Too honest for the establishment media, the story that inspired Graff’s cartoon won’t fit into a single issue of The First Freedom. But it’s time to start telling it, anyway. So here’s
|Part 1: Government by Mandate|
By Olaf Childress
The leading stockholders of those two international giants of garbage collection, Waste Management (WM) and Browning Ferris Industries (BFI), after having refined their invasive methods elsewhere, set about to capture lucrative contracts for rural solid waste pickup across the state of Alabama. “Campaign contributions” had by the early nineties brought into being Washington’s and Montgomery’s vague “guidelines” requiring each county to produce some kind of “acceptable” area-wide waste disposal program, so it was time to move in and start picking up that filth called lucre. Outdated traditional practices – individual farms and rural residences recycling or, if not using private hauling services, bringing their own rubbish to the landfill as needed – would no longer do.
So Baldwin County responded in typical New World Order fashion. And, while no county commission had been specifically ordered to ram such garbage down the people’s throats, it was made clear that no other solution remained “environmentally safe” (read: politically correct) but ending private hauling, giving one of those major players a monopoly contract and a blank check. Whether corporate plantation, small family farm or rural household, the outlying residence must forever produce a weekly quota of refuse, even if having used the landfill no more than once or twice a year.
Obviously even if the entry-level charges were reasonable, paying for a “service” neither sought nor urgent made clients feel cheated of more than personal freedom. So they began filling Waste Management’s trucks with plastic, tree limbs and rubble previously recycled or kept from self-reliant premises in the first place, this to get their money’s worth. Country residents had until that time not been creating so much useless clutter as did city folk.
Tax-and-spenders soon started howling again; though without admitting, even to themselves, that precisely their squeaky-clean scruples had created the new problem. It seems they now required enormously-expensive, plastic-lined catch basins which (supposedly) were going to hold and purify the runoff from all those newly-generated mountains of plastic trash. Yes. Forever.
When Baldwin County’s leaders early-on capitulated to this media blitz favoring an antiseptically-sterile environment at the expense of self-government, a monopoly contract with Waste Management quickly called for mandatory weekly pickup. Which only led ADEM, EPA, DOH and other lettered satrapies of that same old Eastern Establishment to tighten the screws further. Within a year, WM was demanding that its agreed-upon five-year cap of $8.40 per month for each customer be lifted – and county officials were ready to accede!
But rural citizens, reluctantly having been bullied into compliance in the first place, now began to howl; so the seven commissioners backed off. To avoid the appearance of increasing this new tax that soon, they offered instead to cut Waste Management’s tipping fees per ton at the public dump. Nor did this fool anybody: Magnolia Landfill’s operating losses would simply be shifted to the taxpayers elsewhere. Having bargained for 26,000 paying rural households – and hundreds holding out – WM began losing its patience with these inept flunkies. It was a case of make this profitable or we’re out of here; altruism isn’t our business.
Replacement political candidates began making noises. They would discontinue the mandate, call for a referendum, and find out if weekly pickup under such circumstances was what rural residents wanted. A large, ad hoc concerned citizens group, hastily organized and drawing little sympathy or notice from the media, soon succeeded anyway in getting four of those original “Magnificent Seven” Baldwin County Commissioners who had come up with this scheme replaced in the next election, and the county administrator having engineered it fired. The above cartoon was submitted about this time to area newspapers but, Graff’s humor failing to match Crawford’s bland talent for appeasing Wall Street, it didn’t get printed.
With Baldwin County’s publicly-owned landfill now closed to all except those who were complying with Waste Management’s terms – or signing papers under duress to produce privately-hauled garbage weekly – anyone declining to be thus “serviced” had no convenient place for discarding a lesser amount of debris.
It was time for mop-up action. To pacify WM’s directors, District Attorney David Whetstone soon began threatening to bring lawsuits against private households, and “garbage police” were sent searching the woods to photograph a few ancient illegal dumping sites, for such theatrics somehow garnered big news. But the fact remained that very few “refuseniks” during all of this propaganda blitz were dumping anywhere unless at Pensacola’s Perdido Landfill; otherwise they simply sat on their trash.
To plead the absurdity of every rural household being ordered to come up with garbage weekly as if training babies to use the pot, private citizen Olaf Childress and a dozen others (feeling it was time someone exercised the First Amendment) formed a “trash caravan” – and, without groveling before the Department of Health or signing any unfavorable papers, on Aug. 4, 1994 deplored this seizure of rights formerly enjoyed by hauling rubbish as usual into Magnolia Landfill.
John Fender followed Childress onto the weigh-in scale that morning and both men then drove their junk to the dumping area, disburdening the two pickups alongside Waste Management’s purple trucks – the remaining demonstrators waiting outside as agreed. Returning to the scale empty and offering payment as in the past, their money wasn’t accepted. Having been notified in advance that this protest demonstration was coming, Whetstone had dispatched two deputies with instructions to issue arrest warrants. No move was made to stop the nonconformists from unloading, but they were summoned to court.
On August 29, 1994, the courtroom was jamb-packed; standing room only. By then a seething rage had gripped area residents accustomed to losing their freedom only piecemeal, for lately it was under attack by bald-faced decree. Steve Johnson, chairman of Concerned Citizens for Freedom in Baldwin County, put it bluntly: “This isn’t about garbage collection. The issue here is freedom.”
Childress stated that the trash caravan was an orderly attempt to discover whether closing the public dump to the public was constitutional, nothing more, and explained he had peacefully given landfill manager Frostie White a petition for the county commission to reflect on. (No answer from that quarter was to come; the judge, the district attorney, the media and various elected officials and appointed lawyers, seemingly determined to defend the regime against its citizens, stonewalling the issue entirely.)
