Saturday, January 31, 2015

When Cops Go Bad, It Can Get Really Bad

Lately, there has been a lot of press pertaining to bad cops. And yes, thanks to everyone having cellphones which can also act as video cameras, the unprofessional behavior of bad cops is being caught on film.

I content that the vast majority of the almost 900,000 law enforcement officers in the United States are great upstanding men and women dedicated to doing a great job. 

The vast majority out there are great officers, but like any group, occupation, calling, profession, there are going to be a few bad apples. 

I content that these bad apples should be replaced as fast as possible simply because they make everyone in uniform look like crap. 

Yes, all it takes is one incident and a whole department, a great department, a wonderful department dedicated to their community, can look so bad that it takes years to repair their reputation. And yes, a department's reputation is a big deal.

A department's reputation can give a community a sense of safety, or a sense of dread. It can make citizens volunteer information, or have people weary to help. It can separate a community from its police and sheriff department, or it can enable both to work together to achieve a common goal of security for the community. 

Yes, a reputation is important. Without a good reputation, everyone suffers.

And yes, a bad apple, a corrupt cop, an unprofessional officer, a rogue officer who has let his badge go to his head, will truly tarnish the reputation of a department. And frankly, from my experience with law enforcement, a bad cop is usually just one complaint away from being canned.

That is of course, if the officer's Union actually does the right thing and helps clean out bad apples.

But what happens when the majority of officers on a department are bad? 

Imagine that for a moment, almost an entire department of bad cops?

Well, one community torn apart by bad cops was in Los Angeles  in the 1990s. Today, that department is still the best example of how power can completely corrupt and ruin a department.

It was called the "Rampart Scandal." And as I said, it shows what can take place when a Police Department becomes just about as bad as it can get.

The Rampart scandal refers to widespread corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department's Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) anti-gang unit at the Rampart Division station.

In all, believe it or not, more than 70 police officers were either assigned to or associated with the Rampart CRASH unit. And yes, all 70 were implicated in some form of misconduct.

Yes, 70 bad cops in one department.

The Rampart Scandal has the distinction of having the most widespread cases of documented police misconduct in United States history. 

When it was over, the convicted offenses include:
1) Unprovoked shootings,
2) Unprovoked beatings,
3) Planting of false evidence,
4) Framing of suspects,
5) Stealing and dealing narcotics.

But that's not all, as it also included:

6) Bank robbery,
7) Perjury by officers, and
8) A cover up of evidence of all of these activities.

How did it come to anyone's attention?

The scandal surfaced because of a road rage incident involving two LAPD offciers. Yes, two LA police officers.  

On March 18th, 1997, officer Frank Lyga was working undercover in a Fu Manchu mustache, ponytail, and cap sporting a marijuana logo. After waiting for three hours in a Buick for a drug deal to take place, the deal was called off.

He drove toward a police station. At a red light, he glanced at the car next to him and saw a black man with shaved head and goatee. 

Lyga rolled his window down and asked, “Can I help you?”

The man replied, “Ain’t nobody looking at you, punk.”

Lyga assumed the man was gang-affiliated, especially when the man challenged him to a fight. Lyga verbally accepted, suggesting they both pull over. 

The man pulled over and Lyga drove off. The man gave chase.

Around 4:00 p.m. on March 18th, 1997, undercover LAPD police officer Frank Lyga shot and killed Rampart CRASH unit police officer Kevin Gaines in what was termed self-defense following a case of apparent "road rage" by Gaines.

According to Lyga, and other witnesses on scene, Gaines pulled his green Mitsubishi Montero up to Lyga's Buick. 

A confrontation ensued, with Gaines flashing gang signs at Officer Lyga. Gaines followed Lyga, brandishing a .45 caliber pistol. 

Seeing this, Lyga took out his pistol and also called for backup using a hidden radio activated by a foot pedal. Lyga's voice can be heard on police recordings, "Hey, I got a problem. I've got a black guy in a green Jeep coming up here! He's got a gun!"

Pulling up at a stop light, Lyga later testified that he heard Gaines shout, "I'll cap you".

Remember, these two are both Los Angeles police officers.

At that point, officer Lyga fired his 9mm Beretta into the SUV, lodging one bullet in Gaines' heart. Lyga radioed one final transmission: "I just shot this guy! I need help! Get up here!"

Lyga reported that Gaines was the first to pull a gun and Lyga responded in self-defense. Lyga told Frontline, "In my training experience this guy had 'I'm a gang member' written all over him."

In the ensuing LAPD investigation, the department discovered that Officer Gaines had apparently been involved in similar road rage incidents, threatening drivers by brandishing his gun. 

The department's investigation also showed that Gaines was associated with both the Death Row Records rap recording label and its controversial owner and CEO, Suge Knight. 

Investigators learned that Death Row Records, which was alleged to be associated with the Bloods street gang, was hiring off-duty LAPD Police Officers as Security Guards.

Lyga served desk duty for one year while the LAPD reviewed the details of the shooting. Following three separate internal investigations, Lyga was exonerated of any wrongdoing. 

The LAPD concluded that Lyga's shooting was "in policy" and not racially or improperly motivated.

Within three days of the incident, the Gaines family had retained attorney Johnnie Cochran from O.J. Simpson fame and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles for $25 million. 

The city eventually settled with Cochran for $250,000. 

Officer Lyga was angry the city settled, denying him the chance to fully clear his name. To make matters worse, Judge Schoettler wrote a letter to Chief Bernard Parks stating, "Had the matter been submitted to me for a determination, I would have found in favor of the City of Los Angeles."

Schoettler's letter alleged political reasons for settling the case, namely, City Attorney James Hahn was preparing to run for mayor and black voters were his primary demographic.

How about Police Officers robbing banks?

After the shootout between Lyga and Gaines, then came the bank robbery on November 6th, that same year 1997, by Police Officer David Mack.

It's true! Believe it or not, on November 6th, 1997, police officer David Mack committed armed robbery of $722,000 from a Los Angeles branch of Bank of America. That is absolutely true. 

After one month of investigation, assistant bank manager Errolyn Romero confessed to her role in the crime and implicated her boyfriend officer David Mack.

Stating that he planed the armed robbery, LAPD officer David Mack was sentenced to 14 years and three months in Federal prison. 

It is interesting to note that David Mack had never told anyone, including his girlfriend, the location of the over $700,000 while in prison. In fact, it is said that he bragged to fellow inmates that he would become a millionaire when he is released.

While in prison, Mack reportedly joined the gang known as the Bloods which has ties to Death Row Records company.

While investigating the robbery in the days following, police learned that officer Mack enjoyed weekends gambling in Las Vegas with two other officers. One of them, Rafael Perez, became a key figure in the Rampart Scandal.

How about an LA officer who enjoyed beating suspects?

LAPD Rampart CRASH unit officer Brian Hewitt brought Ismael Jimenez, a member of the 18th Street Gang, into the Rampart station for questioning on February 26th, 1998. 

Yes, this took place just a few months after officer Mack's armed robbery of the Band of America. 

According to Officer Perez's recorded testimony, Hewitt "got off" on beating suspects. And yes, Hewitt beat the already handcuffed Jimenez in the chest and stomach until he started vomiting blood. 

After his release from custody, Jimenez went to a local emergency room and told doctors he had been beaten by LAPD officer Hewitt and his partner Daniel Lujan while in custody. 

Following an investigation, officer Hewitt was eventually fired from the LAPD. 

As for that gang-member, Jimenez was awarded $231,000 in a civil settlement with the city of Los Angeles. Later, Jimenez would serve time in Federal prison for the distribution of drugs and conspiracy to commit murder -- but has since been released.

Missing Cocaine from the Evidence Room?

OK, let's make something real clear: This was not some phony baloney Hollywood movie script, this was actually happening in the real world.

The following month after Hewitt gets fired, on March 27th, 1998, LAPD officials discovered that 8 pounds of cocaine were missing from an evidence room. That is a lot of cocaine. And yes, that was worth a lot of money -- even back in the late 1990s.

Within a week, LAPD detectives focused their investigation on LAPD Rampart CRASH unit officer Rafael Perez. 

It was about that time when LAPD Chief Bernard Parks suspected that a rogue group of CRASH unit officers was committing felonies.

Concerned with a CRASH unit that had officers working off-duty for the Death Row Records company , robbing banks, and stealing cocaine, Parks stated at the time, "Perez is a good friend of David Mack’s. Both were good friends of Gaines’s. I think the picture reflected that we had some people on this department that were, in a coordinated effort, involved in some very serious criminal misconduct.” 

It was then that Chief Parks established the Rampart Corruption Task Force as an internal investigative task force in May 1998.

The task force focused on the prosecution of Officer Rafael Perez.. 

