Rep. Heather Scott – District 1 Educate Yourself!
Crony Capitalism-How Does it Work?
Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or business people spills over into politics and government, or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.
It is also used to describe governmental decisions favoring “cronies” of governmental officials. In this context, the term is often used interchangeably with corporate welfare; to the extent that there is a difference, it may be the extent to which a government action can be said to benefit individuals rather than entire industries. credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism
Conservation Easements and Your Government
In the United States, a conservation easement (also called conservation covenant, conservation restriction or conservation servitude) is a power invested in a qualified private land conservation organization (often called a “land trust“) or government (municipal, county, state or federal) to constrain, as to a specified land area, the exercise of rights otherwise held by a landowner so as to achieve certain conservation purposes. It is an interest in real property established by agreement between a landowner and land trust or unit of government. The conservation easement “runs with the land,” meaning it is applicable to both present and future owners of the land. As with other real property interests, the grant of conservation easement is recorded in the local land records; the grant becomes a part of the chain of title for the property.
The conservation easement’s purposes will vary depending on the character of the particular property, the goals of the land trust or government unit, and the needs of the landowners. For example, an easement’s purposes (often called “conservation objectives”) might include any one or more of the following:
· Maintain and improve water quality;
· Perpetuate and foster the growth of healthy forest;
· Maintain and improve wildlife habitat and migration corridors;
· Protect scenic vistas visible from roads and other public areas; or
· Ensure that lands are managed so that they are always available for sustainable agriculture and forestry. credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_easement
Using Your Tax Dollars for a Personal Agenda
I would like to discuss a single line item that showed up on a state appropriation bill just last week on the House Reading Calendar. The Forest Legacy Project (Clagstone Conservation Easement-line item #19 of House bill 599) would have appropriated $5 million dollars in public funds to a single private company through the Idaho Department of Land’s 2016 Budget. A related appropriation bill for Idaho Department of Fish and Game was set to appropriate another $2 million from taxes to that same business.
The State would be appropriating the money to this single private corporation to obtain a conservation easement for the purposes of limited public access and to preserve the so called “uniqueness” of this property. The corporation will maintain ownership and control of the property, continue to harvest timber, and restrict public access on certain areas of the property, and may sell the property at any time in the future.
As most of you know I fully support the timber industry and private property rights. What I do not support is using public dollars to reward a corporation for something they could do for free (set up a conservation easement on their own, allow public access and harvest timber).
||Bonner County Commissioners were unaware of the easement project. The Commissioners were initially denied a copy of the “confidential” draft easement. After submitting a formal public records request, the county was able to obtain a few of the documents concerning the project through the Idaho Department of Lands. In Section 1 of the easement document it clearly states that the easement was supposed to be done in “cooperation with local governments”. Idaho Department of Lands and the private corporation apologized to the commissioners for this “oversight”. Federal and State bureaucratic agencies and agenda driven environmentalists (https://y2y.net/work/how-protect-connect-inspire/private-lands) have approved this project, but Bonner County Commissioners have not.
Concerns of the Commissioners range from lack of coordination and input into the easement or public access management plan, no time to have their resource committee review the drafts, the loss of potential property taxes and county services, and the fact that there is little time to address this project’s impacts on taxes, neighbors, the disabled, buffer zones, roads, or the county natural resource plan.