Wednesday, March 13, 2013

America Didn't Win Any Hearts and Minds Around the World Today

     Please Note:  New Information on contributing to The Eileen Hart Legal Defense Fund is found at  the bottom of this page.  Thank you.


This summons was obtained from

      I lived in New Jersey as a young adult, and I do certainly remember the exorbitant property taxes on our teeny first house. (Thousands of dollars a year on an eight hundred square foot home.)  After four years, we sold and moved out of state.

           Today, many news sources are telling the story of Mrs. Eileen Hart, a Newfield (Franklin Township) resident, an Orthodox Jew, and homeschooling mother of a seven year old little girl.  Mrs. Hart has no history of a mental illness and no prior brushes with the law of any kind.  She and her husband attended a meeting this week in the Gloucester Community Center which had been designed to question and complain regarding the new tax assessments leveled in her community by Appraisal Systems, Inc., a company that had been hired to reassess property values.   During the meeting, Mrs. Hart read from the Constitution, and complained that in a completely flat or deteriorating local real estate market, that her home property assessment should not double.   Additionally, representatives of the Appraisal Systems Co. had tried to enter her home, and that as an Orthodox Jew, she is required to have her husband present prior to any inspections, and so she asked them to reschedule.  The County Assessor did not like the direction in which Mrs. Hart's statement was going, and she was interrupted and not allowed to continue. The County Assessor said that she had the "right to enforce the law".
                Residents of the area complained the assessment program violates the Fourth Amendment. In order to make revaluation assessments and determine the tax value of a property, company inspectors must enter homes and inspect them. If not allowed to do so, the company has historically assessed much higher values on homes, leading to increased taxes. Mrs. Hart said she did not allow the Assessment and Appraisal Systems to inspect her home because her husband was not present at the time. She also cited religious reasons. Because it was denied access, the company revalued her property at a higher rate. Hart attended the meeting last weekend to complain about the revaluation and the arbitrary move by the county to assess the value of her property.

“I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell,” she told the Examiner. “I have the right to air my grievances against the government in a public setting. I’ve never threatened anyone a day in my life.”
“She also wouldn’t let me speak and told me to sit down and shut up and listen as well,” she explained. “That’s when the young man came toward me. I knew he was going to put his hands on me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I said to him ‘Don’t you dare touch me.’ Then they threw us out of the auditorium. The young man from Appraisal Systems, Inc. was the one going postal, and I believe if he had a gun, he would have shot me (and my family) on the spot. I was calm the entire time.”  People at the meeting say that Mrs. Hart did not swear at any time, and that her arguments were rational and getting traction.

Mrs. Hart was arrested in front of her young daughter. She was handcuffed to a chair at the police station.  She has been charged with making "terroristic threats".   Apparently, it's a threat if you question the accuracy and fairness of your property tax assessment.

 Interestingly, no one at the meeting heard anything  even remotely threatening from Mrs. Hart as she sat with her husband and young child.
A spokeswoman for Gloucester County said the assessor “has never experienced this type of extreme behavior from a taxpayer” and the police were notified, apparently because reading the Constitution is considered extremist and a threat.

Although Hart exercised her Fourth Amendment right by not allowing an inspection by government without a court-issued warrant, it did manage to violate her Second Amendment right by confiscating her firearms.
After police arrested her, they demanded she hand over her two guns, a .357-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and a .40-caliber Glock for “safekeeping.” If she had refused, a judge would have set bail too high for her family to pay.

“I have permits for each of them. I applied legally, I got them legally,” she said. “Now I can’t defend myself. I never said the word ‘gun’ at the meeting. None of those people would have even known I was a gun owner.”

     As she left the meeting, an employee of Assessment Appraisal Systems is alleged to have said, "See if you can pay any of your property taxes now !"

Seized property list from

Portions of my post, particularly the quotes from Mrs. Hart are taken verbatim from:

Eileen Hart and her daughter during a recent trip to Israel

References to this post:

You might want to let some of these people know what you think, if in fact you don't have to traverse the State of New Jersey anytime soon.

Assessment Appraisal Systems, Inc.   

      They have been making changes to their website today, so here are two of their four addresses and
phone numbers...

266 Harristown Rd.  Glen Rock, NJ    201-493-8530

110 S Jefferson Rd.  Whippany, NJ       973-386-1111

Tax Assessor Robin Glockner-Hammond
Woolwich Township Robyn Glockner-Hammond (856) 467-2666

age Green Dr.

Elk Joint Municipal Court,  667, Whig Lane Rd.,  Monroeville, NJ,    (856) 881-6631

          If people who go to meetings to question their property taxes or the actions of their local government can be arrested, charged in front of their children, simply because they question the actions of the persons who are working for all of us, then America is already lost.     I tried to call all of the people involved today to ask them what happpened, and to imply that the world is watching.  No one would answer the phone.

        Please contact any and all of the people above as your conscience permits, and let them know that all over the world, people are watching.  Local governments in the US should not intimidate, attack or threaten their citizens.    I wonder if Russia Today and Al Jazeera are covering this ?   We certainly didn't win any hearts and minds around the world today.