When Johnson offered, as amicus curiae, to produce the particulars of a similar waste pickup mandate he said had been ruled unconstitutional elsewhere in Alabama, Judge Robert Wilters seized this exit from a tight situation and called for postponement until he could study that case. Court was adjourned pending his ruling within ten days on whether Baldwin County’s rural garbage prescription was lawful. District Attorney Whetstone, realizing now he had brought specious charges against these two defendants: “Failure to Participate In and Subscribe to Mandatory Collection,” seeing his case deteriorating, was obliged to think fast; but the media would cover his gaffes as usual. For, although Steve Johnson had got the word out and with over one hundred of his concerned citizens showing up at that hearing, the big daily’s next-day story then suggested, by omission, that no one had come to the aid of Childress and Fender.
Outright media lies further described both men as having been severely chastised by the district attorney. Such was not the case. Clearly, this part of Alabama was in dire need of an honest newspaper.
Summoned back to court October 7, 1994, Childress learned from Judge Wilters that Whetstone had dropped the case, nolle prossed his own charges. Stunned, the unsuccessful protester asked, “What about the constitutionality ruling?”
“I can’t decide that anymore,” replied the magistrate. “This process is closed. But a similar challenge of Waste Management’s contract is being prepared by attorney James Curenton on behalf of Connor Owens, his client and likewise an attorney-at-law.”
Doubting such an ersatz case would be anything more than eyewash, suspecting its real purpose was to deflate any further resistance by losing, Childress wrote to area newspapers telling why Whetstone’s nolle prosequi excuses (defendant “incorrectly charged” and “without counsel”) didn’t justify sidestepping his own arguments for mandatory rural garbage quotas. The public prosecutor, he pointed out, had no choice but to go after de facto criminals, otherwise himself being guilty of nonfeasance. The question, then: if Failure to Participate In and Subscribe to Mandatory Collection wasn’t a crime – and there were no other charges – why not let people continue using the public dump? That letter was nowhere printed.
Part 2: Depositions and Further Detractions
With Baldwin County’s district attorney having become silent, the media would tame those petitioners.
By Olaf Childress
On Dec. 12, 1994, the Connor Owens (plaintiff) vs. (The Establishment) lawsuit proceeded before Judge James Reid in Bay Minette with again a large gathering. Billed under Waste Management’s rural garbage collection monopoly for both his beach cottage and primary residence, and clearly unable to be trashing the county in two places at once, the case looked winnable.
Yet, after all the arguments and counterclaims by Owens’ attorney James Curenton, the lawyer-plaintiff himself and a battery of other lawyers representing the county and Waste Management, nothing was settled. Judge Reid dismissed the crowd; he would take it from there “in chambers.”
But those in attendance felt their purpose of reversing this unpopular decree was moving toward fulfillment. With the county auditor admitting under oath his presence at a county commission garbage collection planning session on Dec. 10, 1993, which violated Alabama’s Sunshine Law, also the legal requirement for bids to be announced and publicly opened having been ignored, and only two companies being considered for that lucrative monopoly with the higher bid then selected, how could they lose? It had been shown, unmistakably, the public was circumvented almost completely.
Steve Johnson wasn’t so sure. “For a judge presiding in the same building, taking regular lunch and coffee breaks in the same courthouse cafeteria as the defendants,” he observed, “it will be a tough job for him to rule against them. But criminal violation of the Sunshine Law, which wasn’t contested, and the Walker County ruling against BFI, these can’t just be ignored, can they?” Apparently yes. After several months of closed-door hearings and many depositions, Lawyer Curenton admitted to Childress what the latter hadn’t seen published anywhere: the Connor Owens case was lost.
With Waste Management’s anticipated earnings failing to materialize and its image growing tarnished, the firm began moving to end its contract come March 31, 1996.
Meanwhile, rural area citizens, having been noticed, were invited to meet Dec. 5, 1995 with the seven county commissioners to instruct these sages on purchasing a fleet of garbage trucks that would be manned by jail inmates assuming Waste Management’s job. Yes, again, the essentials had been decided before requesting public input.
And though using slave labor (private haulers had not thought of that!) the program wasn’t expected to break even nor provide the good relations that had existed between individual truckers and their customers up until 1994. It was government. And central planning was simply looking to distribute the blame for its generated mountains of trash: that being what this parley was about.
For instance, builders lately required to install expensive, 40-ton dumpsters at construction sites were producing ten times as much debris. Subs paid by the number of drywall sheets had started ordering extras. Mandated spotless daily cleanups saw good lumber tossed wherever unsupervised labor found it convenient: in that dumpster.
No lawyers spoke at the assembly. But, given media cover, The Seven prevailed.
“About 50 county residents came not to improve mandatory garbage collection but to bury it at a forum Tuesday night in Summerdale,” reported The Mobile Register on Dec. 7, 1995. “Olaf Childress, the first speaker, refused to surrender the floor, going several minutes past his allotted time with a written speech geared mainly toward inciting the emotions of the audience.
“ ‘Yeah, we’ve got some suggestions,’ Childress said to the commission, ‘but y’all don’t want to hear them.’ ”
More on Mobile Register pundit Joey Bunch’s wiles later. But, for now, note his stating that “The county commission intends to take over the service when Waste Management quits after March 31. The company begged out of its exclusive five-year contract with the county because only 18,000 of 21,000 households billed for the service were paying . . .”
Bunch was cognizant that 3,000 families, one out of seven, weren’t complying. Keep that in mind, whether or not Childress spoke with erudition.