Completing an audit of the LAPD property room revealed another pound of missing cocaine. The cocaine had been booked following a prior arrest by Detective Frank Lyga, the officer who shot and killed Rampart officer Kevin Gaines. 

Investigators then speculated Rafael Perez may have stolen the cocaine booked by Lyga in retaliation for Gaines' shooting.

So Ok, imagine the situation, this is right out of a bad novel with cops killing other cops. cops stealing drugs, cops framing other cops, and on and on. But it's far from over! 

Officer Rafael Perez, age 31 and a nine-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. He was arrested on August 25th, 1998, for stealing 6 pounds of cocaine from a department property room.

The cocaine was estimated to have a street value of $95,000 at that time. 

As he was arrested, he should have shut up, instead Perez reportedly asked, "Is this about the bank robbery?" 

Perez would later deny that he had any knowledge of David Mack's bank robbery and never testified against Mack. Investigators would later discover eleven additional instances of suspicious cocaine transfers. 

Officer Perez eventually admitted to ordering cocaine evidence out of property and replacing it with pancake mix. Yes, Bisquick.

Let's Make a Deal!

On September 8th, 1999, following a mistrial, LAPD officer Perez agreed to cut a deal with LAPD investigators. 

He pled guilty to cocaine theft in exchange for providing prosecutors information about two "bad" shootings and three other Rampart CRASH officers who were also dirty cops.

For this deal, Perez received a five-year prison sentence as well as immunity from further prosecution of misconduct short of murder.

Perez said he and partner officer Nino Durden shot and framed gang member Javier Ovando in 1996 when Ovando surprised them during a stakeout. 

Perez said Durden shot Ovando. As he lay bleeding, they discovered he carried no weapon. 

Plant Evidence and Frame the Innocent? Who says it's not done?

Perez recalled that Durden took a gun wrapped in a “very dirty shirt” and planted it near Ovando. They concocted the story that Ovando burst in on them brandishing the gun.

Ovando was paralyzed because of the shooting. At trial he claimed he had no gun but Perez testified to the concocted story. The jury believed officer Perez. The judge sentenced Ovando to 23 years in prison.

The District Attorney’s Office filed a writ of habeas corpus to overturn Ovando’s conviction. He was released in September 1999 after serving over two years.

Over the next nine months after he cut a deal, Perez met with investigators more than 50 times and provided more than 4,000 pages in sworn testimony. Believe it or not, Perez's testimony implicated about 70 officers of misconduct.

And  yes, former officer Perez actually framed four others, members of the Temple Street gang, as being associated with killing notorious Mexican Mafia member Miguel "Lizard" Malfavon. 

That incident took place at a McDonalds on Alvarado Street, where four supposed members all planned to kill Malfavon while he tried to collect "taxes" from the gang. 

At the time, as a CRASH unit member, officer Perez found a material witness who had blood on her dress, and she named four gang members from Temple Street. 

Instead of reporting what he knew, Perez repeatedly changed the name of the main killer and ended up framing Anthony "Stymie" Adams as the one who fatally shot Malfavon in the head with a rifle in the neighboring apartment.

In extensive testimony to investigators, Perez provided a detailed portrait of the culture of LAPD's "Elite" CRASH anti-gang unit. 

Perez insisted that 90% of CRASH officers were "in the loop", knowingly framing innocent suspects and perjuring themselves on the witness stand. 

Perez claims his superiors were aware of and encouraged CRASH officers to engage in misconduct; the goal of the unit was to arrest gang members by any means necessary. 

Perez described to investigators just how CRASH officers were awarded plaques for shooting suspects, with extra honors if suspects were killed. 

Perez testified that CRASH officers carried spare guns in their "war bags" to plant on suspects. 

In recorded testimony, Perez even revealed the CRASH motto: "We intimidate those who intimidate others."

Yes, Police Officers Celebrating Shootings!

CRASH officers would get together at a bar near Dodger Stadium in Echo Park to drink and celebrate shootings.

And yes, their Department Supervisors handed out plaques to those involved in the shootings, containing red or black playing cards.

A red card indicated a wounding and a black card indicated a killing, which was considered more prestigious. 

Perez testified that at least one Rampart lieutenant attended these celebrations. 

Dead Man's Hand Tattoos for LA Officers?

Rampart officers wore tattoos of the CRASH logo, a skull with a cowboy hat encircled with poker cards depicting the "dead man's hand", aces and eights. 

The Rampart Corruption Task Force investigators discovered that hip hop mogul Suge Knight, owner of Death Row Records, had hired several of the corrupt Rampart officers for security at various times including Nino Durden, Kevin Gaines, David Mack, and Rafael Perez. 

Knight hired off-duty LAPD Rampart policemen to work for Death Row as security guards for huge amounts of money. 

For the Gaines' shooting, investigators discovered that Gaines drove a Mercedes and wore designer suits, and they found a receipt in his apartment for a $952 restaurant tab at the Los Angeles hangout, Monty's Steakhouse.

It was a case of massive Police Corruption and ties to Organized Crime street gangs.

And yes, the LAPD gang unit actually had ties to the street gang known as the Bloods.

According to Frank Lyga, who shot him, Kevin Gaines was flashing gang signs and waving a gun, Knight who was from Compton had known ties to the Bloods..

Remember, as stated before, while in prison, David Mack openly joined the Bloods and renounced any affiliation or loyalty to the LAPD. Mack even started wearing as much red clothing as can be obtained the joint.

Following the arrest of Rafael Perez, investigators discovered photos in Perez's apartment depicting him dressed in red and flashing Bloods gang signs. But it didn't stop with ties to the Bloods.

On April 16th, 2007, the estate of Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka "The Notorious B.I.G"., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, which also named as defendants Rampart officers Durden, Mack, and Perez.

The lawsuit named Durden, Mack, and Perez as having conspired to murder Christopher Wallace, and Perez and Mack were present on the night of the murder outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, on March 9th, 1997.

In 2010, the Wallace family voluntarily dismissed this lawsuit and the claims against the City and the Rampart officers. Some believe it was due to threats by the LAPD.

LAPD investigators Brian Tyndall and Russell Poole also believe Mack and other Rampart police were involved in a conspiracy to kill Wallace.

LAPD investigator Russell Poole claimed at the time that LAPD Chief Bernard Parks refused to investigate their claims of Mack's involvement.

Detective Poole also claimed that Chief parks suppressed their 40-page report, and instructed investigators not to pursue their inquiry. 

Detective Poole, who was an 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police force, quit the LAPD in protest and filed a lawsuit against the LAPD for violating his First Amendment rights by preventing him from making his information public.

The city of Los Angeles faced more than 140 civil suits resulting from the Rampart scandal and paid total estimated settlement costs around $125 million.

Javier Ovando was awarded a $15 million settlement on November 21st, 2000, the largest police misconduct settlement in Los Angeles history. Twenty-nine other civil suits were settled for nearly $11 Million.

Was the Los Angeles Police Chief bad as well?

At the time, to make matter worse, as if it couldn't get any worse, there was multiple allegations that Chief Parks and members of the LAPD were actively involved in obstructing the Rampart Investigation.

Parks was in charge of Internal Affairs when Gaines and other Rampart officers were first discovered to have ties to the Bloods and Death Row Records. 

Parks is said to have protected these officers from investigation. Was that obstruction? 

According to Rampart Corruption Task Force Detective Poole, Chief Parks failed to pursue the Hewitt Investigation for a full six months. 

When detective Poole presented Chief Parks with a 40-page report detailing the connection between Mack and the murder of Notorious B.I.G., the report was in fact suppressed.

On September 26, 2000, Detective Poole, an 18-year veteran of the force, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and Chief Parks. 

Detective Poole, as lead investigator on the Lyga-Gaines shooting and member of the Rampart Corruption Task Force, resigned from the Department and claimed in his civil suit that Chief Parks shut down his efforts to fully investigate the extent of corruption within the Department. 

Detective Poole testified to conversations and "direct orders" in which Chief Parks prevented him from pursuing his investigation of the criminal activities of David Mack and Kevin Gaines, notably involving the investigation of the murder of Christopher Wallace.

Many city officials, including Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, expressed a lack of confidence with Chief Parks' handling of the investigation.

Yes, when cops go bad to the extent that they did at the LAPD Rampart station, they get shut down.

On September 19th, 2000, the Los Angeles City Council voted to accept a consent decree permitting a federal judge acting for the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee reforms within the LAPD for five years. The Justice Department agreed not to pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Bernard Parks openly opposed the consent decree, but were forced to back down in the face of overwhelming support by the city council.

The "L.A.P.D. Board of Inquiry into the Rampart Area Corruption Incident" report was released in March 2000. And all in all, it made a whooping 108 recommendations for changes in LAPD policies and procedures. 

