June 2009 Archives
I recognize that there are many officers doing excellent work keeping the city safe. We hope that the resistance to receiving our evidence and addressing our concerns will turn out to have been isolated and short-lived.
date Mon, Nov 5, 2007 at 12:29 AM
subject Good Work, MPD
We recently called 911 while witnessing a break-in across the alley from our house. Missoula Police Department officers arrived within minutes and soon made an arrest. While on the scene they exhibited skill, courtesy and professionalism. We thank these men and women, and their capable canine, for a successful, well-executed effort.
Sorry to be repetitive in this post. When obvious facts/concerns are being completely ignored, it's hard to know what to do other than find a variety of ways to state them.
This is such a surreal Catch 22. The message we're getting is: "We have found no evidence of wrongdoing against you. At the same time, we have ignored your multiple requests to provide the appropriate information, so we don't have any evidence. Therefore, we conclude that no wrongdoing has occurred."
Seriously? I made clear all along with Sergeant Richardson that contacting the Department was a first step, and that I wanted to work with them in an ongoing way and provide information. I requested repeatedly how to do that. Hello? No one there even knows exactly what we believe should be investigated. How can they make conclusions that nothing illegal has occurred when they haven't heard from us exactly what has occurred?
Mom was harassed again this morning due to the Department's failure to properly address one aspect of our situation... And I get accusations about treading on libel and making false accusations. Free speech exists so that citizens like me can speak out about ridiculous situations like this. I am dumbfounded by the "libel" approach.
I'm sorry -- I can't get over the continued lack of acknowledgment that we have begged to find out how to provide them with the evidence they need to properly investigate. Or any expression of desire to receive relevant information from us. Wow.
Was I not clear in message after message that the PD has only a tiny fraction of the relevant information and we just want to know how to provide it to someone who is not intent on blaming us? I don't know how many more ways to say it. Why does the department need to frame it in terms of deciding whether or not there is criminal activity at the outset, rather than making an informed determination based on the evidence we provide?
Doesn't anyone at the City realize how weird it looks that they so don't want any information?
I guess we just provide all of the evidence and documentation without guidance on how they would like to receive it? We wanted to make their jobs easier. Ignoring non-evidence is apparently very easy -- ignoring actual evidence will be more difficult, I think.
(Also -- interesting that Chief Muir gave his "professional opinion" about libel and not one of the City Attorneys copied on the message... I guess I was meant to be scared into quieting down by someone who is not professionally obligated to provide legitimate "professional opinion" on legal matters?)
Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 4:57 PM
Re: Threatening Behavior from Alain Goodman This Morning
The issue is not that I have provided the evidence and no credible public employee has "found" anything within it -- the issue is that no one seems to want to receive evidence and documentation from us. Are you not understanding that I have extensive evidence of criminal activity that I would like to provide? I have asked perhaps six times now how I may succinctly and helpfully provide information so that proper investigations may take place. I have to wonder why the department does not what the information. Can you please clarify that issue?
The claim about libel is frankly absurd. The email exchange with Sergeant Richardson quite adequately backs up my interpretation of his response -- I am absolutely allowed to express my opinion about his completely one-sided response to our concerns. We are protecting ourselves through blogging because we have not received protection from your department. Threats about libel will not prevent me from continuing to pursue my rights -- including my right to free speech.
I have made multiple 911 calls about stalking and harassing behavior since September and told at least four officers on the scene that we have been dealing with stalking and harassment. No follow up was made. On February 5, Officer Chris Kanaff was very responsive and helpful in heading off suspicious characters who were parked in front of our home in the middle of the night. I told him that it was a chronic problem. There has been an endless stream of suspicious characters since then. If I call 911 every time it happens, I lose all credibility. We do have extensive documentation of the license plates of those who have exhibited suspicious behavior. We would love to provide it.
If Sergeant Richardson had responded appropriately about the concerns about the Goodmans outlined in the June 4 letter that you were copied on, and not attempted to blame us, perhaps Mr. Goodman would not have frightened my mother this morning. Clearly Sergeant Richardson sent a message to the Goodman household that we are in the wrong, and Mr. Goodman felt complete license to scream at her. Is this how you protect concerned citizens in your city? The problem isn't my exposing how your department is handling these issues. The problem is how they are being handled.
