Cowboy State Daily

Letter to the editor. By Steve Duerr

Dear fellow Wyoming Patriot & Member of the Legislature: Subject: Wyoming Legislature – 2021 – Convention of States Initiative

I hope to see you in Cheyenne during the 2021 legislative session in March. I will be calling you to discuss this email and to seek your support.

You may know that I have been a volunteer for the Convention of States initiative in Wyoming since 2014.

I’ve been a lawyer since 1980 working in NW Wyoming for about 36 years. I have traveled to Cheyenne to advocate for COS, in what will be my 4th legislative session: 2015, 17, 19 and now 2021.

I will not give up because I’m a grandpa and father of seven and I fear for my family.

I strongly believe that the remedy for Federal abuse our Founders created in Article V of the US Constitution, is the only remedy big enough to fix our current Constitutional Crisis.

The Presidential election, the Georgia Senate elections, the tragedy at the US Capitol, make it clear to me that We The People must use Article V to convene a convention of the states, for the purpose of considering amendments to the Constitution, that will increase self-governance and reclaim our Constitutional Republic. I summarize the current state of affairs for the national COS movement:

Presently, 15 of the required 34 states have, by a Resolution of the legislature, approved the uniform petition to Congress to call for a Convention of the States. COS Action was formed in 2014, based in Texas, Mark Meckler is the President (he was a founder of the Tea Party movement).

The COS uniform petition language for states to support by a Joint Resolution includes 3 issues:

1. Fiscal spending restraint

2. Reduce the size, power & jurisdiction of the federal government

3. Term limits for some federal officials

The COS petition and related state Resolution are perceived as conservative public policy. In that context, in 2017, the Wyoming Legislature did approve support for the balanced budget amendment initiative (BBA); conservative public policy.

Some WY legislators perceive that the COS petition issue 1, fiscal restraints, was accomplished by support for the BBA. But, the BBA does not go far enough to constrain the Federal Government.

In the Wyoming Legislature, in my opinion, the primary reason the petition has not succeeded is the fear of a so-called “runaway convention.”

There is no historic or legal precedent for a runaway convention. Each state shall have one vote at the COS, regardless of the population of the state. Attempts to discuss any matters outside the three described issues, shall be ruled inadmissible.

The most important safeguard is the extremely high bar for acceptance of any proposed amendments, in that ¾ or 38 states must ratify proposed amendments.

Therefore, it is virtually politically impossible for any amendments to be adopted that do not have overwhelming support of the American people.

As a practical matter, especially given that the vast majority of State power is in the Heartland Red States or the “fly-over states,” there are far more checks on a possible runaway convention, then presently in place, on our runaway Congress.

NOW, in these perilous political times, We the People have the power to take back our government and return power to the States.

It is critical to know that the Article V remedy was created by the Founders for precisely this time in our Nation’s history, when the Federal Government is the oppressor of the people. It’s time for action!

Full text of Article V of the US Constitution: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter,

Note: Steve Duerr, a COS Action volunteer since 2014, Attorney at Law, 307.699.4920 Cellemail:steveduerr08@gmail.com, PO Box 11210   Jackson Hole, WY 83002 www.steveduerr.com                 

By Tim Craig
Photos by Ryan Dorgan

After working all day building multimillion-dollar lodges for wealthy retirees and second-home owners, it was never that easy for construction worker Milton Powell to return home to his 32-foot trailer.

But for more than two decades, Powell managed to enjoy his piece of paradise at the Hoback RV Park in Wyoming’s Teton County, which is made up of ski towns and national parkland.

Read the article >

Jackson Hole News & Guide
12/23/20

View the Article >

REAL Trends has been a trusted source of news, analysis, and information on the residential brokerage industry since 1987. They are a privately held publishing, consulting and communications company based in Colorado, and an industry expert when it comes to real estate.

 

 

Every year The Wall Street Journal advertises the REAL trends top producers in the country, it’s with honor that Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates not only showed up on this list once, but have representation in four categories including six agents and/or teams. We are proud to hold a place among the top 1% of agencies nationwide.

