These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 20, 2011.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Even Ban Ki-Moon Has Had It With Hezbollah
From Ya Libnan:
UN chief slams Hezbollah arms, Syria’s violations of lebanon borders
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon 14th semi-annual report on the implementation of Resolution 1559 was characterized by a tough stance on Hezbollah’s weapons and the Syrian violations inside the Lebanese territory.
The report said that Hezbollah’s weapons have become“a fundamental anomaly that is incompatible with Lebanon’s high ideals of the protection of human rights and democracy.”
He appealed to Hezbollah’s regional backers – a reference to Iran and Syria – to aid “the transformation of the militant group into a solely political party.”
The secretary-general lamented that steps to implement 1559 had come to a “quasi standstill” and cited the recent security lapses as evidence that Lebanon was teetering on the brink of serious disruption. “These events are indicative of growing security threats in the country,” he wrote.
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 was issued in 2004 and called for the demarcation of a Lebanese-Syrian border in order to boost Lebanon’s control over its territory. It also called for the disarmament of no-nstate groups.
In May and July, two separate bomb attacks close to the southern port city of Sidon wounded 11 U.N. peacekeepers and drew international condemnation.
The UN chief placed the burden of keeping his organization’s troops U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon ((UNIFIL) safe at the door of “the Lebanese Authorities” and repeated his insistence that (UNIFIL) personnel be allowed freedom of movement in their mandated area of operations.
Ban also strongly condemned “the violent incursions and raids by Syrian troops within Lebanese towns and villages, leading to people killed and wounded.”
Ban called on the Syrian government to “put an immediate end to all such incursions and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity according to resolution 1559.”
Posted on 10/20/2011 8:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Gilad Shalit release: freed Palestinian prisoner vows to 'sacrifice' her life
From The Telegraph
An unsuccessful suicide bomber released from prison as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli conscript, on Wednesday vowed to fulfil a childhood ambition by "sacrificing" her life for the Palestinian cause.
As she returned to her family home in northern Gaza, Wafa al-Bis insisted she would seize any opportunity to mount another suicide mission and encouraged dozens of cheering schoolchildren to follow her example.
Bis was one of hundreds of Palestinian militants freed by Israel on Tuesday in the first phase of a prisoner swap agreed with Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist overlords, to win the freedom of Sgt Maj Shalit after five years in solitary confinement.
Her words will chill critics of the deal who argue that many of the 1,027 Palestinians who are to be released from prison will return to violence once they have been freed. For most Israelis, such fears have been consigned to the future as an anxious nation watched to see how the 25-year-old conscript was faring on his first full day at home in Mitzpe Hila, his home village in the hills above the Sea of Galilee.
In contrast to the private reunion under way in northern Galilee, the scene in Gaza remained festive as freed Palestinian captives greeted relations and well-wishers at tented receptions.
But few were as outspoken as the would-be suicide bomber. Bis was just 21 when, in 2005, she volunteered to undertake a suicide mission in Israel. Her target, Israel says, was a hospital where she had been given permission to seek treatment for burns she sustained in a gas tank explosion. She never got there. Stopped by suspicious Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on Gaza’s border, she was discovered with 22lb of explosives sewn into a belt inside her underwear. Bis tried to blow herself up but the detonator malfunctioned.
Speaking in her bedroom, the shelves of which were lined with soft toys, Bis yesterday maintained that the six years she spent in an Israeli prison cell had left her with no regrets other than her failure to kill herself and her captors, although she insisted that her target was only ever going to be a military one.
“I wanted to be the first female martyr from Gaza to kill Israeli soldiers and I wanted to kill as many as I could,” she said. “I had wanted to be a martyr since I was a kid. I regard what I did as an honourable thing. It was my dream to be a martyr but God didn’t let me.”
If given the opportunity, she added, she would fulfil her destiny to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces. “As long as there is going to be occupation over all of Palestine, martyrs will be there to resist and to fight, and I will be among the first of the strugglers,” she said. “This is an honourable thing and I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could.”
Bis’s mother Salma said she had no idea of her daughter’s mission — but added that she felt she had no choice but to encourage her in her chosen course of life. “This is Jihad, it is an honourable thing and I am proud of her,” she said. (my bold EW)
Despite Sgt Maj Shalit’s apparent good humour, he is understood to be showing signs of his long imprisonment, in which conditions were said at first to be “poor”, though he has not been questioned on this aspect of his captivity yet. He has difficulty climbing the stairs and his pallor is attributed to the lack of light he experienced in captivity.
