Court over a Couch, Oct 1st!

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last month or so, you know that the “City of Keene” has been threatening me over my tenants’ couch in their lawn. First, they sent one of their “enforcers” to threaten me with a $100 ticket. Then, one of the commenters here on Free Keene dug up a little dirt on their “enforcer” Carl Patten Jr. Early last week, my tenants snapped a photo of Mr. Patten snooping around and photographing the couch.

Here is the latest on the situation. The day after Mr. Patten was caught snooping, a letter arrived in my mailbox from Laurie Plankey, Accounts Receivable for the “City of Keene”. Here is a PDF and here’s the text:

September 16, 2008

On 8/26/2008 Carl Patten from Code Enforcement issued you ordinance violation # 1133 for a junk couch on the lawn at (ADDRESS) The violation was not paid within 7 days and has now increased from $100.00 to $200.00 and is now due. You can pay this fine on the 3rd floor, City Hall, 3 Washington Street, Keene NH. Please ask for me. Failure to pay the penalty imposed by the citation may subject you to court action.


Should you have further concerns about this matter, please call Carl Patten at City Hall at 603-352-5440. My telephone number is 603-352-1013, extension 6030. I am customarily available Monday through Friday from 8 until 4.

Laurie Plankey
Accounts Receivable, Finance Department
Cc: Carl Patten

In response, I wrote them the following and had it notarized before hand delivering it in front of witnesses this morning September 26, 2008:

Conditional Acceptance for Value and Return for Discharge, Settlement, and Closure

Laurie Plankey
Accounts Receivable, Finance Department
3 Washington St.
Keene, NH 03431
CC: John MacLean, City Manager; Thomas P. Mullins, City Attorney;

Dear Ms. Plankey,
I’m sorry that I have never met you, but I presume you’re probably a very nice person just doing your job. It is unfortunate that you have to deal with this matter. Let it be known that I as a sovereign seek only harmony with others. I reserve all rights and do not intend conflict with you or the “City of Keene”. It is to that end of harmony and peace that I write in receipt of your letter addressed to me, dated September 16, 2008.

I’m sure you understand that I can’t just pay my hard-earned money to just anyone who claims I owe them. Therefore, I accept your letter for value and will happily pay your “violation” when you or someone in your organization provides me with proof of my obligation to follow your “ordinances”. Satisfactory proof of obligation will require you or someone in your organization provide me with an original written agreement clearly defining the terms, conditions, obligations, and penalties, bearing my signature and a signature of an agent of the “City of Keene”.

Should you fail to provide proof of obligation within 14 days you agree to discharge this matter entirely. It will become known publicly that an agreement between us (the “City of Keene” and Ian Bernard) does not exist.

Please remember that I am a peaceful man and I want harmony with others. I am more than happy to pay for things I contract for and services I desire. For instance, I happily pay my water bills on time, because your organization’s water services are offered on a consensual basis, as all things should be.

As I’m a very busy man, my time is very valuable. Understand that if you or the “City of Keene” continue to send me more notices, or any other demanding papers, you agree to pay an assessment fee of $500 USD per page. (Your consensual water bills are exempt from this fee schedule.) I also noticed that in your letter you threatened me with possible “court action”. I’m a peaceful man and I do not intend conflict. If you have not provided proof of obligation and demand that I show up at your “court”, I will attend under duress, as it is my understanding that your organization will send men with guns to hurt me if I do not show up. Your organization agrees to pay a $5,000 USD appearance fee for each hour or partial hour or of my time, beginning the moment I open the front door of 3 Washington St. If the “City of Keene” sends men with guns to detain/arrest me for anything other than a crime committed against another human being or their property, the arresting agents will be guilty of kidnapping and the “City of Keene” agrees to pay me a $50,000 per day or partial day illegal arrest/detainment fee. Additionally, if Mr. Patten or any other agents from your organization leave anything upon my property, your organization will pay me $500 USD per item of garbage disposed of.

