With Halloween nearly here, this is a timely topic even though it starts a few years back. In early 2008, I had three respectable part-time jobs: a substitute teacher available for all of Mason County, a security officer at Dow (soon to become Oxychem) and a volunteer fire fighter. I had taught and fought fires since 2001, often combining the two by annually helping with Ludington Fire Department's Fire Safety Program through the area elementary schools. I had a happy, fulfilling life among my friends and family.
I was far from being a monster.
The metamorphosis began when I questioned employees of the City when they published in the local paper that their trash haulers would pick up paneling just after the flood of that year. But not properly prepared wood paneling like I put out and so I politely accused them of not honoring their word.
The change continued when I safely rode through a clear intersection with my bicycle and was stopped by a Ludington police officer for not coming to a complete stop at an unlawfully erected stop sign, placed 25 feet beyond the crosswalk. I was the evil one for daring to point this out, and became more sinister when I later determined the City had no traffic control order on record for the sign. All the procedural missteps the police and court system took over the next year, that I began publishing on local internet sites, only made me more of a beast.
After I began to question why certain injustices and appearances of impropriety went unchecked by our local paper and local officials, and started my own watchblog at the end of 2009, I had fallen into being a foul creature indeed. I developed a creepy power of being able to submit FOIA requests to find out more about the dealings of City Hall. At the same time, actually developing the power of daring to question the actions and motives of those who publicly serve us for what everyone else knows (at least at the Daily News) is selfless, heroic, and out of the generosity of their own pure heart.
In November of 2010, the Daily News and our fearless City Manager, John Shay, attempted to thwart the infernal Wizard of Dowland Street by publishing ten of his FOIA requests, but it didn't work. I still delved, and continued to publish diabolical articles that the City elders were powerless to disprove. My loathsome ally, a downstate lawyer continued to press our valiant City Hall using tools of the devil, like laws, truths, and ethics.
Yes, we were both akin to Satan in our devotions to these tools, according to the folks at City Hall, but they were actually having a hard time proving this to all, particularly those who read and evaluated the articles and were mesmerized into believing what was presented in the records. In mid February, an article showing some disturbing records and coincidences indicating questionable use of public money by public officers in Signs of Love and a provocative letter by the attorney dated Feb. 18 indicating a course of legal action, spurred City Hall into action.
They decided to create a monster.
How do we know this? Back on March 8, 2011, a FOIA request asked for a city policy that was voted into effect on 2-28-2011, and for the inter-city communications concerning the creation and implementation of this policy. The reply contained a couple of fees that were illegal as per the state and local FOIA, and the $38.17 price tag, had us bypass that request until this week, as I had received a bootlegged copy of just the policy. Here's what we found out in our most recent FOIA. The information has been modified, so that the communications are in chronological order for everyone's convenience. Take care, there is a monster at the end of this narrative.
Feb. 18 was a Friday, and so the City Hall likely opened my attorney's letter on Monday February 21st. That coincided with the first mention of the Workplace Safety Policy in the written record with this late afternoon E-mail from LPD Chief Barnett to City Manager Shay. Pretty coincidental.
Barnett wasn't done, he then sent these E-mails over to CM Shay the next morning 2-22 A.jpg and 2-22 B.jpg, where he claims to make a few changes. Dr. Frankenstein, I presume? A half hour later, John Shay sent a E-mail to the Chief and City Attorney that came to me totally redacted except for at the top of the E-mail. This would continue to be a pattern whenever CA Richard Wilson was being contacted or CC-ed. Legal redactions? I don't think so, but it does allow the FOIA Coordinator to block disclosing the E-mail by claiming privilege, just by sending it to the CA. What is being hidden?.
That afternoon, the CA sent this redacted E-mail to CM and LPD Chief, and CM Shay got back to him in a short E-mail in seven minutes, also redacted. In a half-hour, the CA sent back another short redacted reply. Monster-creators got to preserve their secrecy, otherwise they may lose their patent.
The next morning at 8:37 AM another redacted E-mail, was sent from the police chief to the CA-- and that was all that happened that day except for the Public Safety meeting notes at the bottom of these minutes. The committee made up of Councilors Castonia (chair). Brent Scott, and Paul S Peterson loaned their approval to the new policy and recommended its approval on the 2-28 City Council meeting, where it found no opposition.
Here's what they passed, The Workplace Safety Policy , an inocuous, good-sounding policy that can create monsters when applied. There is no due process; there is no precedent for such powers by the City Manager as a person who can capriciously prevent someone from entry to Open Meetings, entry for FOIA inspections, or for anything else juust because someone can claim to be threatened or intimidated. They only have to prove it to him, without any input from the accused. It also gives the City Attorney a brand new power, the powers of a hearing officer. City Attorneys, even those who don't claim to be independent contractors, have no such power. But apparently, a stroke of lightning on the apparatus of monster-making allows them the extra powers in a policy covered in the cloak of utmost secrecy.