Posted on 10/20/2011 1:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Is America illegal?
From the BBC, which probably thinks every country is illegal except "Palestine".
In Philadelphia, American and British lawyers have debated the legality of America's founding documents.
[J]ust what did Thomas Jefferson think he was doing?
Some background: during the hot and sweltering summer of 1776, members of the second Continental Congress travelled to Philadelphia to discuss their frustration with royal rule.
By 4 July, America's founding fathers approved a simple document penned by Jefferson that enumerated their grievances and announced themselves a sovereign nation.
The event, presented by the Temple American Inn of Court in conjunction with Gray's Inn, London, pitted British barristers against American lawyers to determine whether or not the American colonists had legal grounds to declare secession.
For American lawyers, the answer is simple: "The English had used their own Declaration of Rights to depose James II and these acts were deemed completely lawful and justified," they say in their summary.
To the British, however, secession isn't the legal or proper tool by which to settle internal disputes. "What if Texas decided today it wanted to secede from the Union? Lincoln made the case against secession and he was right," they argue in their brief.
A vote at the end of the debate reaffirmed the legality of Jefferson and company's insurrection, and the American experiment survived to see another day.
It was an unsurprising result, considering the venue - just a few blocks away from where the Declaration was drafted. But did they get it right? [Here] are some more of the arguments from both sides.
And if they got it wrong, then what? I suspect every country is illegal in one way or another.
Update: An English barrister, not to be confused with an American barista, has just pointed out that America is unlawful rather than illegal. What's the difference? Well, "unlawful" means against the law. "Illegal" is a sick bird.
I'm away for a few days. Toodle pip.
Posted on 10/20/2011 2:30 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 20 October 2011
One Million Muslims rally should be peaceful - but Bishop hails trio for stand against it
Malaysia - From My Sin Chew, Bernama and Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (Bernama) -- Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom has urged organisers of 'One Million Muslims Rally' to comply with regulations and ensure that it proceeds peacefully. He said the organisers have obtained a permit and hopes that they could control participants during the rally at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.
"The organisers have given an undertaking that it is different and not beyond control as it is held to defend Islam and for Muslim unity".
The 'One Million Muslims Rally' is organised by Muslim Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) known as Muslim Organisations Group (HIMPUN) to send a message to various parties on the issue of apostasy among Muslims in the country.
Parti Keadilan Rakyan will not participate in the Himpunan Sejuta Umat or gathering of One Million Muslims (HIMPUN) on Saturday at the Stadium Shah Alam Selangor. PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the decision was made after a meeting yesterday and all members of the opposition unanimously felt it would not bring a positive outcome for the party.
“PKR fears its participation may be manipulated by certain groups . . . “ he said. PKR did not want to create uneasiness and doubt between Muslims and followers of other faiths in attending the gathering which was expected to be attended by one million Muslims at the stadium.
PAS would also follow the PRK move by not participating in the gathering.
Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing today hailed PAS, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim and MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek for “taking sane stances in the face of deliberate attempts to stoke anti-Christian hysteria.”
I . . . would like to salute PAS for declining to be involved in the upcoming rally in Shah Alam on Saturday,” said the Jesuit-trained prelate who is concurrently president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia. “Further, I hail Anwar Ibrahim for having the courage to state there is no threat of Christianization of Muslims in Malaysia and salute Dr Chua Soi Lek for boldness in expressing the view that the rally would heighten tensions between Muslims and Christians and for that reason should be stopped.”
Bishop Tan said he was of the view that citizens wanting to gather together in a cause should not be prevented but “the Himpun rally appears headed towards stoking anti-Christian hysteria. Judging from the campaign waged by some sections of the mainstream media and blogs you would think Muslims in Malaysia in droves are being covertly converted to Christianity,” Bishop Tan said. “This is only true in the fevered imagination of the Harussani Zakarias’ of this country and not anywhere else,” added the bishop.
Harussani Zakaria is the Perak mufti who has periodically raised the alarums about Christianization of Muslims in Malaysia. He will be one of Saturday's speakers)
Bishop Tan said Christian leaders have a duty to oppose evil. “Any government this duplicitous, this craven in the face of the obvious troublemakers is a government deserving of the electorate’s rejection,”
The name of the rally is reminiscent of the Nation of Islam's 'Million Man March' in Washington which didn't attract a million men and angered their women. As stadia go the Shah Alam is big and magnificent. But it's seated capacity is 80,000. Even if they double that by standing room on the pitch I think 1 million is an exaggeration.