I still would like to know exactly how the Department is going to address the issues of organized crime, hate crime and harassment that we have endured in the city, and now this new threatening behavior from the neighbors. If you are not going to inform us by email, please send me a letter. Also, again, we have extensive documentation of organized crime, hate crime, and harassment, and deserve contacts at the city and county who are willing and able to genuinely investigate. As you continue to ignore it, we will have no choice but to pursue our safety and rights with state and federal agencies that are willing to take a genuine interest.
Also -- is Sergeant Richardson's bizarre instruction not to contact our neighbors (we still don't know which) still in effect even though it's clear that the problem is that individuals like Alain are harassing us? Do you want us to tie up the emergency line every time something like that happens? Would it not be appropriate to take a more proactive approach that prevents the situation from escalating to a hostile or emergency situation? Is the city not liable for not taking appropriate action?
We deserve protection from your department as much as any other resident. Please let us know how you are going to provide it.
Additionally, to clarify, Sergeant Richardson responded to the June 4 letter and that is why I did not return your return of my June 8 phone call. Though I called his direct line rather than 911 this morning when the incident with Alain occurred, we have made it clear that we have no desire to work with Sergeant Richardson -- if he had not been so one-sided in his handling of this my mother would have had a much less frightening morning. As indicated in an email from earlier today, she would like to file the appropriate report about Mr. Goodman's morning tirade. Please provide a contact other than Sergeant Richardson so that she may do so. Someone other than Sergeant Richardson may phone her at ***-****.
On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM, Mark Muir <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Ms. Sayer,
This email will be the last electronic communication you will receive from the Missoula Police Department. Upon my order any police employee who is requested to communicate directly with you by email will be advised to contact me. I will telephone you (as I have tried numerous times with no call backs) whenever you may need assistance outside the scope of the current matters. Any emergency matter requiring assistance from police can be communicated through 9-1-1.
You are not under any form of investigation by the Missoula Police Department and Sgt. Richardson has been ordered to cease any further activity with regards to your assertions that I find on your blog. I have reviewed that information and spoken with my highly credible staff to determine that they have done everything they can possibly do to convince you that no criminal activity is afoot and that you have not provided any credible evidence of hate crimes being committed against members of your household. Feel free to continue those assertions to federal authorities if you object to my finding.
Furthermore, it is my professional opinion that you are potentially treading on libelous accusations about members of the Missoula Police Department and I encourage you to address any further opinions about police services to me. I will not tolerate you making patently false accusations in a public forum about the character and actions of officers within this department. My office is available to you upon reasonable request to personally discuss your feelings about the departments failure to understand your concerns.
Chief Mark Muir
Missoula Police Department
435 Ryman Street
Missoula, MT 59802
My mother just walked in the door looking terrified. I asked her what happened.
She was returning from getting morning pastry on foot. As she crossed the alley, she noticed that a vehicle was pulling out from in front of the Goodmans and looked intently at the license plate to see if it was local. She kept walking toward our gate and looked at the teal green truck as it drove by. She noticed that the sign on the side read "Loken Builders." Before she could even register that a Loken Builders truck had once again been parked at the neighbors', as she did a double take, the driver slammed on the breaks and backed the truck up about 20 feet so that it was beside her. She then saw that he was our neighbor, Alain Goodman.
He yelled a series of things, but all that she could make out among them was "You got a problem with me?"
She didn't. She was minding her own business, carrying croissants. She said nothing.
His demeanor and expression were quite menacing and it seemed as though he was going to jump out after her and so she hurried inside the gate. He sped off. She walked inside, looking terrified.
We left a message for Sergeant Richardson. It will be interesting to see if/how he tries to make this Mom's fault somehow. I also sent an email to Department and County employees, asking how we officially report these incidents, and emphasizing how important it is for them to send a message that it is unacceptable to engage in harassment or intimidation.
So, does Mr. Goodman work for Loken -- the man who bilked materials, committed what most would interpret as fraud, and seemingly engaged in a variety of strategies to devalue or foreclose on my mother's home? That would explain a lot. Including the drug entrapment attempts that the Goodmans seemed so intimately involved in.
Ironically, if he hadn't flown into a rage and backed up, Mom would not have known he was driving the company truck.
When you are being systematically harassed, documentation becomes important. It's the culmination of incidences that create the overall picture. Not only is he not interested in receiving documentation or evidence so that he understands the overall situation. He is also intent on stigmatizing the peaceful, nonviolent response we have adopted to protect ourselves.
