Tenth Circuit Strips Qualified Immunity After Sheriff’s Office Raids Home Of Tea Growers

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

There are some cases where probable cause is questioned and there are a few others that leave me shaking my head in disbelief of how ridiculous some officers can be.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down a stinging rebuke of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies some of whom, Plaintiffs claim, lied about a field test of a suspected Marijuana product, finding evidence of marijuana grow derived from purchasing tools at a gardening retailer somehow established probable cause sufficient to send in a SWAT team to execute a search warrant and detain a couple for several hours.

The leafy green vegetable matter in question was not marijuana but tea leaves.

It is a classic example of department officials promising to make a publicity garnering drug sweep and when arrests are not made, someone must be sent to jail at all costs. And as can often be the case with such maligned efforts the end result was a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

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Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider.

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Agricultural Scientist Responds To Oregon County’s Mandate To Apply Herbicides To Organic Farm

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates.

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Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses.

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Indiana Jones Was Banned From Washington Territory

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Indiana Jones must have caused a great uproar against the peace and decency of the Pacific Northwest.

On February 27, 1854 the first Legislative Assembly in the newly organized Washington Territory ratified the Statutes of the Territory of Washington. While the criminal code is rather ordinary for the mid-nineteenth century, one has to wonder what kind of menace was to be found in the territorial capital of Olympia. It seems the likes of Indiana Jones was one of those menaces.

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Ninth Circuit Rules H1B Visa Program Violates 13Th Amendment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In a surprise reversal of a District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in what is likely to be a landmark decision ruled that the H1B Visa Program, a temporary worker policy of the United States Government, enacted to allow relaxed work permits of needed high-tech foreign workers, violated the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The act disparaged workers by forcing tech-workers to labor exceedingly long hours for below-market wages under legal coercion. The Court further held that employers held undue influence and subjected foreign workers to be bound to a particular employer or else face cancellation of their Visa after termination.

The software industry likely will be one of the largest segments to undergo sudden changes to their hiring practices. Yet, the decision likely will be a boon for the Trump Administration in that the hiring of lower-cost foreign workers will reduce and recent citizen graduates of technical colleges and universities could have greater job opportunities.

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City Pays $62,000.00 For A New Logo Then Tosses It Out The Window

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Rejected city logo

Adding another example to the list of government debacles, the City of Federal Way, Washington spent over a year and sixty-two thousand dollars for a new logo design that the city council promptly sent to the bit bucket.

The mayor in an interview says he still believes the money was well spent.

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