OPINION: Burges and Livingston: too extreme for Arizona - Your West Valley News: Opinion

OPINION: Burges and Livingston: too extreme for Arizona

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Patricia Shanholtzer

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:45 pm

Two LD22 lawmakers, Judy Burges and David Livingston, need to be held accountable for their egregious support of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

“I stand with the Bundys”, Burges declared at a protest site in Nevada.  “This event was all about power, about showing who had the power,” Livingston stated as he celebrated the “power” supposedly now in Bundy’s hands.  Who exactly is Cliven Bundy that Burges and Livingston would forgo their legislative duties in Phoenix in order to support him in Nevada?

Cliven Bundy is many things:  A lawbreaker.  A deadbeat using public lands at taxpayer expense for his own profit.  A freeloader who refuses to pay the same grazing fees as every other rancher using said lands.  An insurrectionist who surrounds himself with heavily armed oddballs in camos itching to take on the legal representatives of the federal government.  An extremist who doesn’t recognize the federal government.

What Cliven Bundy is NOT is a patriot.  As the Salt Lake Tribune editorialized, “Bundy is a lawbreaker, not a hero”.

But try telling that to Burges and Livingston who side with this malcontent as he thumbs his nose at our government and the Rule of Law upon which this nation rests.  To show his contempt for America, Bundy ordered a flagpole at the ranch to improperly fly the American flag, choosing to place the flags of Clark County and the state of Nevada higher than the Stars and Stripes. Burges and Livingston spent at least one full day at that site, and Livingston even posted the image of disrespect on his Facebook page.

Both Tea Party legislators made statements about an “overreaching,” “out of control” federal government.  Burges went on to claim that “the West is under siege by the feds.”  Really?  

The land in question is federal land.  It has been federal land ever since 1848 when Mexico handed it over as part of the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War.  Not the Mexican-Nevada War (Nevada not yet existing).  Not the Mexican-Mormon ancestors- of-Bundy War (they weren’t there yet).  The Mexican-AMERICAN War.

It was never state land.  It was never Bundy land.  It is federal land, a portion of which has been leased (which implies rent) for private grazing.  About 20,000 ranchers pay a small fee to graze their herds on public land; in return they don’t have to pay taxes on those thousands of acres they use.

Cliven Bundy, however, has refused to pay the grazing fees for over 20 years;  how do Burges and Livingston see any fairness in only Cliven Bundy not being held liable for these grazing fees?

 Cliven Bundy claims squatter’s rights to the land (among many ridiculous claims he has made).  If our LD22 representatives are going to buy into that concept, I think there are some Native American tribes who would like in on the discussion.

Our esteemed lawmakers feel it is “overreaching” for the landowner (the USA) to act upon the illegal actions of the land user, disregarding that due process has been satisfied, and Bundy has lost every court case. What part of illegal do they not understand?

The Bundyites, such as Livingston and Burges, have claimed a victory because the BLM pulled out.  Actually, they will be back because right and the law are on the side of the government.  This pullback occurred at the ranch as the armed mob became increasingly unruly and the self-described “militia” took up sniper positions.  

In especially disturbing comments, David Livingston appeared in awe of the gun & grudge brigade. “The BLM would have been massacred in that valley” he effused.  I guess he forgets that the BLM was there to fulfill a court order.  A legal court order.

Livingston mistakenly stated he “took an oath to protect the people” (of Nevada, I guess).  But again he is wrong.  He and Burges took an oath to support the Constitutions of the United States and Arizona, to “bear true faith and allegiance” to them, and “to defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

The decision of David Livingston and Judy Burges to support this insurrection violates their oath of office and renders them both unfit to have the public trust.  

• Patricia Shanholtzer lives in Sun City West.

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