Posted on 10/20/2011 2:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 20 October 2011
A Fragmentary Report from the Eastern Edges of Dar Al Islam, Where Muslim Indonesian Rulers Oppress and Suppress Melanesian Animists and Christians
Not much news ever gets out from West Papua. The Muslim rulers of Indonesia do not let many outsiders in to see what they are doing there. Perhaps the most arresting thing about this snippet of news seeping out (like blood under the door of Bluebeard's House) from majority-Christian and ethnically Melanesian West Papua, which has been occupied and exploited and its indigenous population ruthlessly suppressed by Muslim Indonesia ever since a rather dubious referendum in 1963 was used as pretext for its annexation (I understand that the Dutch did not want this territory, which comprises more than half of the total area of the island of New Guinea, to go to Indonesia, which had not a skerrick of demonstrable historical or ethnic or cultural connection with the island or the people), is the photograph that accompanies it, for which to see, click on the link. A long line of black men with heads bowed, strung together, which should remind the historically-aware of other long lines of black non-Muslim prisoners driven by their armed Muslim captors, not in the East Indies, but in Africa.
'Shots fired at Papua Protest'
'Indonesian police fired tear gas and warning shots in eastern Papua on Wednesday, breaking up a meeting and detaining 300 people who had declared the province independent, a police spokesman told Reuters.
That is, therefore, the official story. Who knows what really happened? It was probably a lot worse, if one considers the way in which non-Muslim protesters have been treated by Muslim soldiers and police in Egypt. - CM
'The detentions of members of the Papua People Congress follows a deadly clash between police and striking workers at Freeport's Grasberg gold and copper mine in the same province.
'The government in Jakarta has kept a tight rein on Papua, where a low-level separatist insurgency has simmered for decades amid repeated demands for a referendum on independence from Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
'A tight rein'. If one remembers what Muslim Indonesia did to majority-Catholic and animist East Timor, or how the Muslim rulers of Sudan treated the South Sudanese Christians and animists, one can guess that this blandly cliched phrase is a gross understatement and indeed the most cowardly of euphemisms. As for 'Southeast Asia's biggest economy'...once the oil, timber, fisheries and minerals have been sold off, and with the more enterprising non-Muslim Christians, Buddhists and Hindus being progressively driven out, force-converted or simply killed en masse - which has happened in the past and is likely to happen again, and worse, as Indonesia heads ever more swiftly down the sharia route - one may confidently predict that Indonesia will sink into the natural state of all majority-Muslim entities. Like the East Timorese and the South Sudanese, the non-Muslim West Papuans (ten years ago the province was 83 % non-Muslim, comprising around 73% Christians and 10 % animist, and about 16 % Muslims, moved in in accordance with the classic tactic of hegira) would be better off on their own, cutting loose from the perpetually-sinking ship that is dar al Islam.
As for 'a low-level separatist insurgency': it is low-level because they are ill-equipped tribespeople going up against a very large army with all the latest in modern weaponry; and like the 'separatist insurgency' in East Timor, or the struggle of the South Sudanese, it is a fight for very survival, and for physical and spiritual freedom. I cannot give the sources at the moment, but from time to time I have heard reports of village churches being burned, and priests killed, and massacres of Christian or of animist villagers, in West Papua, to punish the people for not wanting to be ruled by Muslim Indonesia from which they have received little good and much harm..- CM
'Declaring independence amounts to treason in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands.
'Human Rights Watch said the situation in the Papuan capital Jayapura was tense.
'Freeport's Grasberg mine, disrupted by a strike since mid-September, contributes 1.6 percent of Indonesia's GDP.'
And I would be willing to bet that little or nothing of the profit from that mine ever gets anywhere near the indigenous people of West Papua; I would guess that the vast bulk of the profits from West Papuan timber (unsustainably logged) and from its mines end up in the pockets of the powerful and corrupt Malay Muslim families who rule Java. - CM
Posted on 10/20/2011 5:30 AM by Christina McIntosh
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Lutfur Rahman: all his controversies in one place
Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph
It is almost exactly a year since Lutfur Rahman was elected mayor of Tower Hamlets after being sacked from the Labour Party for his links with the Islamic extremist group, the IFE, and a controversial local businessman, Shiraj Haque. His term so far has indeed, as I predicted, been a “slow-motion car crash.”