Again, if you or someone in your organization fail to respond within 14 days of the date of this notice with proof of obligation, you agree to discharge this matter in full. Silence upon your part confirms you agree with my above stated assertions and fee schedule.

Please respond to the address below via a service with delivery confirmation so you can be certain that my mailbox agents have received it.

Note that any correspondence is subject to being posted on the blog at

I look forward to your response,

Administrative Agent for
Ian Bernard
39 Central Sq. #313
Keene, NH 03431

After I served them with the above at about 8 a.m. this morning, I was down in the lobby of the building occupied by the men and women calling themselves the “City of Keene”, when the couch enforcer himself, Carl Patten Jr., entered the building. If you read the previous post on the blog, you know I was there to attend the triple civil disobedience event. Always polite, I greeted Carl with a “Good morning” as he approached. He held out a folded pink piece of paper, which I refused to take. He then committed battery against me by touching me with it on my shoulder and letting it fall to the floor. All this occurred in front of several witnesses. He smugly told me I had been “served” and continued on into the stairwell. The pink piece of paper turned out to be a “COMPLAINT”. See a PDF of it here.

As you can see, this is a “VIOLATION” demanding that I show up to their “DISTRICT COURT” and “ANSWER TO A COMPLAINT” in regards to one of their “ordinances” about “minimum property standards”. Unlike the ticket that he littered upon my property, this one is mostly filled out correctly, though it is not dated at the bottom or signed by a “Justice of the Peace”. Carl actually put my name on it this time and used his real signature! Last time he just scratched a small line in the signature area, and left my name off the ticket.

Considering the “city” will send men with guns to hurt me if I don’t show up, I will attend the “court”, under duress. Mark your calendars for, October 1st, at “District Court” in Keene. It is located at 3 Washington St., second floor. We will meet in the lobby at 8:15am. You are encouraged to bring recording devices and to stay seated when the “judge” enters the “court”. It should be interesting!

Feel free to join the discussion on this issue both on the Free Keene Forum and on the NHfree Forum

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  1. Wow! Count me in. Next week is shaping up to be a busy one.

  2. My message sent via "Citizen Request Form" linked by

    Contact Us

    Subject: Carl Patten, Jr. Couch Enforcer

    Watched Carl Patten, Jr. on

    Pretty arrogant, and what is up with the DEA skull?

    Jackboots are not the best way to represent the City of Keene to the rest of the country.

  3. I really like that letter. Looks like they are interested in paying you for your time…. …. … … ….

  4. If you truly believe your own assertion of "Please remember that I am a peaceful man and I want harmony with others." then pick up your trash, and promote neighborly harmony. Your letter is more arrogant than anything received from the city of Keene and your energy and passion could be so much more beneficial if directed elsewhere in society.

    Best of luck

  5. Thanks, but my neighbors have never complained about it, and it belongs to my tenants, not me.

    If the neighbors came to me, I'd be motivated to do something. This city bureaucrat threatening me is not my neighbor, thank goodness.

  6. T.,

    With all due respect, it isn't his trash. It is his tenant's couch.

    If Ian owns his property, he is free to put whatever he feels like upon that property. If on the other hand the City of Keene owns his property then they indeed can tell him how he can use his property.

    My concern, Mr. T., is that what would you do some day if the City of Keene decided to issue you a notice that the color of your car doesn't match your house and orders you a to pay a $100 fine for having a mismatched car and house combo?

    It's okay to force your neighbor against his will when its something you don't like isn't? When it is your property and they find something wrong with it will you be so willing to comply?

    Bet it really nice to work for the City of Keene, because then you don't have to worry about fines and such when your property is in violation. I'd love to see Fred get a visit and get a violation, and see him fight it. Of course that will never happen, its good to be a 'king'.

  7. What is this, high school debate club? You sent that letter and expect people to take the liberty movement seriously? Its moronic power-plays like this that makes the rest of us look like kooks.

