Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 2 of ?

The citizens of Dalton Township are afraid to speak out against the corruption in our local government because they are scared of the repercussions. They are afraid that the township officials will target them. They are afraid that if the township can ruin their neighbor's life then they can ruin their life too. And, they're right.

When you are made to be aware of government corruption because it has encroached upon your life and your community it is okay to be afraid of reprisals. In that situation, it is the responsibility of the citizens to make corrections in the government. And it is not that we need to eliminate the fear to act, it is that we must have the necessary courage to overcome those fears.

The tactics employed by the township, led by supervisor Tony Barnes, are bully tactics.

For instance, in the street a bully might trip someone and push them to the ground. Then they'll say sorry and go to help the person up. The victim wasn't looking for a fight. Maybe it really was an accident, so they accept the help. The bully helps them halfway up, and then knocks them to the ground again. This tactic is disorienting, this tactic is effective. Reasonable people are easy to deceive because they expect others to be reasonable. (This tactic also works great because you can say you were just trying to help the person.)

If you want to use this tactic against a farm like Hidden Creek Farm you might do this. You might unexpectedly file a restraining order against them so that they can't have a flower sale. They are desperate and scrambling to find a place to hold the event. They arrange to have it at a store, but it's not ideal. The bully, township supervisor Tony Barnes, then reaches out to them and offers to help. The owners of the farm doubt that the person that just filed a suit trying to shut down their farm would want to help them, but they're desperate because they're being attacked by their township government and someone they thought was a friendly neighbor. Tony Barnes then helps them arrange a place to hold their event. Then, he tells people that he's not even suing the farm, he was just trying to help the safety of the community. At the same time he's pushing the suit forward that calls for the termination of the farm and business. I've heard Tony called Two-Faced Tony for these types of tactics, but they're nothing new. It's just a classic bully that's using the legal and political systems as his weapons of choice. It's a demonstration of power.

This type of corruption is like a vine. The vine starts winding its way up the tree. It's no big deal at first, it's just a vine, the tree can handle it. But, the vine continues to grow. It feeds off the tree, slowly taking its life. As the vine grows the tree gets weaker. Eventually, the vine of corruption will choke the tree of liberty to death. The tree will remain standing for awhile, rotting, and then it will fall. But, there is a solution. When you notice the vine of corruption creeping its way up the tree of liberty you must cut it away. It will be hard, vines are tough. Sometimes vines have sharp edges and fight back. Nevertheless, to surrender to the growth of the vine is to lose the life of the tree. It must not be done, it will not be done. Cut away the vine and the tree will flourish.

Bullies rely on the fact that their would-be victims will not band together, and that they will not stand up to them. There is a technical study of these systemic bully cycles in economics called cratics that just emerged over the last few years. The basic cycle is the same: bully makes threats, victims back down, bully makes more threats, more victims back down, eventually someone stands up to the bully. When someone stands up to a bully one of two things will happen. Either the bully really is that strong and that tough and wins, or the bully was mostly bluffing, and he folds.

Many people have contacted me since I wrote the first article about the township's attack on Crystal and Lee. Some citizens have told me about how the township has done this to people in the past, how they are doing it to other people in the present, and how there are plans to do it to more people in the future. Citizens, including my friend Rebecca, have told me that they were aware of it but afraid to speak out, and they didn't know what to do. People have contacted me and told me that neighbor Ken Wentworth wasn't a nice guy when they were on the school board with him too. To all of these people, I say now is the time, and I will show you how.

With the news coverage by WZZM 13 and Fox 17, the hundreds of shares that my article has received, and the numerous calls and emails that people have been putting in to the township, it may seem that the side of justice is winning. The side of justice is not winning, and here's why the odds of getting justice are against us.

If two people are competing in anything and one of them is moral and the other is immoral, all other things being equal, the immoral person will win. Why? By being a moral person you place limits on yourself. You say that there are things that you will not do. You avoid hurting people. You try to live your own life and let other people live theirs. You don't lie. The immoral person is different. They seek to attain their ends through any means necessary. If that means lying, it's no problem. If that means ruining your life, then so be it. They cheat, you lose. You are just collateral damage.

When you're dealing with a silver-tongued serpent that preys on the weak you will lose every one-on-one contest. That's why bullies don't attack everyone at once, they take people out one at a time. Randy Buchler has been through this same type of fight in his township and won. He pointed out that Tony has structured the local government so that he has an overwhelming amount of influence, these people that he has influence over are sometimes called Tony's Cronies.

One of these people is zoning administrator Lorraine Grabinski. I don't know Lorraine. There are a few situations that are possible here because the position is appointed. Essentially, she is supposed to fill the role as directed. If she supports the work that Tony is doing against citizens, then she should be removed from that role. But, it's possible that up until this point she felt that the actions of the township against citizens has been immoral, but that it wasn't her place to step up and address it. In that case we should support the development of her courage in supporting the moral and economic pillars of our community like Crystal and Lee. (And, we should notice that she signs a lot of papers, so she's a perfect scapegoat for Tony Barnes to use in a situation just like this.)

My friend Jon messaged me that he had called the township multiple times and each time was told that the township is not currently involved in litigation with Hidden Creek Farm. Lies. I've read the court documents. They directly list the farm and both Crystal and Lee as defendants against both the township suit and the suit from neighbor Ken. Sometimes Tony will tell people that the township is just working on a traffic issue. More lies. Both suits are seeking to completely shut down Hidden Creek Farm, and make Crystal and Lee pay for the legal fees of the township and neighbor Ken. So, Cyrstal and Lee paid taxes so that the township could hire a lawyer to sue them and shut down their livelihood, and for the privilege of the township suing them with their own money, they get to pay for that too.

It sounds a bit like a racket that the mafia would envy; Tony the don.

Citizens have expressed concern that Tony and the township may target me specifically. I believe that they want to, and they probably will. After a time of upheaval in ancient Athens a group of thirty people were put into power. They were known for executing the opposition, confiscating their property, and exiling people. They became known as the Thirty Tyrants. It is our responsibility as citizens to make sure that the township board does not become the Township Tyrants, or if they have, to stop them.

I am afraid that something will happen to me, that there will be repercussions. When I was a teenager my father had a friend that encountered a similar situation with the township we lived in. I remember that my dad decided to take up the fight. I wondered at the time if it was a good decision. What happens if they turn on us? Shouldn't you just keep your head down and hope they don't bother you? Shouldn't Donny just fight his own fight? It was a debate that I had with myself, and it was a debate that I believe my father had with himself. He decided to stand up. He wrote a list of grievances and presented it at the township meeting. The township ended up losing. Without witnessing that in my formative years I doubt that I would have the fortitude to do the right thing in this situation. Someone has to set the example. If that's not you, then who?

Hero stories have similar plots for a reason. Heroes don't start the fight, they finish it. Tony, Ken, and the township initiated these attacks. It's up to the citizens to stop it.

This post was made in the Concerned Citizens of Dalton Township Facebook group:

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"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

Martin Niemoller

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Just replace the named groups with the terms hobby farm, professional farm, and business and you see the situation that we're in.

You may wonder, can I do anything since I don't have an official position? I too don't have an official position. What I do have is my heart, my mind, and my voice. So that is what I will use. And, you can make more of a difference than many people that are in positions of power and authority.

State Representative Greg VanWoerkom recently released this message about the situation.

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Numerous concerned constituents have brought to my attention the conflict with Hidden Creek Farm and Dalton Township, my office staff and I have been engaged with many different entities with potential involvement with the issue. Communicating with the owners of Hidden Creek Farm has been a top priority to better understand the issue at hand. I have had the opportunity to communicate with the Department of Agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Township Association over the past weeks to make sure that all applicable laws pertaining to the farming and sales at Hidden Creek are followed and to make sure that they are treated fairly within the protections of GAAMPS, MAEAP and the Michigan Right to Farm Act. I look forward to continuing to work with all those involved in this case to make sure that farmers are not unjustifiably suspended in producing goods for the public.

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But, what can VanWoerkom do? I don't know. I'm not sure he can do anything. But the citizens, the citizens of Dalton Township can make a difference.

Here's the goal: Resign, Recall, Replace. I think that a reasonable person in Tony Barnes' position would Resign. I doubt that he will. Since he won't, we will organize a Recall. Even if that doesn't work, we will Replace him in the 2020 election. Resign, Recall, Replace. This is the path that we must pursue.

No single person can do this alone. No small group of people can do this. We need the community to save the community. Tony has help, his wife is even a lawyer. We need help on our side too.

A list of grievances will be made available at the next township meeting on June 10th. There will be a list available to sign. This will call for Tony to Resign. Here is the Facebook event:
(It has been noted that everyone might not be able to see and hear if the meeting is too crowded. I will give a speech in the parking lot after the meeting if that is the case.)

I will write up the documents to be presented to start the Recall process. If the county approves that process, then we will need 716 signatures from Dalton Township citizens. That's 25 percent of the people that voted in the last general election in 2016. Tony received 2,785 votes and the write-in vote was 79. (Also in 2016, the election for the delegate to the county convention from Dalton Township was run between Tony Barnes, with 208 votes, and Jennifer Barnes, with 190 votes.)

Whether the Recall process is approved by the county or not, we can still Replace Tony in the 2020 election. We are looking for good citizens to run for office.

How often does this happen to other farmers in other townships? I don't know. But, I think that they should be able to have the information available to them to be able to know what to do and how to do it. This series of articles will serve as a touchstone for those people in Dalton Township, and the people in other townships, that stand for universal individual rights in their communities.

Here is what the next articles will be covering. People that join the mailing list at will be sent an email when these articles are released so that they can stay informed and get involved.

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How do we sort out the government officials that are corrupt from those that are not? How do we sort the wheat from the chaff? An affidavit of support for Crystal, Lee, and Hidden Creek Farm against the frivolous lawsuits from neighbor Ken and the township would be a clear indication. Those that write an affidavit are fighting against the encroaching vine of corruption. Those that don't should be cut away. I will write an article on what those might look like.

I have talked with a county commissioner and he would like to present a resolution of support for the farm to be approved by Muskegon County. I will write an article about writing that.

How do you address objections and doubts in yourself and others about getting involved? I will write an article detailing the most prevalent ones and how to handle them.

What does the Recall process look like? I will write an article going over what needs to happen.

How do we present the list of grievances and call for an official to Resign? I will write an article about writing and presenting that proposal.

How do you stand up at a township meeting and say something? What should you say? I will go over the different kinds of speeches that you can and should make.

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In the book "The Gulag Archipelago" former prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn details what went wrong in the Soviet society that led to such great atrocities. His conclusion? The citizens were derelict in their duty to keep the eternal vigilance necessary to protect individuals from the government. The corruption that moves up the branches of government starts at the bottom, like a tree rotting from the base. Stop it here, while you can.


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