Archive for the ‘Operation Clean-Up’ Category
A short while ago I was asked why I fight corruption in Colorado. Here are the initial causes.
1. About ten years ago I began noticing the huge numbers of deer and elk in the area surrounding where I live and the massive damage they created. I became a wildlife law expert and started THINK. The state of Colorado has detailed laws to deal with this mankind-created environmental hazard but government officials simply refuse to perform their fiduciary and lawful duties. Unprovided remedies include providing “game damage” prevention materials, state liability for damage or failure to provide adequate damage prevention, permits to kill animals causing excessive damage, and annual reports to the General Assembly on numbers of animals, number of damage complaints, herd objectives, etc. Employees of the (now) Division of Parks and Wildlife do not do what they are required to do.
2. Employees of the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning department refuse to enforce their own rules. The county–the local government in Evergreen–has good, modern, updated zoning requirements. The problem is that they will not enforce them, even when notified (citizen notification is the only potential avenue for enforcement). Illegal signs, outbuildings, fences, lights, etc. are the norm. I am stumped as to why local government officials believe the virtual lack of zoning enforcement is a good thing and why and how they think they can get away with it.
3. By far the worst corruption I have ever seen is from Ted Mink and the Jefferson County Sheriff”s Department. Corruption is worst when it is by law enforcement employees . Crime is rampant in the Jefferson County foothills of Colorado. I have been told specifically that if I continue to report crime I will be in “danger.” On three firm occasions (and up to seven less “firm”) after reporting crimes sheriff’s deputies have come to my home to threaten me. There are no patrols. Speeding (50 mph in a 20 mph residential area), dumping, illegal use of parks, harassing neighbors, vandalism, etc. are the norm. Often when calling there is no response at all. There are no patrols. The sheriff’s department response to citizen complaints is clearly one of retaliation. And, to make matters worse, the local district attorney’s office refuses to prosecute–or even investigate–police misconduct and abuse.
These are just the reasons for getting me started… I have lived in or spent significant time in something like fourteen states. I have never experienced any like it. Colorado has excellent, modern, updated laws. Their enforcement is extremely lacking.
I don’t like the word “activist” but I used it anyway. Correction: Seeking people to fight corruption. Public corruption is the worst.
Today I looked-up the director of parks and open space, Tom Hoby (firstname.lastname@example.org) when I saw an open space vehicle observing the noxious weeds in my neighborhood. The e-mail to Mr. Hoby is forthcoming. Also on my list is Casey Tighe; his campaign said something about auditing and accountability. Does he stand by it?
And then there is the issue of the fire board recall… I am glad to see concern, scrutiny, and action. Ooops, I am too late. It is over. The recall lost.
A sad and pretty accurate view of corruption:
Folks who get hired to positions of Head Coach and up (including AD, CEO, President of something, etc.) get hired as much for their knowledge of a particular industry as much as for their ability to perform damage control. Mike Gundy said himself that he was surprised that when he gained the Head Coaching job at Okie State that he had very little time to actually be involved in the coaching process. He stated that most of his time revolved around “putting out little fires” around the program, and then, with 120+ kids, another would arise and he would tend to that one.
These men are not only experts at protecting a program, but also at using those tools to protect themselves. Sometimes these tools are so blantantly flaunted that they think they won’t be caught in a trap when they say one thing and change their mind in reaction to public outcry the next day. This is why in situations like these I tend to believe the first thing out of people’s mouths, though it is by no means a fool proof rule.
I consider it highly likely that Pernetti show the President of Rutgers the video back in December, though it is also possible that he only said that in order to legitimize his response to the issue. I also consider it likely that with the current growing pressure, the President saw a way to save his job and that included denouncing Pernetti’s claim that he had shown the President the video. Now, every entity with billions of dollars to its name (including a University) understands that it is better to reach private settlements under the table than to risk potentially damaging, both financially and publicly, lawsuits. Therefore, I am of the opinion that the President knew what had been going on, allowed Pernetti to lead, but worked to cover his own ass as soon as the video came to light. I believe the terminology of Pernetti’s firing/resignation was negotiated like Jim Tressel’s and I believe that Pernetti was promised certain benefits under the table as a negotiation tactic to prevent him from publicly souring on Rutgers and airing out any dirty laundry, to prevent him from indicting the President, and in order to take care of this matter as quickly as possible, including limiting the damage that Rutgers must control.