  8. Power play?

    They are the ones attacking me, and you get mad at me for standing up for my right to property?

  9. I wholeheartedly agree that the state doesn't have a right to tell you that you can't have a couch on your own property.

    The letter you sent is childish defiance and will be viewed by most non-liberty minded people as crackpot-ish. Do you actually expect your point to get across to the poor clerk who reads it?

    I will make a friendly wager. If the state drops its couch-enforcement charge against you within this year I will donate $50 to freetalk live.

  10. It's not childish to accept a claim upon proof of obligation. It's prudent and good business.

    If I claim you owe me $500, are you saying you'd be childish for asking to see the agreement that binds you to the obligation to pay?

    That's all I'm doing.

  11. Your point is well taken but not very well communicated in your letter to the city. The tone of the letter is sophomoric. Whatever point you are trying to make to non-liberty minded people gets lost in the tone.

  12. Can't agree. Seems polite, yet firm. Show proof of obligation or not, and stop bothering me in the future. Nothing adolescent or childish about that.

  13. I'll have to disagree with you, but its your dime. Out of curiosity what are you trying to accomplish with this letter? Do you think it will persuade a bureaucrat or the state that they don't have legitimate power over your couch?

    What specific events and/or actions do you think will happen?

  14. Mark, I disagree; this letter is exactly what a liberty-minded person such as myself is looking for. Great letter, Ian. I like how you went on the offensive by using their logic to charge them for your time.

    Ian is stressing the absurdity of the power of the state while reminding them that he only seeks harmony with others. That's a very powerful combination, and I think that although it might not make an immediate impact, it is a step in the right direction.

    If we all protest fines as often as Ian does, the "city of Keene" will eventually shift into a voluntary, consensual government, because it's simply not feasible for them to fight that much for every $100.

  15. So its about symbolism? Is it a long-term struggle that will only reap rewards some day? How can you measure success?

  16. I have to agree with Ian on this. This is great stuff. Ian, Will you be available for an interview either before or after you enter the court?

  17. Whenever you want me.

  18. HEY!, Folks! regarding that pink "violation" notice, anybody else notice these *FACTS*???…1.: No Docket # listed; no "TN" #, either! 2: "ht.","wt.", & hair & eye color *NOT* filled out. (How could they *Possibly* tell it was *YOU*???…suppose *I* went in your place? How would they know???) This is a "violation" ticket, sure, but for a "C of K" **ordinance violation**???…*WHICH ONE*??? It's been scratched out! That info is at best vague & ambiguous. The "served in hand" box is *NOT* checked, meaning it's still in the mail???…*IT'S NOT DATED* Get a piece of carbon paper, date it October 4. See what happens. Show up on OCT 2nd! Whatever. Wow, you guys pissed off Carl Patnine, jr. (He's losing it, one at a time!) Thanks, bloggers! FREE TIBET.

  19. I can't wait to see how this plays out. Good luck Ian, Wish I was there in New Hampshire to back you up.

  20. Hello Ian:

    In my opinion, this is starting to sound like "couch-gate". You've got some awfully petty people over there running the City of Keene. They sound just like the Massholes we've got over here running Plaistow. As a NH native of 58 years, I find this extremely embarrassing, and I would like to apologize to you personally. Now, are you absolutely sure you or your tenants haven't pissed someone off much higher up the political food chain? After all, you'll never get to face your "real" accuser in court anymore. That honor goes to the Code Enforcement officer, in cases like this. It's part of their accusers' protection program.

  21. Dennis,

    It's clear they are targeting me as I am one of the more visible people spreading ideas that are threatening to their power structure.

    Perhaps they will learn that attacking me only strengthens the liberty movement and leave me be after this is over.

  22. By the way, I can't seem to open the .pdf of the "complaint." It acts as if the file is corrupt or incomplete. Just me?

  23. It works for me.. anyone else?

  24. I agree with the comments about the tone of the letter.

    Ian has already disagreed with me, but I still think that by taking this approach he will make people feel justified in their interpretation of the law.

    HERE is the section of code containing the provision cited in the ticket.

    Scroll down to 18-241 for the actual provision cited.

    Scroll down to 18-242 for the appeal provision, which is required by state law.

    I don't see any case that you could cite furniture in the yard, especially in active use, as being literally in violation of 18-241.

    And above and beyond that, the statutory citation of authority is RSA 674:51, which allows a community to establish provisions stricter than statewide standards for the construction, remodeling, and maintenance of all buildings and structures in the municipality. I don't think it was the intent of the legislature to allow local regulation of yard furniture.

    If you are really serious about advancing freedom in NH, as opposed to putting on a show, hire a lawyer and fight this.

  25. I can get it on my other computer, so I guess it's on my end. I could see your other ticket fine. Oh well.

  26. Here's my guess. When all is said and done, you will end up paying the fine and wasting a lot of bureaucrats' time. (Not that, that is a bad thing.)

  27. You know Ian better than I do, but if his radio personality is anything close to reality you might be wrong. I can see him doing some community service, or spending a few days in jail. Of course he might just get someone to politely ask him to move the couch, and I'd bet he'd be more than happy to move it then.

    I'm really doubting he'll pay a fine though. Just doesn't seem his style.

  28. Nick,

    Perhaps you think "Mark" posting above, is the Mark from FTL. That is not the case.

    I will not pay. I wouldn't have embarked on this path to back down.

  29. Hiring a lawyer is working within the system. I do not consent to that system.

    Noncooperation works, and will work better when more join us.

  30. Ian,

    I was under that impression. My bad. Now that I look at it, the comment doesn't quite fit him… but, you never know exactly where Mark is going to stand on an issue. His arguments are always well thought out, but sometimes it feels like he comes out of nowhere with an idea.

  31. Just for clairificaton. I am not Mark from the show. My views are pretty close, but not exactly the same.

  32. OK, don't hire a lawyer.

    Would it be acceptable to you to make these arguments by yourself:

    1. You are not in violation of the "City of Keene's" own ordnance, that the cited 18-241 contains no rule about using indoor furniture outdoors. It would help if your tenants would testify under oath that they actually use the couch in its current location.

    2. The "City of Keene" and its officials claim to derive all of their authority over you from the "State of New Hampshire." In this case they cite RSA 674:51 as the basis of their authority from the state. But 674:51 only authorizes local regulations for "buildings and structures," and the couch is neither a building nor a structure. Therefore the "City of Keene" has no authority to tell you what you can put in your yard.

  33. I stand by my bet. $50 says the City of Keene gets their pound of flesh. It may cost them several thousand, but Ian will pay in time or funds.

  34. Well yes they will get their pound of flesh if Ian makes no effort to argue the case on the legal issues and simply spouts off about how he didn't consent to the regulation. He will reinforce the impression that he is a kook and that the officials are right in their assumption of authority over lawn furniture. And they will continue to ride roughshod over other Keene residents, including those who lack the skills or time that Ian has to fight the authorities on their own terms. That's the saddest part of this, in my opinion.

  35. No, you "other Mark", you're wrong…Ian will only pay $$$ *VOLUNTARILY*, or not at all…No, dude, the *TOWN* of Jumanjiville/keene will *NOT* get their "pound of flesh"…(they're bleedin-heart liberal veg-heads, anyway, remember?…) They will "cave", just like the Hon. Edward Burke did, simply because *THEY ARE WRONG*, we are *RIGHT*, *AND*, we will *FIGHT BACK*…The City of Keene is "governed" by *COWARDS* & *BULLIES*…All bullies are cowards at heart. (See: My posts on here, specifically the parts relating to Mr. Bully w/a Badge e-LIE Rivera, KPD Police Persecutor. I have challenged him to meet me face-to-face, man-to-man, one-on-one, without weapons or "cop-toys". He has consistently refused. He is at heart, *A COWARD*, as are *ALL* bullies. Those w/a badge most of all.I'll post some more stuff on here, but not on this thread…signed, Whelkhead, arch-nemesis of anarco-jesse….*(*GRIN*)*….

  36. OK, 1 more post before I log off for the night…Ian, really, your letter was a very good start. But, it is far too verbose. Please edit it down at least 50%, then resubmit it. Also, please read Curt Springers' post #76130 above. *Carefully* read the legal regulations cited therein. Keene has *NO* stautory basis to *successfully* "win" this matter…Also, in the letter to Judge Burke, here's an absolute tip: *USE THE HONORIFIC*!…in any letter to any judge that you expect to be taken at all seriously, the proper form of address is: *Hon.* "Joe Blow". The "Hon." is of course short for "honorable", as in "your honor, sir". Also, by *only* using, & *always* using, in the courtroom, words such as "your honor, sir", etc., you accomplish several good things for yourself. By using "your honor", etc., you are taking a stand, & holding it. You are telling them that you know they're playing a game, you know they know you know it's a game, and that at best, they can only "cut their losses"…You Win!(or, at least you lose much less, almost the same thing!…) I'm still new on this blog, & my computer skills are not so good, so I'm inviting any comments, criticisms, etc., Also, if anybody sees a way to help me on here, that too, will be appreciated. I'd rather be your favorite enemy, than your worst friend….~Rev. Dr. Elkheart. (Yes, I'm an ordained minister, w/the title "Reverend" – Rev., & have a Doctorate in Divinity Studies.("D.Div".) The "Rev." & "Dr." are 100% legit….*HON*grin*………~e~……

  37. elkheart:

    By voluntarily do you mean they drop the charges? Why would anyone voluntarily pay the state anything? If Ian pays anything (forced labor, jail time or currency) it will be under coercion. Don't kid yourself, the state has all the cards. You can play the "I never signed the social-contract." game only so long; it makes for interesting political discussion, but makes a lousy defense before a judge. When taken to its logical conclusions, (like the origional letter) it makes the sender look like a kook.

    If Ian was really serious about non-compliance, he would wait for the men in blue to storm his house and throw him in a cage for ignoring the piece of paper and subsequent "request" to appear before a judge. THAT would get a lot of attention. Can you imagine how stupid the city would look for sending a swat team against someone who refuses to move his couch? I'm afraid that the current course that Ian is taking is only going to make him look like a dick and/or kook.

  38. Other Mark: No the State doesn't hold all the cards. It thinks it does, but it doesn't. Obviously the Freedom Fighters* held some very important cards on the 26th when they did 3 civil disobediences in a row and won. The State's weakness is that it has to play by PC rules in whatever it does, whether it's fighting a war in Iraq or trying to collect a fine at home (especially when it is on camera), whereas the Freedom Fighters can play by whatever rules they want. That weakness is enough to defeat it, just like Dave and Nick defeated it on the 26th.

    Also Other Mark, you have "pound of flesh" defined wrong. What the State wants is money and it wants compliance. If Ian goes to jail, and the state gets neither the couch moved nor the money that it wanted, then it will still lose because it didn't get what it truly wanted, which was money and compliance.

    Also Elkheart, you are right that cops are cowards. This is something that my heart always knew, but I would never let myself admit it, at least not in recent years. That is why that coward/cop will not accept your challenge like a real man would.

    *(Freedom Fighters = Russell, Kat, Lauren, Dave, Ian, et. al)

  39. So just to be clear. You consider it a win if Ian goes to jail for not moving his couch, because they didn't force him to move his couch. This act of freedom fighting ends in Ian loosing his freedom?