The Board of Inquiry report, sanctioned by Bernard Parks, was widely criticized for not addressing structural problems within the LAPD.

"An Independent Analysis of the Los Angeles Police Department's Board of Inquiry Report on the Rampart Scandal" was published in September 2000, by University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, at the request of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police union. 

Basically the LAPD minimized the scope and nature of the corruption, and abetted the corruption through its own internal negligence or corrupt policies. 

Chemerinsky called for an independent commission to investigate corruption and a consent decree between the City of Los Angeles and the Justice Department to monitor effective reform.

The "Report of the Rampart Independent Review Panel", published in November 2000, created by a panel of over 190 community members, issued 72 findings and 86 recommendations. 

That report stated that the Police Commission had been "undermined by the Mayor's Office" and that the Inspector General's Office had been "hindered by ... lack of cooperation by the (LAPD) in responding to requests for information.".

Officers on Trial

The first criminal case tried because of Perez’s allegations was against CRASH unit members Sgt. Edward Ortiz, Brian Liddy, Paul Harper, and Michael Buchanan. 

All of whom were said to have been in on the criminal activities of the Rampart CRASH unit. And yes, they were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, perjury, fabricating arrests, and filing false police reports. 

All Plead Not Guilty? 

On November 15, 2000, Ortiz, Liddy, and Buchanan were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and filing false police reports. Harper was acquitted on all charges.

On December 22, 2000, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor overturned the convictions of Ortiz, Liddy, and Buchanan because in post-trial interviews jurors admitted to being swayed by reports not made at trial. 

District Attorney Steve Cooley announced in January 2001 that he would appeal Connor’s decision. However, in December 2004 the District Attorney’s Office announced that the trio would not be retried.

LAPD CRASH unit officers Ethan Cohan, Manuel Chavez, and Shawn Gomez were indicted on March 23rd, 2001, for assaulting two gang members and filing false police reports. Chavez and Gomez made plea agreements. Cohan pled not guilty.

Durden made a deal on March 30th, 2001. He pleaded guilty to ten charges and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Perez was paroled on July 24, 2001 after serving three years. On December 17, 2001 he pleaded guilty to federal civil rights and firearms offenses in the Ovando shooting. The plea agreement required him to serve two years in a federal prison.

In February 2003, Cohan made a plea deal. He pled guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and filing a false police report. He agreed to a sentence of one year in county jail. The District Attorney dropped the assault charges.

Defense attorney Gerald Chaleff was instrumental in negotiating the Justice Department’s consent decree that provided federal monitoring for Rampart Scandal motivated reforms. 

Asked about the LAPD’s reconstituted and freshly named "Special Enforcement Unit-Gangs," 

Chaleff said, "It has greater oversight by its sergeants, lieutenants, captains and commanders, and the rules are set out more clearly. I think they’ll be able to accomplish their mission but within the rules."

The largest police misconduct settlement in L.A. history, $15 million, was awarded to Ovando on November 21, 2000. Ovando was arrested four months later in Nevada for possession and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Gang member Ruben Rojas, who Perez had framed on drug charges, won a $1 million settlement.

As a result of the Rampart Scandal, newly elected Mayor James K. Hahn did not rehire LAPD Chief Bernard Parks in 2001. And yes, supposedly, this caused Hahn to lose the support of South Los Angeles' black community, leading to his defeat by Antonio Villaraigosa in the 2005 election.

Because of the crooked cops and the ensuing elimination of the Rampart CRASH anti-gang unit following the scandal, it is believed that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang grew even larger among the Rampart district's population.

The rival 18th Street Gang continued to thrive in Rampart as well, boasting as many as 20,000 members in Los Angeles county. Yes, a street gang of 20,000. Make no mistake, that is an army.

In 2003, the Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel, chaired by Constance L. Rice of the Advancement Project, was convened by the Los Angeles Police Commission and Chief William J. Bratton. The panel's report was made public in 2006.

The Rampart investigation was based mainly on statements of an admitted corrupt police officer who then implicated over 70 officers of wrongdoings. 

Officer Punishments?

Of those officers, enough evidence was found to bring 58 before an internal administrative board. 

But, it should be noted that only 24 were actually found to have committed any wrongdoing. And of those 24 officers, 12 were given suspensions of various lengths, 7 officers were forced to resign or retire, and 5 were fired outright.. 

As a result of the probe into falsified evidence and police perjury, 106 prior criminal convictions were overturned. 

The Rampart scandal resulted in more than 140 civil lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles. And yes, that cost the city of Los Angeles an estimated $125 million in court settlements.

As of 2015, still to this day, the full extent of Rampart Scandal, and its widespread corruption is not known. Believe it or not, several rapes, multiple murders, and robbery investigations involving LAPD Rampart officers remain unsolved.

Yes, that's why the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Scandal is the biggest case of Police corruption and misconduct in the history of the United States.

It is a prime example of just how out of hand a department can get.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Five Reasons why Keystone XL benefits the U.S.

1. Building modern infrastructure creates jobs and stimulates the U.S. economy

We’ve always said that directly connecting the world’s third largest oil reserves (Canada) with the world’s most sophisticated refining hub (Untied States) would bring about strong economic benefits and contribute to a modern, safe and efficient energy infrastructure, including jobs, economic stimulus and energy security.

But we aren’t the only ones saying it.

President Barack Obama told a crowd in Louisiana that improving infrastructure needs to be a national priority, saying “America is relying on old stuff, we need new stuff.” The president also highlighted the need for investment in the “fastest, most reliable infrastructure” including “modernizing energy grids and modernizing pipelines.”

We agree. Keystone XL Pipeline represents more than a $5 billion private sector investment in a state-of-the-art energy infrastructure project projected to create approximately 9,000 jobs for the construction industry and make energy transportation efficient, reliable and most importantly, safe.

2. Taxes paid by TransCanada provide counties much-needed revenue to pay for infrastructure

When President Obama spoke at the Port of New Orleans he highlighted the need to fix old roads and bridges. The president gave an example of how trucking companies are rerouting their deliveries “to avoid traffic and unsafe bridges” and that “those costs get passed on to consumers.” Contrast that with the investments that TransCanada makes in its energy infrastructure to make sure that our systems operate safely and reliably. Over the past three years, TransCanada has invested an average of more than $900 million in our pipeline integrity and maintenance programs.

TransCanada is also proud of the investments it makes in communities in the form of taxes and other contributions. The taxes TransCanada pays helps counties afford infrastructure improvements to roads, bridges and schools without taxpayers shouldering the burden of increased taxes.

For instance, Dennis Houston, the president and CEO of the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce told Congress:

“Our community has been developing a new industrial highway around our current industrial park as we expand the park itself. This new industrial highway will help Norfolk create and attract additional new jobs. It was funded by Madison County, the City of Norfolk and Stanton County. One million dollars was invested in our economic development infrastructure by Stanton County is a direct result of tax dollars collected by the county for the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline pumping station.”

In Saline County, Neb., the extra tax revenue from TransCanada’s existing Keystone Pipeline was used to repay $4 million used to build a new school. Saline County Board of Supervisors Chairman Willis Luedke said additional revenues from Keystone XL would go to funding the construction of a bridge over the Big Blue River.

A Nebraska-based policy study entitled “Why Nebraska Counties Benefit” by the Platte Institute for Economic Research found that Keystone XL will have a substantial tax impact, generating $134.6 million in state and local levies in Nebraska alone:
$58.6 million in property taxes
$39.1 million in sales taxes
$20.1 million in individual income taxes
$3.3 million in corporate taxes

3. Supports U.S. Manufacturing

Low energy prices are a benefit to everyone, especially U.S. manufacturers — and to all of us for the goods and services we consume. The International Energy Association’s 2013 World Energy Outlook recommends that countries should look to use “indigenous sources” of energy to improve efficiency and reduce transportation costs. The report states:

“Policymakers can also boost energy competitiveness by supporting indigenous sources of energy supply, including renewables, nuclear power and unconventional gas. Regardless of the composition of energy supply, efficient and competitive markets can minimize the cost of energy to an economy . . . Lower gas and electricity prices in 2012 in the United States, relative to Europe, equated to estimated savings of close to $130 billion for the entire US manufacturing industry.”

Remember, Keystone XL is not only about transporting Canadian oil, which would displace higher-priced Venezuelan crude oil. Keystone XL will safely transport growing oil production from North Dakota and Montana, as well as provide market access for crude at Cushing, Okla. . This will contribute to maintaining stable energy prices and boosting the competitiveness of U.S. Gulf Coast refiners. This benefits all of our pocketbooks.