The latest row, the other week, was caused by his council’s decision (now reversed) to hire out the Merchant Navy War Memorial gardens for City bankers’ Christmas piss-ups. (By the time I found out about that one the decision had been reversed so I didn't post it here - but it didn't reflect well on either the council or the banks) Here are the other highlights of Lutfur’s recent political career: let me know if I’ve missed any.
The EDL will be returning to Tower Hamlets in the forseeable future.
Posted on 10/20/2011 6:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Peter Pan Syndrome taken to the Extreme
I'm sure many people on having to face their day in the morning would rather curl into a fetal position and remain in bed. This man, however, has allowed his fear of normal adult life to drive him into permanent infancy. There was a question about whether the taxpayers should foot the bill for this, but evidently those SSI checks will still be coming, presumably for the rest of his life.
Posted on 10/20/2011 6:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 20 October 2011
CAMERA Answers A Question From The Times
An Answer to the New York Times' Question
Never ones to miss an opportunity to attack Israel, the New York Times editorial board took advantage of Gilad Shalit's release to yet again slam the country in an editorial today.
In it, the writer poses the following question:
One has to ask: If Mr. Netanyahu can negotiate with Hamas -- which shoots rockets at Israel, refuses to recognize Israel's existence and, on Tuesday, vowed to take even more hostages -- why won't he negotiate seriously with the Palestinian Authority, which Israel relies on to help keep the peace in the West Bank?
The answer is quite simple. Israel hasn't engaged in serious negotiations with the Palestinians because Mahmoud Abbas has refused to participate in such negotiations, disregarding a chorus of world leaders who have urged him to talk peace. Abbas has blocked talks with preconditions that even his violent predecessor, Yasir Arafat, didn't insist on.
Posted on 10/20/2011 8:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 October 2011
A Broadcast from Planet McCain
“The death of Moammar Kadafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution,” McCain said Thursday. “While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country. Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans. The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country.” more here.
Posted on 10/20/2011 10:27 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Praise for a Jew-Hater
When Muhammed Sayyd Tantawi, the Grand Mufti of Al Ahzar Univeristy in Cairo, died of a heart attack on March 10, 2010, the eulogies came pouring in for the most prominent and influential cleric in the Sunni Muslim world.
Speaking on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Tarsiscio Bertoni, secretary of state for the Vatican, issued a statement that declared Tantawi “a valued partner in the dialogue between Muslims and Catholics.” Cardinal Bertoni himself recalled “with gratitude the impulse which the late sheik gave the meetings between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanentt Committee of Al-Ahzar for Dialogue.”
Rev. Dr. Olavy Fyskse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, also offered his condolences, stating “Sheikh Tantawi will be remembered with great respect and appreciation for his remarkable contribution to Islamic scholarship, for his prominent role and genuine commitment to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. May God rest his soul in eternal peace.” (A delegation from the World Council of Churches met with Tantawi in 2008. For more information, go here.)
Speaking on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tantawi was a voice for faith and tolerance who was widely respected in Muslim communities in Egypt and around the globe, and by many who seek to build a world grounded in mutual respect.”
In her statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Tantawi as an opponent to terrorism and as “an important voice for dialogue among religions and communities.”
The notion that Tantawi was a proponent of tolerance and intercultural and interfaith dialogue is tenable only if one regards Jews as outside the pale of humanity.
The late sheikh, simply put, was a notorious and inveterate anti-Semite who mined the Koran and the life of Muhammad for passages and teachings that justified Islamic Jew-hatred.
Tantawi's Anti-Semitic Statements
He did this in a 700-page text The Children of Israel in the Qur'an and the Sunna, originally published in Cairo in the 1960s and republished in 1986. In this text, which has been excerpted in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: from Sacred Texts to Solemn History edited by Andrew G. Bostom (Prometheus Press, 2008), Tantawi uses passages from the Koran to depict Jews as enemies of God, his prophets and of Islam itself. In one particularly troubling passage Tantawi writes:
Qur'an describes people of the Book in general terms, with negative attributes like their fanaticism in religion, following a false path. It describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e., killing the prophets of God, corrupting his words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people's wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their […] deep rooted lasciviousness.