In the 1996 election, Concerned Citizens for Freedom in Baldwin County saw four of those county commissioners replaced. But the one officer remembering his campaign promises was immediately under attack.
The Mobile Register, Oct. 4, 1997, Joey Bunch reporting: “Baldwin County Commissioner Hilo Middleton of Loxley won’t pay his mandatory garbage bill or sign his name to a waiver he’s probably entitled to.
“District Attorney David Whetstone said he is at his wits’ end trying to convince Middleton that he’s breaking the law. The chief prosecutor said this week that he will charge Middleton with a crime – a misdemeanor for failing to comply with the county solid-waste ordinance – if he doesn’t sign up for the program or for a waiver within the next couple of weeks. . .
“A conviction . . . could mean up to six months in jail . . . and a fine of up to $100 a day for each day Middleton holds out after his sentence.”
The Mobile Register, Nov. 5, 1997, Joey Bunch reporting on the previous day’s Baldwin County Commission meeting: “Childress also asked the commission to ask the Mobile Register to ‘not discuss Baldwin County’s business in the Sound Off column,’ referring to the public’s calls printed in the daily column that have been critical of Commissioner Hilo Middleton of Loxley, who has refused to comply with the garbage order.
“. . . Childress said he and others also are not complying, and he publicly challenged Whetstone to arrest him.
“Whetstone, contacted after Tuesday’s meeting, said that Childress’ name had never been turned in by the county garbage program for investigation or prosecution. Of 60 names that were turned over to the district attorney’s office in March, only Middleton has not signed up to seek an exemption or paid his past-due garbage bill of about $156, Whetstone has said.
“If convicted, Middleton could be fined up to $200 a day for each day he continues to hold out.”
The above account is partly true. On that date, while handing the commission 1,709 signatures from District 3 alone (Silverhill and Loxley), Childress explained that this 1994 petition demanding “the right to vote on our garbage pickup and have local firms bid on the service before it is awarded” should finally be heard. No comments from the seven. Nearly two thousand signatures again weren’t sufficient for media notice.
Here’s what Childress actually said: “Please reconsider, ask Mr. Whetstone to drop his lawsuit against new Commissioner Hilo Middleton for keeping a promise made to his constituents by challenging mandatory rural garbage pickup. Convict him and you’ll condemn the majority of those rural voters. Where is self-government headed?
“You are aware that John Fender and I were nolle prossed, proving that Failure to Participate In and Subscribe to Mandatory Collection isn’t a crime. Joey Bunch, sitting right there, knows he’s a liar: that Hilo Middleton isn’t the last holdout. There are hundreds of us. I’ve said to the previous administration, this one too, and I’ll tell you again. I will not comply.
“Most of us only heard about the garbage mandate when Waste Management tossed those purple plastic boxes with vinyl-wrapped instructions in our driveways.
“It has been established that secret talks took place between Waste Management and the previous administration prior to public meetings ‘to receive citizen input,’ which violations of the Alabama Sunshine Law weren’t prosecuted by Mr. Whetstone.”
Commissioner Dean Hansen of Gulf Shores at this point interrupted, saying the district attorney and his media supporter had received a delinquency list containing but a single name from “the environmental manager.” Which nondescript title meant nothing to Childress, nor explained how his name escaped being on that “list” of one.
Childress answered: “The petition I bring you shows Mr. Middleton’s huge backing, and the liberal paper’s brazenness in using anonymous smears as if representing a true consensus. Joey Bunch’s freedom of speech shouldn’t be impaired, of course; nor yours, in telling that reporter how unappreciated his attempts at dictating Baldwin County’s agenda through his ‘Sound Off’ column.”
Acting County Attorney David Simon’s retort, “We don’t live in a county where the Baldwin County Commission can tell the press what to write,” was approvingly reported next morning.
A brief exchange-of-chairmanship ritual, Sam Jenkins surrendering the gavel to Frank Burt, and the meeting was over.
This seven-member commission, gerrymandered into being under a judge’s decree long overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court [The First Freedom, September 1999] but no litigation to date bringing back their four-member county government, it seemed that efforts by Childress, Middleton and other rural area citizens were stymied. The media would not brag about having rigged both the election and chairmanship of Baldwin County’s first black commissioner.
After the meeting ended, Commissioner Frank Burt of Bay Minette asked Childress why he didn’t “just seek an exemption.”
“You weren’t listening,” said the latter. “I cannot – and will not – produce a weekly quota as required by the garbage police. I’ve hauled leftover plastic, tin and glass to Escambia County every six months, which is costly and bothersome, though a few protesters say they’ve been waved on in at Magnolia Landfill lately without charge rather than having it get out how many are in noncompliance.”
“Can’t you do that?” replied Burt. “If they’re letting others in who aren’t signed up, won’t they let you in?”
“Again, you’re missing the point,” said Childress. “That’s a public dump. This citizen not only can’t meet their quota, but won’t be browbeaten into paying weekly tipping fees for bringing a pickup load to the facility twice a year. Why should I add legitimacy to some bureaucrat’s pursuit of power? Let me hold my head up whether hauling trash or attending councils at which you wield the gavel but aren’t in charge.”
That afternoon, Childress stopped on the scale at Magnolia Landfill and asked that his refuse be weighed in.
Anybody for less government? You can land in jail for exposing media lies – simply by petitioning your imperial rulers for a redress of grievances.
