Keene City Gang Retaliates Against Downtown Business Owner for Speaking Against Parking Kiosks

As a business owner, few things are worse than having the attention of the people calling themselves “government”. Dorrie Masten, a local entrepreneur and property owner, knows this as well as anyone. As the owner of multiple properties and businesses including Keene Apartments and Pedraza’s Mexican Restaurant, Masten is no stranger to Keene’s ridiculous regulations. Unlike most business owners, she isn’t afraid to speak out publicly about how the Keene government gang has made her, her employees, and her customers’ lives more difficult.

The reason most business owners don’t speak out like Masten, is likely because they are understandably afraid they’ll be targeted for retaliation by the government people. According to a video posted to her facebook page yesterday, that’s exactly what’s happened to Masten since she publicly spoke against the parking kiosk that has been installed in front of her Mexican restaurant, Pedraza’s for about 18 months. Here’s Masten’s video, cropped to widescreen with boosted audio:

For newer readers unfamiliar with the history of the parking kiosks, the city gang installed a couple as a test in 2012 and then appeared to listened to the negative feedback from frustrated motorists and actually removed the kiosks they’d installed! Then-police chief Ken Meola explained to the city council at the time that despite paying former Keene police officer Fred Parsells to stand at a kiosk for eight hours a day to help people learn how to use it, the chief had found the following:

– Numerous mechanical difficulties have arisen with the machines and they continue to present.
– The public is finding the technology difficult to operate.
– The technology is not conducive to customers of the downtown businesses.
– Downtown merchants have reported constant complaints about the new kiosks and have reported down-turns in business as a result.
Although a 90 day trial period was requested, it appears that the trial period already undertaken is sufficient to indicate this technology will not work at this time within the City of Keene and that it will not produce the benefits originally believed.

Consequently, we will be suspending the trial period, removing the pay-by-space machines, and re-installing the coin operated parking meters.

After pulling them in 2012, five years later they put them back. Now downtown businesses like Pedraza’s are hurting and customers are frustrated. Masten this year requested the council consider removing the kiosk and for a moment it looked promising as the committee that heard her request voted 4-1 to remove it, though likely replacing it with coin-operated meters. However, rather than have that proposal voted on by the full council, mayor Kendall Lane reportedly somehow sent the proposal to a different committee, who returned with a 4-1 vote to instead continue and possibly expand kiosk use in Central Square! This decision in spite of a petition signed by dozens of downtown business owners opposing the kiosks, presented by Masten and business consultant Jared Goodell.

That’s not all. In Keene, the city gang demands local business owners beg for permission and pay tribute to the gang in order to allow them to put tables outdoors on the sidewalk area. Each year, Masten dutifully pays the bribe and jumps through the paperwork hoops. However this year she was informed by email that her application for the sidewalk permit is “pending”. As a result, she’s unable to acquire her outdoor liquor permit from the state liquor criminals.

Robin Hood Chalk Art

Chalk art celebrating the heroic Robin Hooders who saved thousands in Keene from parking tickets.

Plus, according to a video streamed live on Masten’s facebook yesterday, one of the Keene parking enforcers, Jane Vigneau took to facebook while on-the-clock to attack Masten. Vigneau was supposedly admonished by her superiors in the city gang, but hasn’t likely suffered any real consequence. Vigneau, for newer readers of the blog, is one of the parking enforcers who lied to support the city’s failed lawsuit against the “Robin Hooders” who were saving thousands of motorists from parking tickets in downtown Keene back in 2012 and 2013.

More to come as the full city council is expected to meet this week, but as of the time of this writing hasn’t published an agenda. The best course of action, which surely business owners and customers alike would support yet no one has likely proposed, is to remove the parking meters and kiosks entirely from Central Square and the rest of downtown. The worn-out excuses the city parking gang gives for their meters are that they encourage turnover and claim that businesses want that service. However, the city’s own actions prove their argument is false. First, they don’t enforce the meters on the week before Christmas – the biggest shopping week of the year! If there were anytime when “turnover” is important, it’s that week. On the contrary, the week prior to Christmas is great without the parking enforcers prowling the streets. People can shop without worrying if their meter is about to expire. If only we could have the other 51 weeks per year be like that. Also, to further prove it’s really all about generating revenue, the city gang enforces the meters during the slow hours too, when plenty of spaces are available on-street.