The monster formerly known as Tom Rotta, was now almost totally complete. Was that a limb of his moving. But, he still needed a push start, because even though he rode his bicycle contrary to the laws understood by the LPD, and made a bunch of FOIA requests, that would not be enough. They needed some extra embellishment to complete the beast.
A lady in distress just might complete the monstrosity and sell it to the public. But since there wasn't any ladies distressed by the ogre, other than those whose who had been mentioned among the DDA in his articles on that less than upfront organization. The Community Development Director stepped forward and wrote this to John Shay:
Again, another coincidence; the day after the Workplace Safety Policy passes , a neighbor calls her at work saying I was "walking around her home" This was the first time, I heard of that when I got the FOIA this month. I remember getting the Letter from Sergeant Schultz at 5:15 PM, and even though I recognized the private address on the Letter, [since I had FOIAed that very address earlier to check out the recent transitions of it as the only Freddie Mac house in Ludington acquired by someone whose specialty is getting grants and other money from State and Federal sources involved with housing], I had not been in the vicinity of that house that day.
No name of the neighbor, no time of the phone call.
Mob mentality, smear campaign, publishing personal information, insidious posts to 'insight' public opinion against her? She has a vivid paintbrush, but all the nameless people who visited our site back then had the opportunity to correct the record and publish their exculpatory facts to refute the public documents I presented with little analysis, beyond what the rules of law and ethics dictated, and the waste of public dollars. Yet, I never had the opportunity to refute her deposition wherein I finally became a bona fide monster.
I have lived with that burden in the seven months since, not knowing what other people I run into think of the fact that I have been forbidden to go into City Hall, the Police Station, or a private property, I've never stepped foot on. What I done, must have been very bad indeed since no one else has. I paid for this burden dearly, almost immediately.
Link to more on this story at: Creating a Monster pt 2 and link to pt. 3 from there for even more.
This is a well written and amazing story. I have always wondered wo the final nail in the coffin was. Heather Venze has a lot to answer for as does Shay the Mayor and the City Council. Ludington has a circle of evil running the City. How long did they think they could continue to pull the wool over the eyes of the voters and taxpayers. I admire you for standing up for the rights of all good citizens and fighting the good fight. Don't get discouraged because you represent millions of disgruntled people everywhere who are abused by government corruption
Looks like the City doesn't want to lose to you. If Heather Venzke went the usual route with you, that is, if she made a police complaint, you would at least have been able to respond to it. Deny or confirm it with an officer. Be actually able to hear what was charged against you. If you speak the truth you were never told the action you did for this sanction until you just now could pay for it. The coincidences of both the WSP starting after your attorneys letter and her neighbor seeing you walk around her house the day the WSP starts are not coincidences. That was March 1st, you guys had a lot of snow on the ground, you couldn't walk" around" most houses up there then except on the road. If you walked around inside, you would have had to break in and left some mess I think. And have a real police report made.
I don't recall the number, 4th or 5th I think, but what was done violates the highest laws of our Bill of Rights. They not only want to beat you, they don't care whether they do it legit. Hold out, their the monsters.
Fifth: "No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
I checked the LDN's photo archives and found this on their 3-2- 2011, so you can guess the photos were taken the previous day. Or you can look back on 3-1-2011 and find there was plenty of snow and the typical early March mess on the ground in the tree's shadow and the courthouse's alley. If I was 'walking around their home', I must have left a lot of footprints and mud behind, LOL. This monster wasn't on the prowl that day.
Another piece of the patchwork monster puzzle arrived today in Eve's Emailbox. Shay has declassified one of the redacted communications (and denied the others on A-C privilege) on my appeal. It is the "short E-mail sent 7 minutes later, redacted" sent on 2-22 in the above story. It looks like Shay is giving credit where credit is due. But what does it mean? Does it mean that the WSP was drafted by our own Chief Barnett, or just the reworking of the Trespass Letter?
Don't give our City leaders any new ideas, Lisa, or they may just get that list of malcontents out and start giving the LPD something to do this time of year.
"Nahum, LPD's here with the Letter of Trespass; he says you put out too many garbage bags on the curb twice in the last year."
You're right, the Letter really has no effect on the FOIAs because it just disallows me from going there myself. It actually encourages me to use proxies, which I really have no shortage of. Notice also that I don't 'incite' public opinion or the mobs, I just give 'insight' to them, according to HV.