Part 3: “Trespassing and Obstructing Traffic”
By Olaf Childress
The afternoon of Nov. 4, 1997, stopping on the scales at Magnolia Landfill for his rubbish to be weighed in, Olaf Childress of Silverhill was refused entrance by a Ms. Peggy, who refused to give her last name. As he had no permit certifying agreement to produce household garbage weekly, “You can’t get in without it,” she said. Childress repeated Baldwin County Commissioner Frank Burt’s suggestion earlier that day that he might unload less often, since utilizing his compost at home rendered such quota impossible. Landfill Manager Charles Gruber made some phone calls, returned and again denied entry.
Driving off the scale and away from that dump, with the possibility of rain increasing his load weight before reaching an out-of-county facility next day, around the corner and north on Highway 49 it dawned on him: With a three-year unannounced grace period ending, those investing in all this environmentalism were foreclosing.
Rural area households had been told to produce garbage once a week, whether picked up by government or privately hauled – if okayed to do so by the Health Department. Commissioner Hilo Middleton of Loxley, in keeping with the campaign promise by which he had been elected, was not saluting that mandate. And now District Attorney David Whetstone’s case against him would remove from general awareness the fact that Steve Johnson, Childress, John Fender, and some 3,000 others also weren’t acceding. For, exactly one month earlier, Mobile Register writer Joey Bunch had reported Middleton “the only one who still hasn’t come into compliance.”
Feeling such a lie proved media bias that was completely out of touch with self-government, Childress wheeled about, came back to the scale, and, having already offered to be checked in, waved to Ms. Peggy in passing. Unloading beside several county and municipal trucks, he declined a white-clad prison trustee’s help: one of a growing army of slaves which had been keeping this multimillion-dollar fleet of newly-purchased trucks rolling since Waste Management’s cop-out.
Returning to the scale and hearing that police were on the way was no surprise. Childress hadn’t even thought of fleeing, but four patrol wagons ganged up on him in full dudgeon, anyway. Deputy Mike Wahl, asked in court to explain, couldn’t make clear why he had signed one affidavit and a different officer another. Why two warrants?
And without informing Childress of the fact, Wahl induced Dick Turner of Fairhope to take possession of the offending vehicle. Discovering its location more than a month later and paying $200 ransom, the owner would eventually recover his pickup and tool chest; but, meanwhile, he was deprived by that inconvenience of his livelihood.
A nonviolent civil disobedient, perfectly sober, not unlike many another demonstrator claiming First Amendment sanctions in the past, Childress was handcuffed and bullied about by arresting officer Carl Griffith. Asked why he was being shoved along instead of allowed to walk normally, the deputy replied, “You’re in my power.”
After lengthy interrogation at the Police Station in Robertsdale, Griffith transferred custody to Deputy Tim Flowers. Childress was shackled hand and foot to a second prisoner from that lockup, the captive pair then stuffed into a paddy wagon filled with dopeheads underway from Gulf Shores to county jail – who were not thus restrained.
Though Flowers had promised it, in Bay Minette the political prisoner still couldn’t post bond, his demands to communicate with whomever was in charge falling on deaf ears. After several hours detention in a small holding cell and seeing everyone brought up by that paddy wagon processed in except himself, Childress at length called his wife from the cell’s phone and shocked her with what happens when one hauls trash to the county dump without first agreeing to pay “service” charges for 52 weekly loads.
Mrs. Childress started out with their checkbook and deeds in hopes these would suffice. As she was underway to Bay Minette, the lone prisoner at last became noticed, fingerprinted, photographed and questioned for an hour.
His wife arriving now at night when no bank would be open learned from Deputy Sergeant Thicklin the price for her errant husband’s freedom: six thousand dollars – cash. And, if Childress expected next morning to be out, she must make another fifty-mile round trip to fetch their property tax receipts.
Obviously, hauling trash to the dump wasn’t lawfully punishable, so this prisoner had to be penalized first. They would cook up charges later. He got “deloused,” issued orange PJs and thrown into cell block C, where perhaps seventy prisoners sat watching TV and playing cards. Between the big hall and that common area, a sort of humiliation cell greeted the hostage – a glass cage in which he was detained at length, until one Sergeant Lee pressed a buzzer allowing him in among the staring inmates, mattress and linen bag slung over his shoulder.
Since it wasn’t lockup time, Childress climbed some iron stairs and deposited the thin sleeping pad he had been issued onto a narrow catwalk fronting a dozen upper cells, and, stretching out there, pulled a towel over his face to dampen the blinding light and loud noise.
Kicked on the bottom of his orange shower slippers five minutes later and opening his eyes, the prisoner found three deputies standing over him. Directed to follow them out, he was then redeposited in the identical check-in cell as before.
Such jailhouse antics, plus four deputy vehicles converging on Magnolia Landfill as if capturing some gangster, the leg irons and imprisonment without bond hinting at his coming guilty verdict whatever the charges, it began to look as if few in this growing police state were aware of the U.S. Constitution. Would this protester shut up?
Next morning’s shift, at least realizing he was no punk criminal, otherwise remaining in the dark as to why their hospitality had been needed, backed off the $6,000 bond requirement and got polite. Still, none of them knew who had signed a warrant, what the charges, or where his pickup might be found. Nobody was interested in deeds, bank balances or tax receipts.
Told the courthouse might have those details when released at midmorning some twenty-four hours after his contretemps with the county commission, he called Mrs. Childress to come get him, then walked across the street where Circuit Clerk Judy Peak said the papers were being processed and would be mailed later. She knew nothing of his truck or otherwise.
Calling twice during the next two weeks, Childress heard that his arrest warrants had been sent to a wrong address. Finally, on Nov. 22, 1997, eighteen days after having been jailed, the charges arrived.
