CHICAGO STYLE CORRUPTION IN GRANTS PASS, OREGON?
City Councilor, Bob Anderson
December 21, 2013
Grants Pass Oregon, Where The City Government Fears The Truth. Tell It, And They Send The FBI To Shut You Up.
Grants Pass, Oregon: - I've lived in Grants Pass Oregon for 30 years. It's where I raised my family on blue-collar wages. I own a house and property and pay my taxes. I'm a good citizen. Why then, did FBI Special Agents visit my private shop today?
Special Agent Jeffery Gray from the Medford, Oregon FBI office explained stated that the reason for the visit was that the FBI received an anonymous tip that I had threatened Grants Pass City Councilors. He refused to provide a single detail. The only reason government officials would have to feel threatened by me is because they know, at any moment, I could write or speak the truth about their conduct. They are threatened just by the thought of me exercising my First Amendment rights.
In the early 90s, I was elected to the City Council. But after seeing the corruption I couldn't stomach it and resigned.
To alert the public, anything I've said or written about Grants Pass City government officials since, has been out in the open, in the public domain, usually in published letters to local newspapers or letters to the official City Hall public email. I'm not shy about exposing the morally bankrupt local government.
Like many Americans I wish that my Federal, State and local governments were more efficient and trustworthy. However, I'm cursed with a conscience. When I see unethical activity from government employees we're paying to do a job, I feel it's my moral obligation to speak up. I do it because I hope there's time to slam on the brakes before America drives full speed off a cliff.
The recent visit from the FBI is about retribution, pure and simple, an attempt to intimidate me because I utilize my First Amendment right to free speech for a righteous cause.
Back in 2006 or 2007 I did go beyond simply talking to the news media. I reported the Grants Pass City government to the Oregon Secretary of State for violating state Open Meeting laws. The City Council routinely held their annual planning session far outside City limits at a luxury lodge. That is against the law. The law was written because meetings outside the public eye make it nearly impossible for local citizens to attend and listen or participate. The media never made the trip either. State officials immediately recognized the illegality and forced Grants Pass to cease and desist.
In 2007 or 2008 I wrote a letter to a local newspaper exposing more illegal\unethical activity. This time it was in the form of a gross conflict of interest. The Chairman of the City Budget Committee was a close friend of former City Manager David Frasher. But he was much more than that. He was also the commissioned agent who sold the City millions of dollars of insurance every year. But before I reported it to the Attorney General, the unusual happened. A group of honest City Councilors was elected who took action to make sure the old Chairman, the managers buddy, was sent packing.
In 2010 the Grants Pass City Manager Frasher, Assistant Manager Samson and Public Safety Chief Joe Henner were found guilty of violating state election laws for illegally influencing a public vote on a safety-levy tax increase. When the 3 went to Salem, on taxpayer time, and brought the $175\hr City Attorney with them to appeal, I wrote a letter to the City Council protesting the use of my tax dollars towards their defense. I documented a pattern of behavior that made me feel they weren't worth defending.
Shortly thereafter I received an email from Police Chief Joe Henner insisting that I: “cease and desist” speaking about him or the “next communication will be from my (his) lawyer.” I forwarded his benign threat to the Secretary of State.
When former Mayor Mike Murphy appointed replacement City Councilors in a secret back room deal with no public input or media observers, I paid for a full page newspaper ad exposing his brazen flaunt of the democratic process.
Last year when a former strip club DJ, Mark Gatlin, allegedly turned Christian and ran for City Council, I dug onto my own pocket again and paid for a citywide postcard mailing exposing his little secret, warning voters of Gatlin's background.
In several open letters published in local newspapers I have been critical of the lack of real work and huge overcompensation that the City's Fireman's union has manged to extract from the citizens under the complicit eye of Chief Joe Henner.
And it's not just the fireman Henner watched run away with taxpayer dollars. About 3 years back, Henner lobbied the City Council to budget for another policeman. Guess what? Less than a month after the new budget went into effect, a new cop was hired, Joe Henner's daughter. The City paid her while she attended the State Police Academy and paid the tuition at the Academy. The cost for the Academy alone was probably in the $12,000-$15,000 range.
After graduation she got back to Grants Pass and quit after 2 weeks on the street as a cop. She was then trained for another job in her dad's department that she held briefly. She took the training and moved on to a similar job for another agency. Grants Pass taxpayers paid a bundle to set Joe's daughter up in her chosen career and now have nothing to show for it.
Upon the recent announcement of Henner's planned retirement, I wrote a letter last month criticizing his management style and lack of scruples.
Today, someone connected to the Grants Pass City government sent the FBI to rattle my cage. I don't rattle. I grew up in Chicago and the corruption and moral decay in Grants Pass government and politics is nothing I haven't seen before.
Aside from deep dish pizza, Chicago, one of Obama's home towns, is probably best known for its corrupt politics. It's pretty well acknowledged at this point that election day shenanigans in Chicago are responsible for swinging the 1960 presidential race to Kennedy. Chicago is the place where shills with the names of dead people show up to vote. Firsthand I've witnessed ward bosses keeping the curtains to the voting booths open, jumping in to make sure voters slid the lever over so that in one motion they could vote all Democrat. The corruption has only gotten more sophisticated since those “good old days.”
Grants Pass Oregon is the perfect size for government corruption. It's large enough with just enough money to be a tempting target for people who want to be paid more than they've earned like government employees and the criminal element in the private sector. And it's just small enough to ensure there is almost no oversight. The police department investigates itself and City Hall officials, across the board, have each others back.
I went to the office of Kevin Widdison, the new editor of the town's only daily news source, the Daily Courier, told him my story and showed him Agent Gray's card. He said that this wasn't really the kind of thing the Courier wanted to be involved with.
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I was shocked. You would think if City Councilors were being threatened that would be newsworthy. And certainly, if armed federal agents are trying to strong-arm a truth-teller into silence, that would be an even bigger story. I thought, as I left his office, that the Courier must have a formula for success that doesn't include truth, political discussion or the First Amendment.
Widdison telephoned me later and said he'd assign a reporter to look into it. I haven't heard from the them since. Pound for pound, Grants Pass Oregon is every bit as politically corrupt as Chicago.
I deserve an apology from the City Manager but that's about as likely as Mayor Daley from Chicago apologizing to Nixon for throwing the 1960 election.
© 2013 Bob Anderson - All Rights Reserved
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Bob Anderson was a former city
of Grants Pass Councilor.