PART 6 of 7
July 20, 2012
Alleged Threats and Intimidation by Piperton Police on Airport Property
While Woody and his brother were fighting the illegal activities of the Waste Water Plant, Woody's brother Reg, and their mother reportedly were threatened. These are the allegations as told to me by Woody and Reg Degan and reported in the Fayette County police reports by Reg Degan (Link)and his mother, Mary Degan, (Link), along with their 911 phone call, and the Wolf River Airport Security Report.
In August of 2011, Woody was out of town, and Mary and Reg were in the car together when they noticed several motorcyclists entering the airport's private road up ahead of them. When they caught up with the bikers, they had traversed through the main gate, down the private road, and out to the restricted area of the hangars and runway. There, in the backyard of their private airport, Reg identified himself and Mary as the airport owners, and asked the bikers who they were with, thinking they might be looking for a particular pilot. The lead biker answered, "No one." Reg then advised them they were in a restricted area of the airport which is only open to pilots. The biker responded that "he wasn't going anywhere," and he didn't "have to do a G__ D___ thing you say." Reg instructed him again, at which time the other motorcyclists drove up and blocked the car. Reg asked to see identification repeatedly and was refused. Reg and Mary called the police immediately.
These bikers had come through the private gate and around the backyard of the airport's buildings. According to Reg and his mother, the lead biker, later discovered to be Piperton Police Captain Edward R. Palmer, repeatedly refused to leave the area or to provide any identification. (The former Police Chief, prior to the present one, was convicted of a felony while in office. A former Fayette County officer, who often slept in the airport parking lot, later became famous as the "Big Belly Rapist.") Reg immediately called Woody who is General Aviation Certified by the Transportation Administration: Homeland Security for the airport. Woody has been day and night security for the airport for nearly 30 years.
As Homeland Security for the Wolf River Airport, Woody had been warned in late July 2011, by DHS, of small plane threats with the upcoming 10 year anniversary of September 11th. This was reported by media in early September and was reason to be on high alert for any questionable airport activity, over and above normal security.
Woody advised Reg and his mother to immediately report the incident as airport owners are charged with checking everyone who comes onto the airport. A template report has to be updated and filed every year. When local police and the County Sheriff arrived, they simply let the Piperton Police Captain go, and refused to even get identification. Charges were filed, but nothing was done, not even in regard to the charge of trespassing. It is alleged that this policeman, out of his jurisdiction, threatened their 78 year old mother with a gun, even riding up to the side of her car. He leaned into Woody's mother's window and asked, "Who the hell are you?" Mrs. Degan had already put on her glasses to shield her eyes, and was frightened, but prepared, when the rogue cop backed out of her window. Notice what looks like a firearm on the right side of the cop in the red helmet.
Apparently folks in the Piperton vicinity don't think much of the police department. Some extremely negative comments regarding Piperton police appear below an article in The Commercial Appeal, from Memphis, TN. If you scroll down to the comments by "Misanthrope" and read on, it is apparent the locals are not too pleased with Piperton Police Chief Ed Palmer or the City of Piperton. Here is one of the comments, "And yes, you can trust that Piperton's loathsome, immoral and unethical police department, headed by that awful Ed Palmer, will continue to make Piperton a dreadful little sewer. Never... ever trust a Piperton cop."
HB 2349 and SB 2211
House Bill 2349 was introduced by Governor Haslam and carried for him by Representative David Hawk of District 5. Senate Bill 2211 was carried for Governor Haslam by his bagman, Senator Mark Norris of the 32nd District in the House Environment Conservation meetings. It was both Norris's and Hawk's intention of codifying the law to legalize the illegal activities of In-Lieu-Fees and Mitigation Banking. In doing so, the State of Tennessee law [T.C.A. 69-3-102 (a) (b), waters of the state held "in trust for the citizens.."] that says all water belongs to the Citizens of Tennessee would change and the water would be controlled by the State of Tennessee politicians. This is UN Agenda 21! Woody is running against Norris for his Senate seat because Norris is complicit in many Agenda 21 programs and this entire In-Lieu-Fee is one of them.
Fortunately, there were some good Democrats sitting on Committee, because the majority of Republicans wanted these two bills to move forward to codify this "off-the-books" program and make it legal. The Republicans basically told Woody and Reg they knew this was impacting them and they were getting screwed, but "we've got the votes and it's going upstairs." This means the bill is going back up to the full House and over to the Senate, and then to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.
Nevertheless, in the end, it was some of the Republicans who broke this open, and Representative Frank Niceley (R- Strawberry Plains) was one of them. Representative Niceley had this to say about the non-profit Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, "You show me a non-profit, and I’ll show you bloated salaries and padded expense accounts."
In the House Environment Conservation Committee meeting, the State's Attorney, Alan Laiserson, representing Norris, TDEC, TWRA, TWRF, and the TSMP, repeatedly represented that this illegal In-Lieu-Fee program and the process, was codified when it wasn't. Repeatedly he stated, "The program is in the codes, in the codes, in the codes." But it is NOT in the codes! They were trying to take the program from NOWHERE TO CODIFIED, completely bypassing the rules and regulations.
On February 15, 2012, Nashville attorney for Wolf River Airport, Elizabeth Murphy, spoke at the House Environment Conservation Committee meeting on HB2349. She said, "The pending litigation challenges legality of the mitigation program. The present system is effectively selling the state’s water quality “outside any regulatory function” of the state." Murphy said mitigation money collected in East Tennessee can now be spent in West Tennessee, or vice versa, in a "program with no regulations."