Later, after quoting some from the Koran, Tantawi writes “This means that not all Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims; the bad ones do not.” (Legacy, page 394). Elsewhere, Tantawi writes that the Jews “initiated hostilities against the Islamic call in Medina.” He continues: “They took every measure they could to extinguish its fire and vitiate its power.” Later he writes, “we are not exaggerating when we say that the Jews left no stone unturned in the attempt to snuff out the Islamic call, nor was any means considered out of bounds in order to denigrate Islam and its Prophet—they tried everything they could.” (Legacy, 399)
Matthias Küntzel, author of Jihad and Jew Hatred: Islamism and the Roots of 9/11, provides some other detail about Tantawi He writes that “Tantawi, the highest Sunni Muslim theologian, quotes Hitlers remark in Mein Kampf that “in resisting the Jew, I am doing the work of the Lord.” Küntzel continues: “He praises The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, noting without the slightest trace of sympathy that “after the publication of the Protocols in Russia, some 10,000 Jews were killed.”
Tantawi made a number of other troubling statements. For example, in 2002, Tantawi declared that Jews are “the enemies of Allah, descendents of apes and pigs.” The following year, Tantawi issued an edict declaring that Jews should no longer be described in such a manner, apparently under pressure from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While Tantawi did condemn the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 he later affirmed terrorism against Israelis. In 2002, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), reported that Tantawi “declared that martyrdom (suicide) operations and the killing of civilians are permitted acts and that more such attacks should be carried out. Tantawi's positions were posted on http://www.lailatalqadr.com/, a website associated with AlAzhar.” This is MEMRI's translation of website:
“The great Imam of AlAzhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, demanded that the Palestinian people, of all factions, intensify the martyrdom operations [i.e. suicide attacks] against the Zionist enemy, and described the martyrdom operations as the highest form of Jihad operations. He says that the young people executing them have sold Allah the most precious thing of all."
"[Sheikh Tantawi] emphasized that every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment, until the people of Palestine regain their land and cause the cruel Israeli aggression to retreat…"
This same MEMRI report adds that “It should be noted that a March 18, 2002 demonstration at Al Azhar University featured eight students who had been trained to carry out suicide attacks against Israelis.” In other words, terrorist recruiting took place at the university where Tantawi served as Grand Mufti.
Tantawi's notorious hostility toward Jews did not disqualify him from receiving an honorary degree in peacemaking from Westminster College in Pennsylvania in 1995 along with Rev. Samuel Habib, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in 1995 that Tantawi came to the U.S. at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
During his visit to the U.S., Rev. Mark Gruber, a Catholic anthropologist stated “The Grand Mufti does not have a lot of sway over the fundamentalist types. His sway is over the much more peace-loving moderate and even Sufi Muslim types.” Bob Stoddard, who served as the coordinator for Tantawi's visit, declared otherwise: “I think it is fair to say that the mufti is highly respected by all Muslims and is seen as a great teacher and leader.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 1, 1995)
Tantawi's inveterate anti-Semitism did not prevent him from being lionized by Rev. Dr. Peter Makari, area executive for the Middle East and Europe for the Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.
Makari reports that Tantawi wrote “books on various topics, including Israel in the Holy Qur'an and Sunna.” Makari, however, makes no reference to the book's anti-Semitic nature. Instead, he describes Tantawi as a “moderate Islamic voice” who has spoken of “equality in rights and responsibilities” for Muslims and non-Muslims in Egypt, despite the fact that he supported “the imperative that Copts pay the jizya, a kind of tax paid by non-Muslims in the Muslim community to retain their protect status as ahl adh-dhimma.” (Makari, 2007, pages 98-99).
On page 100 of his text, Makari writes, Tantawi “has remained steadfast in his call for good relations between Egypt's Muslims and Christians, and among all people generally.”
Apparently, “all people” does not include Jews.
First published at CAMERA.
Posted on 10/20/2011 1:59 PM by Dexter Van Zile
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Those Secretive Feoffees Of The Grammar School In Agawam
The appearance of "feoffee" in a news item in a small-town American paper has made my day. Perhaps it will make yours.
From the Taunton Gazette:
Ipswich Feoffee fight heads to Beacon Hill
Both sides agreed a Legislative public hearing into a bill reforming the Feoffees of the Grammar School drew one of largest crowds ever to appear before the committee.
