Results tagged “Kyeann Sayer” from Six Hours A Week: Adventures in American Exile
When we did meet for dinner it was at an Asian Fusion sort of restaurant called the Mustard Seed. At one point during the meal he gazed around the room and loudly declared with awe and disgust, "Boy there sure are a lot of fat people in here." Sure that one of the targets of his comment at a nearby table had heard, I was mortified. This was one of the many prejudices that he was open about. In general he freely used racial epithets, still carrying the WWII-era perception of "Japs." He was surprised that there were none there since we were at an Asian restaurant.
During all phases of my relationship to him, my Grandfather reminded me of the caricature of John Wayne -- tough, looming large, self-reliant. He was among the last of the "real cowboys" who earned their living out on the range and then went on to become a Montana rancher. He was over 6 feet tall, charismatic, and when in his element possessed a sureness and decisiveness that I've come across in few other people. The general reverence for him and lore around his life made his presence larger than life in our family always -- he never hired anyone to do anything he could do himself, worked every day of his life that he could, created a cattle empire with his wits and a fourth grade education, in his 70s crawled a mile through the snow with collapsed lungs and a broken back after a tree fell on him and then drove home opening 4 barbed wire gates along the way, etc. I considered him our own personal John Wayne since he shaped my family's views about self-reliance, individualism and discipline so completely that no one could even identify them as values -- they just were part of our unspoken expectations (ones whose questioning led to inevitable conflict and change over the years).
Despite this overpowering association (and maybe because of it) I had never actually seen a John Wayne movie until watching The Searchers the other night. I don't call many movies weird, but it is: disjointed, blatantly but self-consciously racist, contradictory, inconsistent in tone, filled with unrealistic battle scenes, magnificently beautiful, and peppered with great and terrible acting (the Yankee soldier! Why?). Apparently it's widely considered the best American western. There's so much subtext, it's hard to know what to think of it. But John Wayne's character, Ethan, is unquestionably intolerable. He's vilely racist, sadistic, vindictive and generally awful. Though equipped with many of the skills necessary to rescue a niece captured by the Comanches from his post-Civil War settler relatives (he fought for the Confederacy), he's really the last person you'd want to go on a five-year search with.
Really, I didn't know what to think of the film or how it related to my Grandfather. As much as he reminded me of John Wayne, he was also like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, with boundless energy, a sense of fun, and a tendency to break into song at unexpected moments. He was also very charming. Though openly racist, I couldn't imagine him harboring any racism so hateful as Wayne's Ethan character (who would rather kill his niece than allow her to continue living with the Comanche like she wants). So I did what I always do after seeing a movie, and started poking around Wikipedia for background and review links.
Roger Ebert's struck a chord:
In ''The Searchers'' I think Ford was trying, imperfectly, even nervously, to depict racism that justified genocide; the comic relief may be an unconscious attempt to soften the message. Many members of the original audience probably missed his purpose; Ethan's racism was invisible to them, because they bought into his view of Indians. Eight years later, in ''Cheyenne Autumn,'' his last film, Ford was more clear. But in the flawed vision of ''The Searchers'' we can see Ford, Wayne and the Western itself, awkwardly learning that a man who hates Indians can no longer be an uncomplicated hero.Wow. Soon after reading those words I had an epiphany about my relationship to my grandfather and to the United States' complicated history, relationships which were in many ways a reverse of the Western genre's trajectory. I began only being able to see flaws, exclusions and imperfections -- the multiple ways in which the protector-of-the-world America that I had been taught to admire as a child had never lived up to its own ideals, and was acting in direct contradiction to them. It was hard to be enthusiastically patriotic when patriotism seemed in so many ways tangled with nostalgia for America as the Western hero that we could not question. National discourse during my formative years (80s and early 90s) made patriotism and genuine moral engagement with our bloody and ugly past seem mutually exclusive. Similarly, how was I to resolve the fact that my grandfather was (as far as I knew) a man of integrity within his sphere (i.e., didn't cheat people in business, treated his neighbors well), and accomplished in so many ways, but who really did believe that I was less of a person because I was female, and wouldn't have been able to tolerate most of the people I knew?
I don't want to give the impression that over time I learned to become tolerant of prejudice in general or any prejudices specifically. It's not as though I would have once condemned the Western hero and now embrace him. Rather, I became able to see my grandfather as an individual in a particular historical time and place.
Also, over time, I began to see ways that I could remain vigilant against my own prejudices and critical of our current and historical exclusions and injustices, and still patriotically celebrate American ideals.
The shift with my grandfather partly took place through my reading Mildred Walker's Winter Wheat, which takes place during WWII in an area not far from where my grandparents ranched from the late 1960s onward. It's now been at least 14 years since I read it, so I don't remember it well -- though I know it had anti-fascist themes. Most of all, it made me fall in love with the Eastern Montana landscape, which gave me a way to connect with my grandfather.
He had read the book and loved it too -- it was something he and my aunt shared. Now I was curious and interested in him and his life in a way that translated as respect -- I never knew that he sought my curiosity and interest and that without them I had always been disrespectful without meaning to be. On visits he was now eager to take me out to see his land. Rolling along hills in his SUV, we would drive over 10-foot-tall pine trees and they would spring back up like dandelions underfoot. He would describe destroying knapweed using spent engine oil. Clearly my feeling of connection to the land was different from his (I didn't eat much red meat or use any type of herbicide). To him the land was the cattle, and if a tree stood in the way of his showing them to Mom and me, or if the invasive knapweed threatened to overtake their nutrition, he would do what it took. He was proud of his herd, and the tens of thousands of acres they ran on, because they were his achievement.
His father lost everything when the hotel he built burned down. His mother abandoned the family when he was young, leaving the care of numerous children to his father (my mom says that when Kenny Rogers' "Lucile" came on the radio, he would switch it off). He survived the Depression and worked as a miner in Butte during WWII. He built a hotel in Billings which my mother ran while attending high school and taking care of her 6-year-old younger sister; the rest of the family lived hours away on the ranch. His goal in life was to succeed where his father wasn't able to and leave his children financially comfortable -- girls too, which apparently is still a rare practice among ranching families.
So, no, I now understood, a man who expected his 15-year-old daughter to run a motel on her own while caring for her younger sister would not be someone to make sure that my finals schedule coincided with his travel plans. By the end of his life, a couple of years later, we had a relationship that was closer than I could have imagined. It was harder than anything for him to be laid up with the cancer that claimed him -- it embarrassed him to be seen incapacitated and weak. (Incidentally, his insensitive and inappropriate interjections may have been related to Aspergers Syndrome, a possibility a 20th century cowboy would not likely have explored.) My last memory of him is of carrying his great-granddaughter in to see him (she was around 3) and his just being in awe of her and smiling and wistfully saying to us, "You're so young, so full of life." I love his region and that land because of its beauty, my childhood summers there, because it shaped my mother, and because he's a part of it now.
