Before I was stopped, I had barely any knowledge of state laws on bicycling, and even less about laws of confidentiality described in episode 2. John Shay and the Daily News should have been well versed on the aspects of the Whistleblower Laws and privacy from the Byers’ lawsuit that had just been settled for a quarter of a million. But I had sent both a copy on 10-13-2008 of a letter directed to LPD Chief Barnett. It contained the following:
“I was on the LFD until I resigned last Monday. When I arrived on the department, before I learned to operate as a fire fighter, I was instructed about confidentiality and a person’s expectation of privacy. At incident scenes, we may learn things of a personal nature about someone, perhaps potentially embarrassing or some sensitive info that they would not want to be made public. It was our duty to respect that person’s privacy, and being a person who highly regards my own privacy, I understood this and followed this rule.”
“…Officer Krause was trivial, non-empathetic, and dismissive, but at this stage of developments, I would say there was not any non-ethical behavior on his part. I read most all of the Michigan Vehicle Code to develop a defense. I found several ways to defend myself, and so denied responsibility of the charge on my ticket. I later requested a formal hearing and waited to find out my court date. As per my personal decision, I only told my family and a couple of close friends about my ordeal, no one on the LFD.
On September 24, … I was called into an officer’s meeting. I was confronted by Chief Jerry Funk about this incident. During this tribunal, held before I had even received my court hearing date, I heard that I had been ‘barely missed’ and/or ‘nearly hit’ by Krause, and that I had acted inappropriately at the scene. I was dumbfounded and floored. I awkwardly defended myself primarily by remaining mute, against the exaggerations. I felt even then that at some level my privacy had been violated, but agreed to abide by any discipline. I even felt like resigning, because I was sickened by the fact that Krause or someone he confided in, had released confidential information to my bosses prior to our going to court to establish facts.”
“After deliberation, I was told I would get a written reprimand…After a week of soul-searching, I resigned from the department I love and respect so very much, so that I could alleviate them of having to further discipline me for fighting for my just cause against the city and the LPD.”
“…I looked at some police dept. code of ethics on the web and the standard way they said was this: “Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.””
“I do not see how the unconfirmed information that was passed between the LPD and LFD was necessary in the performance of the LPD’s duty. In fact, the prejudiced and jaundiced report transmitted was likely meant to intimidate, embarrass, threaten, and/or dishearten me. It is not only classified as private information, but sensitive confidential information, since it got me disciplined, and made me resign from, an employer (the city of Ludington) who allowed a hostile environment to unnecessarily form within it.”
I am sorry if this seems like a rehash of episode 2 up to this point without the enumerated laws, but these were serious charges I levied against the LPD. I got no response from Chief Barnett, I got no response from the City Manager’s office, and I got no response from the Ludington Daily News.
Around this time, I closely inspected my hearing notice and noticed a couple of things. Even though I had broken a state law according to my citation, the city of Ludington was the plaintiff, and the city’s attorney was prosecuting. Even though it was a District Court hearing, I did not have a DC Judge, as every law I read said I should. Instead I had Probate Judge Mark Raven, who is rumored to be very friendly with city leaders.
A previous experience with Judge Raven, when I testified for a friend on a guardianship issue against a guardian who had acted very unethically (but was a friend of his) made me doubly wary I would get a fair shake from him. DC Judge Wadel was the person who should have ruled over this new hearing—by law, as I eventually found out.
As far as my offense, my court document said “STOP SIGN”, nothing else. Nothing about a bicycle, nothing about an actual law that was broken. (see attach 1). October 22 was my scheduled date, but the court postponed it on the 21st , because Officer Krause was on vacation the 22nd. The new date was Nov. 7.
On Wednesday November 5th at around 11:00 AM, I was riding my bicycle over 20 mph ( I have a bicycle computer) on Sixth Street heading east past Taylor St. Several cars were parked alongside the street on both sides, and so I had to ride a couple feet from the ‘car line’. The double yellow line that signifies a no-passing zone was well defined in the middle of the street.
A vehicle passed me from behind, going fully into the other lane, returning after the Lincoln Street intersection. It had covered two blocks as I had covered one at over 20 mph., so it was going 40 mph on the left side of the road in this residential no-passing zone marked for 25 mph. If anyone had popped out of or in between one of the parked cars, or if someone turned right from Lincoln St (concealed behind the parked cars) there could have been an unnecessary disaster caused by this unlawful driver. Kids frequent this area, and it technically falls within a school zone, since it is less than 1000 ft. from PM School. It was a school day and it was during school hours.
The vehicle that endangered everyone in that area: an LPD Tahoe in non-emergency mode, going to Metalworks for parking lot duty. (end of pt 3)
Questions for discussion:
1) As public bodies, answerable to the public, why did the LPD and the City Manager’s office fail to respond in any way to my complaint, which was verifiably true?
2) As a newspaper, why did the Ludington Daily News (which I recontacted again with no response) totally ignore the potential story? Bonus points if you mention, First Ward Councilman/former LDN mogul Paul S. Peterson, and/or LDN Print manager (at the time) Jerry Funk.
3) Which is the most serious or most dangerous violation of the law: a bicyclist crossing a stop intersection after having determined no traffic was present w/o stopping or a motorist travelling 15 mph over the speed limit on the left side of the road in a no-passing zone contained in a school zone during school hours and through an intersection with serious visibility issues. Explain.