Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas
City Councilman. In 1991, the readers
of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public
Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his
website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
BLM Siege At Bunkerville
- The Real Story
Big profits are being threatened
by animals grazing on prime real estate,
but the real story has been
lost in a haze of inciteful rhetoric
A rancher's refusal to sell
his land and stop his cattle from grazing
nearby may have created
a crisis in the real estate industry
Harry Reid rides to the rescue!
BLM grazing land near Bunkerville, April 2014
former BLM land near Bunkerville, May 2013
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 28, 2014
BUNKERVILLE, NEVADA - Neil Kornze joined
the Bureau of Land Management in 2011. He has been leading the BLM as Deputy
Director for the past year. Before his appointment, Kornze worked
as a Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of
In 2013, following a five year recession,
business in Mesquite, Nevada, five miles north of Bunkerville and 80 miles
north of Las Vegas, began a miraculous recovery. Millions of dollars began
to be invested in the area, and tired resort properties were lavishly refurbished.
Retirement communities such as Sun
City Mesquite sprung back to life and realtors began to again find
buyers for expensive riverside
or golf course frontage homes.
However, unbeknownst to the public, several
miles down the Virgin River from the City
of Mesquite, a lone hold out Mormon rancher named Cliven Bundy was
about to throw a wrench in the works and bring anticipated development
in the Riverside Road and Gold Butte area to a sudden stop because his
cattle were "trespassing" on some of the most
desirable real estate in Clark County. He was to act alone because
all his fellow ranchers had sold their spreads earlier.
Enter United States Senator Harry Reid.
On April 5, 2014, dozens of heavily armed
federal agents arrived near Bundy's Ranch and began seizure of his cattle
that were illegally grazing on prime
real estate presently controlled by the BLM. Federal agents also entered
Bundy's 160 acre ranch and later admitted to destroying
water tanks, and killing
The BLM's armed cattle seizure was undeniably
an extreme and very expensive over reaction, when a lien could have been
placed on the ranch until the court ordered grazing fees are paid. That's
why many believe there's an underlying reason such a raid occurred, a reason
the BLM does not want the public to know.
As a former land developer, and later a
member of City of Las Vegas and Clark County land planning boards, I learned
that the Director of the BLM has the authority to schedule auctions of
public land. That's how the land surrounding Las Vegas was bought cheap
and developed. Too often, the choice of what land to auction, when, and
the minimum acceptable bid has political overtones. If Neil Kornze decides
to auction the land and water rights along the Virgin River or on Gold
Butte overlooking the Bundy Ranch, I personally believe that investors
close to the Reids will be first to know, and first in line to bid and
purchase way under market value.
During 2013, Cliven Bundy unsuccessfully
represented himself as a pro-se defendant in United States of America v.
Bundy in the court of Federal Judge Lloyd D. George. Judge George ruled
that Bundy owed the government hundreds of thousands in unpaid grazing
fees. On August 9, 2013, Cliven Bundy acting as his own attorney appealed
Judge George's order to the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit dismissed
Bundy's appeal on January 30, 2014. Since then, Bundy has refused to abide
by Judge George's order claiming the federal government has no jurisdiction
over Clark County land. (Lloyd George, a graduate of Brigham Young University,
is a respected leader in the Southern Nevada Mormon community. The Lloyd
D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, is named in his honor.)
When the armed feds arrived on their land,
the Bundy family sent out an SOS through social media. Over a thousand
ranchers and supporters arrived to support the family along with a number
of militia members. Most arrived more than a day after armed BLM agents
closed public roads and confronted the Bundy family, tazing several family
members, all caught on cell phone cameras and uploaded to the Internet.
As the standoff and media coverage escalated,
on Friday, April 11, the FAA suddenly established FAA
NOTAM 4/1687 TFR Mesquite, Nevada, an unprecedented TFR (Temporary
Flight Restriction). TFRs are most often used to prohibit civilian aircraft
from flying near places where the President or Vice President are visiting.
However, this TFR was specifically designed to prohibit all civilian flights
including news helicopters from flying over a ranch during a cattle seizure.
(Steve Miller is an ATP rated instructor pilot and former flight school
also lacking precedent was the establishment of "First Amendment Areas"
intended to corral media and protesters far from view of the cattle roundup.
Cliven Bundy's 37 year old son David was arrested
for taking photos outside one of these areas. The presence of First Amendment
Areas insulted members of the press, and they responded by converging on
the Bundy Ranch in droves, many taking the Bundy's side in the dispute..
On April 12, knowing the feds were outnumbered
ten to one by Bundy supporters - many carrying weapons, and seeing reporters
from around the world on site covering the breaking story, Clark County
Sheriff Doug Gillespie asked the BLM to stand down.