When I spoke with her today, Masten was dismayed with the city government gang ignoring the pleas of the business owners. The reality of the situation is the city is a criminal organization that does whatever benefits “the City”, meaning the people in the gang – not the people subjected to their rule. We’ve seen example after example of how it works, with the BEARCAT situation being one of the most flagrant.

Will any signficant changes be made to the Keene city council in this year’s upcoming municipal election? Don’t get your hopes up, but stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.

Chris Cantwell has become what he once hated – a total statist.

Chris in Simpler Times, Acting as Security for the Hallowkeene Dance Party in 2014.

While Christopher Cantwell still looks like himself on the outside, his beliefs have completely changed in the last few years and become even worse than they previously were. Tuesday night, Johnson Rice, Aria DiMezzo and I had Chris in the LRN.FM studio for a special internet-only, in-depth conversation that exclusively aired on the LRN.FM Twitch channel. If you can stomach the watch, it’s fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way.

In my last article about him, written shortly after his arrest in Charlottesville at a white nationalist hate rally, I explained that despite Chris’ libertarian activism being covered by this blog in the past, he had never been a blogger at Free Keene, nor was he ever invited to be. When he came to Keene in the early part of this decade, he was just crass libertarian comedian Chris Cantwell from Long Island. He wasn’t a racist, but still caused much controversy for his hatred for the police.

Today, Chris has embraced the police as his potential tool of oppression, even though they recently threw him into a jail cell for months in Virginia. As he revealed in our conversation Tuesday night, he literally wants to become the state. Shortly after 2 hours, 22 minutes in he actually says he wants to force his beliefs on others, and then moments later says, “I want to be the government, yeah.”

His dramatic shift to statism isn’t a first for the Free State Project libertarian migration, which was the original reason Chris chose to move to New Hampshire. Early mover to Manchester Amanda Bouldin went from being an anarchist to a hostile-to-libertarians leftist. Conversely, Chris has gone from being an anarchist to a actual NAZI. There’s not a shred of a libertarian left in him. Libertarians, voluntarists, and liberty-loving anarchists believe people should be judged as individuals, by their words and actions. Chris is obsessed with race and admits in the conversation that it’s lazy to judge people based on the group into which they are born, but nonetheless runs with the idea anyway, as he considers the laziness of racism to be an efficient filter for his ideal society.

Previously a libertarian against the war on drugs, he's now for prohibition.

Previously a libertarian against the war on drugs, he’s now for prohibition.

Further, Chris actually seems to believe he has some chance of becoming the state, by leading some kind of white nationalist takeover of the government. About the only thing we agree on is his support of secession. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows. Of course if NH were ever to secede, we’d be at odds again as I support open borders and he supports a closed-border police state.

The conversation we had on the Twitch-only show (though I’ve since exported it to Youtube here) had some particularly bizarre moments including Chris holding the confusing position of having used cannabis while supporting continuing prohibition against it. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth by acknowledging the benefits of harm reduction and decriminalization but refusing to advocate for policy changes in that direction. It’s a perplexing perspective. Despite his own personal knowledge of the ineffectiveness of prohibition and the various studies proving it is an abject failure that creates the opposite of its intended results, he rejects all that on the near-religious belief that outlawing something reduces its use. It’s a belief wholly at odds with how he used to think on the issue.

At one point in the conversation he actually refers to himself as a caricature. What does he really believe? Outside of another total personality shift to a communist, that which he currently hates, or perhaps maybe going transgender, it’s hard to imagine where Chris will go from here.