  • Individual Volume Winner – Steve Duerr

See the rankings here >

Summer 2020

The 51st Annual Awards Celebration presented by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce was held on Friday, October 28 at Spring Creek Ranch. Awards were presented to Steve Duerr – Power of Place, Heather Carleton – Citizen of the Year, Snow King Mountain Resort – Business of the Year, Local Restaurant and Bar – Green-to-Green, and Chase & Cody Lockhart – Rising Stars. Find more information about the awardees below.

Director of Special Events Maureen Murphy commented, “The Annual Awards Celebration is one of the Chamber’s favorite traditions. We receive nominations from around the community written by people who wish to recognize the work of their friends and neighbors. It’s an honor to celebrate achievements that add to the strong community spirit of Jackson Hole.”

READ MORE >

Congratulations to the Top Producers of 2019!

In the spring of 1630, nearing 400 years ago, while embarked on the Arbela and voyaging to America, Puritan John Winthrop delivered to his fellow seekers what became known as the “City on a Hill” sermon, then titled “A Model of Christian Charity.”

The passion propelling the dangerous ocean crossing was the desire for spiritual freedom and civil liberty: the Promise of America. By his faith, Winthrop professed a covenant with God for himself and his people. A covenant to be true to the core principles of their Judeo-Christian heritage, to love God and to love their neighbor as themselves, selfless love.

Winthrop believed that having this “bond of love” for one another would unite the group as they worked to establish a new society in America with spiritual moorings. To accomplish that he called upon his people: “We must bear one another’s burdens. We must not look only on our own things, but also on the things of our brethren.”

He warned them that “the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us” if they failed to fulfill their mutual covenant to put the interests of others above the interests of the colony and their own self-interests. He admonished them that “the only way to avoid this shipwreck” and to provide for their mutual posterity was “to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man.”

If the people remained committed together to these things, Winthrop was hopeful that they could indeed establish a new society that would become a role model for others. He said the God of Israel would remain among them, and “He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding generations, ‘May the Lord make it like that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

In 2020 we began a new decade. I am mindful that in 2030 we will reflect back upon the 400-year admonition by John Winthrop. We have 10 years to prove up. Ten years to demonstrate that we are committed to one another.

Today, what measure do we take of the promise of America, a city on a hill? Are we spiritual and caring or secular and selfish? Do we lift up our heroes for their examples of selfless love? Why does the 24/7/365 U.S. news cycle drone on about hate group killings (even in churches and schools) and political parties habitually placing self-interest and partisan victory above the best interests of We the People? If we are not “knit together,” if there is no unity, then how can the United States aspire to be an example for the world — a city on a hill?

Maybe the divide between the present sad state of affairs and the Promise of America can be explained by the recurring history of democracies. Scottish historian Alexander Tytler’s theory set forth a cycle that every democracy goes through. He wrote that the cycle starts out with a society in bondage and then follows this sequence: bondage, spiritual faith, courage, liberty, abundance, selfishness, complacency, apathy, dependence. Then starting over with bondage.

Are we entering again into bondage? Our federal government is spending $2 million a minute, the annual budget shortfall is $24 trillion, and the unfunded liabilities of the federal government may exceed $200 trillion. While the United States may still rank as the most blessed, successful and wealthy nation ever, then the loss of spiritual faith, courage and liberty may be the price of this abundance, fueling selfishness, complacency, apathy and dependence.

All of us know this path is not sustainable. We are anxious. When our government leaders, tending toward socialism, promise free everything, then anger, anxiety, complacency, apathy and dependence grow. With no accountability to We the People the out-of-control federal government is imposing debt on generations not yet born. This is a form of bondage or “soft tyranny.”

To continue to realize the Promise of America in the next decade I believe we all must come together in a commitment to self-governance, requiring our politicians to play by the same rules that our families must abide by: Nothing is free, constant fighting destroys unity.

In the next decade I resolve to be more engaged and caring. I am hopeful we will continue to realize America’s Promise for our families, our nation and the world. I am grateful for the opportunities of America and the luck to have been born in this amazing country, as described by Abraham Lincoln, “the last best hope of man on earth.”

Longtime Jackson Hole resident Steve Duerr is a grandpa, a lawyer and a volunteer for Citizens for Self-Governance, the Article V Convention of States Initiative, ConventionOfStates. com. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

Appeared in the Jackson Hole News & Guide

Astronomical wealth complicates life for residents of truly average means.

For the first time in American history, the “average” resident of a U.S. county earned more than a quarter-million dollars last year. Surprise — it’s us.