Landfill Manager Charles Gruber, it turned out, was the plaintiff appointed to get Whetstone off the hook for having dropped his August, 1994 “trash caravan” lawsuit. The DA’s earlier nolle prosequi motion had been understandable, of course. Citing “Failure to Participate In and Subscribe to Mandatory Collection,” he had invented a patently unenforceable charge.
The Mobile Register of Nov. 5, 1997: “Arrested at the landfill, Childress . . . is charged with second-degree criminal trespassing and interfering with government operations . . .
“Whetstone said he plans to prosecute Childress on both counts.”
But not before that long-planned show-trial of the other “final holdout.” A lone county commissioner fighting mandated rural weekly garbage pickup was to appear before Judge Robert Wilters in district court. Naturally, his sympathizers attended.
The Mobile Register, Nov. 24, 1997, Joey Bunch reporting: “A Baldwin County commissioner was convicted of a misdemeanor Monday and one of his supporters was [again] jailed for contempt in an impassioned courtroom challenge of forced garbage collection. . . Middleton has appealed for a jury trial . . .
“Before Monday’s trial began, one of Middleton’s supporters, Olaf Childress of Silverhill, was carted to jail – charged by Wilters with contempt of court for handing out political material in the courtroom.”
Joey Bunch wasn’t interested in the fact that Childress had cited the First Amendment at his “trash caravan” hearing three years earlier before this same judge, and was simply repeating the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Middleton’s friends were baffled. This was a multi-purpose public hall. Court hadn’t even been convened, Wilters was not in his robes, and Childress had disturbed nobody while passing out leaflets asking for support of an initiative-and-referendum bill then pending in Montgomery. Petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances was why they had calmly gathered here.
Once Wilters declared court in session, Middleton’s backers got lectured. But the judge gave no reason for having let Olaf Childress and John Fender, plus hundreds of families in noncompliance, off scot-free at the 1994 hearing while Commissioner Hilo Middleton was presently sentenced to $50 per day so long as remaining outside “the rules” (Bunch and Whetstone had at first suggested $100, then $200).
Defense Attorney James Curenton, who had already lost the Connor Owens lawsuit challenging this mandate, now appealed on Middleton’s behalf for a jury trial.
Two weeks later, identical courtroom same magistrate, Olaf Childress defending pro se. Criminal trespassing 2nd: Guilty. 60 days suspended, 12 months probation and $50 “crime victims,” plus costs. A second charge, Obstructing government operations: Guilty. 60 days suspended, 12 months probation, $100 fine and $50 “crime victims,” plus costs. Like Middleton, this defendant remained decisive and called for a jury trial.
But now Joey Bunch and the big daily could pretend such cases no longer existed. Childress inquired, and repeatedly, when the jury trials were to take place. Curenton stopped returning calls. Circuit Clerk Peak told him at length that “A brief should be submitted to Judge Charles Partin” (who was to conduct both hearings) “asking for a speedy trial.”
His open letter to Judge Partin, published in The Robertsdale Independent May 14, 1998, pleaded in part: “. . . Jan. 16, you explained the dockets were crowded. OK, but my day in court was to have been not later than April. Now your secretary says this session is booked solid, with the next jury convening in August. To be heard in October (!) I’d best submit a letter to the circuit clerk requesting ‘a speedy trial’. . .”
More than a year after being jailed initially for hauling trash to the dump, later for pamphleteering, this protester gets his day in court.
Government by Mandate
Part 4: United States Constitution Not Spoken Here
By Olaf ChildressNotified July 22, 1998 to appear for trial Aug. 21, defendant Olaf Childress at once subpoenaed District Attorney David Whetstone and Judge Robert Wilters among others.
As Whetstone couldn’t justify another nolle prosequi, he filed instead at the last minute a Motion to Quash Subpoena, which Judge Charles Partin approved directly. Childress replied immediately with his own brief, Objections to Order Quashing Subpoena.
This sorely-tried defendant then came to court on the assigned date with his witnesses, Judge Wilters dropping by to say he had no intention of not testifying "unless needed in another courtroom" (which he eventually was, naturally, probably knowing Judge Partin’s secretary would shortly announce another postponement "until October").
The entire defense was upset. Bill Patton: "This unnecessary trip from Lillian is costing me a day’s work and a hundred dollars. They had our names and phone numbers, why didn’t they notify at least one of us?" Within the hour, Childress filed another "request for a speedy trial" (again to be denied by Judge Partin). Baldwin County Commissioner Hilo Middleton’s hearing, scheduled two days later also for refusing to be garbaged by this growing police state, would likewise be put off indefinitely by the same judge and without concern for his supporters driving up to Bay Minette.
Summoned Sept. 24, 1998, Childress heard from Judge Partin that his Objections to Order Quashing Subpoena were denied, so Whetstone escaped coming before a jury. The trial date was now set for Oct. 5, 1998.
On that morning the panel from which Childress might strike an equal number of jurors with the prosecutor contained government employees, Baldwin County School Board members, Judge Wilters’ secretary – and a few laymen. Pro se, again without a lawyer, Childress removed the school board president only to see her put back in when another juror was dismissed.
Having wished the jury to hear constitutional arguments disallowed by Wilters (the reason for his appeal) Childress was told the same by Partin: Baldwin County’s rural garbage decree has been ruled okay; you will answer only the specific charges.
The First Freedom, however, now calls the United States Constitution to witness:
· Free speech has been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court to include demonstrations that don’t intimidate customers or result in violence (such as hauling trash to the dump).
· Those excluded from the county landfill because unable to fill its weekly quota of garbage are denied equal protection of law.
