Our next meeting is this Wednesday, September 18th, 7-9 pm, at the VFW Hall, 32 Park St., North Andover. We will have a full agenda of interesting and informative speakers, so I hope you will be able to join us. Recently elected Representative Leah Cole (https://malegislature.gov/People/Profile/L_C1) from Peabody will tell us about her special election and how she managed to beat two liberal opponents and win by 74 votes. It’s a great story on how a conservative who works hard and smart can win in a city that is supposed to belong to liberal Democrats. We will also hear from representatives of the ballot committees to roll back the automatic part of the tax increase on the recently passed gas tax and the repeal of the computer software tax. Be prepared to take home petition forms to gather signatures. We will also have one of the organizers of AFIR, America First Immigration Reform (www.AFIR.org), tell us what we can do in the coming weeks to help defeat any bad immigration bills coming out of Washington this fall.
Our featured speaker of the evening is Russ Caswell. You probably haven’t heard of him, but he and his wife are owners of the Motel Caswell on Rte. 38 in Tewksbury. The Caswells have owned the motel since the 1950s and all was well until about four years ago when out of the blue the federal government tried to seize it under a radically expansive interpretation of the civil forfeiture act that allows the government to take property where drug crimes occur. It seems that there had been a small number of drug incidents by guests at the Motel Caswell over a period of years and the government was trying to use this as an excuse to seize the property, sell it and split the proceeds with local law enforcement agencies. In every case when there was a drug problem, Russ Caswell had always cooperated with the police to resolve it and try to prevent future problems. The Motel Caswell was the only asset Russ and his wife had and they had hoped to use the property to fund their retirement. With the weight of the federal government bearing down on them and few resources to fight back, the Institute for Justice (http://www.ij.org/) got involved. It took three years of battle in the courts, but last November after a four-day trial, Judge Judith Dein concluded that the Motel Caswell was not subject to forfeiture and that the Caswells were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In January 2013, the forfeiture complaint against the Caswells was officially dismissed and in early spring the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston decided not to appeal the decision. The nightmare was over.
The Caswell Motell attempted seizure by the feds made national headlines and was twice reported in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204450804576623404141904000.html and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323539804578264242356172154.html). Here is how the Institute for Justice describes it: http://www.ij.org/massachusetts-civil-forfeiture, putting much of the blame on the Tewksbury Police Department for seeking revenue from sale of the property. There is truth in that old saying: A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.
2014 looks to be a good year for Tea Party activists, according to this recent article by John Ransom: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/johnransom/2013/09/14/why-2014-shapes-up-to-be-another-tea-party-year-n1700067. Let’s keep up the pressure!
School has just started for many. Chuck Ormsby came across this great article by Dennis Prager from 2010 on a speech that every American high school principal should give to his students and faculty on the opening day of school. You can see it here: http://www.dennisprager.com/columns.aspx?g=07f08515-be95-4197-955e-327f6a0b98f8.
Our own activist Rep. Jim Lyons and recent guest Rep. Shaunna O’Connell continue to stir things up on Beacon Hill. They are part of the plucky “Gang of Five,” as Red Mass Group calls them (or, as the Boston Globe likes to call them, “a tiny band of dissident Republicans”). They are fighting for transparency in government by preserving access for all legislators to bills about to be brought to a vote. This privilege was recently taken away by the speaker and the Gang of Five has held up all legislation in the House until that privilege is restored. You can read about their efforts here: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/opinions/editorials/x511624603/Editorial-A-fight-over-transparency-on-Beacon-Hill and on http://www.redmassgroup.com/.
See you Wednesday … and bring a friend!
Merrimack Valley Tea Party