When Ammon Bundy called for the will of the Harney County people to be heard, they turned up in record numbers. Packed to the doors it was standing room only at the County Fairgrounds meeting which was facilitated by Harney County Sheriff David Ward. Some say the entire town showed up. Others say it was the largest gathering they had ever witnessed in their life (including the county fair). At the meeting, one longtime Harney County resident took the floor. Addressing the topic of the straw poll, his response was two-fold. He said, Sheriff Ward's poll asks do we want it to end peacefully and the protesters to go home? Yes, we want it to end peacefully. No, I don't necessarily want them to go home. They have the right to free speech and I want to find out what they have to say. Another Harney County resident took the floor and stated that the Hammond Ranchers are the nicest people who ever walked the face of the earth and that they got the rottenest deal there ever was! Rep. Greg Walden echoed those sentiments on the House floor the other day. He stated that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) goes onto private land “all the time” to set back burn fires in order to protect their own lands. Yet BLM has never been sentenced under the 1996 Terrorism Law. He also stated that according to a law he authored, BLM has not kept their agreement to build fences but has ordered the ranchers to build them instead. Rep. Walden stated that the Hammond ranchers had been forced to sign a right of first refusal. Under this restriction they cannot purchase or sell anything over $500 without obtaining permission from the federal government. Rep. Walden has called it a “Constitutional Crisis.” To illustrate what Rep. Walden is speaking about – consider this fire started by BLM employees: The Cerro Grand fire went out of control after government employees failed to properly plan and prepare for windy conditions May of 2000. The prescribed burn whipped out of control, devouring over 47,000 acres of private land including over 400 homes, creating over 1 billion dollars worth of damages. How many BLM employees were charged? None. A report from the National Park Service Federal Board of Inquiry recommended that no disciplinary action be taken against the government employees. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt claimed it wasn't a case of criminal negligence and therefore there would be no criminal charges filed. Time for a review: Case A: Hammond ranchers start a back burn fire which burns 1 acre of BLM land causing $100 worth of damages and get 5 years in prison under the 1996 Terrorism law and are fined $400,000.00. Case B: Federal government employees who failed in oversight and proper planning for a prescribed burn under high wind conditions burn over 47,000 acres of private land that doesn't belong to BLM and destroy 400 homes creating over $1,000,000,000.000 worth of damages and receive no monetary fines and no criminal charges are filed. It is not difficult to understand why the ranchers have complained about the federal government's double standards. Harney county residents have been voicing their frustrations about an overreaching federal government that have been seizing their lands for a long time.. They are grateful for the attention that has finally come their way as a result of the Patriot Protesters occupying Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. Harney County resident Mitch Stegner said he had been out to the protest site and that the men and women were polite. He stated that the Bundy Ranchers have given Harney County the best gift it has ever received. He said, Whether you agree with them or not, they have given us our biggest and best platform to get our message to the federal government that they have to pay attention to us. I would add that they have also given the American people an opportunity to learn the truth about BLM's land grabbing schemes and the double standard the federal government has been using - disproportionate fines and criminal charges for ranchers vs BLM (who appears to be above the law). Today Sheriff Harney offered Ammon Bundy and his fellow Patriots an escort out of town but they declined. Mr. Bundy said they will accept that escort but not just yet. The standoff continues.