The act of loving land is not some sort of timeless, ahistorical virtue. My love of the landscape, and appreciation of what my grandfather's life's work provided, is tempered by the history of the West in general, and the knowledge that other people crossed his acres freely before there was barbed wire. He was able to acquire them because of his personal talents and initiative, but also because of characteristics he didn't choose. It would have been difficult or impossible for non-whites to have been able to get the credit and engage in the deal-making necessary, and certainly for a woman of any race. He at one time built wealth by leasing land from the Northern Cheyenne to run his cattle.
Since our lives have been under siege (and our opportunities methodically, systematically limited), it's been difficult to clearly think about what my individual responsibility is as someone who has had opportunities because of this sort of personal/material history. The key seems to be being able to ask the question "What can I do?" Further formulation of the question and the route to the answers are a work in progress.
In many ways, my grandfather probably was a protector of Mom and me. If he were still alive, we would have had someone to help shield us from all of the Montana lawlessness and charlatanism. But we don't have our own personal John Wayne. We just have to have faith in the possibility of fairness, justice and tolerance of critical patriotism in the 21-st Century West.
Not Organic Bouquet CEO Robert McLaughlin.
In the four days since the exchange below where I asked him to apprise me of progress in tracking down the supposed Colombian cyber-harasser and cooperating with law enforcement, I've heard nothing. He says he hopes he and I could "come together on a positive project" one day yet has taken no action yet to remedy my bungled order (what caused the criticism that led to the harassment in the first place), and continues to contradict himself or make outright false statements without seeming to see the need to account for them. Very weird, non-CEO behavior, which just makes it seem more and more like he was the supposed Colombian. [If links aren't working, try the end of the post.]
Below McLaughlin does rightly point out that I made a mistake. The apparent tracking of my online criticism of his company and attempting to bully me into removing critical comments seemed creepy and intimidating enough to be considered cyber-stalking, so that's how I described it. Apparently that was an inaccurate description, and since the exchange below I have described the behavior according to the legal terminology that the FBI points us to: electronic harassment and electronic threats. Cyber-stalking has to do with violent threats, while this supposed Colombian supplier was only threatening to "watch" and "follow" me and ruin any and all future employment prospects. My apologies for not yet understanding the correct terminology.
Since Mr. McLaughlin has been so inconsistent and unbelievable and taken so little action to convince me that he was not the one who conducted the cyber-harassment and threats, I still sincerely believe that it was him (or someone he allowed to write on his behalf or using his email address).
Monday, May 24, 2010, Kyeann Sayer to Robert McLaughlin:
I was equally surprised that my straightforward, factual comments on Sustainlane turned into a "war" in which I very patiently responded to long, bizarre and viscous attacks by someone representing Organic Bouquet. It's strange -- you seem to be using the fact that your company representative took such action to justify your having used that cyberstalker's arguments about me in your own Better Business Bureau rebuttal. I don't see how you can expect me to consider such rationalizations any sort of sincere effort to explain or take responsibility. Since you now admit that you used the cyberstalker's false, slanderous arguments about me and my intentions in your BBB report, how do you explain your writing yesterday that you didn't know anything about me or my intentions? What that you write am I meant to take seriously or find believable?
If you were not the cyber-stalker (given your overall lack of believability I still honestly doubt this), I am formally requesting that you take action commiserate with the seriousness of this situation. I will supplement the report I made to the FBI with your BBB report. I have asked Sustainlane for the IP information of the cyberstalker but they have not provided it. You should be interested in obtaining it yourself or work with law enforcement to do so since OB is legally responsible for what was written. From an investigative perspective, if you genuinely believe it was someone in Columbia, you must be able to narrow down who you sent the photos to and who of those individuals would have been instantaneously available to rebut my comments, and who would have been on the computer at that times of the comments. OB has commented on a review below mine; the company has a history of responding to comments on Sustainlane. If it was a supplier in Columbia, I can imagine that you would be as committed as I am to discovering who it was so we can report to the proper U.S. authorities which foreign agent acting on your company's behalf has threatened me. I would also imagine that the company would want to sever its relationship with a company or individual who would take such reckless, illegal action. That is the outcome I expect. These practical steps are the actions of a CEO who takes felony cyberstalking and intimidation seriously.
Please apprise me of your progress. I will continue to update my blog, reporting on how the company takes (or does not take) responsibility for such a serious crime and how federal law enforcement responds to my report. What I have written so far includes the facts surrounding what happened, my analysis of them, and my opinions regarding them. If you find a factual error please let me know. I have posted links to your responses, and pasted parts of them into posts, so readers can judge for themselves. I will not be intimidated by cyber-threats, or any baseless effort to equate my legal on-line writing with them.
I formally request answers to my consumer questions about the sustainability of your growth model and how it has affected domestic employees and the company's overall environmental impact. Just as the public personal attacks seemed designed to deflect such questions, I suspect that your continued vagueness relates to a lack of desire to answer those questions. You might also still want to send me a correct order and credit my SkyMiles account -- these are concrete actions (rather than vague pronouncements about a "positive project") that would demonstrate sincerity now and would have eliminated your company's need to respond illegally to a negative review in the first place.
On Mon, May 24, 2010 at 3:34 PM, Robert McLaughlin wrote:
I appreciate your reply...to be honest I don’t know what to make of all the emails and blogs...... No one representing this company has blogged or posted, no one had been asked or paid to post anything, its a normal process for us to forward pictures to our third party fulfillment centers and suppliers when emails are received good and bad..there are so many employees in that 3rd party chain and I don’t know where things went from there, but as I mentioned, I told everyone to stop when you sent the links. Either they deleted the posts or you did, but it seems to be gone...I have no control of whoever posts, but I’m happy they’ve stopped.
Regarding my BBB response, I have to admit that I was suspicious of how a poor service issue could explode into a war between a disgruntled customer and others on a blog at our expense...my apologies, I have no proof of anything other than what you stated.
I can assure you we have looked at our internal processes and customer service to see where this could have been avoided....this entire situation goes so much against the grain of the good nature of this company that I’m shocked at this result.
I understand your freedom of speech and to post as a consumer or advocate that received poor service, but I do ask Formally that you remove all misstatements such as Organic Bouquet or myself being cyber stalkers or supporting cyber stalkers...those are false statements and equally egregious as the posters you have a problem with....and I appreciate your attention to the details.