Speaking of transgender, Chris also had a segment with the Anarchist Shemale, Aria DiMezzo. Aria wrote about it on her blog, and was disappointed she didn’t get more time on-air to fight with Chris. I’d invited her there with the expectation that Johnson wasn’t going to stay through the whole show and that Aria could take his chair later. Turns out, Johnson stayed the whole time. She was also upset that we didn’t go toe-to-toe with Chris on trans issues, which I honestly know next-to-nothing about.

Only advocates of peace are allowed to blog at FreeKeene.com

Only advocates of peace are allowed to blog at FreeKeene.com

Others, Aria included, wanted to see more challenges from Johnson and I, and were upset that I laughed at Chris’ sick jokes. I’m the first to admit, I laugh at inappropriate things and I’ve always enjoyed Chris’ sense of humor. But Johnson and I definitely challenged his racist and insane statist beliefs. People will hear what they want to hear, of course, and people are highly emotional when it comes to Chris. They give him way more power and weight than he actually has. Some say we shouldn’t give him a platform, but then widely share the very video they say we shouldn’t have made.

Others, like me, can see the value in giving enough rope to Chris to verbally hang himself. We don’t think that bad ideas should be shut down, but instead they ought to be countered publicly. The answer to ugly speech is more speech, not de-platforming or censorship. If you don’t think I was the best person to counter Chris’ ideas, that’s fine. If you hate me because I’m kind to Chris, that’s fine too. Hate only hurts the hater. That’s ultimately the true irony here, that hating Chris only makes you more like him.

Chris has become what he once hated – an arch statist. He has rejected the libertarian principle of non-aggression and instead embraced coercive, institutionalized violence as his tool. Of course, violence begets violence and he will reap as he sows.

Though Chris is certainly responsible for his horrible beliefs, he’s ultimately a creation of a society that has long embraced the aggression of government as a tool to control their neighbor. If you hate Chris but you support the coercive state, you ought to look in the mirror. People cover their support for state violence by believing in nonsense like the “social contract” and refusing to see the threats of violence that back all government programs. They hold conflicting positions, like supporting the state while believing they themselves support peace. To his credit, at least Chris is honest about his reasons for supporting the state. He knows it’s a tool for the violent to control others and is eager to use it for his purposes. If you support the state, you helped make Chris into a monster.

Here’s the full, unedited, over three-hour show:

Humorless City of Keene Targets New Vietnamese Restaurant Over “Offensive” Name & Sign

Pho Keene Great - Offensive According to City Gang

Pho Keene Great – Offensive According to City Gang

Longtime readers of Free Keene will remember Isabelle Rose who made headlines when her Vietnamese food truck began accepting cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. For more than a year, Rose has been working hard on transitioning from food truck to full-service restaurant in downtown Keene! Unfortunately, the people calling themselves the “City of Keene” have decided to make Rose’s life much more difficult.

On Christmas Eve, Rose received a call from the new city manager, Elizabeth Dragon, who in a bid to apparently look more ridiculous than her predecessors, demanded Rose take down the recently-placed sign in the windows of her new location announcing her restaurant was coming soon… right next to city hall.

Why did Rose have to take down the sign? The city manager cited the city’s ridiculously restrictive and anti-business sign codes, but secondly the entire name of the business is now being targeted by the city gang. Rose had chosen the name “Pho Keene Great”, as her place will be serving the delicious pho noodle soups that made her food truck a hit with customers and brought much-needed ethnic flavor to Keene.

Pho Keene Great - T-Shirts Available at Rt 101 Local Goods!

Pho Keene Great – T-Shirts Available at Rt 101 Local Goods!

Rose says that Dragon told her the name of the business is “offensive and not appropriate” and wants to meet to discuss potential changes. Strange timing, considering the city manager was aware of the name back in February of 2018, since the city owns the property that Rose is renting and Rose sent Dragon an email with her business name in February and then signed a lease including the name of the restaurant in April.

