Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994


Nineteenth Annual National Conference on
Private Property Rights

The Noble Tradition
October 17, 2015
Century House, Latham, New York



Photos: Peter J. LaGrasse with Willets Point photos by Robert LoScalzo (used by permission) © 2015 Robert LoScalzo

Carol LaGrasse presenting award in absentia to generous PRFA supporter.

"Liberties to Cherish & 'Protections' to Reject" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, P. E., - President, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., Stony Creek, N.Y.
All of our freedoms protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights must be cherished and the government's so-called "protections" of people from their own foibles and the frivolous protections of wildlife should be rejected. Yesterday, the 100th gun show sponsored by the NEACA—New East Arms Collectors Association, where PRFA usually hosts an exhibit at Saratoga City Center, should have been an unsullied celebration, but it turned out to include a protest. Ironically, at this same time, the Big Green not-profits and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are building a force to restore wolves and cougars in New York. So our rights are under assault and the government is promoting dangers from which it should be protecting us. Private property rights are at the center of these issues.


Carol LaGrasse welcoming Jeremy Hopkins as he sets up his laptop for his Opening Address on eminent domain.

Jeremy Hopkins

"Holding Back the Tide of Eminent Domain" - By Jeremy Hopkins, Esq., Waldo & Lyle, P.C., Property Rights & Eminent Domain Attorneys, Norfolk, Virginia
Adding further substance to his compelling speech, Jeremy Hopkins presented a 42-page paper at the conference, which is posted on the PRFA website. He remarked that the Kelo v New London ruling awakened people to private property rights. They now understand what eminent domain is. He explained how property undergirds every other right.

Beginning with the 1950s Berman "slum clearance" case in Washington, D.C., the power of eminent domain has been expanded far beyond the idea of public use. The abuses of eminent domain run the gamut, including: unjust compensation, non-compensable damages, the absence of the right to jury trial, "quick take"(often used for highways), disregard of freedom of information law with impunity, and failure to compensate the property owner for expenses incurred to defend from eminent domain or to deal with misconduct. Immunity of individual officials and government often applies. The burden of proof usually falls on the property owner, unlike the burden of proof in criminal cases.

The academy has led the assault on property rights. Most recently, Professor Robert C. Hockett of Cornell University came up with the idea of municipalities taking underwater mortgages by eminent domain. The concept has spread like wildfire.

Mr. Hopkins concluded that it's never too late to restore freedom. Those who have gained power by degrading private property rights are well-entrenched and will not give up their power without a fight. Virginia's constitutional amendment on eminent domain in 2013 was the result of an arduous battle that lasted many years. There were times that the amendment escaped the condemners' guillotine by just one vote.

Justice Brennan of the United States Supreme Court pronounced, "[T]he rights guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment are not merely second-class rights but belong with the catalogue of indispensable freedoms. Once lost, such rights are difficult to recover. There is hope, however, that in time this or some later Court will restore these precious freedoms to their rightful place as a primary protection for our citizens against overarching officialdom." (United States v. Leon, dissenting, 1984)

With continued persistence, Americans can restore their private property rights. If they don't, posterity will discover that little liberty remains.


"Terrorism & Security for State Employees" Prepared by Commonwealth Preparedness Working Group Training Subcommittee.

"Property Rights Activists" listed on Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Transportation List of Terrorist Organizations.

The Struggle for Property Rights

Willets Point

(All Willets Point photos by permission of Robert LoScalzo,
except photos of Irene Prestigiacomo, Robert LoScalzo and Joseph Ardizzone courtesy of Peter J. LaGrasse)

Robert LoScalzo

"Victory in Appellate Court against the City of New York, But Battles Loom" - Robert LoScalzo, Joseph Ardizzone, & Irene Prestigiacomo, Willets Point United, Willets Point, Queens County, N.Y. City.
Robert LoScalzo updated the battle to save the industrial community of Willets Point in Queens County. He was joined by two courageous Willets Point leaders, property owner Irene Prestigiacomo and the community
's sole resident, Joseph Ardizzone. The Willets Point group is now allied with other parties in a lawsuit where the lead plaintiff is State Senator Tony Avella and plaintiffs include the prestigious City Club of New York.

They won a unanimous favorable ruling in State Appellate Court on July 2, 2015. That ruling would have stopped the City of New York and the developers from converting the parking area west of Citi Field stadium to a multi-story mall and erasing much of Willets Point's small industries for a huge parking lot. The court held that converting parkland adjacent to the stadium to a shopping mall without permission from the state legislature would be in violation of the "Public Trust Doctrine." In a major reversal, Mayor Bill deBlasio decided in August not to appeal to the Court of Appeals, but the developers won permission to appeal. The case will be argued in 2016.

Irene Prestgiacomo

Joseph Ardizzone, the only resident of Willets Point.

Public Trust Doctrine

Plaintiffs' Complaint

Supporters of lawsuit against taking parkland for a mega-mall.

Click Here for Full Willets Point Photo Story from 2015 Conference

Matthew D. Norfolk, Partner, Briggs Norfolk, LLP, Attorney at Law

"The Old Mountain Road Saga Continues: DEC Ignores McCulley's Court Victories and Reverses Its Own Judge's Ruling" - Matthew D. Norfolk, Esq., Briggs Norfolk, LLP, Lake Placid, New York (remarks briefly updated to February 2016),
In 2005, New York State Supreme Court Judge Andrew Halloran ruled against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and in favor of Jim McCulley that Old Mountain Road was a town highway and remained a highway open to motorized vehicles. DEC could have filed an appeal, but they would have had to go directly to the highest court of the state, the Court of Appeals, because first ruling in the case was at the local justice court. The Appellate Division would be skipped, to make the third level occur at the Court of Appeals. If DEC lost at the state's highest court, the case would have made law for the entire state, hampering DEC's policy of closing roads.

Moving backwards, the DEC tried to litigate the road again in its own Administrative Court and lost. The Adirondack Park Agency has moved to intervene and reinstate the complaint where Jim McCulley has already won. Mr. Norfolk pointed out, "We have used the freedom of information law to find discussions in 2009 with others before they planned litigation…We are claiming the state is trying to reinstate by proxy to accomplish malicious enforcement on behalf of others, with the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Park Agency acting together." This attempt to put the dispute into the Appellate Division is untimely and the record has been long closed. There is no power to review the May 2009 final determination.

In August 2015, outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens unilaterally declared Old Mountain Road closed, citing DEC's State Land Masterplan, where the area is declared "wilderness." This is bogus and will be nullified by the court.

Attorney Norfolk is bringing a federal lawsuit on behalf of McCulley.

Why close Old Mountain Road? Superficially, it seems to be because the road traverses land that the APA and DEC have classified as "wilderness"? It seems more likely, however, looking at the broader picture, that the DEC is simply closing roads in the Adirondacks.

Jim McCulley at PRFA's 2015 Conference

Jim Streeter

"Property Rights Issues for the Upcoming Elections" - By James R. Streeter, Former Staff Director, House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Federal Lands, Washington, D.C.
Not only are property rights threatened by big Wall Street money influencing the presidential campaign; property rights advocates face threats to stalwarts in the House Resources Committee [where many important policies on land issues are initiated]. Since Kelo, we do not see what real protection there is. Losing friends and supporters would be devastating but now we may not be protected.

For example, the Wilderness bill would usually have buffer zones — usually with two components. Think of the German word Lebensraum, here meaning protection on a "landscape" level. The National Park Service has its annual list — now every item is owned by a land trust; they're serving as the advance purchasing agent.

Irrationality: In the National Park Service's Wild and Scenic Rivers bill, the river running through a rundown section of a major city in Massachusetts was advocated for designation, referred to with the language, "If the river could talk…" Heritage Areas are another problem because of Republican support. However, we are somewhat protected in that Rep. Rob Bishop is chairman of the committee. We need witnesses at hearings who have good stories to tell.

Roger Pilon

"Magna Carta's Importance for America" - By Roger Pilon, Ph.D., J.D., B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies; Director, Center for Constitutional Studies Cato Institute, Washington, D.C.
The key to the significance of Magna Carta is the King being under the law, not part of the law. We tend to believe that in 1776, the whole law sprung, but we owe a great deal to the British we left 239 years ago for their system of government.

In the third quarter of the twelfth century Henry II established circuit courts and a central appeals court. Over time, this became common to the realm of England. Only fifty years later in 1215, nobles and clergy met at Runnymede to wrest from King John the rights we enjoy today in Magna Carta.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, Magna Carta became the basis for pleas to Parliament to inform states' bills of rights. During the Revolution, the New York State Constitution and others included provisions first found in Magna Carta. In 1787 the Constitutional Convention decided that Magna Carta included Congress's (not the executive's) power to tax, which rested in the House, the body closest to the people. The Bill of Rights, Chapter 1, assured that the King could not interfere with the church.
It is important to see the big differences: Magna Carta resulted from nobles against the King, whereas we were citizens against Parliament.

Most significant: We addressed the world — not English rights. We dissolved the political bond, by authority of the colony. We were born with these rights. American independence went back to the Magna Carta. We grounded political liberties on the consent of the governed.

Congressman Tom Reed and Carol LaGrasse

"Property Rights in the United States Congress" - By Congressman Tom Reed, U. S. House of Representatives, 23rd Congressional District, New York
New Yorkers should be especially proud and grateful to Representative Tom Reed for his introduction of the H.R. 510 "Defense of Property Rights Act" (DOPRA) in January 2015. The legislation would provide an opportunity for compensation for property owners when government action significantly impairs the ownership of their property and would promote accountability by requiring government to consider the implications of the legislation's establishment of practical means to achieve redress.

Rep. Reed also established the Private Property Rights Caucus, the first of its kind. It has a continuing growing membership, and is unique in that it begins with the Northeast, rather than coming from the big ranching resource-industry states in the West. It serves as a forum for property rights issues, by sponsoring panels and publishing an e-newsletter. The caucus's first panel, entitled "Property Rights 101," on October 7, 2015, featuring the Pacific Legal Foundation with other nationwide groups.

During October, the caucus circulated its first newsletter, which stated the purpose to "provide a platform to highlight how landowners across the country are being adversely affected by government action and to discuss practical solutions to protect the constitutional rights of property owners."

After the Property Rights Foundation of America's Nineteenth Annual Conference, Rep. Reed's newsletter featured PRFA's presentation to him of the "Fifteenth Annual New York State Private Property Rights Defender Award."


Clayton Dethlefsen

Part 1 — "Wolf Attacks on Humans & Hybridization of Canis Lupus" and Part 2 — "Canis Lupus & Zoonotic Diseases" (Wolves and Diseases Transmitted from Wolves to Humans) - By Clayton H. Dethlefsen, Hamilton, Montana, Executive Director, Western Predator Control Association
A two-part speech conveying the essentials of sixty hours of Mr. Dethlefsen's normal presentation.

Clayton Dethlefsen is sought internationally as a trustworthy authority on wolves, and gathers information from sources in whatever countries where wolves exist. He is respected internationally as both a teaching expert and as a court expert in criminal and other cases, most recently in Finland. His speech ranged from issues countering incomplete information presented by government official to accomplish certain goals, to DNA analysis, to the meaning and significance of hybridization.

He delved into behavior of wolves in the wild and why wolves raised in captivity behave passively in a classroom situation, such as in recent demonstrations for children and families in northern New York in locations that included libraries. He expertly listed characteristics of wolf behavior, and discussed the federal government extirpation of the smaller native wolves in the Northwest. He showed photos of how tenderly mother wolves nurture their young, preparing them for confidence in the wild, compared to the visibly scared demeanor of domestic wolf young. He explained factors, such as habituation, that lead to human attacks. He recounted the history of the federal policy of bringing in wolves to reduce the overpopulation of elk in Yellowstone. Wolves killed 13,000 to 16,000 elk in ten to twelve years, putting hunting outfitters out of business.

