Many of us, in the face of “smart” meter installations, have confronted basic fears about who or what can protect against us against the dangerous threat to our health, safety and liberty that these new meters pose. State and city legislators recoil from action to stem the encroaching installations; the CPUC has bowed to utility wishes over and over again; our governor can’t be troubled to put grown-ups in charge of regulation.
What about our local law enforcement? Elected sheriffs all over the US take an oath to protect the constitutional rights of the people in their county. The relationship between sheriffs and the communities that elect them is often much closer and more personal than any other in law enforcement. Can we call on these officials for protection in this fight for our health and safety?
Last week at the Freedom Forum Meeting in Santa Cruz county, our director Josh Hart spoke about the recall for the Santa Cruz County sheriff, Phil Wowak, who refuses to enforce the County moratorium on “smart” meter installations. In an exciting twist, the sheriff himself, Phil Wowak, showed up at the meeting to speak and answer questions. Video, with a brief account of the long meeting below.
@0:03 Josh Hart speaks about the history of the issue in Santa Cruz County, including the bogus data that PG&E claims for the wireless transmitting meters. The PG&E constant reiteration of “individual choice” completely sidesteps the reality of community-wide saturation in RF radiation via the wireless mesh network. This type of radiation is now designated as a class 2B carcinogen. These meters wouldn’t be allowed in countries with lower permissible RF levels.
Josh Hart recounts how a renter was assaulted and his camera broken when he asked a “smart” meter installer to leave. Yet the police discouraged the victim from filing a report! This has happened time and again, in disputes between PG&E installers and citizens, law enforcement takes the side of PG&E. “If you want to know why we are recalling you, Sheriff Wowak, THAT is why.” Our freedoms are being infringed upon in a serious way. Civil disobedience is breaking the law in the service of a higher law. “Often the state gets it wrong, and civil disobedience is the statement ‘This is wrong!’ RF is harmful–is already harming–and our sheriff should protect us.”
@0:40 Sheriff Wowak takes the microphone and addresses the issue of enforcing the Santa Cruz’s moratorium against “smart” meters: “Your county Board of Supervisors has enacted a moratorium for the installation of the PG&E smart meter in the county of SC in response to you, their constituents. Unfortunately, the ordinance, the moratorium that the Board of Supervisors enacted is the lowest level of legal recourse in the state of California, and it does not have jurisdiction over California Public Utilities Commission. Which is why I’ve directed my staff NOT to enforce the ordinance on PGE installers. But— [“Why?” asks someone in the audience.] —To keep the peace.
“When a PG&E installer or a Wellington installer is on a property and they are asked to leave, they must do so. If they refuse to do so, when law enforcement is called, we will escort that person off the property at the direction of the property owner. At this point we do not allow blockade of public access by anyone in public who is demonstrating, even peacefully, against installers. … Our goal is to keep the peace.
“I can’t debate science. Everything that Josh says has great passion and great science to back it up, but that’s not my role, that’s not what I was elected for, and that’s not what I do in law enforcement.”
What, Sheriff Wowak, were you elected to do?—What was the oath that you took when you were sworn in? There is a movement to remind sheriffs of their rightful duty to protect the citizen under their care. Sheriff Richard Mack has written books to help call sheriffs all over the US to return to their critical, core job as constitutional protector for the people–the duty they swore an oath to uphold. An audience member later in the meeting asks him to read Sheriff Mack’s book. “The sheriff absolutely has the power and responsibility to defend his citizens against all enemies, including those from our own Federal Government.” [Richard Mack] Another group working on similar issues is Stewart Rhodes’ www.OathKeepers.org
Sheriff Wowak then went on to tell the Freedom Forum that they should direct their efforts elsewhere, not toward recalling him. (Questions for Sheriff Wowak follow @45 minutes.)
@1:04 Josh Hart replies to Wowak: “Our Sheriff is really our last line of defense. He has a broad degree of discretion over what laws to enforce and what laws not to enforce. The statement that [Wowak] made that the CPUC trumps local law—that is a judicial decision—he is putting himself in the position of a judge, by saying that. There are statutes and utility code sections that I could point to that would make the case very strongly that the PUC does not overrule local jurisdiction.