In other words, if you were to take all the income generated by Teton County’s 23,000 residents in 2018 and divide it equally among those residents (including children), each would go home with about $252,000, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That may be a shock to the actual people reflected in the data, the vast majority of whom can only dream of such cash. It’s not the reality for most working people here, but rather the distorted result

of a highly concentrated inflow of investment income: money from shareholder dividends, loan interest and rent payments.

It’s no secret that Teton County, a tax haven in one of America’s most breathtaking locales, is replete with the uber-wealthy. But even so, the dollar figures that validate that — and the extreme inequality they imply — are astounding, experts say.

For years Teton County has led the country in per capita income, though “led” doesn’t do justice to the region’s meteoric rise through the economic ranks. It surpassed New York County, New York(Manhattan), in the early 2000s, and never looked back.

It would be an understatement to say the lead is secure. Today Manhattan, arguably the financial capital of the world, remains in second place at $194,000 — nearly $60,000 below Teton County.

The gap between us and the closest competition is greater than the nationwide per capita income, which is just over $54,000. Of the roughly 3,100 other counties, all but about 20 come in under$100,000.

An ‘extraordinary jump’

In 2017 and 2018 alone, per capita income in Teton County rose by nearly $24,000, more than the average of the 14 poorest counties in the country. That detail in particular struck Jonathan Schechter, a Jackson town councilor and economist, who explored the issue in a post on his blog site, CoThrive.

“It’s an extraordinary jump in one year,” he said. “It’s the biggest ever a county has had in one year.” And the trend seems likely to continue, Schechter added, considering the stock market’s exceptional performance.

That’s because the origin of that income, not just its sheer enormousness, is also unique. Look virtually anywhere in the country, and you’ll find that the main driver of local income is labor — wages and salaries earned in 9-to-5 jobs. But here, the vast majority of the money comes from investment income. That’s yet another indicator that mere financial mortals aren’t benefiting from the overall surge.

“The rush of wealth to this community has a particular source,” wrote Justin Farrell, a Yale professor, in his forthcoming sociological case study of Teton County’s moneyed class, titled “Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West.”

“It was not the result of broad-based economic growth or rising wages and salaries,” Farrell went on, “but was gains from one particular sector of the economy.”

The swell of investment is a fairly recent phenomenon. Labor income historically came out on top until the mid-1990s, when investment soared ahead. It dipped during the recession, but is again climbing to historic heights, reaching nearly 75 percent of total income last year.

Interestingly, the rest of Wyoming doesn’t seem to share the same appeal to the wealthiest classes. The per capita income in most other counties ranges from $40,000 to $50,000, and none are above $70,000.

“Teton County is, for better or worse, an outlier,” said Rob Godby, an economist at the University of Wyoming. “It’s a very different set of problems.”

Inequality on the rise

One consequence of Teton County’s extraordinary income is an equally extraordinary income inequality, also the greatest in the country.

The quarter-million statistic, and its investment underpinning, is all the more impressive considering that a large proportion of wage and salary jobs here are relatively low-paying tourism gigs.

“Jackson is potentially a tale of two towns,” Godby said. “You have the very wealthy, and then you have the incomes that maybe look more normal.”

Of course, the normal-income demographic is far more populous. According to Internal Revenue Service data from 2017, just under 1,900 households reported an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more, the highest bracket. That’s about 13 percent of the 14,400 households in the county.

“You can tell a lot by looking at that distribution of income,” said Jeff Newman, one of the economists who put together the income report for the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is based on income tax data. “You can really get a good feel for an area.”

For the 87% earning less than $200,000, and especially for those on the lower end of the spectrum, the costs of living in Teton County are daunting.

The most obvious effect is on housing. With property in such short supply — 97% of the county is public land — there simply isn’t nearly enough to cheaply accommodate the worldwide desire to live in and visit Jackson Hole.

What little land is available is often accessible only to the upper middle class and above. In short, most incomes are not keeping pace with mounting housing prices.

“The most basic law of economics is supply and demand,” Schechter said. “If you have a high demand and low supply, the pressure’s going to be pretty high.”

After housing, the secondary effects are many. Despite the community goal to house 65% of local workers, about 40% are forced to live elsewhere and must commute. That increases traffic and carbon emissions, alters the character of neighborhoods and, overall, lowers quality of life.

Many of the people most fundamental to community, from teachers to snowplow drivers to law enforcement officials, can barely afford to live and work here. Last month Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr warned that the communications center is one dispatcher away from being unable to respond to 911 calls 24/7.

Teton County isn’t alone in these struggles. They’re hallmarks of the most popular tourist destinations, and especially of premiere mountain ski towns: Pitkin County, Colorado (home to Aspen), is third on the list of per capita income, after Manhattan, and Summit County, Utah (home to Park City), isn’t far behind.

The subject of income inequality doesn’t often come up in community dialogue — except perhaps through the proxy of housing — but it does feature prominently in a recent report that elected officials are consulting as they update the Comprehensive Plan.

Based on input from hundreds of residents, the Comprehensive Plan review stresses that the public is concerned about inequality, yet the town and county’s guiding document never explicitly mentions it.

“If the community does not define how it wants to address income inequality,” the report states, “the inequality will define the community.”

Schechter said “there are very few unadulterated goods and very few unadulterated bads.” The same economic forces that have made it such a challenge to live here have also made it a remarkable place to live.

“It’s a testament to the work a lot of people have done to create an environment where people of such wealth would want to come,” he said.

Without that wealth Teton County certainly wouldn’t be the community it is today. The nonprofits, the school system, the pathways, the restaurants, the conservation — many of the most cherished aspects of Jackson Hole depend on the immense stream of investment income running through it. These amenities require a financial sacrifice.

“What Teton County is,” Godby said, “is a blessing and a curse.”

In fact, he said, people consciously or unconsciously make a trade-off when they decide to move here. Research shows that many in Teton County are willing to accept a lower income than the cost of living would suggest — likely because of the superb access to wilderness and the other aforementioned benefits.

That doesn’t change the fact that the cost of living is often overwhelming, and Godby said it’s still worth striving to alleviate the hardships residents face.

“There should always be a healthy conversation about the limits of what’s acceptable in terms of social welfare,” he said. “Putting it in blunt terms: the health of the community and what people are willing to do — how much they care about their neighbors.”

As for the affluent of Teton County, surely they do their part in attempting to fix what’s broken here through charity. But, as outlined in the News&Guide’s Imprint edition on the impact of philanthropy earlier this month, their donations don’t always align with actual needs.

While working on his book, Farrell spoke to a Mexican immigrant living in the area: “He wonders aloud whether wealthy people care more about saving a moose or a bear than helping him and other immigrants who are suffering.”

People like him “are seeing more clearly how these same friends who have so much extra money and power to help nevertheless support the status quo and perpetuate a system that is making it increasingly difficult for [him] and his family to live a decent life.”

Whether Teton County will ever solve — or even adequately remedy — its lack of affordability remains to be seen. Schechter observed that many other communities have buckled under the same pressures, and none have yet found a way to pick themselves up, particularly not while also trying to protect the surrounding ecosystem.

It may be impossible to tame housing prices enough that they become widely available to those of truly average income. Even if it becomes easier to live here, Godby said, more people will want to live here.

Yet making the effort is paramount, Schechter said. The alternative is unthinkable.

“If we let it go down that path,” he said, “we are going to become a community where very few nonwealthy people can live.”

Associate broker Steve Duerr topped all other agents in sales volume last year at Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, just part of what the firm said was a record year. Duerr’s big 2017 was made by the sale of the Dodge Ranch near Medicine Bow. The 20,502-acre ranch also has 5,554 acres of leased land and is on both sides of 11 miles of the Laramie River. It was listed at $25 million.

Duerr, noting the part played by the Christie’s affiliate and the contributions of its more than 100 agents, called the firm “a tremendous influence for good in the community.” Julie Faupel, one of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates’ principals, said Duerr’s sale of the Dodge Ranch helped make the firm the top ranch brokerage in the Rocky Mountain West.

Duerr came to Jackson more than 35 years ago as a lawyer, working for Holland and Hart, specializing in tax law. He has served on the Teton County Planning Commission, as director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and as director of the Murie Center. During his time at the chamber he led development of its Power of Place campaign, which focused on the value of preserving Wyoming’s natural bounty to protect its lifestyle and businesses.

Jackson Hole News & Guide Article