The first part of the presentation was followed by an authoritative PowerPoint entirely devoted to diseases from wolves and to hybridization.

Part 2 - "Canis Lupus & Zoonotic Diseases"
Diseases Transmitted by Wolves to People

Clayton Dethlefsen followed the first part of his presentation with an authoritative PowerPoint presentation entirely devoted to diseases transmitted from wolves to people.

Wolves carry about 30 to 36 diseases. The government officials who are bringing in wolves say that these diseases are sylvatic, or wilderness, diseases. Therefore you don't have to worry about them, as opposed to diseases in the pastoral areas which are domestic rural areas such as around a residence or in urban areas. What they told you was to get the wolves in and keep you from worrying about the diseases. We studied these diseases because the law says you have to beware of a health emergency and some of the zoonotic diseases (diseases carried from animals to people) can produce a world health emergency.

"You can wind up with the diseases in your wolf population, your hybrid population and your coyotes and so forth, because they bring the wolves in with the diseases out of Canada. They said to us that the wolves they were bringing in from Canada didn't have any diseases. They, again, didn't tell the truth."

Nepal, China and India are the three countries right now with the most of the population infected. In some areas of Nepal, 14 to 25 percent of the population has Echinococcus granulosus. Bulgaria had a good program, but in 1979 had a political upheaval. The new politicians said they weren't going to worry about it. In a short time they had 8,557 cases in their hospitals, of which 516 died. In our country right now the disease is unreportable.

Mr. Dethlefsen showed PowerPoints of geographical distribution and categories of zoonotic diseases transmitted by wolves. The leading Canis Lupus diseases he reported are Echinococcus granulosus, E. multilocularis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rabies, Brucellosis, Neospora Caninum, and Plague.

In Queensland, from 1981 to 2004, 33,000 cattle were infected with E. granulosus. In the slaughter house their vital organs were seen to have hydatid cysts. All these animals had to be destroyed, not used for cat or dog food. By 2004, the same numbers existed, adjusted for inflation to six million dollars.

Mr. Dethlefsen discussed the range of these diseases from wolves, using PowerPoint charts and maps. He explained how the initial 33 pair of wolves eat ungulate, or elk and deer, and ruminants, or cattle, and these carry the disease with them. The wolf pack grew from 66 wolves to 250 packs running around in an area where there were none. The Western Predator Control Association had wolves tested in Denver, because the government was testing only for diseases that would kill the wolves, meaning they wouldn't carry the diseases to people. The Denver lab found that 100 percent of the wolf sample had the disease. Certain strains of Echinococcus were dominant. The testing proved that the government illegally brought in diseased wolves from Canada.

Selected views from CD PowerPoint reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.



Robert Vosburgh, retired Columbia County Planner, Beverly and Robert Brace, Pennsylvania Landowners who have donated decades for the property rights of wetland owners.

George McGowan, Lake George, who testified against UNESCO Biosphere Reserves before the U.S. Congress.

Speakers' Contributions to Private Property Rights Recognized with Awards from Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.

Carol LaGrasse presents PRFA's Fifteenth Annual New York State Private Property Rights Defender Award to Rep. Tom Reed

The engraved plaque is inscribed with the words:

Fifteenth Annual
New York State Private Property Rights Defender Award
Presented to
Congressman Tom Reed
In Recognition of His Defense of
Constitutionally Guaranteed Private Property Rights


Carol LaGrasse and Clayton Dethlefsen, recipient of
PRFA's Sixteenth Annual Private Property Rights Advocate Award

Sixteenth Annual Private Property Rights Advocate Award
Presented to
Clayton H. Dethlefsen
In Recognition of His Dedication to
Preservation of Human Rights
Guaranteed in the United States Constitution

Group Photo of 2015 Annual Award Recipients

Clayton Dethlefsen, Carol LaGrasse, and Rep. Tom Reed

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