4. Keystone XL Pipeline enhances Energy Security

Energy security is about safe, reliable access to diverse and abundant energy resources. It’s also about having the choice of how those resources will be procured, used and distributed. A new comprehensive report from energy research organization IHS CERA, titled “Critical Questions for the Canadian Oil Sands,” shows that the oil sands play an important role in the energy security of the United States. The report states:

Increasing supply from Canada allows the United States to reduce its dependence on more distant supplies of oil by tanker, often from regions that are less stable and more susceptible to disruption. Pipeline and rail links between the United States and Canada constitute a “hardwired” link of Canadian oil to the US market — very different from waterborne shipments that can be diverted, even while en route.

The [Gulf Coast] region currently relies on heavy crude oil from Mexico and Venezuela. Mexico has struggled to maintain its heavy crude output to the USGC. Between 2005 and 2012, imports of Mexican heavy crude to the United States have declined by about half . . . There is also some uncertainty surrounding future supply from Venezuela, stemming from a recent history of declining production. Canadian heavy supply offers an alternative to less certain heavy crude suppliers.

As the United States imports growing volumes of heavy crude, year after year, it just makes sense to create a stable link from the United States’ most reliable trading partner to the north.

5. Keystone XL supports American Energy Independence

North American energy independence is a goal that is realistic and attainable. The IEA World Energy Outlook makes several important predictions in its latest World Energy Outlook report. Two predictions that stand out are:
The United States is the world’s largest oil producer for much of the period to 2035.
The net North American requirement for imported crude oil all but disappears by 2035, and the region becomes a large exporter of products.

The most optimistic outlook pegs Canadian oil production at 3.9 million barrels per day by 2020. The United States’ production is set to hit an astonishing 11.1 million barrels per day in 2020. The White House celebrated the news on its blog stating that:

“The oil and gas boom has also substantially reduced the trade deficit. The real (inflation-adjusted) trade deficit in petroleum products fell to a record monthly low in June. [The first six months of 2013, the petroleum deficit is on pace to set a new annual low this year, after adjusting for price changes.] And through June, 2013, the petroleum share of the real trade deficit in goods has fallen from over 40 percent in 2009 to 25 percent since then, a pattern that will improve as foreign imports continue to fall and domestic production continues to rise. Economic news like this is just one more reason for us to celebrate the resurgence of domestic oil and gas production.”

By creating a “hardwired” link between booming domestic U.S. production and growing supplies of Canadian oil and the U.S. Gulf Coast, Keystone XL will be critical in helping the United States decrease its dependence on oil from less-friendly, less stable regimes in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. It’s about making sure that oil production is connected to the right markets with the right infrastructure at the right time – and that’s what Keystone XL is all about.

Editor's Note:

The above is a statement on the TransCanada website. I post it here because I am in full agreement with their statement because their facts are solid and check out to be true.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keeping It Simple - The 2nd Amendment

By Terry McGahey

Since my story, The Last Gunfight--The Death of Ordinance Number Nine, some folks have requested I write an article of my own, and Tom Correa has graciously accepted the offer.

Since my experience with Tombstone and the 2nd Amendment is what led to this, I will start my Keeping It Simple column with my view of the 2nd Amendment.

First off, the 2nd Amendment was ratified on December 17, 1791.

Now let me ask you a simple straight out question about this date. Do you believe there was any such thing as the National Guard at that time? The answer is a resounding no!

The first lines read, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state"..

Okay let's look at this. Again, was there any such thing as the National Guard at that time? The Militia was the people, the shop keeper, the blacksmith, the farmer and so on. Therefore the National Guard is not the Militia as word twisting attorney's would try to have we the people believe, the people are the militia period!

Now the second half, "The right of the people to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed."

As I stated above, the people are the militia holds true in these lines as well because the National Guard did not exist at that time and in order to form a well regulated militia the people had to be armed to do so.

Now, to keep and bear arms. The 2nd Amendment grants the right of the people to not only keep, but to also bear arms. To bear anything is to be able to have that item on your person.

Our old real money, the silver certificates, stated on it "pay to the bearer on demand". In order to be paid on demand, one had to be carrying the bills upon his or her person which proves my point.

Last but not least. The right of the people shall not be infringed. To infringe upon something is to interfere with whatever the subject may be.

Once again, this is very simple, the government does not have the right to infringe upon our Second Amendment as they are doing in this day and age, because if they were not infringing upon this right we would have no need for concealed weapons permits and it would be completely legal in all states to carry a weapon upon our person.

Simply put, in this person's opinion, it is the federal government's job to ensure that the states adhere to this Amendment. But with our government being filled with crooks, liars and special interests, they will not do the job which they were elected to do.

Not all are crooked, but for the most part they are or they would be doing their job by adhering to the oath they swore to uphold.

Lastly, the 2nd Amendment was not put there to protect hunting or the shooting sports, it was put there so the people could defend themselves from a tyrannical government.

Do you think with this administration we are there?

This is just my opinion and my common sense approach to keeping it simple.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The OK Corral Gunfight: Tombstone Epitaph Coverage -- October 27th, 1881

Tombstone Daily Epitaph - October 27, 1881


Three Men Hurled Into Eternity in the Duration of a Moment. 

Stormy as were the early days of Tombstone nothing ever occurred equal to the event of yesterday. Since the retirement of Ben Sippy as marshal and the appointment of V.W. Earp to fill the vacancy the town has been noted for its quietness and good order. The fractious and much dreaded cowboys when they came to town were upon their good behaviour and no unseemly brawls were indulged in, and it was hoped by our citizens that no more such deeds would occur as led to the killing of Marshal White one year ago. It seems that this quiet state of affairs was but the calm that precedes the storm that burst in all its fury yesterday, with this difference in results, that the lightning bolt struck in a different quarter from the one that fell a year ago. This time it struck with its full and awful force upon those who, heretofore, have made the good name of this county a byword and a reproach, instead of upon some officer in discharge of his duty or a peaceable and unoffending citizen.

Since the arrest of Stilwell and Spence for the robbery of the Bisbee stage, there have been oft repeated threats conveyed to the Earp brothers -- Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt -- that the friends of the accused, or in other words the cowboys , would get even with them for the part they had taken in the pursuit and arrest of Stilwell and Spence. The active part of the Earps in going after stage robbers, beginning with the one last spring where Budd Philpot lost his life, and the more recent one near Contention, has made them exceedingly obnoxious to the bad element of this county and put their lives in jeopardy every month.

Sometime Tuesday Ike Clanton came into town and during the evening had some little talk with Doc Holliday and Marshal Earp but nothing to cause either to suspect, further than their general knowledge of the man and the threats that had previously been conveyed to the Marshal, that the gang intended to clean out the Earps, that he was thirsting for blood at this time with one exception and that was that Clanton told the Marshal, in answer to a question, that the McLowrys were in Sonora. Shortly after this occurrence someone came to the Marshal and told him that the McLowrys had been seen a short time before just below town. Marshal Earp, now knowing what might happen and feeling his responsibility for the peace and order of the city, stayed on duty all night and added to the police force his brother Morgan and Holliday. The night passed without any disturbance whatever and at sunrise he went home to rest and sleep. A short time afterwards one of his brothers came to his house and told him that Clanton was hunting him with threats of shooting him on sight. He discredited the report and did not get out of bed. It was not long before another of his brothers came down, and told him the same thing, whereupon he got up, dressed and went with his brother Morgan uptown. They walked up Allen Street to Fifth, crossed over to Fremont and down to Fourth, where, upon turning up Fourth toward Allen, they came upon Clanton with a Winchester rifle in his hand and a revolver on his hip. The Marshal walked up to him, grabbed the rifle and hit him a blow on the head at the same time, stunning him so that he was able to disarm him without further trouble. He marched Clanton off to the police court where he entered a complaint against him for carrying deadly weapons, and the court fined Clanton $25 and costs, making $27.50 altogether. This occurrence must have been about 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

The After-Occurrence
Close upon the heels of this came the finale, which is best told in the words of R.F. Coleman who was an eye-witness from the beginning to the end. Mr. Coleman says: I was in the O.K. Corral at 2:30 p.m., when I saw the two Clantons and the two McLowrys in an earnest conversation across the street in Dunbar's corral. I went up the street and notified Sheriff Behan and told him it was my opinion they meant trouble, and it was his duty, as sheriff, to go and disarm them. I told him they had gone to the West End Corral. I then went and saw Marshal Virgil Earp and notified him to the same effect. I then met Billy Allen and we walked through the O.K. Corral, about fifty yards behind the sheriff. On reaching Fremont street I saw Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday, in the center of the street, all armed. I had reached Bauer's meat market. Johnny Behan had just left the cowboys, after having a conversation with them. I went along to Fly's photograph gallery, when I heard Virg Earp say, "Give up your arms or throw up your arms." There was some reply made by Frank McLowry, when firing became general, over thirty shots being fired. Tom McLowry fell first, but raised and fired again before he died. Bill Clanton fell next, and raised to fire again when Mr. Fly took his revolver from him. Frank McLowry ran a few rods and fell. Morgan Earp was shot through and fell. Doc Holliday was hit in the left hip but kept on firing. Virgil Earp was hit in the third or fourth fire, in the leg which staggered him but he kept up his effective work. Wyatt Earp stood up and fired in rapid succession, as cool as a cucumber, and was not hit. Doc Holliday was as calm as though at target practice and fired rapidly. After the firing was over, Sheriff Behan went up to Wyatt Earp and said, "I'll have to arrest you." Wyatt replied: "I won't be arrested today. I am right here and am not going away. You have deceived me. You told me these men were disarmed; I went to disarm them."