Woody Degan, president of the Wolf River Airport, said about 300 acres were cleared of trees and streams. In building the Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility in Fayette County, the extensive changes they've done have caused major flooding of airport offices and other facilities. When the mitigation and “in lieu fee” were challenged in the ensuing legal dispute, Woody said in an interview, “All of a sudden this bill came out of nowhere.”
Here are the proceedings wherein Elizabeth Murphy addresses the Committee:
First, Richard Floyd, Republican from Chattanooga presented the amendment which deletes permits and interagency review teams. The In-Lieu-Fee operates without authority.
Then, McDonald and Niceley make requests. Mr. Clifton who is a lobbyist for the TN Conservation voters speaks first. He says the purpose of this bill is to put into state law something that has not been there. He also states there is no way through the Mitigation Banks for the monies to be used to help people who have been impacted by stream mitigation. TDEC's position is the first to avoid property owners logical concerns. He wants the bill deferred and TDEC overseen.
Niceley then introduces Elizabeth Murphy, Attorney at Law. Niceley says, "What's going on in this bill is not in rules, not in regulations, not in the statute."
Chairman David Hawk gives the okay for Elizabeth to speak, and says, " I understand there is pending litigation on a particular issue that you may be discussing. I want to be very clear that we will not litigate that issue in this Committee today. We're not here, this is not a courtroom, we're not going to litigate anything. Saying that, I will give you the same amount of time I gave Mr. Clifton. Please tell us your name and who you're with."
Elizabeth says the following, "Thank you Chairman Hawk. My interest today has nothing to do with anything, and there's not a litigation component to it. My specialty area is water law and this touches on the regulations, and in a number of my cases, I'm the one who has to brief this subject to an appellate court and say, 'Here's what the legislature intended or did not intend.' So I think you would benefit from what I know, and if it helps you and if not, that's fine too. My name's Elizabeth Murphy. I'm licensed in CA and TN. I've been practicing for 23 years, state and federal.
The first thing that popped out for me was the In-Lieu-Fee language or program does not exist in the regulations. It never has, it's never even made it to rule making. That is significant because it leapt from nowhere to now it will be in the code. What is the ILF mitigation? Well, it is a program and that program operates OUTSIDE any regulatory structure, so when I first started to try to figure out what it was years ago when I represented a farmer out of East Tennessee, I learned about the program and nothing really has changed since. This law, this bill, would codify and make it the law of the land that our streams and our wetlands are open for wholesale auction. And here's the kicker, the money goes directly into a NON-PROFIT FOUNDATION run by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Foundation.
The formation documents that created the program very clearly say, and some of you may have copies of that document, the foundation shall handle the money, the foundation shall make the decisions, the foundation shall staff the program, etc., etc.
The Army Corps of Engineers produces the annual report about the money and program. It doesn't come from TWRA or TWRF. It comes from the Army Corps, so if you were looking in the state material to find that document, you won't find it. It's over in the Corps website. If you look at the report, the year ending balance for 2010 was over $13 million so that's a lot of lettuce as they say. Those are just the streams, that's not your wetlands.
So, forget for a minute the bugs and bunnies and fish and all that fun stuff. I mean it can be viewed as an environmental issue, absolutely, but I take a much more practical approach from what I see with clients coming in from different areas. They want to understand why they either got flooded or they lost flow from an upstream watershed. And the reason is, a permit went down and they didn't know about it, not that they could have done anything about it in the first place, but the permit changed the watershed dramatically.
So the Wolf River Airport, which brought one of those pieces of litigation,(which, by the way, is now sitting dormant and nothing is happening with it, it's inactive); their problem, as a practical matter, was that, 'Our Airport offices got flooded and we've never before been flooded in our offices; however, it happened after they took out a mile of stream up ahead of us because it rains about 42" a year and sometimes more in Tennessee, and the water's got to go someplace.' So what I would suggest you all consider, is that you've got a program with no regulations. It has between 10 and 13 million bucks in it every year, no one really knows, and there are no rules and criteria for what they have to do with the money. I tried to find them (the rules and criteria) and they don't exist. I'm kind of a hound dog and if someone tells me to go find it, I will find it and I have not found them and I've written certified letters and can't get it. It's not out there.
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So before you take that program and put it in state law, you should think very carefully about this because it has serious consequences for all the rural landowners across the state. My closing comment would be this, "You can very quickly Google a little phrase, and it's called, "water, the new oil." Newsweek's written about it, Goldman Sachs has rebalanced their portfolio so they can buy water. Tennessee's got a ton of it. Why would you sell it and just give that money away? It makes absolutely no sense at all. Now the people in the mitigation program have a good intention. They're all good people. I know them and I work with them, but putting this in the code is a bridge too far. Thank you."
In the final part of this article, we'll look at Governor Haslam's involvement with the State of Tennessee's water rights and the Norfolk Southern intermodal rail yard.
© 2012 Kelleigh Nelson - All Rights Reserved
Kelleigh Nelson has been researching the Christian right and their connections to the left, the new age, and cults since 1975. Formerly an executive producer for three different national radio talk show hosts, she was adept at finding and scheduling a variety of wonderful guests for her radio hosts. She and her husband live in Knoxville, TN, and she has owned her own wholesale commercial bakery since 1990. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Kelleigh was marketing communications and advertising manager for a fortune 100 company in Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she was a Goldwater girl with high school classmate, Hillary Rodham, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Kelleigh is well acquainted with Chicago politics and was working in downtown Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention riots. Kelleigh is presently the secretary for Rocky Top Freedom Campaign, a strong freedom advocate group.