People who are interested in contributing to help to pay for Eileen Hart's legal fees, can show their support, with any amount, $5.00. $10.00, or much more, whatever you can spare by contributing to the Eileen Hart Legal Defense Fund       

One can use paypal or other means at the link above.

An additional place to contribute to The Eileen Hart Legal Defense Fund using Fundly

Thank you all for standing with Mrs. Hart and her family.


Matt said...

These days when confronting an individual or a group like this, ALWAYS have a recorder on you, and ALWAYS have a number of your people with you as witnesses. NEVER confront someone without a pack of your people with you.

JaneofVirginia said...

This is an absolutely excellent point Matt. In Virginia, we are allowed to tape any conversation with the knowledge of just one person, that being ourselves. For this reason, I always taped all of my interactions with the Homeowner's Assn. when I lived in the suburbs. Other states, such as NJ and MD may not allow taped material for admission to court unless all of the parties involved know they are being taped. Still, I try to being witnesses to any interactions which could be negative, because in this day and age, anyone can say anything about what you did, or said you would do.
I can't imagine a municipality making a more serious error. Everyone from Orthodox Jews, to homeschooling parents, to Libertarians, Gun Owners,Constitutionalists, parents, and anyone who has lived in or paid taxes in New Jersey is going to be outraged by this. Thanks, Matt.

Matt said...

I think the SCOTUS ruled last year that if it's in a public setting where there is NO expectation of privacy, you don't have to tell anyone including being pulled over by the ploice nor do you have to turn any device off if told to.

But then again I'm not an attorney, so everyone should investigate my statement for themselves.

Mamma Bear said...

I was supposed to attend a meeting at the PO today. I did not go because of this story.

I think the municipal government is taking a cue from the federal government. They are assuming they can get by with anything and no one is going to stop them.

I am going to stay out of the spotlight so to speak. The government is going to come after the middle class even if it is a few at a time.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Matt, I will look into that. I still tape meetings in Virginia anyway, because it was legal before.

JaneofVirginia said...

I think we all need to assess what we can do. Some counties and townships are more dangerous than others.
I will keep moving forward as safely as possible, because the Holocaust started exactly this way. No one stood against the injustices and then so few people tried, they were powerless.

Gorges Smythe said...

I went the company's site, but any relevant pages are strangely unavailable.

JaneofVirginia said...

The company that NJ hired to do updated property assessments is Assessment Appraisal Systems, Inc. They are not answering the phone just now, and they may be pulling webpages at the moment. I would imagine the traffic for the others to be pretty heavy just now.

Linda said...

This story really frightens me.

JaneofVirginia said...

It frightens me too, even for New Jersey. I have been in communication with Mrs. Hart via e-mail and from her e-mails, she is a bright and calm woman concerned about the implications of this to her child and her family. She reminds me of many of the people with whom I have contact in cyberspace, only perhaps calmer than many of us.

Matt said...

Fear and caution aren't the same thing. Everyone should understand the difference. Caution is knowing that there is a bear in the area, and knowing how to avoid and stay from it. Fear is feeling the bear's breath on the back of your neck right before it mauls you.

Don't be afraid of them. Be prepared. Know when to "pick your fights" and when not to. BTW, I'm not saying that Mrs. Hart shouldn't have done what she did, I'm speaking in generalities. Is it an issue you need to deal with right then, or can you deal with it later.... in a different venue? Do you have your recorder with good batteries ready, and is your pack going to be there to back you up and provide witness for you if needed later?

From the way the story goes, this bunch acted like and said things to try and intimidate this poor woman before they falsely accused her. Had we audio/video of the things said, this thing might already be close to being over with, with a nice lawsuit on the way back to them for violating her rights. Now, it may, at best, be a toss up depending on witness testimony, even if she wins, this will probably always be on her record (they don't like returning guns once they grab them). It's amazing how a video camera on the scene tends to make folks behave.

Now that this incident has happened, you should always know what kind of bear cave you may be walking into before you walk into it. Look these people up before you start asking them questions. While I certainly don't put stock in Republicans, being a Democrat automatically raises the alarm level. What is their history, and how have they voted in the past, especially the recent past? Just remember that these folks have gotten brave the last four years which should be a good indicator of things to come.

Just remember that darkness can't stand the light. If you are in a situation like this that (unconstitutionally and unlawfully) demands that there be no recording going on, then you know what to expect should you start something. Never start something that you aren't sure you can finish. Try and stack the deck ahead of time. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now, if Mrs. Hart is viewing this, I am not saying any of this to upset her. I am addressing those that are mentioning how fearful they are now. I do hope for her benefit that audio/video shows up to vindicate her. I think her mistake here was assuming that the First Amendment was still in effect and that she was dealing with people who were honest and had integrity when in fact she was dealing (from all appearances) with just the opposite.

JaneofVirginia said...

From the few e-mail conversations I have had with Mrs. Hart, I can tell you that she is certainly intelligent enough to understand what you are saying and the spirit in which you intend it Matt. You are correct. We need to feel caution, not fear.
Often we assume that the people entrusted with working for local government are acting in good faith. This time, it looks as if they were not only trying to justify their own existence, but that they were feverishly holding on to the common New Jersey practice of taxing a home beyond the amount for which it would sell. They see the writing on the wall, which is that in future, many people will contest their tax assessments, and NJ will function with far less money than they have before.