Such a regretful situation and we really need to move forward..I would hope that could come together on a positive project one day
All the Best
Very weird, non-CEO behavior, which just makes it seem more and more like he was the supposed Colombian.
The apparent tracking of my online criticism of his company and attempting to bully me into removing critical comments seemed creepy and intimidating enough to be considered cyber-stalking, so that's how I described it.
Apparently that was an inaccurate description, and since the exchange below I have described the behavior according to the legal terminology that the FBI points us to: electronic harassment and electronic threats.
After ignoring for ten days the fact that someone claiming to represent Organic Bouquet committed the federal crime of cyberharassing and threatening me, CEO Robert McLaughlin has finally offered a strange and unconvincing response.
Again, this is a free speech issue. We're talking about a company purposefully targeting and threatening a vocally dissatisfied customer and attempting to bully her out of exercising her right to criticize the company. What is so scary about questions surrounding whether OB's PR matched its practices, or whether its current growth trajectory was sustainable? All of these questions should be fair game for a company that represents itself as "green" and "socially conscious." McLaughlin seems to have responded not because he was concerned about any illegality or how these threats were affecting a former customer, but because I blogged about him.
To put his response in context, after a terrible product and customer service experience, I had written a review of the company on Sustainlane.com. On May 13, venomous cyber-harasser Andes B. wrote in response.
My rep at Organic Bouquet sent me your pictures. In those picture [sic] I can see tulips obviously from another company and receipts from local grocery stores where you obviously bought other flowers as part of your research on flower companies. You’re a disgrace and should be reported to the appropriate credible journalist organization for breaking the code of ethics and acting in a manner that is unbecoming of an American or international journalist.
I had sent pictures of the second set of wrong and wilting flowers I received to personnel at Organic Bouquet and was amazed that someone in Columbia supposedly already had them, and was ready to comment on my reivew within hours of my having written it. I immediately sent a link to the cyber-harassing threats to Mr. McLaughlin and wrote to him:
Healthy tulips from my own yard, the roses you sent that never opened in the background, and some receipts amount to some sort of scheme to sell an article? Bizarre. Can't you fight your battles directly with facts rather than having me personally attacked?
Mr. McLaughlin ignored my message and chose not to address the fact that someone was advocating on behalf of Organic Bouquet in a felonious manner. He took no steps to assure me that the threats were empty, or would cease. Instead, the day after he was notified of the illegal online threats, he elected to use the same arguments in his rebuttal to my Better Business Bureau complaint:
Ms. Sayer is a freelance writer with a history of aggressive behavior in search of a major headline. She provided pictures not only of flowers she received from us, but in the background what appears [sic] to be flowers from other sources as well. It is my suspicion that she is doing research for a story and she has attacked us on blogs…
So at this point McLaughlin has been notified of the cyber-harassing and has received my clear denial about my order having been part of any weird scheme related to a story. He chooses not to address the fact that while I posted a truthful account of my experience with the company and raised questions about its growth model using facts gleaned from publicly available articles, someone representing OB cyber-harassed, smeared and threatened me. Rather than objecting to the attacks in any discernible form, he used my online review as evidence of my supposed scheming for the Better Business Bureau.
And today (Sunday), apparently after someone notified him about my post regarding the cyber-harassing and threats, he has finally been bothered to address the issue. He writes, in contradiction of his own Better Business Bureau filing:
I understand you had a regrettable consumer experience for which I attempted to reconcile with you..... The exchanges you had with a person online claiming to be our supplier is not condoned or requested and certainly not me in anyway. [sic].
So, again, he doesn’t condone them, but doesn’t address why he failed to inform the cyber-harassed and threatened customer of that, or why he used the cyber-harasser’s arguments himself. He doesn’t address how this commenter happened to have the pictures that I supplied to the company. He continues, strangely:
I don’t know anything about you.... what your intentions are or were..... I assumed from your original email that you received poor service for which I personally tried to help you resolve....very regrettable that we were unsuccessful in making things right for you....and your actions and back and forth posts do leave me perplexed as to your motives.
Huh? So, he has told the BBB that my ordering my Mother’s Day bouquet from OB was some sort of grand, journalistic scheme. He knows that I have a copy of his filing. Yet, he tells me today that he doesn’t “know anything about me” or “what my intentions are or were.” Despite this claim, he was certainly confident enough to make up information about me and assign motives to me in his BBB report.
Mr. McLaughlin seems very confused. I asked him to clarify these points. I’m still interested in having my questions about downsizing answered as well. Since all of this seems to have been a smokescreen to avoid answering those questions, though, I’m not holding my breath.
[Continue reading for working links.]
What is with "progressive" companies like Whole Foods, TreeHugger, and now Organic Bouquet using weird/dirty tactics to deflect criticism? (If the links don't show up on your browser, you can find them at the end of the post.)
This very strange situation wouldn't have been something to write about here except that what should have been a dispute over a commercial transaction settled through legitimate channels quickly devolved into a civil liberties issue. Rather than use facts to dispute my claims, Organic Bouquet chose to attack me personally and use threats and intimidation in an effort to cyber-bully me out of criticizing the company.
The short version of the story is that after a really horrible product and customer service experience I took a number of actions, including writing a negative review of the company on Sustainlane (again, active link at the end of the post). In response to the review, someone claiming to be one of OB's Colombian suppliers wrote a bunch of nasty comments attacking me personally and eventually threatening that "Our association of floral exporters in Colombia, California and Ecuador need to follow you and advise your every potential employer of your inability to be fair and objective in your reporting." This person had copies of pictures that I had sent the company (to show the sad and pathetic state of the second order of wrong flowers they sent), and used them to concoct a story about my motivation for complaining.
Somehow, readers were meant to believe that my whole motivation for making a Mother's Day order and then complaining when it was wrong (and then the replacement order was wrong, and the company refused to do anything about it because it had issued a refund I didn't request), was all some sort of complex plan to "get a big headline." Weird, since I have made three other recent orders from the company without event or complaint because the company did not mess them up. The company itself has to perform pretty craptastically to get me to the point of feeling the need to speak out.
So, I reported the totally creepy comments to the FBI since they are so clearly a violation of federal law and in my now three-year long history of near nonstop harassment and intimidation no one has been so sloppy and careless as to carry it out in such an obviously illegal and traceable manner. At that point it seemed clear that the commenter was writing on behalf of Organic Bouquet, but I thought it might be someone hired to make positive comments for the company on blogs, or to defend criticism of the company and that this person went too far. Though I definitely thought OB was of course legally responsible since this person was acting on their behalf, I wouldn't have dreamed that the CEO himself would possibly pathetically disguise his identity in an effort to defame me in defense of the company.