· If county officers meet secretly and give a monopoly contract to the high bidder with no inquiry; if public forest is made into a hunting club for landfill personnel without charges filed; that, too, is unequal sanction.
· The DA having dropped his "Failure To Participate" suit can’t just raise other names for this "crime" of entering the dump.
· Both judges erred when ruling mandatory weekly garbage exempt from all challenge.
Oct. 8, 1998, The Independent: "‘We have resolved my guilt on two charges fair and square,’ Childress said. ‘We have not resolved how I will generate garbage once a week.’ . . .
"Deputy Carl Griffith testified . . . Childress was holding a pen in his fist in a threatening manner.
"‘I told him to put his pen in his pocket,’ Griffith said. ‘I took a defensive posture. He was holding the pen like a weapon.’"
The same newspaper was obliged to print Childress’ rebuttal on Oct. 29, 1998:
"With media and government becoming indistinguishable, it’s no wonder the rural garbage mandate goes untouched. Your report on my trial was slanted a bit left of the facts. . .
"Yes, indeed, I’ve been convicted of hauling trash to the dump: second ‘offense,’ third trial; and still not agreed to produce a quota of the mandated stuff. An embattled defendant’s plea that the state get to the crux of this matter continues unmentioned. But either those garbage police have authority to enforce my purchasing unneeded junk to meet their waste goals or they don’t. And, if yes, then signing a coercive scrap of paper shoved under one’s nose serves no purpose. . .
"Why does the Fourth Estate think itself exclusively entitled to First Amendment rights of peaceful protest where no physical force or customer intimidation took place?
"For the crime of hauling trash to the dump I got handcuffed and put in leg irons; but managed to write down names, et cetera, en route to jail, interrupted at times by a deputy possessed of more hulk than intellect telling me to ‘put that ballpoint away; it might be a weapon.’ His failing to catch my humor: ‘Indeed it is!’ now leaves unclear whose imagination turned that harmless quip into ‘He was pointing it, coming at me like with a gun.’ If the big guy had really feared this powerful tool, he blundered in not relieving me of it.
"Nor is it surprising to find my comment about ‘a fair trial, if on specious charges’ summarized as ‘Childress says he was treated fair and square.’
"Something’s missing here. ‘Trespassing?’ In a public dump? ‘Obstructing government?’ By conducting a peaceful demonstration? Remember, I did offer to be weighed in and back out, to pay the same as those subjecting themselves to a weekly ‘contribution.’ Admittedly I’m no Dr. M.L. King. But, please! Can’t others call injustice by its name? It would be a welcome surprise if the media suddenly remembered their quondam mistrust of big government."
The Islander, Oct. 10, 1998, Graham Heath reporting: "Childress told Partin he would present witnesses who have used the landfill without obtaining a state health department permit or subscribing to a garbage collection system. But he failed to bring forward witnesses to substantiate that claim."
Childress produced three: John Fender, Steve Johnson and Bill Patton. Mr. Heath, don’t look for work at The First Freedom. This newspaper is interested only in facts.
Baldwin County Commissioner Hilo Middleton is a villain, say the "mainstream" media, and District Attorney John David Whetstone a champion of justice. It’s time for some missing facts.
Government by Mandate
Part 5: The Fight Will Continue
By Olaf Childress
Hilo Middleton of Loxley, elected in 1996 on his promise to seek a referendum that would determine whether rural citizens favored the garbage system imposed two years earlier by an illegally-seated county commission, came instantly under attack in the press. The real story – federal Judge Myron Thompson of Montgomery having defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling when gerrymandering this seven-member county administration into existence "for racial balancing," – was conveniently overlooked.
Funny things related by word of mouth at Hilo’s barber shop but nowhere printed were happening to the mediacracy on its way to a New World Order. As propaganda had it, everybody thought the county’s rural garbage collection mandate was fine. But hundreds of petition-signers had demanded "the right to vote on our garbage pick-up service and have local firms bid on the service before it is awarded."
When charging Hilo Middleton as "the last holdout," District Attorney Whetstone knew this. Aware that these many families remained adamantly opposed to that decree while playing along with what the liberals were peddling in order to frighten resisters, he would later seek to drop charges against the barber-politician as documented below. But Hilo was too riled up to let the public prosecutor off his own gaffe.
Hadn’t "the Magnificent Seven" staged public hearings and received popular input on this rural garbage question? The media thought so. However, those attending such shows felt they had been instructed on how to comply with a done deal.
But a referendum of sorts did take place. Judge Thompson having unconstitutionally ordered Baldwin County to "elect" seven instead of its normal four commissioners, only three of that first batch survived the 1996 ballot. Or, two, if you discount his racially-gerrymandered shoo-in.
Newly-elected County Commissioners Faust, Foreman, Middleton and Perdue had found themselves wined and dined at the usual media and establishment inaugural fetes, membership to which often means bargaining away some of the inductee’s integrity in exchange for good press. Anyone who resists these NWO interpreters putting themselves between the elected official and his constituents requires the backbone of a Hilo Middleton. With the others voting against right of referendum and opposing a review of that garbage mandate, the latter stood alone.
So the persecuting media, prosecuting D.A. and six of those commissioners said Hilo was "the last holdout" against their sweeping order. A grand jury disagreed. Whetstone pleaded with the defendant’s attorney, Jim Curenton, for a diversion:
"I am writing you this letter to see if there is some resolution to the matter we have discussed in the matter of Hilo Middleton.
"The Grand Jury of Baldwin County has returned a series of indictments against Landfill supervisors and part of the information which I have, which you are entitled to, can now be released.