After the federal agents retreated in a
cloud of dust caused by spinning the wheels of their official vehicles,
Bundy ordered his sons to open a temporary corral set up by the BLM, and
release his cattle. Severely dehydrated in 90 degree heat, the cows headed
directly to the Virgin River to drink while the Bundy family and hundreds
of supporters celebrated by wading in the muddy water near the hydrating
After the BLM (temporarily) abandoned their
effort, many thought the danger was over. However, Senator Reid appeared
on national TV that evening and issued the warning "It's
During the next week, the international
media stood vigil at the entrance to the Bundy Ranch waiting for Reid's
threatened next move. Hundreds of armed militia members camped on the river's
edge nearby. During the lull, the media turned their interest to all things
Bundy. That's when the world got to know the Bundys, a church going pioneer
family with fourteen grown children who are decedents of the first Mormon
settlers in Nevada. The Bundys and their ancestors have operated the same
ranch in the Bunkerville area for over 150 years - vividly contrasting
the KKK, Timothy McVeigh, Ruby Ridge, Terry Nichols, or Branch Davidian
comparisons made by pundits on MSNBC.
Inspired by the attention, the family patriarch
Cliven Bundy unwisely used his fifteen minutes of fame to express several
personal opinions that totally distracted from the crisis at hand.
Mr. Bundy's ill-timed and distracting remarks
included demanding local sheriffs seize guns from all federal agents, and
his wondering out load if some "Negroes" who live in North Las Vegas would
be "better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing
things? Or are they better off under government subsidy?" (Full
transcript of his remarks.)
Bundy's unsolicited comments totally distracted
the media from more important subjects such as whether the No
Fly Zone was intended to block news coverage of the actions of the
federal agents? Or was a massive land grab by politically connected real
estate developers in the works?
One way or the other, establishing a No
Fly Zone, and dispatching hundreds of federal agents with M16s and helicopters
to rustle up a few hundred "trespassing" cattle took overwhelming political
clout, the kind of clout only a U.S. Senate Majority Leader could muster!
It also cost taxpayers millions of dollars
more than Bundy owes in grazing fees.
But, Bundy's misplaced opinions about the
plight of some North Las Vegas "Negroes" and his subsequent inarticulate
apology took center stage and allowed those who opposed him to rally behind
Reid who responded by calling Bundy a "hateful
racist," and calling Bundy's supporters "domestic
terrorists." Reid's unqualified and hypocritical (see his statement
below) "hateful racist" remark, and calling ordinary people "terrorists"
carelessly fanned the flames in an already explosive situation, but not
everyone agrees with Reid's racist description of Bundy. Here are two qualified
opposing views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cd3TG9uoMg;
Cliven Bundy's poorly thought out remarks
remind me of when Ross Perot withdrew his candidacy during the 1992 presidential
election claiming he received threats by the Bush campaign to sabotage
his daughter's wedding. It had nothing to do with Perot's campaign,
and totally distracted the media from his message. He also lost his base
over it, and was never heard from again.
Bundy had the option to stay on subject
and not be goaded into responding to questions about his personal views
on subjects unrelated to the cattle seizure. Now he, like Perot, has lost
much of his base, is being called names by Reid and his followers, and
the real story of the BLM siege at Bunkerville may never be told.
Based on the distraction, I now envision
planned communities coming years sooner on land that was formerly grazed
on by Bundy's cattle. In the meantime, I hope the Bundy's are paid
for the infrastructure damaged by federal agents, and for the six cows
agents killed and buried. Had he kept his opinions on unrelated subjects
to himself, Bundy's cattle might have been allowed to continue grazing
BLM real estate for some time - that's if he paid his past due
fees. Now I expect a BLM auction of that beautiful
real estate and water rights within the next several years with help
from Senator Reid, his former advisor Neil Kornze, and Reid's lawyer sons
There's so much more to this story.
Its clearly not about cows! Its about cheap BLM land with water rights,
and about greedy developers. Its well known that Reid's
sons represent Chinese investors. After all this aggravation, its hoped
that only American citizens are successful in buying the cheap Bunkerville
land if and when its auctioned.
That said, guns should never have been
brandished against citizens or government officials over real estate. If
developers want to buy the now BLM land and water rights along the Virgin
River or on Gold Butte bad enough, they should not use their stooges in
D.C. to try to take it at gunpoint. If and when the BLM decides to auction
it off, I hope they will get fair market value for the taxpayers, not discount
it to favored bidders as the BLM is well known to do.
On March 26, Clark County Sheriff Doug
Gillespie said, ?No
drop of human blood is worth spilling over any cow, in my opinion.?
And conversely, no drop of human blood is worth spilling over someone's
desire to buy beautiful BLM real estate at discount prices, either!
Cliven Bundy's careless remarks should
never have become the main topic of this story any more than Senator Reid's
skinned with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one" remark
about Barack Obama that was underplayed during the 2008 Presidential campaign,
or then-Delaware Senator Joseph Biden's careless (Obama is the) "first
mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and
a nice-looking guy" remark in 2007 that was never criticized by the
same media commentators who are now attacking Bundy for making equally
careless racial remarks. (All three apologized after learning they offended
A Senate Majority Leader and a Vice President
were never called "hateful
racist" for their remarks! Why is a similar remark from
a nobody rancher now making headlines? Maybe to distract
from the real story - the BLM being used as a pawn in a land and water
rights grab to benefit politically connected developers.
For the time being, the real story of the
BLM siege at Bunkerville is lost in a haze of inciteful rhetoric. Its time
to get back on point before the BLM returns to complete their ominous orders.
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