Then, I received Mr. McLaughlin's rebuttal to a report I had filed with the Better Business Bureau. It was written the day after the online threats and contained the same weird accusation about my pictures supposedly illustrating that I was ordering multiple bouquets of flowers from different companies as part of a story I was supposedly writing. I couldn't believe it. Really, the same person had to have written it or to have had access to the same arguments and definitely the same pictures. I wrote to OB PR and Mr. McLaughlin himself for a confirmation or denial that he was the cyber-harasser, and received no response. [Update 5/24/10: Finally, ten days after being notified of he illegal cyber-harassing and threats, apparently in response to this post, Mr. McLaughlin offered a very tepid and unconvincing response.]
I don't have any sort of rescue fantasies, but wonder, who will have the courage and fortitude to help us out of this mess and ensure that no one has to endure anything like it again? If not my Senators (will Baucus demonstrate that he's not completely owned?), then who? Is there a Serpico in our midst? The UN? I mean, it's ridiculous. I've written so many letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and now I'm going on 2.5 years of virtual imprisonment in the U.S. I have to believe that someone out there cares more about justice and integrity than membership in an unprincipled patronage system. The reason the U.S. is assumed to be so great is because we supposedly don't need international observers or rescuers to swoop in and save its citizens from one another. Right?
Dear Senators Tester and Baucus,
I write because I need your assistance to combat pervasive and intractable corruption in our state. My mother and I have encountered judicial malfeasance, unfathomable corruption of the legal profession, and discriminatory, untruthful local law enforcement. We believe these overall gross violations of our rights have been made possible by lax regulation of intelligence contractors and agencies working in tandem with local agencies. In response to FOIA requests, I got the runaround from the FBI and a “Glomar” response from the NSA. The civil rights attorney I hired to help me ended up lying about which agencies he contacted and withholding documents. My mother and I cannot fight such insidious and pervasive interference in our lives alone.
We need the help of senators who are not afraid to upset the current balance of cronyism in Montana. We are targets of entrenched Republican and Democrat interests seemingly because of our sex, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and political affiliations and activities. It is very possible that local polluting industries have funded interference in my life at one time or another for at least ten years simply because I was part of a campaign to work with the union and management at Stone Container to stop poisonous dioxin emissions in our valley.
If you are courageous men who are not hemmed by the coal or any other lobby, if you are men who believe that human and civil rights extend to all people in your state and not just the back scratching elite, then please step up and help us. The current strategy seems to be to make the administrative and legal processes of seeking assistance so drawn out and impossible as to drain all of our energy and financial resources. We need men of conscience who truly believe in the best of democratic and republican ideals to keep their compact with the electorate and not the entrenched interests of a corrupt few.
About a year ago, I contacted Senator Tester and described some of the gross violations of my and my mother’s civil rights and liberties. He suggested that I contact local law enforcement. After many more months of harassment, and actual and attempted harm to our persons and property, we did finally contact the Missoula Police Department. We have come up against lies, evasion, and overall discriminatory treatment. Again, we need the help of individuals in a position of power who will use the position that the people of Montana have entrusted them with to take a stand against corruption and cronyism. Every effort is being made to ensure that we cannot do it on our own.
I request that representatives from each of your offices contact me so that we can find a way to work together to ensure that my mother and I emerge from this morass in one piece, and that no citizen of this state will ever have to endure such politically- and socially-motivated hijacking of supposedly neutral local and federal agencies again.
Senator Tester, as a co-sponsor of the Justice Act, I believe it would be unconscionable to leave two citizens of your state who have seemingly been victims of Patriot Act Excesses out in the cold. We could easily serve as “poster children” for the necessity of reform. Please show us that your commitment to constitutional safeguards is more than mere talk.
Unpredictable, snarling traffic could be fodder for many an ethical discussion. If an ambulance can't reach me because of Lakers traffic, are the Lakers responsible? The Staples Center? The city planners?
The death and destruction related to automobiles is normal to us. There were 41,059 traffic-related fatalities in the US in 2007 alone. We've clearly collectively decided that this astounding loss of life is acceptable in our auto-centric culture.
Sometime while working with RAND I was at dinner discussing this with an acquaintance who worked in the office next to me. I'm not sure he was actually a friend. I believe he worked for Bruce Hoffman on some terrorism-related research but it could have been Brian Michael Jenkins -- I don't remember. He might have just been eliciting comments, as I now realize so many did in those years. We discussed Critical Mass, the bicycle protests where bicyclists flood the streets apparently to create an experience for drivers similar to the one they face every day. I had never taken part in one and am very unlikely to because I can barely ride a bike. He said that people shouldn't take part because if they did, they might be responsible for emergency services not being able to get through to someone in need.
I agree that would be terrible, and if I were a part of any large event that was the obvious culprit in preventing someone from getting essential medical care I'd feel awful. But traffic is so random. We don't consider a Lakers game a terrorist event when the traffic jams caused by it result in delays in all our lives -- in emergency situations or not. So, people involved in Critical Mass, who are on their bicycles, on the street to point out how violent and destructive our car culture is (not only in terms of direct destruction of human life, but astronomical CO2 levels that affect not just local communities but the whole planet) should be held to some higher standard of responsibility because their purpose for being on the street en mass biking is political in nature? What about jams caused by political conventions? It's complicated territory.
At that restaurant in that moment in time I thought that taking the risk to take part in such a demonstration despite the fact that a concurrent fateful act might make it difficult to get an ambulance through would be worth it because overall it might draw attention to the manner in which our reliance on cars kills so many. But it was all hypothetical, because, as I alluded, I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 21 and barely can. I had not intention of ever taking part in Critical Mass.
You would have thought I had approved of the most heinous atrocities known to man. By the end of that conversation my companion could barely look at me, and didn't speak to me much again. At first I thought it might have been simply that he was not used to being disagreed with, but came to believe that my comments about Critical Mass seemed to completely change his view of me -- like, change my category from nice friendly person to "bad person".
It seems to be a very Rovian technique, accusing your opponent of what you have done. And we seem to have stumbled upon another of those efforts in the midst of this construction lien law suit that has been a pretext to steal property, drain time and resources, discredit, and declare incompetence (Mr. Geiszler told my mother's first attorney, at one of their first meetings that he planned to subpoena her medical records -- in a construction lien case that she was defending herself against). After most of those efforts failed, we now believe that this latest attempt was to try to make it appear as though my mother was engaged in civil conspiracy instead of... the numerous individuals working together to make it appear that way.