What lawyers say is always trash. We have to go by their word in order to catch a conflict of statements because that may be all we have in a paper trail. However, human intuition often lies in conflict with such statements. Sandusky’s lawyers said what they could to get him off despite common sense and ohio’s lawyers and now Miami’s lawyers are saying whatever was/is necessary to limit damage control and cast a better image over their schools. It has nothing to do with a search for the truth. The profession of damage control is as old as Kings and tyrants. One seeks legitimization of their claims to power and another entity (usually spurned) seeks to undue their rule. Statues, art , money, and the sword are some of the oldest methods to contain damage and increase legitimacy. Lawyers are just the newest and best.
I don’t believe a thing released by Rutgers or their representatives.
The incredible corruption I have witnessed the last few years (e.g., Jefferson County, Amanda Knox case) has caused me to look at things differently. Recently I saw the NOVA program on the Lindbergh kidnapping. It wasn’t great and it didn’t offer anything really new factually, but it spurred me to look into the whole thing. Call it an American Experience. From the PBS website:
In the aftermath of his 1927 solo transatlantic flight, Colonel Charles Augustus Lindbergh–the Lone Eagle–became the most famous human being on earth. And when he and his lovely wife Anne produced an adorable baby son, Charlie, an eager press quickly dubbed him Little Lindy or sometimes just the Eaglet. But on the evening of March 1, 1932 Lucky Lindy’s luck ran out. Bold kidnappers snatched his baby from the family home near Hopewell, New Jersey, while everyone in the house was awake. Negotiations with the kidnappers stretched out for weeks. But Little Charlie never came back. His body was discovered not five miles from Hopewell. Now, NOVA is reopening one of the most intriguing, grisly, and confounding crime mysteries of all time as a team of expert investigators employ state-of-the-art forensic and behavioral science techniques in an effort to determine what really happened to Lindbergh’s baby and why.
Something I wrote in 2004:
“I became intrigued when a police sergeant I was supposedly working with refused to give me his e-mail address. He said I sould use the U.S. Postal Service if I wanted to contact the department or the sheriff. I noticed the sheriff also would not provide an e-mail address or direct telephone line.”
The results of the last week, Whew! My best summary is that it is a combination of corruption and incompetence.
People, not offices or organizations, are responsible.
Ted Mink is wasting money and he is, at least partially, responsible for the stagnation of an entire region. He is responsible for the personnel, budget, and all day-to-day operations.
He is a patrol deputy and it is way over his head.
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But the thing is you cannot impune an entire organization, and that is his defense. There are people who want to do the right thing. There are others who don’t really care and just want a paycheck. There are some who want to get ahead, others who don’t have a clue anyway you slice it, and yet others who are in it for every single wrong reason you can think of.
But by law the sheriff is responsible for everything. By law he also has qualified immunity. This is the classic example of customer satisfaction vs. not giving a shit. It then has to become an example of character: what does this individual stand for, the right thing or cover-ups, justice or flagrancy, competence or stupidity?
I found your firm when doing some research on trespassing in Colordo. I have a neighbor who insists on “claiming” my backyard. He regularly lights it, shines lights at my home, and shines lights into my bedroom. I have written him four times and have personally asked him to stop. The houses are maybe 250 yards apart and about four-fifths of the property is mine. Today I am planning on seeking an injunction per neighborhood covenants. Yesterday I began staking on my side of the property line for a possible privacy fence; my neighbor stole my ladder, sledge hammer, and two posts from my property. It is a fairly long story but the sheriff’s department will not do anything.
I have to work harder. No time for beer.
- Buy paper.
- Go through photos
- Review small claims/covenant injunction
- Prepare injunction document(s)
- Write Mink no harassment e-mail/letter
Key that I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t worked on this for years. “Jake” would not be doing what he is doing if he hadn’t learned from local, corrupt, public employees. He is wrong. I am right.
I must remember: I am smart and far more ethical. I am doing the right thing.
Why is he doing it? He wants my back yard. He is influenced by corrupt officials. He doesn’t know or respect privacy or the law. He has no idea about covenants, contracts, or civil violations.
- Sending two deputies to my home, around midnight, banging on my front door, to accuse me of “trespassing.” I sent a letter to Ted Mink, vehemently denied this, provided proof of footprints in the snow, and never received a reply. I asked to meet with Ted Mink and he refused.
- Threatening–calling and coming to my home–to threaten me with an arrest for “obstructing a public utility.” What?
- Coming to my home to accuse me of 1) disobeying postal regulations and 2) to inform me that a neighbor would send me a letter in reply (a lie: no letter).
- Coming to my home to 1) accuse me of disobeying postal regulations 2) to inform me that there are no covenants in my neighborhood (there are) and 3) that a barking dog would wear a bark collar (didn’t happen) and that the nuisance would stop it hasn’t)
- Coming to my home, after I reported a crime and specifically said I do not want calls or anyone coming to my home to harass me (10/7/12).
(from my other/emergency blog)
My other blog is down again so I’m going to have to compose here.
Ted Mink refused/refuses to:
- Investigate hit and run damage to my property by a FedEx driver.
- Monitor and police speed limits in my neighborhood (vehicles frequently driving 40-50 MPH (estimate) in a 20 MPH zone).
- Stop the noise in my neighborhood and the adjacent area from a business (kennel) approximately a mile a way.
- Stop people from driving on the wrong side of the street (and off the road) in my neighborhood (I have witnessed dozens of near accidents).
- Stop a neighbor from harassing me in my home with lights and trying to usurp my property with lights.
- Stop a different neighbor from shining a huge spotlight, erected on a chimney, and aimed at/inside my home.
- Stop a different neighbor’s pit bull dog from harassing me until I was attacked on my property (I am convinced the harassment only stopped then because I had photographs; the noise continues).
- Prosecute a different neighbor whose dog bit me when I was walking in the neighborhood (on public property).
- Prevent dogs from the lacrosse field at the park in my neighborhood (signs posted: “No Dogs on Athletic Field”).
- Prevent dogs off leash in the rest of the park (Stagecoach Park).
- Prevent people from driving in the park where vehicles are not allowed.
- Prevent vandalism in the park.
- Prosecute a person whose dog, off a leash on the lacrosse field threatened me even after I provided vehicle license information. I asked the individual three times to put the large German Shepard on a leash and he refused.
- Investigate (and prosecute) corruption in the County Planning and Zoning (e.g., falsifying public records).
- Remove an illegally discarded refrigerator from a visible corner in my neighborhood.
- Stop people from camping/living at the parking lot of an abandoned supermarket across the street from my neighborhood.
- Stop dogs from illegally harassing wildlife in my neighborhood.
- Stop animal abuse and loud/habitual dog barking in my neighborhood.
- Investigate and prosecute an illegal survey conducted on my property.
- Investigate complaints against sheriff’s department employees (details in Part 2).
Of these, a number of them–particularly neighborhood speeding/reckless driving and illegal dogs/dogs off leash at Stagecoach Park–have been reported to the Mr. Mink’s department on numerous occasions. Sometimes dispatch operators argue, try to avoid the call, or are abusive; sometimes employees/deputies do not respond; or sometimes a response takes up to an hour. Frequently, deputies arrive, observe the crime(s) and do nothing–no follow-up, investigation, research, etc. Always no citation is issued (or arrest made) and nothing substantive is done to prevent a recurrence.
Obviously this is an extensive list. It is just from memory, done fairly hastily, and some issues may not be included. It covers maybe seven or eight years of living in my neighborhood.
And it is a nice neighborhood comprised of $300,000 to $500,000 homes in Evergreen, Colorado. Sheriff Ted Mink steadfastly refuses to provide necessary law enforcement services. Qualified patrols are nonexistent as are effective responses to reported crimes.
The bottom line is the streets and the parks are not safe and accessible to all.
Part 2, Organization and Management
Part 3, Avoidance, Denial, and Cover-Ups: What Happened When I Complained
Part 4, The Bigger Picture
I am writing to ask that Agriculture Secretary John Salazar, or his designee, assist with eradicating noxious weeds in my neighborhood. I request that the Department of Agriculture 1) initiate an eradication effort and/or 2) investigate and enforce civil penalties per CRS 35-5.5-118 against Jefferson County officials responsible for continued inaction.
I live in Evergreen in an unincorporated portion of Jefferson County. There is a severe noxious weed presence in my neighborhood and in my local open space park. The infestation includes adjacent properties to mine and creeps onto my property. About two years ago I began to look seriously into the problem. Efforts to eradicate the problem through local government (Jefferson County) have been completely fruitless; the problem appears to be getting worse. I have also communicated extensively with Steve Ryder, Eric Lane, and Patty York of your department; Ms. York has been to my home and neighborhood and has documented the problem.
Key e-mails and photographs are posted here.
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners has failed to “adopt a noxious weed management plan” as required by CRS 35-5.5-105; I, and Agriculture employees, have requested a plan in writing on numerous occasions. Per the e-mail (unsolicited) from Ms. Doran her requirements a) are not confirmed by a written plan from the Board and b) conflict dramatically with eradication procedures required by statute. Put simply, Jefferson County employees are very aware of the problems in my neighborhood and refuse to take eradication and/or other action. Myrtle spurge is a particular problem both on private and public (county) property. Dalmation toadflax is also absolutely taking over the Elk Meadow open space park.
Finally, after numerous requests from me county representatives sprayed the right of ways in my neighborhood close to two years ago; it was ineffective. At my request it was done again about three months ago. Myrtle spurge is still thriving around my home and in my neighborhood. I suggest the county is wasting money: It would be far more efficient to eradicate the weeds as required.
I suggest Alicia Doran (“Jefferson County Weed & Pest”), the Jefferson County Board members, and Ralph Schell, county administrator are all individually culpable in this matter.
As noted, employees of the Agriculture Department are aware of this problem. I had several productive discussions with Ms. York and, approximately two months ago I informed her that I must make additional, escalation efforts. She was to get back to me and that never occurred. Therefore, I am writing to the Agriculture commissioner directly.
I believe this constitutes a viable summary of the situation. Need I include the following? It is dangerous, annoying, costly, time-consuming, unsightly, home value affecting, etc. And this obstinance absolutely conflicts with what other counties/municipalities are doing and what is required by law. Anyway, if further information is needed please contact me.
The question is, is the Board of Commissioners responsible for the actions of the sheriff? Does the board have oversight responsibility? I am pretty sure they do have budget responsibility. The board can sue and be sued. Statutes relating to county officers begin here.
The duties of sheriff are poorly defined (unspecific), described only as “30-10-516. Sheriffs to preserve peace – command aid.” Sheriffs have considerable discretion. Unlike commissioners, statutes do not specifically say they can be sued; in other words, sovereign immunity seems to apply.
A sheriff has complete hire and fire authority of undersheriffs and deputies. Any official capacity lapse by subordinates is the responsibility of the sheriff.
Nothing in statute absolves the sheriff from public corruption (e.g., falsification of public records) violations.
The Board of Commissioners is responsible for the budget and in this respect has authority over the sheriff.
Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales (additional links) notwithstanding, I believe law enforcement may still be a right in other respects. Certainly I am in no position to argue with Supreme Court justices, but this quote from the Denver Post is overly-simplistic:
Denver attorney David Lane, who is not involved in the case, said police are also under “no obligation to take any action simply because someone reports something.”
“Just because she may have reported something to the police doesn’t mean they are on the hook for anything,” he said, noting the ruling in the Castle Rock case.
This case has several circumstances which make general statements about the responsibility of law enforcement precarious. These include:
- The characteristics of a restraining order are different than other crimes against life, liberty, or property. This is why in his concurring majority opinion Justice David Souter referred to a restraining order as a “process” rather than right protected by the due process clause.
- Restraining orders in general, and the behavior of Ms. Gonzales specifically. involve some discretion in enforcement.
- Colorado law with respect to mandating restraining order enforcement is not specific enough nor does it provide remedies for enforcement failures.
- A monetary settlement may not be relevant or appropriate and the police employees may have had qualified immunity.
Overall, this ruling in particular does not completely absolve a legal responsibility for government to provide effective law enforcement.
* * *
I believe this subject, this influence on our lives is much broader than this one case and even law and courts in general.
“The policy is a written policy. It’s like the speed limit, if you are going over the speed limit, you’re breaking the law. He’s been over the speed limit. As in, he’s been over it a lot.”
Pet Animal Care Facilities Program – called today just before 10 AM. A number of neighbors have complained. When the same dog(s) yelp hour after hour there is a problem…
Ted Mink has refused to do anything about it. In addition to potential animal abuse there is the issue of privacy: keep the noise on your property. Not a very smart way to run or promote a business.
There is absolutely no reason I should tolerate illegal, poisonous plants on my property. Jefferson County, Colorado employees are responsible for them being there.
One person, Alicia Doran, Weed and Pest Management Specialist, Jefferson County, Colorado, has to be the fall-person but there are almost certainly others involved. The board of county commissioners is the only body that can make regulations and they seem to be leading the corruption. Ralph Schell, county administrator or “COO,” and Ms. Doran’s boss, is a figure in the conspiracy as well.
Ms. Doran is the henchperson, the facilitator, and the person in the field that makes it happen.
Jefferson County has not adopted and published a weed management plan. A brief look around the internet shows detailed, proactive plans instituted in all other counties. Just a few examples are Weld, Boulder, Garfield, Grand, and Douglas counties. Other locations typically provide information, inspections, and eradication upon request; as an example, the Boulder County plan is 42 pages long and contains details including its purpose, individual responsibilities, public and private property requirements, and detailed listings of class A, B, and C noxious weeds. Jefferson County does not provide these services or a published plan.
Employees at the Colorado Department of Agriculture (e.g., Patty York and Steve Ryder) have told me that they have repeatedly asked for a Jefferson County noxious weed management plan and these requests been denied.
For the City and County of Denver a stated goal is to “Respond promptly and effectively in managing weedy species in order to reduce costs and time. This will allow more dollars to be spent for other purposes.”
I live in Evergreen, Colorado in a rather small community in the foothills west of Denver. It is a nice mountain area and the combination of the open space with a large city nearby is appealing.
I like living here but there are two major problems: corruption and lawlessness. State and local government officials are corrupt and this results in lawlessness. The quality of life suffers. The community does not move forward.
Following is the story of a simple (micro) problem in this overall (macro) culture. This is entry number one in a continuing series.
* * *
There is a park in my neighborhood and in front of my home operated by the Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD). The EPRD is a “special district” in terms of organization and legal status–it is basically a local entity for a specific purpose within the state and county. The park was built about seven years after voter approval to fund its purchase, development, and management. The park contains of two athletic fields and a playground, as well as two parking lots. It is seventeen acres total. It is in a very visible and accessible location and is adjacent to a state highway.
Five or six weeks ago I noticed a fairly dilapidated car parked at the site continuously. As the weeks past I realized it was abandoned there. Of course I didn’t know if one day it would disappear on the owner’s volition; I also didn’t know if it was stolen, purposely dumped there, or a harbinger of some other crime. I chose to wait for either local law enforcement or the park district to act.
They didn’t do anything.
* * *
I waited a week and on Tuesday July 24 called the Coloraodo State Patrol. Abandoning a vehicle on public property is both a criminal code and traffic code violation–a pretty serious offense–in Colorado. The state patrol initially tried to avoid any action: the dispatcher said “this is something we don’t respond to” and balked when I got one letter of the car’s license plate wrong. I looked through my records, retrieved the correct license number, and called back. This time the dispatcher took my report in an officious manner and I anticipated that action would be taken.
I didn’t want nor did I expect a call back–a car sitting there is self-explanatory–but that was the next step. This delayed action and made it difficult in that caller identification was not attached (I often do not answer calls from unidentified callers). Eventually I hooked up with Corporal Rivers who said he wasn’t going to do anything. He said it is a legally registered vehicle, it is registered to someone in the neighborhood, and that it is legally parked. That prompted this e-mail.
Thursday June 26 I sent this to Mark Footer, the president of the EPRD board. I still have not received a reply from him or other elected members of the board.
That same day I called my local sheriff’s office and I explained the situation of the abandoned vehicle. I was told a deputy would come to my home. I waited outside. Approximately 45 minutes later I received a call from Deputy Carmichael; no first name was provided and he too called on a caller ID-blocked line. He said nothing would be done; further, he said he was some fifteen miles away. He said the public park is private property, but he would research the situation and follow-up.
I called 303/277-0211, the only number provided for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department to adamantly complain. I was told a sergeant would call me back. Sgt. Gibson called and said the public park is private property; nothing would happen; he would check on the legal status (i.e., public or private) and get back to me tomorrow.
Several hours later I called the Colorado State Patrol again. At 9:45 PM an employee of this organization called (I didn’t catch his name), said the car has been sitting there for some time, and seemingly something was going to happen this time…
Friday morning I sent this to District Attorney Scot Storey and Sheriff Ted Mink (no reply received) and this to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners (no reply either). Also that morning I noticed (and photographed) two sheriff’s department SUVs at the park, with employees investigating the vehicle. Later that day I received a call from Sgt. Gibson explaining that the park is public property. “You were right, we were wrong,” he said. He offered no apology nor did he indicate how the perpetrators would be prosecuted.
Friday I noticed the car had been “tagged” for towing on Monday, seemingly by the state patrol employee Thursday evening.
Question: Were any charges ever filed against for this crime?
Author’s note: This is the first in a series detailing corruption in Colorado and in Jefferson County in particular. This installment contains the facts of this one incident.
I have to I have to I have I have to.