This ends Mr. Coleman's story which in the most essential particulars has been confirmed by others. Marshal Earp says that he and his party met the Clantons and the McLowrys in the alleyway by the McDonald place; he called to them to throw up their hands, that he had come to disarm them. Instantaneously Bill Clanton and one of the McLowrys fired, and then it became general. Mr. Earp says it was the first shot from Frank McLowry that hit him. In other particulars his statement does not materially differ from the statement above given. Ike Clanton was not armed and ran across to Allen street and took refuge in the dance hall there. The two McLowrys and Bill Clanton all died within a few minutes after being shot. The Marshal was shot through the calf of the right leg, the ball going clear through. His brother, Morgan, was shot through the shoulders, the ball entering the point of the right shoulder blade, following across the back, shattering off a piece of one vertebrae and passing out the left shoulder in about the same position that it entered the right. The wound is dangerous but not necessarily fatal, and Virgil's is far more painful than dangerous. Doc Holliday was hit upon the scabbard of his pistol, the leather breaking the force of the ball so that no material damage was done other than to make him limp a little in his walk.

Dr. Matthews impaneled a coroner's jury, who went and viewed the bodies as they lay in the cabin in the rear of Dunbar's stables on Fifth street, and then adjourned until 10 o'clock this morning.

The Alarm Given
The moment the word of the shooting reached the Vizina and Tough Nut mines the whistles blew a shrill signal, and the miners came to the surface, armed themselves, and poured into the town like an invading army. A few moments served to bring out all the better portions of the citizens, thoroughly armed and ready for any emergency. Precautions were immediately taken to preserve law and order, even if they had to fight for it. A guard of ten men were stationed around the county jail, and extra policemen put on for the night.

Earp Brothers Justified
The feeling among the best class of our citizens is that the Marshal was entirely justified in his efforts to disarm these men, and that being fired upon they had to defend themselves, which they did most bravely. So long as our peace officers make an effort to preserve the peace and put down highway robbery -- which the Earp brothers have done, having engaged in the pursuit and capture, where captures have been made of every gang of stage robbers in the county -- they will have the support of all good citizens. If the present lesson is not sufficient to teach the cow-boy element that they cannot come into the streets of Tombstone, in broad daylight, armed with six-shooters and Henry rifles to hunt down their victims, then the citizens will most assuredly take such steps to preserve the peace as will be forever a bar to such raids.

-- end of article, 1881. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Thanks to Terry McGahey

Dear Friends,

Terry McGahey lived in Tombstone during a time when the local authorities were enforcing the old City Ordinance #9, known as the old Earp firearms odinance, for many years after it had become illegal to do so. 

The only change over the years was that the ordinance number was changed from 9 to 5-5-1, other than that it was the exact same ordinance. 

Terry McGahey experienced first hand just how Tombstone's hierarchy, with the use of this ordinance and other resources, controlled it's citizenry with an iron fist. 

The city believed in making up laws to control their citizens, all while breaking the law in the process. 

As a day wage cowboy, he would sometimes pass through Tombstone while on my horse and the marshals department would actually pull me over while on horseback and harass him over wearing his sidearm. 

Like most who have worked cattle, a sidearm is not worn while branding or other work on livestock. But in the desert, like in the mountain back-country, going without a gun is not very smart. 

At one point, he became fed up with an out of control marshal's office bent on harassing its citizens. He finally told the deputies to either arrest him, confiscate his weapon, or leave him alone. 

From that point, the harassment increased until he decided that enough was enough and he fought back. 

Using our legal system, just as it was set up for citizens to use to address grievances, he fought city hall and won. 

Terry McGahey typifies the American spirit. He exemplifies a Free American, a Free Man, who didn't like being pushed, harassed, and being met with law enforcement who intimidates law abiding citizens rather than garners respect from the community. 

It is my pleasure to have published his story here.He is someone who understands and lives the Cowboy Code. Or more aptly, he lives by the rules that John Wayne spoke about in the Shootist. 

In character, as John Bernard Books, he said, "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

I appreciate like-minded folks, so I feel great saying that Terry has agreed to give us an article every other week starting next week. 

And Terry, if you're reading this, thank you for allowing me to post your story here. I admire what you did when you took on City Hall and won.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Last Gun Fight -- The Death of Ordinance Number 9 (Chapter Twelve)

Written by Terry McGahey

Chapter Twelve: Our Day In Court

Things had really settled down since the nights of camping in the wash, and no longer did Jack and I have to worry about someone sneaking down to our place and causing any damage.

I began working as an extra in the movies because I thought it would be interesting to see how movies were actually made. The first one I worked on was a real stupid movie called, “Four Eyes and Six Guns”.

It was about an optometrist played by Judge Reinhold, who had made a set of spectacles for an aging Wyatt Earp, who was played by Fred Ward. Like I said, it was a stupid movie, but I enjoyed spending a short time talking with Fred Ward. He seemed like a nice fellow who still had his feet on the ground.

Next I did a narration for A&E about Boot Hill in Tombstone. It was very impromptu and they asked me to make it up as I went along. It could have been much better with a script, but there wasn't one so we just played it by ear.

My favorite extra job was the movie “Tombstone” with Sam Elliot, Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, and many more.

I played the part of a drover who had just come in off the trail, and who was playing an old west card game called Faro. Billy Bob Thornton was the dealer, and he had threatened to kill me if I backed that queen one more time. This was just before Kurt Russell (Wyatt Earp) had slapped him around and threw him out of the bar.

A few funny things happened while filming that scene but the best was when Kurt Russell was to throw the gun he had taken away from Billy Bob Thornton to the bartender without looking at him. Of course the gun they used for this scene was a rubber one so no one would get hurt.

The first time Kurt Russell tossed the gun without looking it hit one of the extras who was standing at the bar in the back of the head. The director hollered cut, everyone chuckled and they started all over again.

The second time he threw the rubber gun, it hit the same extra in exactly the same spot in the back of his head. By now everyone had broken up laughing, and after a short break the scene was finished on the third take.

The last thing I did was a video game called the “Bounty Hunter”. I was one of the gunslingers that you had to quick draw against. I never did see the end result of that one, but I heard that it turned out pretty well.

I had the offer to work on two more movies, one was “Lightning Jack” with Paul Hogan and the other was the “Quick and the Dead” with Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone, but to tell you the truth I really didn't want anymore to do with that business.

Not that the people had treated me badly or anything, quite the opposite, but it just wasn't for me. I had also decided to sell my interest in the Boot Hill Gunslingers because, like I said, it just wasn't for me.

By this time it was beginning to come close to our court date' so I decided to take a little vacation while I had the chance.

I loaded up my camper on the back of my pickup truck and headed north. I ended up in Yellowstone Park and from there I went into Cody Wyoming because I knew a gal who lived there, so I decided to pay her a visit. While in Yellowstone Park, I had written another poem about my feelings for nature and I call it “Lost Beauty”

There were people before us who saw this country when
it was natural and pristine, but for us today it’s nothing
more than a passing midnight dream.

For us to see the wondrous sights, we must pay to enter
a park. I’d have dearly loved to have seen this country
the way did Lewis and Clark.

Or even the way those first cowhands did driving the herd
up the untamed trail, or even the fellows with the pony express
riding hard to deliver the mail.

This country we know is nothing more than a shadow of it’s
once great glory, its been ravaged and raped of most of its
beauty, its really a sad, sad story.

If only it were possible to go back in time, and through their
eyes was able to see, the natural beauty in its original state,
that would be riches to me.

When I got back to Tombstone, about three weeks later, I asked Jack what our situation was with the lawsuit and he stated that our attorney had called and our court date had been moved up to next week.

We called Ed and met him uptown to have a few beers together and celebrate some. We were sure glad to see this thing finally coming to an end.

It had been over two years since the first time the marshal’s deputy had pulled me over on my horse and harassed me over wearing my sidearm, and a lot of water had passed under the bridge since then.

By then, newspapers, including the Associated Press, had also carried the story of our fight against the city..