If my mother was the criminal mastermind, rather than David Ryan, then he and John Boyle would be off the hook for attempting to take over her property without her permission? And then Loken and the scores of others who have taken part in this absurd and epic effort to devalue the property and harass us wouldn't be in the wrong? All the legal malpractice that was committed would be nullified? Because rather than hapless victims trying to improve property and live productive lives, we would be the perpetrators then. Oh, how simple for everyone.
Add to this another very questionable ruling from Judge Deschamps (with procedural/clerical errors as well) that gives us one more appealable issue. It's hard to gauge his strategy. He's still making very prejudicial rulings that will make him look so bad in the eyes of an appellate court. One surmises that he bets it won't get that far... So does he assume we'll be "incompetent" or dead? Or that Mr. Loken will finally throw in the towel? Or we'll be forced to settle for some unforeseen reason?
So, we are in the position once again to find an attorney. One that is not a sadist who seemingly derives joy from putting his client in powerless and dangerous positions. A lawyer who automatically acts in his client's best interests rather than fighting tooth and nail to do all he can to ruin the case. I can't imagine the day when a lawyer will actually act on my or my mother's behalf.
So -- anyone out there? Know any lawyers who care about their clients and the law? Who are immune to whatever amalgam of energy industry and right wing funding still intent on ruining our lives? Not every lawyer in this state can be corrupt to the core.
(A month and a half and no word from Chief Muir... or anyone at the Mayor's Office, the City Attorney's Office, The County Attorney's Office...)
It's always scary when people in positions of authority give different explanations for their procedures based on what is most convenient at the moment, all while trying to blame you for their choices.
I'm not sure what all occurred in the conversation that just took place between Chief Muir and my mom. She's summarizing it, and she asked him to put his strange contentions in written form so that there would be a record of them. Though he refused to take an official statement from my mother when she offered, he is going to take one from Alain Goodman. Yay for impartial police work.
In response to my inquiry about the report that she filed about Alain Goodman accosting her, Muir told me in writing that he could not comment because it was reported by her. Fine.
Today, he told her that he never responded to her because he was waiting for "corroborating evidence as to how [her] complaint fits into [my] overall conspiracy theory." (Though I specifically said we were waiting for action on her complaint and wanted to know the process of obtaining a restraining order...) He didn't want to stir up the neighborhood with "unsubstantiated claims." He also said to her that he had requested more information about the incident from me but I had refused to supply it.
So... when I am interested in knowing when the police are going to follow up with my mother about an assault, responding would violate her privacy. Yet, they can't follow up with her because they're waiting for something from me?
And -- her complaint just ended up on Muir's desk without any official record of her having filed it. My understanding is that no action can be taken on an issue unless there is a recorded complaint filed. Though she did not file it in relation to the overall harassment situation (indeed, until recently Chief Muir hadn't even agreed that he would examine evidence in that light -- I'm not yet sure he has), he just left it on his desk and awaited more info from me? Rather than following up on an assault? And when I asked him about it he said (on official police stationary) that he couldn't respond?
Clearly, this is some sort of backfill explaining.
Even better: apparently, he has heard from a third party that the incident did not occur out of the blue as my mother was walking down the street with croissants, but the frightening encounter was somehow a response to my mom's taking a picture. That's not the case (mom didn't have a camera with her), but even if it were, since when is someone allowed to assault someone else because he or she is being photographed? And why would a police officer decide to omit any official record of a complaint based on some third party claim? Aren't they still obligated to follow up and get a statement from the complainant about what occurred?
This third party called and complained about Mom's having taken a picture before he received her complaint. But -- I called Sergeant Richardson immediately after it happened. I wrote about it right away. So -- why does that call about photography somehow cancel out my Mom's written complaint about assault? Why does what other people say carry so much more weight than what we say? I have repeatedly asked about any documentation or official complaining about us from the neighbors and have just gotten very vague, non-specific answers.
People have been working overtime to make our taking of photographs of people who exhibit odd behavior in front of our home, or of vehicles who park in the proximity for no apparent reason, as some sort of crime. We do it defensively as stalking victims to document the odd/stalkerish/harassment behavior in the neighborhood. We have explained to our neighbors why we do it and have asked them to contact us with any concerns. If there is some legal issue about taking photographs on the public street, I'm sure that someone in some sort of official capacity can let us know.
Sergeant Richardson indicated to me that it was perfectly legal for Alain Goodman to stand on the sidewalk and photograph our property. I can't imagine that it's illegal for us to stand on our own property and photograph the street. Though these people take pains to get us to interact with them, we never do.
Anyhow -- the double standards and multiple explanations are odd.
It seems as though Chief Muir's next rhetorical tack (since "insincere" didn't quite work out) is the woo-woo, crazy ladies conspiracy angle. Again, conspiracy is when two people get together to plan to do harm/make mischief/deprive people of their rights. The way that Chief Muir contradicts himself, fails to give sufficient legal/procedural explanations for his or his officers decisions, engages in slippery policy, and strives to come up with reasons that our claims are illegitimate, suggests to me that he has spoken with at least one other person about ways to deligitimize our claims or keep them from becoming official police record. Given what he and Sergeant Richardson have written, and how they have responded, this is legitimate interpretation. But I can see why Chief Muir would want to promote an inaccurate interpretation of what conspiracy means rather than one that might apply to him or to officers in his department.
He said he would let my mom know in writing by the middle of next week why he chose not to follow up on her assault or create any official record of it.
And we're supposed to believe that the Department is a neutral party, dispassionately interested in protecting us as much as any other citizens? That Chief Muir is just itching to follow up on our array of Complaints? I have corresponded with Chief Muir about this incident repeatedly. Now we have to ask -- who/what is the Department covering for? It's seemed from Day 1 that Sergeant Richardson and Chief Muir were mostly interested in preventing us from supplying documentation and evidence. Then when one of us makes a report, it disappears. And the problem is supposedly my/our "insincerity" about wanting to make official reports? This is ridiculous.
Now I'll be interested to see how many of my 911 stalking/harassment calls have been "lost."
It's not at all an exaggeration to say that we're venturing into official cover-up territory here. It's going to be more and more difficult to make this about us instead of the people and practices Chief Muir seems to be protecting.
Yet, the new tactic is to make it look like I'm simply not supplying evidence and only like to argue. When I've been waiting for procedural preferences as well as assurance that someone other than Chief Muir will bear responsibility for reviewing the information I submit. This man's first substantive communication with me involved warnings to keep quiet about my claims that the department was mishandling our situation. Since that first interaction, he hasn't given me much of a reason to trust him.
For example, I stated these concerns about Chief Muir's defending the legitimacy of Sergeant Richardson's actions in his last letter.
You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them? I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.His response?
I will reply to your third point upon receipt and review of your evidence, as I am unable to knowledgeably respond without that evidence.What? He is unable to make a statement about legality and department policy? He can't answer these specific questions? He can't provide clarification on the restraining order issue? He doesn't have access to the information supplied to Sergeant Richardson?
Is putting off responding to these very answerable questions (albeit uncomfortable, because they reveal some pretty fuzzy/shoddy procedure), because he believes that I for some reason will not be in a position to supply all of the documentation and evidence? I'll be too distracted, perhaps?
You've gotta love the way he ends his letter:
I do not understand why you have not already brought me the evidence which you so repeatedly have insisted we accept from you. If for some reason you have been insincere as to your intent to share your evidence with me, please feel free to cease communication and seek the assistance of state or federal authorities...Is there anything about my communication that seems insincere? Seriously? As though I wouldn't sincerely want to help law enforcement to punish the people who have relentlessly harassed and intimidated us? I'm sorry, but that seems like a very insincere tack.
My major concern has been wanting a procedure in place that makes sense. My entire life has been derailed by this harassment campaign, and documenting it all takes time and energy. A proper process is important, as it sets the framework for how these matters are handled. I guess it will be necessary to file individual reports for every single incident and send copies to his attention. I think that the department's obligations are more extensive if an actual report is filed, so it seems necessary to do so. Of course, It's going to take a lot of time to file all of these individual reports. To me it makes complete sense why a person in my position wouldn't just hand over all of her documentation and information to someone who has revealed himself to be less than objective or trustworthy and isn't accountable to anyone else in the department.
So, here we have local law enforcement playing into the goals of the overall campaign: creating such overwhelming and pervasive harassment as to halt someone's life to a standstill. Right now we are in a position of having to provide documentation to the health department, lawyers, insurance agents, the doctor's office that I have to follow up with constantly to ensure that they don't send paid accounts to collections, the police department, and others. By not answering questions, not volunteering appropriate information, and taking an overall defensive posture, I have to work overtime to figure out my rights and how our evidence will avoid slipping through the cracks. I am the victim of stalking and harassment and attempted entrapment, and have been preemptively treated as the perpetrator. I wonder if they treat all stalking victims this way or if we're special.
So, when there are all of those people out there waiting for information who have an investment in making it seems as though it doesn't exist or that we're making it up, I always pause when a key person like the police chief portrays my lack of immediate reaction as "insincere." (Especially when -- again -- I've repeatedly emphasized an overall desire for a process that ensures accountability and efficiency.) I've learned that such a rhetorical turn usually indicates a narrative is forming: in this case it seems to be the "insincerity" narrative. Something like, "Those ladies, they like to make claims, but they never follow up." But we have been put in a position where we need to document nearly every business and consumer interaction in order to protect ourselves. For heaven's sake, we just found out last week that we avoided an incompetency hearing for my mother! (This letter was written before that matter had been decided -- maybe he thought we'd still be overwhelmed by that.) That's the a central goal of a harassment campaign like the one we've endured: complete and utter disruption of a person's life in such a way that is difficult to document and makes him or her seem to be the party at fault. So the Department preemptively does not want to see it as though we're dealing with constant criminal assaults, but are simply insincere and withholding. Wow.
I can see why he admonishes, "Please don't continue to haggle or dispute this department's handling of your complaints, it is just taking time away from determining the validity of those issues you feel we aren't addressing." His emphasis takes legitimacy away from the importance of the process. If I'm just haggling, then apparently I'm not expressing legitimate concerns about Chief Muir's neutrality and the objective handling of my case. Then I'm a haggler, not someone who wants to be assured that if she takes the time to amass piles of narrative and documentation that it's not going to end up in the back of the Police Chief's filing cabinet. Also, since the situation has obviously been completely mishandled, I can see why he would discourage me from continuing to point out inconsistent or discriminatory procedure.
Interestingly, I copied Chief Muir on a letter to our neighbor's landlords dated June 4, but he seems to have never seen it. It was the basis of Sergeant Richardson's contacting me. Strange that even now he has not forwarded Chief Muir a copy of the letter.
I'm also concerned about Chief Muir's ability to accurately interpret clear written communication. In response to my concerns about David Merrill making extortion-like threats, he says that "Threats of legal action or law enforcement investigation is not a threat upon which any criminal charge may be undertaken." But I said clearly:
if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us.
Does Chief Muir not understand the meaning of "circumventing legal channels"? The point about Mr. Merrill was that he did not threaten legal action, as would have been appropriate. He should have gone through appropriate legal channels. Instead he said that if he was not paid a certain amount of money, he would call the police, in addition to other threats. He knew that we were fearful of law enforcement's involvement with our harassment at that time -- the threat seemed designed to scare us. As you can see below, I indicate clearly that the problem was that he was not using appropriate legal remedy but threatening to use the police as enforcers for his demand for money.
Then, there are little niggling annoying things. I asked for follow-up on Mom's report filed re: the neighbor's assault. He can't follow up with me because it would violate her privacy. Great -- completely valid. But, why not follow up with her directly? His department's mishandling of the situation contributed to incident's even taking place. One would think that the department could follow up with her within a month's time. And, my asking about it would at least alert them to the fact that our household is interested in the outcome... And might prompt a follow-up. But we haven't heard anything. (Waiting for her to be declared incompetent, perhaps?)
Another thing: he says not to submit evidence that's over a year old. But if it's part of ongoing criminal conspiracy, isn't it still valid/valuable? Or would the state attorney need to handle that? This is where I find the handling problematic. It seems that it's being viewed/handled in the narrowest possible terms, with the least amount of helpful information provided. Of course, it would be lovely to have a civil rights attorney that wasn't for sale. We don't have that luxury yet. But we will. And when that day comes it seems like the Department will want to have lent the appearance legitimacy.
You may ask: why do you take the time to write these posts? Well, if I didn't, I believe the next door neighbors would have remained in full on campaign mode and that Chief Muir wouldn't even be giving me lip service.
Am I handling this badly? Wrong? I guess there's no Emily Post Guide to convincing law enforcement and county prosecutors to care about crimes against you. I would feel worse about my handling of it if someone had taken the time to explain to me exactly how to best submit evidence of multiple, interwoven crimes and I was ignoring them.