  40. Just wondering out loud here…

    In the opening paragraph it was mentioned that you have a photo of the "enforcer snooping around". If he, at any time, crossed from the public sidewalk and street area onto your property, couldn't you seek charges and a fine against him for trespassing? What about "Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law Under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242" OR ""Conspiracy against Rights Under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 & Title 42, U.S.C., Section 1985" OR USC 42, S 1983 & 1986? Just wondering…

  41. Way to go Ian! I really like this letter. I'll be there for sure!

  42. Luke #76146: (Are we starting some sort of "chapter & verse" """bible""" here…???…*(*GRIN*)*…Regarding my statements about "cops/cowards", please let me clarify. First, I'm very, very sorry that my post #7 in my story about my 20+ yrs. in the Jumanjiville / Kengaroo / Keene cops-n-court GULAG, appears to have disappeared! I got some "405" or some weird "server is sick" error msg. when I went to post it. I was speaking about specific cases. *NOT* making comments about cops as a whole, except in the most general terms. I have the pleasure of knowing several past & current KPD, & other LEO's that I do not consider "cowards" at all. Indeed, I have great respect for the hard work they put into a difficult job. I can list Capt. "Jack" Zeller, Officer Steve Lennox, (ret.), Officer Timothy Peloquin, Officer Darryl Madden, Lt. Shane Maxfield, and some others, as having always treated me with respect & professionalism. My comments should in no way reflect upon those officers, or others not so named. I certainly don't "hate cops", or indeed hate anybody. I do however, hold a great deal of pain & hurt from other cops' mis-deeds, & from the system as a whole. Thank-you for reading this, & for your feedback, Luke. Keep up the good work, of exercising our 1st Amendment rights to Free Speech, & Free assembly. Remember: "A right that you don't exercise, is a right that you don't have."…~elkheart179~.

  43. So just to be clear. You consider it a win if Ian goes to jail for not moving his couch, because they didn’t force him to move his couch. This act of freedom fighting ends in Ian loosing his freedom?

    Other Mark, people often refer to going to jail as "Losing One's Freedom". In this day and age, that's an incredibly misleading phrase because in this day and age in America, whether you're in jail, or not in jail, or on death row, or whatever, there are so many arbitrary laws, rules, and regulations that most of whatever freedom you might have had is effectively non-existent, unless you're willing to fight for it, and people like Russell, Kat, Lauren, Dave, and Ian are the only ones truly fighting for freedom that I know of.

    The way that I look at it, the only way that Ian can win back part of his freedom is for him and his tenants to keep that couch where it is, never move it, and never pay any of the fines they're trying to make him pay wrt it. Just like how Ridley won back part of his freedom by refusing to obey the rule that he couldn't pan his camera in court, and made the judge cave in on the issue.

  44. More clarification: Re: "Cowards", & etc.,…Not that all cops are cowards, certainly not. But they are all *afraid*. Clinically paranoid, in fact. Ask a cop, if you know one. Their training tells them that "Every simple traffic stop could turn into a fatal gun battle"…crap like that…Yes, it's literally true, but, *BUT*, much of their fear comes also from guilt. *GUILT*. The system sometimes lets them, sometimes forces them, to commit small acts which they know are wrong. Maybe a nasty, rude attitude to some poor speeding motorist, if nothing more serious. Look at the "couchenforcer", Carl Patten. Did he wear that Detroit's head logo to *scare* Ian, or to **re-inforce his self-confidence**, & try to hide his own sense of fear & insecurity.? Ok, maybe both…who cares? From the looks of it, the "ticket" for the couch isn't properly filled out, which means it was never even made!(technically, in a strict legal sense). So how can the Court issue *any* finding over an invalid instrument. I also see Carl as being guilty of fraud, in issuing the bogus "ticket", anyway. It's also PROSCRIBED under the RSA's for "Official Oppression". Patten & the City have no Statutory authority over the couch, anyway. Wanna see photos of *my* couch?…Besides, just call it a "lawn ornament", not a couch. There are *NO* "ordinances" against LAWN ORNAMENTS!…

  45. This is an awesome letter you sent back to the bureaucrats. Keep up the incredible work Ian.

Care to comment?