Now all of a sudden “Pho Keene Great” is a problem? After the city has been paid rent for most of a year? After Rose has paid thousands of dollars renovating the space, working up signage and even t-shirts featuring her new logo? The shirts were already cool but now with the extra publicity thanks to the city’s stupidity, they are likely going to be a collector’s item! The good news is that as of this article’s writing, there are all sizes available, including ladies tees, exclusively at Route 101 Local Goods at 661 Marlboro St. in Keene! Get over there and get yours while you still can! Yes, you can also order them online. (more…)

Keene Police Send SWAT Team to Apprehend Non-Violent Man Having Mental Breakdown in Own Home

Man takes highly dangerous selfie in front of SWAT team.

Man takes highly dangerous selfie in front of SWAT team – the mask was added later to protect his identity.

After resigning from his job at Eversource over being sexually harassed and going through a difficult breakup with his girlfriend, a local man was having a mental breakdown in early November inside his own home in Keene, New Hampshire. The man has asked to have his real name protected, so I will refer to him in this story as “NBR”. Running on very little sleep, stressed from losing his job and relationship, and dealing with an undiagnosed mental disorder, NBR was alone in his house and had been throwing his possessions out the window.

According to NBR, when his parents, who love their son dearly, heard about his behavior they were quite concerned for his safety and well-being. They called to have him involuntarily committed so he could get the help and treatment he desperately needed at the time. Or, so they thought.

Unfortunately, then Keene police showed up and took things from bad to worse by responding to the mentally ill man with every cop in the vicinity, plus state police. One neighbor reported counting at least eleven police cruisers on the scene. It was a huge show of force considering NBR has no history of violence, nor had he threatened anybody. In fact, NBR was not charged by the police on the night in question with any crimes whatsoever. The police took him into custody without incident and delivered him to the Cheshire Medical Center to begin his involuntary commitment. There was no legitimate reason for such a large police response.

There was also no reason for several armed men with at least one laser-sighted assault rifle and two full-body shields to break down his front door and terrorize NBR. Though he expressed to the officers that he just wanted to go to sleep, he told me he did not resist their arrest.

The video and photo he took during the break-in by Keene Police, who broke down his front door, is stunning, terrifying, and just sad. In the video, at least one laser-sighted assault rifle is pointed at NBR as police demand he put down the phone in his hand. He makes it clear he is recording, thankfully not being shot to death for holding his phone. People have been killed by police in other jurisdictions when police claimed they thought the phone was a gun. NBR even managed to take an intense picture of the event to share with the world to show how dangerous the police can be and how unnecessary their actions were.

Does anyone actually belive this level of force by the Keene Police Department was appropriate or justified in any way? While it was extremely risky, thankfully NBR recorded the situation so it could be shared with others. It is a terrifying view of the police state on display, in a completely and clearly excessive response to an all-too common situation. Police operating policies and procedures should be changed to prevent this from happening again in the future.

Mental illness is a weak point in the Non Aggression Principle, which is the principle that defines libertarianism.  Clearly in a society with no coercive state, something would need to be done about someone who has lost their mind and has become a danger to himself or others, and that something will usually involve some level of aggression.  However, an involuntary commitment process should not involve men with assault rifles, shields, and overwhelming force unless the person is actually putting people in danger. In this case, NBR was simply having a breakdown in his own home. He was not a danger to himself or others, he did not threaten others, and he did everything the officers ordered him to do without incident.
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Vape Shop Owner Announces Run for Keene Council After Vote to Expand Nicotine Prohibition

City councilor Margaret Rice, one of the few sane voices on this issue, speaks out in favor of self-ownership.

City councilor Margaret Rice, one of the few sane voices on this issue, speaks out in favor of self-ownership.

Just one day after the 85th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition, the Keene City Council voted 10-4 to publicly express their ignorance on the matter and increase nicotine prohibition within the city limits. All of the testimony on the matter given on at least three separate occasions didn’t matter, despite most testifying against the idea.