All along it has seemed as though everyone was holding his or her breath, waiting for one of us to die, for one of the entrapment schemes to work, or for us to be labeled crazy for saying out loud that all of this was happening. As long as any of that was in store, none of the specific crimes would matter because we would be discredited and not in a position to pursue them.
We'll see how long that trend continues. Can they really get away with ignoring claims like those below? They're only a teeny tiny piece of the tip of the ice burg.
from Kyeann Sayer
date Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 7:12 AM
subject Specific Examples of Criminal Activity
Let me provide some examples in the hope that it will clarify my dilemma of how best to provide evidence.
In an email exchange, a Missoula resident named David Merrill threatened what amounts to extortion -- if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us. This is a violation of many laws (including those governing email communications locally). We believe that he was threatening the extortion as part of a larger scheme to foreclose on my mother's property. I could simply submit a police report with evidence of his threat and so it would be treated as a single issue. It seems, however, as though it would make looking into all of this simpler if someone had a file labeled something like "Conspiracy to Damage/Foreclose on Property X" and Mr. Merrill's individual extortion attempt could go there. From an investigative perspective, it seems like it makes sense to have the overall context along with the report of the individual attempt.
Also, the day before an important court appearance, my mom suffered carbon monoxide poisoning because her car had been tampered with. Not only was the exhaust system somehow blocked, but a part was pulled out of the engine so that it was burning and smoking. When she took it to the mechanic, he said that it could have exploded if we drove much further. We have pictures of it, the receipt from the mechanic, and an idea of who could have done it. It seems that all of this information would be very helpful to investigators.
A gentleman named Ty Cranmore threatened to use a Sheriff's Department employee as a hired goon when we wouldn't return a piece of property that my mother had purchased from his employer and that he had damaged. We believe he intentionally damaged property, and think his threats bordered on extortion. He used hate speech in our home, apparently to contribute to the overall atmosphere of intimidation. We would like to know why Mr. Cranmore was so confident in his feeling of entitlement to damage our property and then receive local government back-up.
We have dealt with an overall stalking and harassment situation. We have dozens of incidents to report, and many associated suspicious license plates. Investigators who are truly interested in the why and how have a lot to go on. Again, we could report these all as individual instances or provide them succinctly to a genuinely curious party who would like to follow up thoroughly. The latter seems more efficient.
I have a hard time believing that the city and county of Missoula would not want to follow up on issues like these. I hope you will start treating us like citizens to help and protect.
from Kyeann Sayer
date Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 6:50 AM
subject Re: Request for Liaison
Mr. Van Valkenburg,
Are you not interested in pursuing criminal activity in the county? I have evidence of harm to persons and property including fraud and criminal conspiracy -- as well as attempts to do physical harm to my mother and me. Many of these crimes appear to have been hate-based. It seems odd that you would make a predetermination that you are not interested in pursuing such serious matters.
We have such extensive documentation and material evidence that I would like a consistent and clear means of providing it to your office and the police department so that we are all spared a great deal of energy and effort. I would like to help your office operate efficiently, so that tax payer dollars are not wasted unnecessarily through sloppy communication and duplication of efforts.
Since you will not identify a liaison, please let me know how you would like to learn about the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County.
I am sure you don't want to send the message that you are not interested in receiving information about and pursuing criminal activity by preemptively ensuring that your office is not aware of it. So far, that is what your communication suggests. Many of the people involved in doing us harm are prominent community members and it seems as though they have felt protected by individuals in the police and sheriff's department (I have evidence of this); I'm sure you don't want to lend the appearance of obstructing our efforts in order to protect them.
I look forward to working with your office to ensure that justice is served in Missoula County. Again, please let me know how best to so.
On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Fred VanValkenburg <email@example.com> wrote:
>>> Kyeann Sayer <firstname.lastname@example.org> 7/8/2009 04:07 AM >>>
Since Mr. Van Valkenberg sent me the pasted text of an email he claims to have sent on June 29 (I never received it), I have not heard from him. I am eager to have a liaison in the county attorney's office in order to streamline communication.
from Kyeann Sayer <email@example.com>
to Fred VanValkenburg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 9:15 PM
subject Re: Threatening Behavior from Alain Goodman This Morning
Mr Van Valkenburg,
I never received a June 29 email and don't see it below.
My mother and I have endured much criminal activity in Missoula County and believe that your office should seriously consider our claims. Please let me know with whom I should confer about this. I will be forwarding information to the police department, but also think it's important to have a liaison in your office.
I'll be interested to learn what departments are legally required to act on. For instance, if I don't file official reports, is there a lower standard of accountability? It seems like all possible has been done to point me in other directions than filing actual reports, so it seems that I should definitely file them.
Since we reported our neighbor Alain assaulting my mom things have settled down remarkably. That momentary loss of control on his part ended up sort of being a blessing to us.
So: here we go!
from Kyeann Sayer
date Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 5:09 AM
subject Addressing MPD Issues/Criminal Claims
Dear Chief Muir,
This is in response to your June 29 letter (I typed in the text below). I will also send you a hard copy since you don't respond to email communications from me.
I'm glad that you have shifted from advising me that you will not tolerate my opinions about my treatment by the department to expressing an interest in receiving my claims. Since June 26 the change in the neighborhood has been remarkable -- someone seems to be sending a new message about what sort of behavior is acceptable. It seems that the overall tone of accountability has shifted and individuals no longer feel that they can harass and intimidate us with impunity, which of course is a welcome change.
My concern is not only that my desire to relay information about criminal activity and provide evidence was ignored, but also that a concerted effort seems to have been made to delegitimize my concerns and prevent me from submitting evidence of them to your department.
Sergeant Richardson seemed to have had the singular goal of heading me off before I could provide documentation of criminal activity. He sought to frame my issue as isolated to my unfounded concerns about harassment from my neighbors, while I repeatedly emphasized that I needed the department to send a clear message in the community in general that hate and organized crime directed at my mother and me was unacceptable. He continually instructed me to just relax and enjoy my neighborhood as I implored him to look at the overall law enforcement atmosphere that seemed to condone harassment of us. Ironically, my mother was then assaulted by the neighbor that I initially complained to you about, illustrating that Sergeant Richardson's intervention/conversations with his household did nothing to diminish their impression that it was acceptable to harass us. If he had intervened appropriately to begin with, it is doubtful that my mother would have been assaulted.
Additionally, I find it alarming that your initial response to my understandable concerns about the Department's handling of this issue was to threaten that you would not tolerate my exercise of free speech.