All of the communications with our neighbors have been very rational and measured attempts to deal with only a tiny fraction of the harassment or bizarre behavior we have encountered. Over the last six months, for example:
• When we started using binoculars to identify license plates on the block in January, we wrote to all of the surrounding neighbors to let them know that we were doing so as a means of coping with an organized harassment campaign and had no desire to violate their privacy or make them uncomfortable in the neighborhood.
• When there was flash photography in our back yard on a recent evening, I didn’t storm over and knock on doors. I sent emails requesting no further violations of our privacy.
• When someone on the Ferguson property seemed to be calling my mother a “Motherf*cking p*ssy,” (seemingly John -- if it wasn't directed at her, then someone who did not respond to him and did not make a sound) I wrote requesting that we endure no further verbal assaults in our back yard. I also requested that they please notify us when our driveway was going to be blocked by renovation work at their property.
• When my polite verbal requests to stop making unreasonable noise were ignored by the Goodmans one Sunday evening, I had not choice but to call the police -- they intervened and the loud banging stopped.
• After a neighbor across the alley stared at/studied our property for about five minutes, I wrote an email inquiring about it.
• When a young man on our block illegally parked a bus and commenced a loud and illegal construction/retrofitting project on it, I let him know what laws he was breaking. When he didn’t follow the law, I eventually contacted the police and they intervened. He moved the bus.
• After another series of provocations from the Goodman household, we finally wrote to their landlords, copying them and a variety of government agencies.
In all of these cases, I have responded to illegal or inappropriate activity in a very calm, rational and legal manner. No one is forced to respond to an email or a letter. We write them to protect ourselves or ask about or document odd behavior.
These communications reflect only a teeny tiny fraction of what we've dealt with and don't begin to reflect the overall atmosphere of terror we've endured.
Why is the focus on my communication rather than the harassing behavior? Can a policeman tell a citizen that she is not allowed to send email or letters? Can a policeman dictate that a citizen only communicate through a lawyer? Not everyone can afford one. If individuals don’t wish to receive communication, shouldn’t they provide the contact information for their attorneys?
It seems that Sergeant Richardson is making up his own protocol as he goes along. If we weren't dealing with nighttime photography, rude disregard for our lack of desire to endure Sunday evening construction, or disturbing tirades, we wouldn't have a need to contact our neighbors. We have to wonder why this public employee is so invested in blaming the victim here.
(The picture represents vigilante justice in Montana in the 1870s. It's thought that perhaps the vigilantes were actually committing many of the crimes they were punishing... It has often felt, over the past two years (and especially in the last month), that a very thin veil of civility has prevented us from falling victim to such a fate. The "New West" isn't so new.)
Just after writing the post below I got a new message from Sergeant Richardson. So, here we are in the nitty grtty of fighting to have one's voice heard in a corruption-saturated community. I guess throughout American history people who've had their rights systematically violated have had to tirelessly and relentlessly pursue legal means for circumventing this type of obstruction. The email exchange below is instructive in the technique of deflection. I'm sure we will deal with a lot of this -- it's important not to take it personally and come to terms with the sad truth that in general people will protect their own and their buddies' interests to an absurd degree.
You can see that the overall strategy below is to make me look completely unacceptable and repugnant to our neighbors, and focus on that rather than the city's overall responsibility. Initially, I complained to the department about a neighbor's conduct, and this where it has led us. One of our strengths is that we have documented the neighbors' odd behavior and entrapment attempts in the form of emails and letters to them. I guess they don't want us to be able to do that any more. Also, by making it seem as though the problem is isolated to us harassing our neighbors (right!), attention is deflected away from their behavior and the city's responsibility for all that has occurred -- in and outside our neighborhood.
The way this Sergeant has fought so hard to completely ignore our very legitimate concerns is so telling. You can see in message after message below, how strenuously he avoids our issues. His complete one-sidedness is remarkable. Throughout this ordeal, however, we have been amazed at the way people seem to think they can create truth simply by ignoring what they'd like and stating what they want to be true.
As long as it's about me, and not about the city and its sanctioning of hate crime and harassment, apparently they think they're golden. But how long can such a transparent strategy work? Or is it just to tide them over until they think of further ways to diminish our credibility? How do we go in one email exchange from "go on and enjoy your life with neighbors who have no issue with you" to "don't contact your neighbors" unless it's a strategic/deflective reaction to complaints about his not doing his job? That seemed like a defensive and ill considered move.
None of this changes the fact that we have copious amounts of evidence and information that we are eager to turn over to local law enforcement. When that evidence and documentation are reviewed by individuals who are truly concerned about our welfare, the Missoula Police Department's obstruction will seem even more problematic. Are they somehow banking on the idea that for some reason no one will ever have the opportunity to evaluate it?
For the sake of the people of Missoula and the police department's reputation, we can hope that Sergeant Casey Richardson is just a bad apple. Fun email exchange after the jump.
As of last week the city and county of Missoula have been notified of our enduring two years' worth of organized crime, hate crime, stalking and harassment (domestic terrorism). So, if they refuse to follow up or take our concerns seriously and we continue to endure any of the above, the city and county will bear responsibility. (The Salt Lake City, Helena and Missoula FBI have been notified too but are so far mum.)
The Missoula police department seems to want the least amount of information possible about what has occurred. We've seen this before. Dave Maison, the Farmers insurance adjuster dealing with Abbey Carpets' damage to my mother's home wrote his initial assessment of what had occurred without even talking to my mother or me -- his was completely inaccurate (seemingly to cover up for intentional destruction of property and to make it seem as though water damage had occurred when it hadn't in the ongoing attempt to devalue the property) and we had to threaten going to the state auditor to get him to include the correct information. He initially said "I've heard what you're going to say," and so didn't want us to say it -- at that point we weren't being vocal about the intentional nature of the property destruction, but just had the facts. Dave didn't want to do a standard taped interview. Nothing. I guess if he didn't have it in his records, it didn't happen.
This is very similar to what's going on so far with the Missoula PD.
Oddly, Sergeant Casey Richardson wants to define the issue quite narrowly, as isolated to our "innocent" neighbors. He has willfully ignored information about the escalated harassment following last year's local Republican convention (where there seemed to have been a lot of confabbing and fund raising related to us). This year's occurred recently and we are concerned that it could be much worse this year with the surge in right-wing violence, and have pointed out a few individuals who seemed very troubled by our religious/political outlooks who also sabotaged work at the house or threatened to use employees of the sheriff's department as hired goons.
I have tried to explain to Sergeant Richardson that it is his and the department's job to make clear to local political and religious leaders that their constituencies cannot harm and harass us with impunity. Failing to do so sends the message that it's acceptable to create an overall tone of fear and intimidation within the city and county. Clearly, someone who is going to use a sheriff's department employee as his enforcer believes he has the backing of law enforcement against whatever horrible excuses of humanity we were supposed to be. It's an overall tone of acceptability that local government needs to shift and so far Sergeant Richardson has remained tone deaf on that issue. After his seemingly intentional nonresponsiveness I followed up with Lieutenant Brester, who was silent and who now is out of town.
The problem is that it's likely that false information was given to the city or the county in order to sanction bogus investigation of us (again -- based on all of the entrapment attempts, it seems that the false info was drug-related). Because little of what has happened to us could have happened without locals feeling as though they were legally protected. It seems that agencies that have been "investigating" us are legally required to let us know why. We do have a right to face our accusers, after all.
I have asked County Attorney Fred Valkenberg directly in an email whether we have been under investigation by his office. He hasn't answered. I asked him and the other attorneys in his office how we can best provide them with the information they need to pursue the crimes against our person and property. We have so much information and documentation, we want to provide it in the most succinct possible manner so that we can help them do their jobs effectively. Silence.
We're not going away. We're just not. We're dedicated to the idea that our nation's/state's/city's legal/justice systems should work on behalf of individual citizens and not cronies. We will pursue all possible local, state and federal channels. So now seems like the time for local public servants to decide how they will be known when all of the facts come to light. So far, Sergeant Richardson is the cop who is doing all that he can to avoid receiving any documentation of wrongdoing. Luitenant Brester seems like the cop who is ignoring our communications in the hope that Sargent Richardson will discourage us and we will quiet down. Mr. Van Valkenberg's office seems quite ostrich-like. But ignoring us won't make us go away. Public servants need to do their jobs properly.
A couple of years ago I saw Steve Loken give a speech for a fake environmental organization at the University of Montana in Missoula. Loken is a supposedly "green" building contractor who has been on the Democratic Governor's global warming task force and speaks nationally on energy and building issues. On this particular occasion, he spoke about needing to add a sales tax to tourism-related purchases, stating that like Robin Hood he believes it's necessary to "Rob from the rich to give to the poor."
Since people in his employ had already bilked building materials from my mother, I had to wonder: did he mean over order tile on one client's job so that she would pay for much more than necessary and he could redistribute it to his subcontractor's sprawling Lolo spec home?