“The Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors passed this ordinance 5084 NOT as some ‘message’ to the PUC—but as a law to be enforced. David McCrae, the county counsel, sent a letter to Wellington, reflecting that intention of the Board. Watsonville police have cited PG&E and Wellington for installing on the [ ] building. Fairfax police stand ready in the county of Marin to ticket installers. I don’t think anyone thinks it is ideal to arrest these guys—a lot of whom are just trying to put food on the table for their families…. Who you should really be arresting is the PG&E executives at 77 Beale Street.
“But the bottom line is a judge has not ruled on this, and you as sheriff are within your right as other law enforcement officials have chosen to do in this state—to enforce this law—and the bottom line is you are not doing it.”
Josh Hart asks Sheriff Wowak whether someone “up top” has directed him to not enforce the ordinance? The sheriff replies that he has not received such direction, he’s made this decision in accordance with what he considers his office.
@1:12 What about private property issues? Can a renter order a trespasser off property? Sheriff Wowak says: “Only the landlord, not the tenant can order someone off a property.”
Josh challenges this. Whether you are a renter or an owner, you have the right to ask someone off the property.
@1:17 Audience member: What about Fourth Amendment violations from “smart” meters? The Sheriff restates that he not in the judicial branch and can’t address that. Law enforcement officials need a court order to get PG&E data. That doesn’t change with “smart” meters.
Members of the audience remind the sheriff that he has the duty to protect citizens under his care from infringements on their constitutional rights. People tell their stories about ‘smart’ meter installations, health effects, and the issue of inundation of neighborhoods with the mesh network radiation.
@1:34 Audience member asks: What is the worst that could happen to you if you chained up the Wellington yard? And reminds him he’s an elected official. Sheriff Wowak replies: “I can’t enforce this ordinance. Padlocking Wellington Yard, now that is the wild west—on steroids! You [protesters] are doing what you can within the law, and I applaud you for doing that.”
Audience member: “We need someone to stand up for us against the bureaucracy! We need that! We want our sheriff to do that for us!” In response to an audience request, Sheriff Wowak says he will read Sheriff Mack’s book.
Another audience member: “Could Monsanto come onto our yards and spray chemicals on our yards? Who is in charge?? Who will protect us? The CPUC is on the side of the corporations. Who protects us from corporate abuse?? I want to know. None of us here wants to be the guinea pigs!”
@1:40 Audience member who lives next to large banks of “smart” meters: “We have corporations running roughshod over us in this country!”
Josh Hart responds: “That is the definition of fascism, when corporations work with government against the people, or for profit. We can either go back tonight to our homes individually, have a headache, try to sleep on the other side of our home, maybe put foil on our walls, try to mitigate it—or we can get together as a community, not wait for someone else to solve this problem for us, but we’re going to do it right here. We’re going to all go as a group, over to your home, take 13 analog meters [to the fellow living next to a bank] and replace them. And if PG&E wants to switch off your electricity, or have us arrested, let them—but let’s not let people suffer in our community who are being assault by installers or by pulsed microwave radiation. It’s not okay to allow people to continue to suffer. It’s not okay.”
@1:46 Audience member: “We are going to have to stand up each in our own way, defend ourselves. Where does it stop?”
Josh Hart’s closing words: “We won the water issue in the San Lorenzo Valley, and we can win this issue. We need to disable the whole mesh network. When I started on this issue, I thought this was still a society that respects the law, whether you’re a corporation or an individual. But over the last year, we’ve found out they are not UL-certified—no regulatory agency is willing to go up against PG&E.
”We found out that Wellington Energy worked for three weeks without a license from the Contractors’ State License Board. We went to the Board, who said you have to be the hiring contractor to lodge a complaint. They are allowed to break the law in so many different ways. For instance, FCC regulations violations. There comes a point where it seems that if you are a corporation you really don’t have to follow the law, even if thousands of people are being injured.
“There comes a point when you find your family’s safety is more important. We need to look after our own—if we don’t stand up for the electrically sensitive, there will be no one left to stand up for us. We need our sheriffs.”