“Liberty Cities” Spring Up in Texas

By: Rebeca Morla - @RebecaMorla - Mar 9, 2015, 10:51 am
In 2014, residents of Sandy Oaks, Texas, voted overwhelmingly in favor of limited, local governance — for a Liberty City — and to stave off annexation. (City of Sandy Oaks)
In 2014, residents of Sandy Oaks, Texas, voted 75 percent in favor of limited, local governance — for a “Liberty City” — and to stave off annexation. (City of Sandy Oaks)

EspañolNew municipal jurisdictions are on the rise in Texas, and their objective is to protect against the overreach and annexation of local government. The initiative’s lead proponent is the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), which on March 3 released a policy paper titled “The Liberty City: A New Concept for Self-Governance,” to espouse a streamlined model of incorporated cities.

The paper, written by Center for Local Governance Senior Policy Analyst Jess Fields, explains that a Liberty City “is a town that incorporates for the express purpose of maintaining limited government, pro-free market policies, and protecting the rights of its citizens.”

“The Liberty City stands in stark contrast to many local governments that attempt to manage their economies and regulate the lives of their citizens,” and it prevents forceful annexations to “higher-tax and higher-regulation larger cities.”

TPPF asserts that what makes these municipal jurisdictions distinct is not a rigid set of guidelines, but the principles by which they are incorporated: “the unifying factor is that the city seeks to protect its citizens from undue government regulation, taxation, and spending, as opposed to enacting it.”

“The city purposefully seeks to protect the Constitutional rights of its citizens in how it governs. One means of doing so is a citizen bill of rights, guaranteeing that citizens will not face regulations on, for example, their freedom of speech or assembly.”

The document states that Von Ormy, a small suburb of San Antonio, was the first Texas town to merit the Liberty City label.

“Von Ormy incorporated in 2008 to protect the rights of its citizens from the higher tax and regulatory burden of San Antonio … to provide basic, but important city services to its citizens, such as police coverage and infrastructure maintenance.”

In addition, the city avoided instituting common regulations, such as a permitting fee, and even eliminated its property tax in 2014.

Following Von Ormy’s lead, a small community south of San Antonio called Sandy Oaks, successfully incorporated last year with 75 percent of voters in support. The just over 1,000 residents aim to achieve a higher level of services, and avoid the possibility of annexation from San Antonio.

An Ancient Philosophical Concept Returns

In an interview with the PanAm Post, paper author and Liberty City advocate Jess Fields explained that despite the fact that Liberty Cities are new in Texas, the concept behind them isn’t: “it has been reflected by some local governments in Texas recently, but the idea of self governance is a very old philosophical concept in which America and Texas were founded on.”

According to Fields, cities such as Von Ormy start with “the intention of avoiding high taxes and creating an environment conditioned to individual freedom.” Furthermore, he states that other communities are increasingly embracing this new strategy for local governance.

“For this current election cycle in May, there is a small town in Guadalupe County, called Kingsbury, that received the permission of the county judge to have an incorporation election, and it is potentially the next Liberty City,” Fields asserted. “They are literally incorporating to avoid annexation by a larger city … and pursue a low tax, low regulation concept, intended to protect the rights of their citizens.”

When asked why these are necessary, Fields touted the responsiveness of jurisdictions nearer to the individual: “These will be able to ensure that free speech and the Second Amendment right to bear arms are protected, that you are able to operate your business without undue regulation or taxes … [while they] still [provide] basic services.”

However, Fields states that at any level there remains the risk that “government will do things it is not supposed to do,” and he points to the risk of poorly defined plans for municipal incorporation.

Regarding the Texas legislature, Fields is pushing for the Liberty City movement to be promoted through a new chapter relating to the general law of cities. Their policies “would be, by law, limited to policies that only protect the liberty of their citizens, and that is a really unique idea.”

He also hopes that the idea will go beyond small communities, which can be role models for larger cities and even state governments: “I would argue that talking about state government, the best model to look at is the state of Texas, which is, without a doubt, the freest state in the [United States].”

Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

Rebeca Morla Rebeca Morla

Based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Rebeca Morla works as an editorial assistant with the PanAm Post. She is a political scientist and an Executive Board member of EsLibertad. Follow @RebecaMorla.

Alberto Nisman Was Murdered, Says Ex-Wife

By: PanAm Post Staff - Mar 9, 2015, 9:40 am

EspañolIn a press conference on March 5, the ex-wife of late Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman, Sandra Arroyo Salgado, said that independent examinations of his autopsy report proved the he was murdered. "Violent death can only have three hypotheses: accident, suicide, and homicide," Arroyo Salgado said. "The report we present today bluntly dismisses the first two hypotheses: suicide and accident. We can only conclude that Nisman was, without a doubt, a victim of murder." The report, based on analysis of the existing forensic evidence, argues that Nisman's body showed no sign of postmortem spasms, and suggests that the prosecutor's body was moved, contradicting conclusions reached by investigating officials. Salgado, who is a plaintiff in the investigation into the death of Nisman as well as a federal judge, told press that the late prosecutor experienced agonizing pain before his death, another indication that would rule out the suicide hypothesis. The independent experts also disagreed with the time of the death. According to the official report, Nisman died on Sunday, February 19 around noon, but the new report states that his death was 18 hours before, on Saturday night. Nisman's ex-wife and mother of their two daughters criticized Prosecutor Viviana Fein, who is leading the investigation, accusing her of working "exclusively on a single hypothesis" of suicide. “The prosecutor will never be able to prove Nisman committed suicide because he didn’t — Nisman was murdered,” she said. Following the press conference, Fein responded to the criticism forcefully. "I won't allow anyone to discredit my work and my team's work," she said. “The prosecutor’s office has no evidence to prove Nisman was murdered … there are many tests still to go before we have a firm result," Fein added, admitting that "no evidence" had yet been found to confirm the suicide hypothesis. On Thursday afternoon, Fein summoned the forensic experts convened by Salgado to offer further detail on their findings. Nisman's was found dead on January 19, a day before he was due to address Congress on allegations that President Cristina Kirchner and senior officials covered up Iran's role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Source: La Nación.

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