The Tucson Citizen, January 10, 1994:
"Too-tough town" may ease gun ordinance

Tombstone, synonymous with the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, soon may allow people to tote firearms within the city limits. An amended gun ordinance – less stringent than the city’s current gun law – is expected to be presented to the City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting, said City Attorney Biagio Gingo.

If approved, the ordinance would permit the carrying of firearms within city limits at any time the city has not scheduled a “special activity,’ according to Gingo.

The existing ordinance prohibits carrying firearms within city limits at any time – despite the fact that the state Constitution permits residents to carry non-concealed firearms, and has wording that forbids a lesser governmental agency (such as the Tombstone City Council) from passing contradictory laws.

City officials had argued that because Tombstone, a tourism-oriented community, frequently sponsors mock shoot-outs, gunfight re-enactments and “wild West’ scenarios, it was dangerous to allow firearms to be carried in the city. Former City Marshal Ed Schnautz said in 1991 that city officials feared visitors might get caught up in the realism of the situation.

“I can just see somebody with a concealed weapon pulling a gun out after he’s had a few drinks, and somebody getting shot,’ he said.

Schnautz said at the time that he and other city officials felt Tombstone’s situation involved special circumstances, and therefore required a special ordinance to deal with the problem. Three Tombstone residents disagreed, however, and challenged the ordinance in court.

One of the three, Terry McGahey, complained to the City Council about the ordinance in December 1991 and asked that it be amended to agree with the state Constitution. The council refused to amend Ordinance 5-5-1, enacted in 1977, and McGahey and two others – Jack Fiske and Ed Phelan – subsequently filed a lawsuit, hoping to force the changes.

Because of Tombstone’s reputation as “the town too tough to die,’ the case drew national media attention, and that of the National Rifle Association, which agreed to provide some funding for legal fees involved in the suit through its Firearms Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund.

Deneen Peterson, a Tucson attorney representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment on the situation and advised her clients to remain silent.

Gingo, however, said, “Their attorney, Miss Peterson, and I have been working on fine-tuning the ordinance. We’ve agreed that the ordinance has to protect the public throughout.’

He said the reworded ordinance will make exceptions for “special activity days’ in town, when firearms will still be prohibited.

“The mayor and council will have to post advance notice, telling the public which days and times the events are scheduled,’ Gingo said. He said there are many such events scheduled during a typical year – usually on weekends – but had no estimate of the number. -- end Tucson Citizen article.

The Prescott Courier, January 11, 1994:
Tombstone's anti-firearm Law could be eased

Associate Press

TUCSON (AP) _ Tombstone, home of the gunfight at the OK Corral, might let townsfolk go back to the frontier tradition of strutting down the street with six-guns strapped to their hips. Openly packing a pistol is legal in Arizona, but Tombstone outlawed the practice in 1977 for fear that mock gunfights staged for tourist could lead to confusion and real bloodletting.

The old silver mining town in southeast Arizona thrives on tourists drawn by the story of the 1881 shootout re-enacted in movies including the current ''Tombstone.'' The battle in which Wyatt Earp and his posse killed Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury at the OK Corral is re-enacted in mock gunfights, as are other historic gunbattles.

The ban angered some folks in ''the town too tough to die,'' and three residents sued in 1991 to overturn the ban. They argued the local ordinance is superseded by the state Constitution, which, like the laws of several other states, allows people to carry guns in public as long as they aren't concealed.

Now, their lawyer is in on negotiations shaping a compromise city ordinance, said City Attorney Biagio Gingo. The idea is to allow ''open carry'' of firearms except on days when mock gunfights are planned, he said. ''Their attorney ... and I have been working on fine-tuning the ordinance,'' Gingo said. ''We've agreed that the ordinance has to protect the public throughout.''

An amendment to the ordinance is expected to go before the City Council on Jan. 17, he said. Deneen Peterson, the Tucson lawyer who challenged the law, declined to comment on the situation and advised her clients to do the same. -- end Prescott Courier article.

During the following week I mainly stayed home because I didn't want to answer questions about the lawsuit, and I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself for a bit before court. So for the rest of the week, I did just that.

Now the time had come for everyone to lay their cards on the table, because the next day we would go to court in Tucson and finish this thing once and for all.

That evening, Ed drove over to Jack’s place, and I met them over coffee. We decided to meet at the Longhorn Cafe for breakfast in the morning about nine o’clock before driving to Tucson. We then talked about what a rough road we had traveled throughout this ordeal, and when we finished Ed said his goodnights and headed for home.

Jack and I decided to drive up to Big Nose Kate’s for a couple of beers, and both of us took our own vehicles. When we walked in, Bill was tending bar, and Hal and a few others who were behind our stand were also there.

Ron, our friend on the city council, was just getting up to leave and he walked over to us and said “Give them hell tomorrow guy’s, they deserve it" then he walked out the door.

The rest of the evening went pretty much the same way. We hadn't seen anyone that night which had been against us so it turned out to be a nice quiet evening and that really was an enjoyable change.

I decided to stay and help Bill close up that evening because I wasn't tired, and I just wanted to spend some time alone talking to Bill. I thought the world of that old man because he was truly a nice gentleman with no hidden personalities and no axe to grind with anyone.

I remember, while helping him to restock and clean up the place, by wiping down the bar and sweeping the floor, Bill had mentioned the supposed Big Nose Kate’s ghost and how Bob, the fellow who tried to look like Kenny Rogers, believed strongly that the ghost really existed and he was somewhat afraid of him.

He also said that Hal was unsure about the ghost, and would get somewhat nervous when someone would talk about the ghosts antics.

We finished cleaning up and Bill poured us a couple of draft beers. Then he told me that Bob and Hal would be opening up in the morning and that maybe we should play a little ghostly trick on them. I thought that would be funny, so we agreed on it.

First off, we opened a package of peanuts and scattered them on the bar, then placed one of the pistols up side down in the holster which was on display behind the bar, and last we placed an empty beer mug upside down over the mop handle in the corner.

I told Bill what time Jack, Ed and I would meet in the morning before we left for Tucson, and said I would meet him at the bar before we left so we could see how our handiwork affected Bob and Hal. We called it a night and went home.

The next morning Jack and I met Ed at the Longhorn just before nine o’clock and we ate breakfast. While doing so Ed said that he wanted to drive, so we decided to ride in Ed’s truck.

By the time we finished, we still had about a half an hour before we had to leave for Tucson, so I told Jack and Ed about the ghostly trick that Bill and I had set up for Hal and Bob on the previous evening, and asked them to pick me up in front of Kate’s when they were ready to go.

I could see both Bob and Hal walking down the boardwalk towards Kate’s so they could make ready to open the place, and I could see Bill waiting at the door. I hurriedly walked down the boardwalk as to catch up with the three of them before they went inside and locked the door.

As we entered Kate’s, Bill thanked me for coming to meet him before going to Tucson so Bob and Hal wouldn't have any reason to believe anything was out of the ordinary.

As Bob approached the bar, he had completely stopped in his tracks, and a very strange look came over face as he noticed the peanuts, the revolver up side down in the holster, and the beer mug on the mop handle.

He said, with some excitement in his voice said, "Hal! Look at this!"

Hal began looking over the situation as Bob told him that the ghost had been at it again!

Bob, while looking around in a very cautious manner, then walked back to the storage room. At that time, Hal asked Bill if he had done this on the night before with just a bit of nervousness in his voice to which Bill answered, “Yes, we did” while pointing at me.

Bill then asked Hal not to say anything about it to Bob, because he had bit on the ghostly trick, hook, line and sinker. Hal agreed and fell right in with us as we prodded and pushed Bob’s imagination.

For some time after that, Bob would tell the story of the ghostly antics to anyone who would listen and to this day I don’t know if Bill or Hal had ever told him the truth. I know I didn't, and I don’t believe that they did either.

As Ed and Jack pulled up in front of Kate’s, I was just walking out the door. As I climbed into Ed’s tuck, it struck me how well we all dressed for the occasion.

Jack was wearing black slacks with a maroon shirt and a black string tie with a black leather vest along with his best black cowboy hat and boots. I wore gray slacks with a white shirt, a gray string tie and a gray four pocket vest along with my best silver belly cowboy hat and new boots. A silver belly is nothing more than a nice gray hat.

Ed on the other hand was really decked out. He was wearing what must have been a thousand dollar western suit along with his silver belly hat and a pair of very expensive Ostrich boots. We all looked good enough to go to a Saturday night dance.

When we entered the court room we could see our attorney having a conversation with the Tombstone city attorney as well as the Judge.

As we looked around, we also saw the Tombstone Mayor and Marshal standing on the other side of the room.

Since this wasn't going to be a jury trial, the room where the case would be heard was fairly small with regular chairs and a small desk like podium which would be the judge's bench with the court stenographer sitting in front of it.