But that was about all they agreed on.
The hearing before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government drew a standing-room-only crowd of over 100, with both proponents and opponents filling the hearing room.
“There was a small contingent of Little Neck residents, but the majority were there in support,” said School Committee member Rachel Roesler, who spoke in favor Senate Bill 1927 as a private citizen.
“They may have had few more people there,” said Bill Gottlieb, of the Little Neck Legal Action Committee, who spoke against the bill. “But we were well represented.”
The proposed home-rule legislation would replace the current Feoffees of the Grammar School with a publicly appointed board of trustees made up of two members each from the School Committee, the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee and one appointee from Town Meeting.
Currently the Feoffees are made up of four private Feoffees whom they appoint for life and the three longest-serving selectmen.
The Feoffees manage the Little Neck land trust William Paine’s will established in 1660 to benefit the Ipswich public schools, but Roesler noted in her testimony the Feoffees haven’t made a payment since 2006.
The Feoffees hope to sell the land trust to the Little Neck tenants, who own their cottages but rent the land from the trust. The School Committee opposes the sale and the issue will head to probate court in December. The School Committee also has the move to replace the Feoffees before the court.
Opponents of the bill said the issue should go before the Probate Court and the Legislature shouldn’t impinge on judicial power.
Proponents said the Legislature had the authority to alter the trust’s management and also criticized the Feoffees’ management of the trust.
Old England Road resident Catherine Savoie, a land-use attorney, noted the Legislature established the current trust’s management in 1756 and cited recent cases in which the Legislature had approved changes to charitable trusts for the Punchard School in North Andover in 2010 and a library in East Denis in 2004.
“We are confident that the Committee will see this bill for what it really is, a thinly disguised attempt to create bargaining leverage in advance of the trial in the Probate Court in December. This bill is a base power grab. In the end, it all comes down to money, how much and who gets to control it. The Attorney General does not support this bill. We believe that as they did in 2009, the Committee will not act favorably on this bill,” said Gottlieb in an interview after the hearing.
The Attorney General took no position at the hearing and hasn’t made a written statement to the committee.
Gottlieb said he based his belief the Attorney General opposes the bill based on a statement to Probate Court which stated, “The Feoffees unquestionably had a fiduciary duty to bring the entire matter to the attention of the Court for judicial resolution.”
Little Neck residents and Feoffee attorney Bill Sheehan also spoke against the bill, but Sheehan did not return phone calls or requests for an e-mailed statement.
Members of the School Committee, the Finance Committee, the Board of Selectmen and citizens all spoke in favor of the bill.
Proponents also criticized the Feoffees for their lack of transparency and public accountability.
“When I got involved I was shocked and appalled at the way the Feoffees conduct their business. There were none of the normal checks and balances associated with a nonprofit or a charitable trust. Meetings were held in secret, records were not kept. The three Selectmen who serve as Feoffees to provide public oversight were systematically excluded from all major decisions. There was no analysis whatsoever to support the Feoffees petition to Probate Court to sell the land at Little Neck and violate the explicit terms of their trust,” said Woods Lane resident Clark Ziegler, who drew up the citizens petition Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved and voters approved by a landslide in a non-binding referendum.
Gottlieb noted in his testimony proponents of the bill say Paine’s will prevents the selling of Little Neck, but then suggest the will should be altered to change the management structure the will established.
“The proponents of this bill now want you to wholly and totally eviscerate Mr. Paine’s original will and his clear intent by removing the four lifetime Feoffees altogether and replacing them with a group of town appointed and controlled individuals,” said Gottlieb in his testimony.
Mark DiSalvo, of the Little Neck Legal Action Committee, also said the Probate Court should settle matter.
“This legislative sideshow has taken a lot of effort and money and time and clearly will end up where last legislative effort ended up,” said DiSalvo, referencing the similar effort at Feoffee reform failed in the Legislature two years ago.
“Somewhere in the 20th century the private Feoffees and the tenants on this unique property lost sight of the fact that funding education was the purpose of this trust. Low rents and questionable management practices resulted in no regular income stream to the schools. Even when reminded of their obligations, both the private Feoffees and Little Neck tenants have fought doggedly against any changes which would change the Feoffees and generate an appropriate amount of income for the schools,” said Finance Committee member Richard Howard in his testimony.
Posted on 10/20/2011 8:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald