a historic bank building in Houston, a boarded-up lumberyard surrounded by wetlands near Tampa, Fla., 77 condominium units on the tip of Long Island, N.Y., and a 55 percent stake in the opulent $200 million Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. All told, RTC officials estimate they now must dispose of close to $16 billion worth of real estate currently on the books of 268 failed thrifts in 33 states.

Fool's gold. Most of the properties will fetch pennies on the dollar's worth of book value - if they can be unloaded at all. The 6-acre McCune Mansion in Paradise Valley outside of Phoenix is typical of the RTC's daunting task. Built in the 1960s by oil tycoon Walker McCune for his young bride, the 53,000-square- foot house boasts numerous kitchens, a ballroom with an $80,000 chandelier, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and ice-skating rink, a theater, a darkroom, its own beauty salon, a 14-car garage and a guest house. Mrs. McCune refused to move in, and the place saw a succession of owners, most recently Gordon Hall, cofounder of the Nautilus fitness company. RTC inherited the property when it took over the bankrupt Southwest Savings & Loan Association earlier this year. "There's not a great market for 53,000-square- foot houses," says Jack Lake, the RTC agent charged with finding a buyer.

For the grab bag of less luxurious listings that constitute the bulk of the RTC portfolio - foreclosed homes, motels, shopping malls, office and apartment buildings, industrial parks and vacant land - the market seems even more forbidding. Still, plucky sales agents are rising to the challenge. "The roof dips a tudge on one side, the porch has a hole in it and there are termites," admits Kat Woolford, who is hawking a $7,500, two-bedroom shack on a third of an acre in Tomball, Tex., north of Houston. "But it's a cute hideaway."

The heat is on for the RTC to speed up its fire sale. The agency has three years to gather up all the nation's ailing S&L's and seven years to dispose of acquired properties. Ideally, the feds would like to get rid of their sick thrifts as whole entities, bad real-estate investments and all. But most investors are interested only in the best assets, saddling the government with the white elephants. The longer the RTC hangs on to the losers, the higher the taxpayers' tab, already estimated at $166 billion.

But the disposal process is being hindered by the fact that no one knows how much sour real estate the RTC will have to offer. An initial inventory of properties currently under its wing will not be completed until the end of this month. And that is just the beginning. Leonard Sahling, real-estate analyst for Merrill Lynch in New York, figures the government will wind up with at least a $50 billion portfolio when it actually takes over all the thrifts that now are technically insolvent. Others put the total at $100 billion as more S&L's go belly up in the years ahead.

Nor can the RTC simply dump its holdings on the market wholesale. "Everything we have is for sale," says Thomas Horton, the agency's deputy director, "but everything is not for sale at any price." The government is barred by law from selling its assets for less than 95 percent of fair market value in the six depressed states of the Southwest - Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado and Louisiana - where about two thirds of the property is located. Still, "fair market value" is in the eye of the appraiser; Horton admits that properties that cannot be sold at 5 percent discounts will be "re-evaluated" until buyers are found.

The most promising properties in the RTC's bag, mainly apartment and office buildings whose rents cover expenses, are sure to be snapped up by insurance companies, pension funds and other "deep pocket" investors. But such quality properties are in the minority. The largest proportion of the government's holdings consists of vacant land, a tough commodity to peddle in the Southwest and other overbuilt areas.

In taking over Charles Keating's notorious Lincoln Savings & Loan, the RTC acquired some $1 billion worth of property, including plots for 17 planned communities in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Louisiana. One of them is the 20,000-acre Estrella Project in the desert 20 miles southwest of Phoenix. Although Lincoln invested $200 million in preparatory work, only three homesites have been sold. Now the RTC's agent, Mark Randall, is trying to figure out what to do with the property. "Vacant real estate has not fared well in the Arizona economy," he observes sadly.

Other parcels may not draw buyers - no matter how attractive the price. "They'll have to be plowed under to grow soybeans," predicts Michael Aronstein, president of Comstock Partners, a New York investment firm. But while developers may sniff at many of the government's offerings, interest is cropping up in some surprising quarters. Conservationists already are picking through the pile of unwanted real estate for wildlife preserves and other ecologically valuable property. The Florida Keys Land & Sea Trust, for instance, paid $1.35 million for Crane Point Hammock, a 63 1/2-acre estate that was going to be turned into a resort before its developers went broke. Now, it is slated to become a nature center.

PHOTO : Museum piece. The Phoenician Resort in

PHOTO : Picture perfect. Houston's historic Franklin National Bank will appear in "Dark Angel"

PHOTO : Scottsdale, Ariz., comes decorated with millions of dollars' worth of sculpture

PHOTO : Castle keep. The McCune mansion near Phoenix has a 14-car garage, an ice rink and a ballroom with an $80,000 chandelier

COPYRIGHT 1989 All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

SEE Planning In The Wake Of Floridas Land Scams

Planning in the Wake of Florida Land Scams
by Hubert B. Stroud, Professor of Geography, Arkansas State University
P.O. Box 2410, State University, AR 72467
and William M. Spikowski, Spikowski Planning Associates
1617 Hendry Street, Suite 416, Fort Myers, FL 33901

 http://www.spikowski.com/landscam.htm#WHEN%20LAND%20SCAMS%20BECOME%20BOOM%20TOWNS


Paper: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Date: SUN 09/24/1989
Section: C
Page: 1
Edition: 2 STAR
Road woes continue/Neighborho od battles county over upkeep

By PAUL McKAY
Staff
GRANGERLAND - The way Linda Collins sees it, road service in the Pioneer Trails subdivision should be a simple matter of the county accepting responsibility.