The Tombstone City Attorney, as well as the mayor and marshal, would be sitting on the left hand side of the aisle facing the judge, and the three of us with our attorney would be sitting on the right.

Before the proceedings had begun our attorney had taken us into a smaller room yet, and explained to us what kind of questions the judge might ask us and said, "Just tell the truth because this is an open and shut case in my opinion."

She told us that the judge had all of the Chochise County Sheriff’s police reports that we had filed as well as many other items of evidence, which she had subpoenaed from Tombstone as well as a few of the newspaper reports and the records from the Tombstone City Council meetings which we had attended, not to mention the copies of the Arizona State Laws which Tombstone had broken.

The Judge opened the hearing and asked us some questions individually about any proof we might have, and each time our attorney would point out to him the reference page which he already had on his podium.

Each time the Judge would look over this evidence, and go on to the next item. When the Judge came to the permit allowing Ed to carry a cap gun, we could actually see, for the first time, a look of disapproval on his face.

Next the Judge questioned the mayor and marshal about the incidents which had occurred over the past few years, but their answers were pretty weak because it was very clear by all of the evidence that Tombstone’s old Earp ordinance was completely illegal.

The evidence also showed that the three of us had been illegally harassed by the city officials in Tombstone, so the Judge's demeanor towards the mayor and marshal had begun to change in a way that didn't look good for them.

The Judge then retired to his chambers as to reach a decision in the case only about an hour into the hearing.

When he returned from his chambers, he ruled in our favor completely.

He told the mayor and marshal of Tombstone, in a stern voice, that if something of this nature ever came up in front of him again, or if the city of Tombstone continue any harassment of us in any way, he would put them in jail.

He then awarded us a small settlement for our trouble, and dismissed the court.

This fight had never been about money, it was about our rights being violated as citizens of the State of Arizona, by a small town that thought that it was above the law, so we did not care about the amount of money.

I think that some of the long time Tombstone residents thought that we were after money, but they never understood our fight, and as far as I was concerned, the ones who thought that could all go to Hell.

We thanked our attorney and headed back to Tombstone.

While on our way home, we discussed the fact that we were glad to see this thing finally come to an end, and we also discussed the fact that the city officials would be much more careful in trying to enforce any made-up laws to bully their citizens in the future because they would not want to go to jail themselves.

When we arrived back in Tombstone, we parked on Allen Street near Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.

As we were walking up the boardwalk towards Kate’s, Jack said, "You know, it has taken one hundred and twelve years to undo what Mr. Gray and Virgil Earp had started back in 1881, and in a way this is a late coming victory for the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton."

I looked at Jack and said, "No, this is a victory for every person who lives in Arizona and especially for the folks in Tombstone no matter if they deserve it or not."

We walked into Kate’s, took a place at the end of the bar, and ordered ourselves a beer.

Bill, Hal, Bob, and several others, had begun to stare at us while waiting to hear what had happened. By not paying attention to them we were pulling their legs and waiting to see how long it would take before they couldn't stand it any more, and we also wanted see how long it would take before someone would ask us about the outcome.

Finally, about thirty seconds after we received our beers, Bill asked, “Well, are you going to tell us or not?"

I smiled at Bill and said, "Its over, and we won hands down!"

With that several people let out a congratulatory hoop and began walking over to us and shaking our hands. We only stayed in Kate’s for about an hour or so after that, and no one would let us pay for our own beers even though we had tried to.

The old Earp ordinance, as it was known, had survived in one form or another for far too many years and it had finally been laid to rest, once and for all, just as it should have been when Arizona had become a state back in 1912.

I stayed on in Tombstone for one year after the court case had come to a close, and the old Earp ordinance had been stricken from the books, but I have to admit that I looked at the people in Tombstone in a whole different light.

I had began to notice that many of these folks who were playing cowboy had started wearing their old west garb and their colt replicas more often than not, and I had even heard some of these folks telling the tourists, when they didn't realize that Jeff or I was near by, how "we," meaning themselves as well as others, had fought the city of Tombstone over the old Earp ordinance, and how their bravery and toughness had got the job done.

 I had reached the point of no longer caring what these folks had to say, or how many lies they told. I would just shake my head in disgust while thinking of the old movie, High Noon with Gary Cooper, and inside myself, I wanted to puke.

But rather than say something, I had decided that it was no longer worth it and I would just walk away. The nerve of these phonies, taking credit for something that they never had the guts to stand up for in the first place, and during the mix wanted nothing to do with it because of their lack of sand and fear of retaliation by the Tombstone marshal's office.

Yep! They were a brave bunch. A braver bunch of cowboys had never existed. If you didn't believe that, all one had to do was ask them, and they would have gladly told you so.

By now I had had enough of Tombstone, and the phonies who lived there at that time, and I no longer had much respect for many of them, so I moved away from that city and vowed to never return except to visit a few friends from time to time.

I am now living in Wyoming, which is the least populated state in the Union. I have been living a very nondescript life, which is the way I like it, and the way I will live out my years.

The End

Terry McGahey

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Last Gun Fight -- The Death of Ordinance Number 9 (Chapter Eleven)

Written by Terry McGahey

Chapter Eleven: Shots Fired and Threats Made

The cycle of the full moon was upon us once again, and for another month we had set our trap in the wash but it was almost as though the perpetrators knew when we were there. I know that they didn’t, but it sure seemed that way because once again we had no luck in catching these people.

We went into town one day to pick up our mail and the Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper, which we nicknamed the Tombstone Tumblebug, just to see if any new lies had been printed. We went to the Legends Saloon for coffee like we normally would, and while reading the paper we came across an article which was written about a new group in town.

They called themselves WAG, "Women Against Guns."

As it turned out, the group of women was nothing but a small bunch of self-righteous better-than-thous which also included the woman who wore the tiara in her hair and who was known as the Queen of Tombstone.

As Jack put it, "All they accomplished was to wag their tongues."

It wasn't long before this group had fallen apart because everyone with it wanted to be the leader, and none of them wanted to be the followers. Apparently, their egos had destroyed them from within.

Another two or three nights passed with Jack and me sitting in the wash, but again we were having no luck.

But on the third or fourth night while we were waiting in our stand of brush, it happened. Jack walked into the house to get us some more coffee, and he had no more than entered his place when I could hear the brush rustling and footsteps crunching the dead foliage on the ground just before entering the wash, about sixty or seventy feet in front of my position.

As my adrenaline began to pump, my eyesight had grown into a very keen state, and I could hear everything as though it were taking place right next to my ears. There were three of them and they were slowly making their way down the wash in my direction, and with each closer step my senses became more heightened.

I only hoped that Jack would not be heard, as I could see him approaching the wash with our coffee, thank God Jack was walking quietly.

As the group came within fifty feet or so, I still wanted to make sure that I had the right people, and then I heard it. One of the three had whispered, “Tonight we’ll hit the tack shed.”

I knew that Jack had also heard them, but he was out of position and all I could see in my mind was my horse’s head cut wide open, so I raised up from the brush and hollered, “Wrong move you sons a bitches!”

I fired my shotgun, hitting one of them right in the butt as he was trying to pull a pistol. The other two grabbed that fellow and dragged him off into the brush while he was screaming like a coyote.

Jack, now at the edge of the wash, dropped the coffee cups and pulled his .45 Colt revolver while hollering "My God! Terry, you shot him!"

I jumped out of the stand of brush and pumped another round into the twelve gauge shotgun, and Jack hollered in an excited and surprised voice, "Where are you going?"

I hollered, "I'm goin' to shoot that son of a bitch again!"

I have to admit, I had lost it. I ran down to the area, the area where I guessed the three had disappeared into the brush, with Jack right behind me. When we reached there, I fired two more blasts from my shotgun in the direction where they had gone into the heavy brush.

Jack also fired three shots into the brush, and hollered, "Come on back and get some more you no good bastards!"

After things had quieted down, and we couldn't find their trail because of the darkness, we decided to go on back to Jack's house and calm our nerves with some more coffee. But this time, we put a little whiskey in it.

We pondered if we should call the Sheriff’s office and report what had happened, but Jack said that we should just leave it alone and wait and see what takes place tomorrow. I agreed with him, and we just sat in the darkness drinking coffee with whiskey shots most of the night because our adrenaline rush wouldn't let us sleep if our lives had depended upon it.

The following morning as the sun rose over the hills with the colors of pink, red, orange and yellows, it seemed so peaceful that it was hard to believe that the event of the previous night had really taken place. It truly seemed surreal.

Without any sleep, Jack and I decided to walk down the wash and see if we could find any evidence or tracks which might have been left by one of the perpetrators.

Once we reached the area where the three had disappeared into we found some blood trail, and the same type of tennis shoe prints which we had seen before. We knew then that we had the right people without a doubt. We then followed the signs until we came to a spot on the main dirt road where there were fresh tire tracks, but that was as far as we could go.