Reminding the councilors of the lessons of history didn’t work. Though alcohol prohibition was a tragic, predictable failure, apparently they councilors think that banning the sale to and possession of nicotine by those under the age of 21 is going to somehow keep it out of the hands of middle schoolers. The councilors who voted in favor never addressed the fact that middle schoolers are already able to acquire nicotine despite it being illegal for them to do so. They also didn’t explain how increasing the legal age to 21 from 18 would have any effect on underage possession.

That’s because prohibition is an authoritarian fantasy that never works and always has predictable, destructive, unintended consequences. All they are doing is punishing innocent store owners’ bottom line and increasing the likelihood that more college students will be harassed by the police for simply walking down the street with a vaporizer or cigarette and “looking under 21”.

They’ve ramped up the futile, pointless, counterproductive war on drugs in Keene and we’re all going to be worse off for it. The ban has also sparked a political fire in Dan Cavallero, the owner of Monadnock Vapor, who has announced he’s planning to run for Keene city council in 2019 as a result of this stupid move by the council.

Cavallero has been the most active opponent of the measure, having attended every public hearing and testified, even while on crutches from a recent injury. Here’s the last public hearing video from the city’s MSFI committee which features Cavallero, me, and others testifying against the insanity of prohibition. Sadly, it fell on deaf ears:

NH Libertarian Party Candidates Excluded from WMUR’s Debates via Insurmountable Rules?

WMUR's Fake Debates Exclude Libertarians

WMUR’s Fake Debates Exclude Libertarians

The fix appears to be in. Despite attaining major party ballot access in New Hampshire for the first time in twenty years, the Libertarian Party of NH has been unfairly excluded from the biggest debates – those hosted by WMUR-TV. How? According to the rules the ABC affiliate announced last month, in order to be invited to their debates, the candidate must be polling at over 12%.

Guess what? There have been no polls that have included the libertarian candidates!

It’s not like WMUR and their newspaper partner the Union Leader can use the excuse that without their rules there would be too many candidates on stage. There are three ballot qualified candidates for governor in New Hampshire. There are three candidates each in the two US House races.

Oh yeah, and they want the candidate to have $25,000 in the bank. So, only wealthy candidates may apply.

Is there any doubt the WMUR debate organizers are working hand-in-hand with the republicans and democrats to exclude the libertarians? Thankfully, many of NH’s local media like newspapers and radio have been fair to the libertarian candidates, like the Keene Sentinel, whose editorial board recently interviewed Jilletta Jarvis.

Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis Announces Run for NH Governor in 2018

Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis Announces Run for NH Governor in 2018

According to Jarvis, if she’s invited to a debate, the other candidates will protest. She told me that North Country Community Radio recently invited all three gubernatorial candidates to debate. Incumbent republican Chris Sununu responded and declined the station’s invitation and democrat Molly Kelly ignored their invite entirely. Instead of the planned debate, the station gave a two hour interview to Jarvis and reminded their audience of the major candidates’ conspicuous absence.

Though Jarvis was told personally by WMUR’s Political Director Adam Sexton that the Libertarian candidate for governor WOULD be invited to debate, News Director Alisha McDevitt later told Jarvis that Sexton was not authorized to make that promise on behalf of WMUR. Sexton by the way, HAS been fair to the Libertarians in his various coverage – kudos to him for that.

If you’re upset by these blatantly biased rules, please reach out to the debate organizers at WMUR and the Union Leader and let them know how you feel. NH congressional district two candidate Justin O’Donnell has created a petition you can sign here. Jilletta Jarvis, the LP’s gubernatorial candidate has set up a page from which you can send an email to the News Director at WMUR, Alisha McDevitt.

Hopefully your input can help Ms. McDevitt change her mind, do the right thing, and invite the Libertarians to debate the two-party duopoly, giving the people of New Hampshire an actual choice.

Interestingly, Jarvis’ campaign has raised more than any other LP candidate for governor since 1994, but she’s still $16,000 short of WMUR’s $25,000 campaign finance goal. You can donate to her campaign here.