Collins and other residents of the subdivision near Grangerland pay taxes to Montgomery County for services that include road maintenance. Therefore, the county owes it to the residents to keep the roads - some of which turn to mush in rain - maintained and passable, Collins says.
"It's as simple as that," she asserts.

But that, say county officials, is an oversimplification.

Pioneer Trails is one of the county's 338 "red flag" subdivisions - unrecorded developments that have substandard roads - still entangled in a complex web.

The web was largely weaved during booming economic times, from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, when the county's population more than doubled. The county in those years had neither the manpower, nor admittedly always the willingness, to ensure that rural subdivisions were recorded and the roads built up to county standards.

And buyers seduced by the area's beautiful country environment weren't inclined to read the fine print on sales contracts to learn for sure if the county or the developer was responsible for long-term road maintenance.

The legacy of the boom is most evident on a Pioneer Trails road named Willowisp, which in one secluded area has deteriorated into more of a grassy trail than a roadway.

It was during the county's boom-and-build frenzy that Collins, 44, and husband, Raymond, bought property on Springfield Road in Pioneer Trails. By 1979, roads in the subdivision had deteriorated to such an extent that Mrs. Collins and residents stormed the county barn of Precinct 4 Commissioner Albert "Bull" Sallas, demanding repairs.

Sallas acquiesced, patching Springfield Road in spite of the fact, he says, that it wasn't really the county's responsibility.

Yet Collins has preserved a newspaper clipping of the encounter at the county barn, where Sallas was quoted as telling the residents, "If you marry a woman with a child, you accept responsibility for the child."

Collins sees the clipping as an admission from Sallas that he's responsible for the roads, wryly noting that "the commissioner hasn't taken very good care of the children."

Sallas says he never promised the residents he'd maintain all of Pioneer Trails, despite Collins' claim to the contrary. In addition, he notes that the offices of the district and county attorneys in recent years have tied his hands in legal knots, precluding him from working on roads that aren't rightfully county property.

"They can send me to the penitentiary if I just go out and fix any old road," he says.

Sallas and Commissioners Court in 1982 accepted a portion of Springfield Road into its maintenance system, leaving it with a fresh, black-topped surface that's been well maintained. That portion was accepted largely because it was already in "reasonable compliance" with county standards, Assistant County Attorney Marc Winberry says.

The portion that fronts the Collins property was not in such good shape and consequently was not accepted, the attorney says.

After years of steady deterioration, despite the frequent patchwork done by Sallas, the stretch of road fronting the Collins house became so shoddy - and so hard on a mail carrier's Jeep - that the postal service last month threatened to cut off delivery to Collins and 50 other residents whose mailboxes line the street.

Outraged by the potential loss of mail service, Collins protested to county officials, who recommended that she petition for the road to be accepted by prescription - a sort of squatter's rights process that allows a private road to become public after 10 years of continuous public use.

Commissioners Court approved the petition earlier this month and Sallas has since blacktopped the remainder of Springfield Road.

But Collins, though appreciative of the smooth new pavement in front of her house, is unappeased. The county, she says, still owes it to residents of the subdivision' s back areas - where Willowisp and two other roads are in worse shape than Springfield ever was - to upgrade those streets and keep them maintained, too.

Sallas and the other county officials say they'll do whatever is economically feasible to upgrade the roads to some degree of higher standards, even though it could be an expensive undertaking.
"The remaining roads have no base and no ditches and would require a considerable amount of work," County Engineer Don Blanton recently told commissioners.
County officials say the residents may have to consider an agreement whereby the residents would pitch in money or materials and the county would provide the equipment and labor for the road improvements. Such agreements are frequently negotiated with residents of red flag subdivisions, Winberry says.

But Collins isn't amenable such a proposal.

"That would be double taxation," she says. "It's the principle of the thing. These people pay road taxes just like everybody else and are not getting anything for it. They deserve roads that are just as decent as the ones that taxpayers in the rest of the subdivision get."

Blanton, however, notes that county taxes go to other services besides road maintenance.
"Taxes go for law enforcement, to the health department and a lot of things. Road maintenance is one thing, but that's actually a fairly small percentage of total taxes," he says. "If you choose to live inside a city in Montgomery County, you don't get the road maintenance for your county tax dollars.
"I'm not trying to minimize the fact that those people (in Pioneer Trails) have a road problem. They have a problem we can relate to because we see it every day. The problem goes a lot further than just this single subdivision. "

Sallas says the Pioneer Trails developer, Kap, Inc., of Houston, should be held liable for improving the roads if at all possible, he says.

Winberry says the developer already has denied liability for the subdivision, but that the county hasn't ruled out the possibility of suing the company.

The county attorney's office in recent years has aggressively pursued developers of red flag subdivisions through litigation, forcing many to bring substandard streets up to snuff. The office last year alone recovered $100,000 from developers in agreements reached outside of litigation, Winberry says.

Until an agreement can be hashed out in the Pioneer Trails case, some of the residents there will have to live with the bumps and muddy messes that leave their vehicles in disrepair.

"Pioneer Trails is probably one of the worst examples of an unrecorded subdivision, " Winberry says. "But it's by no means unique."