"The information contains evidence obtained from the Examiners of Public Accounts and includes computer information which suggests that other persons were allowed to violate the law and were not presented to me for timely prosecution.
"In addition, many of the hunting camps were not being charged for disposal of garbage and there is some evidence that County officials or employees may have been utilizing some of those camps and taking their garbage home similar to Mr. Middleton.
"We also have information from the Examiners that many persons are placed in what is called a research file until they can determine who they may be.
"I have reviewed the research file and the County Personnel Director is in there. Terry Faust, who we believe to be the son of Commissioner Joe Faust, is in the file, as well as many well-known individuals in Baldwin County.
"While I do not ascribe any intentional criminal conduct to the placing of these names in the file, it is obvious from looking at the file that many persons may be in violation of the law, but their cases have not come to me for prosecution.
"There is also other evidence that a large number of persons have never been entered in the County data bank for billing purposes and that at least one exemption was authorized which was contrary to law.
"The Examiners have also found many of the exemptions authorized by the County Commission were not authorized by State statute or regulation.
"I am enclosing a copy of the Grand Jury report, but most of the information concerning the databases can be found in my Robertsdale office. I will be willing to let you peruse the information, including statements of County employees at the Landfill who constructed a hunting facility on County property for their exclusive use.
"I am not sure whether or not any of the information which I am giving you can be utilized in any defense that can be recognized by the law of Alabama. I do not believe that Mr. Middleton fits the category of selective prosecution, but I felt you needed to have the information so that you can make your own determination. [Emphasis added]
"I would also like to see if we can resolve the matter since Mr. Middleton is now in compliance with the law.
"If he wants a trial, we can certainly give it to him and we need to set a time which the trial can be commenced.
"I would be willing to consider some type of diversionary plan by which the charges might be withdrawn and filed under certain conditions: [Emphasis added]
"1. That he comply with the mandatory garbage law.
"2. That he pay court costs in the proceedings below.
"3. That he pay the County any funds which he may owe them.
"I would hope to have a meeting with you to see if we can resolve this matter without going to trial and if we cannot, I would appreciate your filing a continuance if you need it, so we can set this case specially with Judge Partin.
"I realize I have a great deal of information and you may want to review it before you make your decision.
"I remain, Very truly yours,
"John David Whetstone, District Attorney.
Refusing the above offer, Commissioner Middleton – in spite of Jim Curenton’s splendid defense – was convicted by a jury and fined $12,300 by Judge Charles Partin. Curenton is now appealing this aging case outside a county that has profited handsomely with low-cost prison labor and raw power eliminating private competition.
Should justice not prevail and legitimate government return to this county and state, The First Freedom’s questioning may also grow silent; its editor, no less "evil" than Hilo, sitting in jail. Alabamians must resist disinformation.
BALDWIN COUNTY’S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN:
Part 6: The lingering smell of refuse
garbage pickup in 1994, the Baldwin County Commission did not foresee such
divisiveness as that program has brought. And when Waste Management, Inc.,
opted out of its monopoly contract with them because many of the targeted
households hadn’t yielded to their decree, "The Seven" were none the
wiser: Government would succeed where private enterprise could
By Olaf Childress
District Attorney David Whetstone vowed to bring those stubborn refuseniks around. But, after four of Baldwin’s seven commissioners got replaced in the next election and the county administrator who had concocted this whole thing was fired, he hadn’t bullied Bill Ebb and others into signing up for the new tax. In fact, when I led a small group of protesters into our Magnolia Landfill in 1994 to challenge its closure and was arrested, the D.A. dropped his "failure to comply" charges soon after realizing that an inability to produce weekly garbage was no crime. Infrequent hauling of refuse to the dump, nonetheless, remained forbidden to any rural household not filling a weekly quota (cash, not trash).
On August 29, 1994, objecting to their vanishing freedoms, over a hundred angry citizens jammed into the courtroom in our defense. Others outside in the hallways and parking lot impeded Foley Satellite Court’s operations. Judge Robert Wilters heard from those complying under protest or not at all, and I stated that Amendment 14, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens," meant local residents can’t be barred from rights formerly enjoyed such as hauling trash to the public dump during normal hours when they choose. The D.A. was cordial. After promising he would study our arguments against Alabama 22-27 and rule on its constitutionality within ten days, Judge Wilters adjourned the session. But Whetstone copped out, dropped his own charges on the ninth day! The media and court, sympathetic to his predicament, allowed this miscarriage of justice without a single question.
The establishment media then set about grooming their growing police state as best they could, finding more holdouts coming into compliance daily, learning to love Big Brother. Whetstone had chastised myself and John Fender (or so the story went) for unloading trash at the landfill. And, it was hinted, he had commanded us to produce garbage weekly, which we must; because anybody contesting that decree thereafter would be in deep compost. Only the D.A., the magistrate, Fender and myself had been present at the hearing according to this scenario. In other words, all the facts had been juggled beyond recognition.
Seven years later I spoke to the Baldwin County Commission at its regular Sept. 5, 2000 meeting, reminding that body for the umpteenth time that my table scraps still go on a garden compost heap, discard papers into the recycling dumpster at Silverhill First Baptist and a pickup load of rubbish visits Pensacola’s landfill every six months. Unable to produce a weekly quota of garbage without purchasing unneeded junk for the purpose, I suggested that Mr. Whetstone come with new charges if he will, but meantime open up that county landfill to all residents. Such motion was made by Commissioner Hilo Middleton and seconded by Commissioner Samuel Jenkins, but then quickly voted down by Commissioners Burt, Perdue and Hansen.