Both Jack and I had decided to take a nap because we were completely worn out. After sleeping for three or four hours, I could hear a pickup truck bouncing down our road, so I looked out my window and realized that it was Jeff.

As I walked out onto my front porch, Jack was exiting his shop door. He too had heard the pickup truck, and by now we were both pretty spooky about who would drive into our place.

As Jeff parked his truck and got out, he was already asking questions about what happened last night. I told him that I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and then he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Terry, I know better than that."

I then asked him why he would think anything had taken place last night, and he replied, "Because I went to the Circle K late last night, and when I pulled in there were three guys getting into an old station wagon and one of them was wrapped in towels and bleeding like a stuck pig."

He then told us that as he got out of his pickup the three drove off like bats out of hell heading in the direction of the Mexican border. He said that when he went inside, the clerk had told him that they claimed someone had shot their buddy and they were going to need some towels.

She had overheard one of them say, that they would take him into Mexico. When the clerk asked them why they wouldn't go over to Sierra Vista, because it was the closest hospital, none of them would answer her.

Jeff then said, "Terry, I know what’s been going on down here, and you can’t tell me that you or Jack didn't shoot that old boy."

I then asked Jeff, if he had ever seen those three before, to which he said no.

Knowing Jeff real well, I knew that he wouldn't say anything, so Jack and I told him the whole story of our strange and unusual night.

Afterwards, Jack, Jeff and I went into town for a late breakfast, and as we were walking down the boardwalk Ron stopped us, He asked if we had heard about the fellow who had been shot last night, to which we replied, "No! What happened?"

Ron then began to explain that he had gone to the Circle K, and the clerk was mopping up a lot of blood on the floor. He said that when he asked what had taken place, the clerk told him that someone had been shot and his buddies had hauled him off to Mexico.

I told Ron that "We hadn’t heard anything about it, but if you hear anything else let us know." He said he would, and we went on to breakfast.

The one thing that I’ve always wondered about that night, and Jack and I had talked about several times afterwards, was why we were never been paid a visit by the Chochise County Sheriff’s Department, and why, to the best of our knowledge, was there never a hospital report issued?

Whenever a gunshot victim is admitted to a hospital, the doctor in charge, by law, must report it to the local authorities. The only thing that we could ever figure was that the clerk at the Circle K had heard right, and whoever these people were, they went into Old Mexico and had their buddy’s wounds attended to by a Mexican doctor or at a Mexican hospital. This would be the only explanation for why a report had never been filed, or why we had never been contacted.

Whoever those fellows were, they must have had a very good reason why they did not want to be identified. I am not stating that these fellows had ties to someone important in Tombstone, but why else would they have any reason to do the things they had done? You figure it out!

Just like the people who would sandwich in my truck while I was parked in Tombstone, the people who had been causing us all of our grief at home had finally decided to leave us alone, and once again Jack and I went back to living a quiet life on the Old Guthrie Place.

I decided to join into a business venture with Bill, Hal, and another fellow by the name of Tom. We had all decided to start our own gunfight shows down at the old set behind the library.

We paid rent to the Lions Club for the use of the set and hired several people in town, and started our own western shows. We called the group, the Boot Hill Gunslingers.

This group, being an actual business had started off slow, but at least it paid for itself. As time went on, we actually made money. Being that this was a paying proposition, we also had no trouble getting people to work the shows. We actually had Vigilante members, as well as Wild Bunch members, working the shows and remarkably everyone got along just fine.

One afternoon when the show had ended, we were all standing in the parking lot of the library near Toughnut Street. This fellow by the name of Chuck, who claimed to be an Apache Indian and who was fairly drunk, had walked up to Hal explaining that he was upset because he had an argument with his girlfriend and he was looking for her.

She worked for us from time to time, but she didn't work on that day. Hal had told Chuck that she wasn't around, but Chuck didn't believe him, so he pulled out a Bowie knife and held it tight up against Hal’s stomach while demanding Hal tell him the truth.

When I saw what was taking place, I began walking towards the two and hollered over at Chuck, “To Get the hell away from Hal and put the knife away."

I then said, "Hal is almost seventy years old for heaven’s sake, what in the hell is the matter with you?"

By now I was with in about ten feet of the situation, and I placed my hand on my gun. Even though I had blanks in it, the bluff worked and Chuck put the knife away. And when he turned to leave, he looked back at me and said, "If I see you uptown, I am going to kill you Terry."

Someone had called the marshal’s office, and just a few moments later a deputy by the name of Frank had showed up. The deputy wasn't going to do anything about Chuck, who was a possible danger to someone and he was only trying to defuse the situation with us.

While the deputy was still trying to calm everyone down, I walked over to my truck, opened the door, and strapped on my .45 auto.

As I began walking passed everyone, the deputy and the employees of the Gunslingers tried to stop me, so I told them, "I do not take my life being threatened in a very kindly fashion and since I have plenty of witnesses that my life was actually threatened, I am going to find Chuck and give him the opportunity to make good on his threat, because I would rather look him in the eyes than take the chance that he would walk around a corner and come up on me from behind."

With that said, I walked into town. I knew that Chuck would either be in Big Nose Kate’s Saloon or the Crystal Palace, and since Kate’s was the closest, I went there first.

As I walked in, there was a fairly large crowd, but I spotted J.B. who was a friend of mine, so I walked up to him and asked him if he had seen that "God damned Indian Chuck?"

J.B. told me that Chuck had just walked in, and walked out again about five minutes ago. He could see that I wasn't in a very jovial mood, and when he looked down and saw my .45 in the cocked and locked position, he said, "Terry! This looks serious to me."

I nodded my head and replied, "Yep," as I turned and walked out the door of Kate’s onto Allen Street.

I was headed to the Crystal Palace, and when I reached the center of Allen Street, Bill and Hal were waiting for me. They said that the deputy had radioed ahead to the marshal and told him what was about to take place, so the marshal grabbed Chuck on Fifth Street and arrested him for being drunk in public.

Bill asked me to put my gun in his truck, which I did, and we went to the Legends Saloon, and he and Hal bought me a few beers. I was still angry, but the situation was over for the moment.

The following morning, I went to town to pick up my mail, and I spotted Chuck walking along the boardwalk near Fifth Street, so I walked right up to him without taking my eyes off of his, and he said, "Terry, I want to apologize. I heard you were looking for me yesterday with a gun, and I want you to know that I was just drunk and I didn't mean anything by it."

He then asked, "Would you have shot me?"

I told him, if he would have pulled that Bowie knife, I would have put a hole in him big enough to walk through. I then told Chuck that I do not believe in treating people the way he had, and I would not allow people to treat me that way.

He apologized once more and reached out to shake my hand. I shook it, and after that I never had any more trouble with Chuck.

It seemed to me like trouble had become my middle name during this time period, no matter the reason.

My baby sister from California called me one evening, and she sounded as though she was almost in tears. Her ex-husband had been making threats by telling her that if she didn't come back to him, he would hurt someone in our family or pay to have her raped and beaten. He had gone so far as to smash her new boyfriend’s car window and slash his tires.

She didn't know where else to turn, so she called me. I knew that her ex had been in prison, and was on drugs, so I didn't doubt that he might make good on his threats if he became strung out on drugs long enough. Drugs can ruin good people.

I told her that I would take care of the problem, and assured her that everything would be OK. I then picked up the phone and called her ex, Jim. I told him that if anything happened to anyone in my family, or to my sister, that I would not care how good his alibi would be, and I would not care what I had to do. I told him that I would simply take him out!

Well, at least that problem was solved. Jim called me back and apologized profusely, and made amends with my sis and her boyfriend.

You know, I actually liked Jim, and I hated to have to do that, but it had to be done. Sometimes, if you wait on the legal system to handle a dangerous situation, it’s too late.

 The only reason I wrote this segment about my sis is because for me this was a time of awakening within myself. I had never thought of myself as one, who would take another’s life.

Sure, I had been involved in several fist fights during my life, and I have always believed in right and wrong. There has never been much room in my life for gray areas, because I see things as either black or white.

I have to admit, knowing now that I could take another man's life if pushed too far is a scary feeling. But on the other hand, I guess that is who I am, so I have to be more careful and learn to control my own emotions better.

There is a big difference in thinking you are capable of doing such a thing, and actually coming to realize you will. It is nothing to brag or feel macho about, because the seriousness of such an action is somewhat frightening to a decent person with a conscience.

-- end Chapter Eleven

For Chapter 12, the final Chapter in the sage of one man's fight against the City of Tombstone and the historic Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 -- America's most famous gun-control law, please click on the link below:

The Last Gun Fight -- The Death of Ordinance Number 9 (Chapter Twelve)