'Sovereign Citizens' Make Noise in Wyoming
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
''SOVEREIGN CITIZENS'': A loosely organized political movement that believes the federal government is illegal and must be replaced is a " sensitive subject " that the FBI doesn't want to discuss, the Casper Star-Tribune in Wyoming reports. The group, known as the "sovereign citizens," believes the U.S. government ceased to exist in 1871 and was replaced by an "unlawful money-making corporate system" that "subjugated people for everything from marriage and driver's licenses to denying property rights through safety codes and federal ownership of land," according to the paper. An FBI spokesman tells the Star-Tribune that he "can neither confirm nor deny that an investigation (into the group) exists." Though the group is not limited to Wyoming, it has found some traction there, with an independent gubernatorial candidate last year embracing the movement's positions .
PRESSURE ON PRISON GUARDS: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants state workers to agree to about $180 million in concessions to help balance the state budget, and he wants more than half of that total to come from unionized correction officers, the Lansing State Journal reports . "The union's members make up about 16 percent of the state's total workforce of 47,100," the paper reports, "but are being requested to make 53 percent of the total concessions for the fiscal year beginning October 1." The governor's request is not sitting well with union leadership, who say they are in "sticker shock" and feel slighted. "It's very offensive," Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization, says. "You won't find a more dangerous job in state government."
FLORIDA PRIVATIZATION: Florida Republicans plan to privatize as many as 14 state prisons, but no one knows for sure how much money the change would save, The Miami Herald reports . A legislative analyst told a Senate hearing earlier this year that there are differences in how public and private prisons operate and do their accounting, meaning that cost comparisons are never "apples to apples." One of the GOP plans now under consideration would bid out management of state prisons in all 18 counties south of Orlando and require the winning bidder to produce cost savings of 7 percent, The Herald reports. But previous prison privatization in Florida had similar aims, and the savings did not always materialize.
PENNSYLVANIA AG: The election of Tom Corbett as Pennsylvania governor left a vacancy in his previous job as state attorney general. While Corbett has nominated a western Pennsylvania prosecutor, Linda Kelly, to take over for him, she has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate. Meanwhile, Democratic hopefuls are already lining up to run for the seat in 2012, after four decades of Repubican control, The Morning Call of Allentown reports . Former Democratic congressman Patrick Murphy is among those seeking the office. Murphy lost his congressional seat in suburban Philadelphia in the national GOP tidal wave last November.