To me that seemed more like, "Rob from the unassuming and vulnerable retired lady to give to your real estate developer buddy." Poor people generally don't seem to fare to well in an economy based to a large degree on high-end real estate development -- it hasn't served average Montanans. Even if Loken does subscribe to a political philosophy of wealth redistribution, as reflected in his business practice it seems to be more about redistributing to his pals than to the dispossessed.
Eventually, we had to wonder whether the used building materials nonprofit he started, Home Resource, was in part a front. How many of his clients paid for materials that were then "donated" to Home Resource and bought cheaply for his friends' jobs?
It finally became clear that Loken wasn't concerned about making my mother's project at all green, even though that's why he was hired. The supervisor Loken hired knew nothing about green building materials. For some reason, Loken didn't want to replace an old and wasteful heating system even though the plumbing expert recommended he do so.
We knew that questioning witnesses under oath would open the door to testimony surrounding participation in the harassment/criminal conspiracy we have endured. We didn't realize just how important it was that the facts not come out in open court. Apparently, the testimony and facts would have been much more damning than anyone could have imagined, because the judge assured that we would not be able to present a case.
Something is obviously fishy when any of the following happen -- not to mention all. A judge has allowed Jeffrey Doud, the counsel who was caught lying, withholding documents, and taking action without his client's informed consent, to withdraw without notice or providing the opportunity to find alternate counsel. Subsequently the judge does not allow the defendant to in any way remedy the lawyer's misconduct. The judge does not allow a defendant to name an expert witness. He allows opposing counsel Tim Geiszler to have another unrecognized attorney file motions (because doing so himself would have disallowed the attorney of record any claims of deniability about Steve Loken's fabricated bills and documents) even though doing so is clearly a violation of procedure. In general, he flat out, just fragrantly ignores procedure because doing so is favorable to the plaintiff. He allows the trial to move forward when there has been no pretrial order filed. Really, he observes procedure completely arbitrarily. Procedure that is Montana Code -- the Code that we are all meant to observe because it is the law that governs us all.
A couple of years ago I wrote a series of articles about how average U.S. Americans could save energy and money in their daily lives. During that process, our household dutifully switched to CFL light bulbs, used power strips for the entertainment and computer centers, and unplugged “vampire” electronics like toasters that are only used a few times per day.
I’m sure I’m slow and lots of tech-savvy people have thought about this, but from a lay, consumer perspective, it never occurred to me how wasteful it is to have electricity pulsing to all areas of a residence all of the time. After all, a garage door opener may only be used once or twice per day, and the garage lights not at all. Outdoor lights need only have wattage supplied to them at night. Some people rarely use their basements.
We don’t understand exactly how the extensive sound/visual surveillance system in our house works. A contractor (who conspired to foreclose on my mother’s home as part of a drug entrapment scheme) seems to have arranged for his subs to change the wiring (either only for the surveillance or also as part of an overall effort to devalue the home for the foreclosure). Now multiple disparate rooms, as well as outdoor lights, are on the same breaker.
In April, as part of an ongoing effort to reclaim our privacy, our household innovated a counter surveillance-inspired energy and money-saving strategy: flipping off non-essential breakers. Since so many of the rooms are on the same one, it means that we’re using electricity in only a few rooms. We turn on the garage only when we need to come or go. At night, we use flashlights in most of the house or light from the refrigerator in the kitchen.
On May’s bill we cut the electricity usage almost by half of the previous year’s and so prevented about 370 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Just our one household! (There was an extra person for part of last year’s bill, and we weren’t here for part of it – but still!)
Much of the writing and activity I did in relation to mainstreaming environmentalism had to do with making a difference without really changing or sacrificing. Sacrifice was boring and ugly. The fact that we have so quickly adapted to not having electricity everywhere in the house, and to cooking in the daylight, makes me hopeful. Throughout my entire life I had electricity in the kitchen all the time and now I don't. I probably won’t do it for the rest of my life but I know that I can and still feel happy and abundant (as much as possible under the current circumstances).
There's a certain amount of strength and comfort that comes from knowing you can let go of what you take for granted. The recession gives us all an opportunity to experiment with feeling content without consuming in the manner some call the “American Way of Life.” My grandparents were very American throughout the depression. Maybe we can all just feel lucky that as bad as things are, for most of us doing without is still a choice.
People complain about environmentalists wanting to curtail their freedoms through planet-saving restrictions. I look forward to the day when my American Way of Life doesn't mean needing to choose between enjoying privacy in my own home and using my appliances whenever I feel like it.