I have some points of clarification. Please explain:
- Why neither you nor Sergeant Richardson never explained the procedures for filing police or hate crimes despite my repeated requests for guidance.
- Why you did not explain the procedure for filing an Employee Complaint Form. I clearly believed I was receiving one-sided treatment from Sergeant Richardson, and his mishandling and adamant refusal to take my claims seriously allowed for a continuation of the atmosphere of permissiveness that enabled mother's assault by Alain Goodman.
- You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in
any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy
allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any
way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing
specific complaints from any of them? I provided ample documentation
of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed
them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or
documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is
that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't
wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It
seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours --
especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your
department. Please clarify.
- What was the outcome of *****'s June 26 report of Alain
Goodman's assault? Is he prohibited from approaching her? Does she need
to apply for a restraining order?
It is important to me that you designate another person in the department who will be responsible for reviewing the information in addition to yourself. Again, your initial response and lack of basic instructions about procedures for citizens to file reports indicates to me that it is necessary to widen the net of responsibility for reviewing and acting upon my claims.
I will send you copies of the sixhoursaweek.com blog posts related to the Missoula PD to ensure that the department has a record of them (of course I keep copies of them in case the blog is for some reason hacked into). However, my blog was not created for the purpose of communicating with you or your department. It is in many cases very general and only very partially conveys the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County. Reading my blog should not serve as a substitute for direct communication with me regarding these matters, and should in no way serve to constitute your full understanding of what we have endured. I will continue to chronicle my relations with the department over these issues, however.
Again, to clarify, I contacted you in a letter about harassment from the Goodmans. Sergeant Richardson responded and I provided documentation of my responses to verbal assaults, harassment and entrapment attempts in the neighborhood. Sergeant Richardon's provided a "blame the victim" response, stigmatizing my efforts to document the neighborhood harassment. That led to these blog posts below.
I look forward to receiving your responses and moving forward together to combat corruption and hate crime in Missoula.
June 29, 2009
Dear Ms. Sayer,
I received your e-mail in response to my concerns about your allegations of misconduct by members of this department. I understand your concern that we don't appreciate what the real problem is and that you are simply looking to know who you can give your extensive evidence to.
Please feel free to provide me with copies of any written statements and documented evidence of criminal activity which you have in your possession. Another investigator or I will review all that information and provide you with notice of our findings and recommendations, if any. I might add that I took the time to review the archives of your blog to familiarize myself better with the situation you believe you find yourself in, so you do not need to provide me with copies of those posts unless you are planning to take down your blog site.
For your information, there is nothing "bizarre" about a police officer giving notice to cease contacts with neigbors and is in fact quite common. The notice is based on a request by any party who feels they are being harassed by another.
At your convenience, you may deliver copies of the above documentation/evidence to me or phone me with a time to have someone from the MPD pick it up. Again my office is open to you at any time with reasonable notice for discussion of your concerns.
So, Timothy Geiszler went on an all out assault against my mother's mental health yesterday. He used a bunch of quotes from a motion to amend her counterclaim as evidence that she is paranoid. (Legalese translation: she was sued by Steve Loken, but also had claims against him. She was trying to add more claims.) The hilarious part is that she was trying to add civil conspiracy as a counterclaim, and has the evidence to prove it. Let's review what conspiracy is, courtesy of findlaw:
A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. One person may be charged with and convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime based on the same circumstances.
For example, Andy, Dan, and Alice plan a bank robbery. They 1) visit the bank first to assess security, 2) pool their money and buy a gun together, and 3) write a demand letter. All three can be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, regardless of whether the robbery itself is actually attempted or completed.
Clearly this has nothing to do with black helicopters. Mom's language about conspiring made perfect sense in this legal context. Apparently, Mr. Geiszler hoped that quotes ripped out of context would simply read as paranoia. Big, big stretch.
But since our run-ins with the justice system seem to conform to others' big stretches, it seems prudent to flesh out some of the conspiracy of which my mother wrote (and has evidence and would like/would have liked to argue). Here goes.
While I was in Russia in winter of '06 I received a frantic Skype from Mom. Her property was no longer in her control and Steve Loken had filed a lien against it. Before leaving for Russia, all of my boxed belongings had been soaked due to a flood caused by Mr. Loken's negligence. I had been in the dining room listening while Mom met with him and he tried to make excuses for why she had been charged for incomplete work, and why the contractor in charge of her project was such a disaster. I overheard him swear at her and watched him storm out of the kitchen. By this point I knew the man was bad news, but neither of us had any idea of what he was mixed up in or what was in store for us.
So I was feeling pretty helpless a world away as my Mom found her property slipping away. Especially since her lawyer at the time, David Ryan, seemed to have orchestrated it. Here are the boring details:
Bright side: all of this has been an incredible learning experience and promises to reveal so much about the workings of local and state government. I know how dorky that sounds, but we've been living in this state of helplessness with the never ending COINTELPRO-like life disruption. It not only felt impossible to make any headway with local officials because of the general mistrust engendered by the sheer volume of people who were convinced to make life difficult for us. But also, when dealing constantly in fight or flight mode, it was difficult to get a handle on how to advocate for ourselves in spite of the overall terror/harassment. Until last week, I had no idea how to file a police report or make a report to the health department. Today I do.
Now just being aware of some of the local laws that individuals have broken, and the steps to take to remedy them, is empowering. There were probably many things that we could have done to make the harassment more difficult, and to create accountability, but we didn't know them. If we didn't, then I don't think many people do have much of a handle on how to advocate for themselves.
If I hadn't been creating some form of public accountability through my blog, I might not be in the position to get at least lip service to a genuine look at what we've been through in this jurisdiction. We know what a sorry state the world would be in if only windbags with blogs got a hint of justice. (Why reporters haven't long ago exposed a fraction of the people who have attempted to mess with us is a question deserving serious consideration.)
There's a ton of work to be done! We have these rights because we are American and if we don't know how to claim them we are just screwed by the greedy and brutish. This Independence Day I am grateful to be in this beautifully imagined but imperfect country, getting up everyday and giving substance to the notion of inalienable rights. For the foreseeable future that will mean trudging through slow, long legal and law enforcement processes.
Again, I hate to be cheesy, but there is something really beautiful about the idea that all of our sufferings and efforts might make things easier for another Montanan or other American. I am typing now because others have fought and died and suffered much more terribly than I ever have -- on the battlefield and in the struggles for free speech and civil liberties/rights. It's humbling to think that maybe a small bit of our efforts will enable some woman or man to suffer in front of the future's version of a keyboard generations from now. Or help those who don't know that luxury.
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 <email@example.com> 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
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.