I called their attention to important facts ignored by the media, such as the previous administration’s disregarding a petition signed in 1994 by 1,709 citizens in District 3 demanding a referendum and for private haulers to remain in business, copy at hand; that the county had held meetings at the beginning of this mandate "to receive public input," but used them for the sole purpose of instructing compliance and in no way actually soliciting opinions; that Commissioner Middleton, responding to the D.A.’s charge in 1997 of his being "the last holdout," had brought into court a list put out by the solid waste department itself containing some 3,100 names remaining in noncompliance, a copy of which I likewise had with me. Reflecting upon current grand jury indictments against this solid waste department’s top brass (they’ve been accused of misusing prison labor to create a private hunting club for themselves and friends on public lands, along with other misdeeds), I wanted a study by Concerned Citizens for Freedom in Baldwin County, other rural organizations, myself and such interested citizens as will help, to actually receive public input and instruct the county how to comply with Alabama 22-27. This vote was as above, 5 – 2 and no deal.
Nor was that autocratic Baldwin County Commission interested in my referring to the disparity between their slapping two landfill supervisors on the wrist with three-day suspensions for serious breaches of public trust while the D.A. throws the book at their unsupervised slaves. Within ten days those four prisoners were to have been released, with pocket money and jobs, perhaps after work catching up on their drinking and bragging. And yet Mr. Whetstone now says it’s life sentences for them, ten years without parole! They had let the cat out of the bag, you see, by doing what should have been expected of low-life characters given the chance to show off among themselves – pilfering telephone credit cards from garbage, running up phone bills at booths provided by those same derelict supervisors; and, just maybe, unhappy that inmates had been obliged to build secret roads and shooting stands for the privileged, which they themselves couldn’t use. My demands that the landfill officers be fired immediately and fully prosecuted for crimes charged by the grand jury fell on deaf ears.
Two reporters in attendance from the Mobile Register didn’t mention, in their next day’s summary of that meeting, my having addressed the county commission at all; and certainly weren’t about to note the three categories of noncompliance I then described: 1.) solid waste personnel and friends receiving garbage pickup but not paying, 2.) those paying under protest but not setting out garbage, and 3.) others neither receiving, asking nor paying for such service.
With many crimes and improprieties laid at their feet, those landfill supervisors have been fined $300 and suspended for three days. But when I simply transported another load of trash to the landfill three years after that first incident, I got handcuffed, put in leg irons, denied bond and thrown in jail. It took me 18 days to find out who my accuser was (Landfill Manager Charles Gruber) and what the charges. They kept my pickup for 35 days. Retrieving it, plus court costs and fines, cost over a thousand dollars. Whetstone’s evasive indictments the second go-round (he had three years to plan for this) were "trespassing," in a public dump with open access, and "interfering with government operations," where I had only unloaded as others were doing, offering my vehicle to be weighed in and back out; but those fake accusations drew felony convictions. So, for hauling trash to the dump, and if this is no travesty of justice I don’t know what is, I’m not supposed to vote nor own a gun.
It wasn’t wise for the county to attempt taking over Waste Management’s contract by using indentured labor. When that firm walked out, Baldwin County should have dumped this mess right back on the state, told our legislative delegates to send better instructions. It’s not too late to reintroduce private haulers and ask for advice from the people, most of whom do want some kind of garbage service available – and then call for a referendum by rural residents on such alternatives as are proposed.
Many of us do not want prison laborers picking up garbage because it’s dangerous having inmates out casing neighborhoods. Nor is it smart to rent out work-release thugs to work on construction jobs or serve in public kitchens. And the biggest trap of all hasn’t even occurred to those NWO stooges: There will always be overseers looking to gain by any renewal of what was supposedly ended with the Civil War. These slaves are detained over a year at times on a simple DUI. Why? Think about that. They’re profitable! They get $8 an hour, presumably; but keepers manage the accounts, charging against escrow such items as transportation, supervisory costs and incidentals (you get my drift?), giving them only cigarettes and writing materials. Oh, they’ll see a few dollars when released, but prisoners were always given some money when their time was up. How do you stop supervisors from sending slaves to build hunting lodges? By keeping both inmates and their officers while on duty out of contact with the public. When convicts build, let it be their facilities and furniture. If they farm or prepare food, then inside the prison bounds. For over regulated private enterprise has it tough enough surviving in an economy where unregulated Chicom masters steal their markets by using $0 per hour slaves, without our own being added.
This present garbage collecting system not only invites graft and corruption, but puts us ever more at the mercy of unelected, unaccountable rule makers. Mr. Edward Petelinski with his family owns one of the larger Baldwin County farms, shares a privately-contracted dumpster with its members. But it took him several months to finally get permission to haul his garbage can three blocks on a public road to reach that container after rural pickup had become "law." Ed’s two sons used the same dumpster before county government decided to elbow into this lucrative market, but now the bureaucrats say because their property isn’t contiguous they can’t come down that same public road and deposit there any more.
The issue isn’t garbage: It’s money!
Mobile Register reporter Joey Bunch and Mr. Whetstone knowingly lied when they said Commissioner Hilo Middleton was "the last holdout." I’ve told them time and again, I will not comply; but let me qualify that slightly, having found out a month ago (she couldn’t keep it a secret any longer): my wife has been intercepting garbage bills at the post office for some time, purchasing money orders to avoid writing checks I might see, and mailing them to whomever. But she’s not the only one sending tribute out of fear while not producing garbage. Others are writing "PAID UNDER PROTEST!" on their checks. However, don’t look for such data in the establishment press. Maybe those complying against their will should tie red ribbons on the garbage can lids to show lawmakers the mess they’ve created down here. But then they might get arrested.
The First Freedom