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Mountain Park Life :: Forums :: Guest Editorials
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Actual Police Report names Councilman. Was he intoxicated during meeting?

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natasha
Sun Sep 30 2007, 02:17PM
Registered Member #31
Joined: Mon Jul 25 2005, 10:04PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 50
Bill,
A point of clarity: no formal complaint was sworn against Frank Baia. A letter delivered at city hall describing his actions regarding a public safety matter triggered the mayor to call for a review by a council investigating committee. As I understand it, normal procedure requires a formal complaint, not a letter, to stimulate a council review but a letter did in this case.

A point of courtesy: the committee of council immediately dismissed further action against Frank Baia.
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Jim Wright
Sun Sep 30 2007, 08:53PM
Registered Member #70
Joined: Sat Sep 17 2005, 01:10AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 246
Councilman Bill Schmidt wrote:
Due process:
That must just be some people talking.


Mr. Schmidt:
I wouldn't suggest here that you have attempted to confuse or mislead the public, so your case of failed memory is indeed astounding given the fact that you have served on council during two of the three examples you cite in your post. My memory is clear and the facts are a matter of public record. You write based on the assumption that a sworn ethics complaint will not be filed against your colleague. As you know Bill, the ethics code clearly states that the process start upon the receipt of a sworn complaint. Given the past actions and lack of due process at the hands of the current mayor, one would conclude that Mayor Upham would commence an ethics investigation herself. The problem with her doing that again, making it the third time, is that such action violates the code. You are free to file a sworn complaint yourself if you feel that the details in the police report need addressing. It will be interesting to see if the entire city council ignores this alleged misconduct.

Let's take at look at the factual history of the three ethics investigations the city council has faced since the adoption of the Code of Ethics for City Officials.

1. When serving as mayor I received a sworn written ethics complaint filed against Councilman Counter by the city clerk at the time. Great care was taken to handle the matter with discretion and professionalism. Some would say that Ben and I were staunch adversaries at the time. Go figure.

2. At the time when she was a councilwoman serving as mayor pro tempore, Deborah Upham abused the spirit and provisions of the law when she and Councilwoman Neal commenced an Ethics Investigation against me without a sworn ethics complaint. Neal has a law degree and was certainly more capable than I of reading and comprehending the code. There was no regard for due process; discretion; or professional conduct. When given an opportunity to present the facts at a public hearing, I successfully defended myself and all complaints were dismissed not only by the citizen panel, but the council as well. (I added the last sentence to inform those new to Mountain Park)

3. Mayor Upham inappropriately started an Ethics Investigation against Councilman Baia, a perceived adversary, without the requisite sworn ethics complaint. Upham acted on a letter written by a resident and while the resident did complain in her letter, it was not a sworn ethics complaint. An elected official misapplying the ethics code is unethical in itself.

The bottom line in this prickly situation is the part of the Ethics Code, Section 2-202, that speaks to the intent of the Ethics Code and in part it states: "It is the intent of this section that city officials avoid any action whether or not specifically prohibited by this article, which might result in, or create the appearance of...(3) Affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the government...".

This is not about whether drinking is acceptable. It is about the proper time and place. I enjoy an adult beverage myself from time to time. I can assure you that I never felt it appropriate before sitting down to handle the peoples' business and certainly not to the degree that a trained police officer would report that I appeared intoxicated.

So Councilman Schmidt, given your desire for due process; your position and knowledge of our Ethics Code; and the above history, what do you suggest?
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Bill Schmidt
Sun Sep 30 2007, 11:44PM
Registered Member #68
Joined: Fri Sep 16 2005, 09:14PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 141
I suggest a sworn formal, notarized if necessary, complaint be filed at city hall.

Then the process can begin.

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Dutch Uncle
Tue Oct 02 2007, 01:01PM
Registered Member #120
Joined: Wed Mar 22 2006, 12:06AM
{LOCATION}Posts: 54
The story told in the police report should be submitted to News of the Weird or a similar column. Calling the police to report someone yelling at you while you are an intoxicated public official has to be one of the three most stupid things I have ever heard of and it's hard remembering the other two.

There was a story reported somewhere about a good old boy calling the sheriff to report a barking dog at the double-wide next door. When the sheriff arrived he arrested the caller instead. Seems as though the party complaining forgot to move the pot plants growing on his deck.
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SPDB
Tue Oct 02 2007, 05:26PM
Registered Member #28
Joined: Mon Jul 25 2005, 07:59PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 8
Dutch Uncle,
Thanks , we all need to keep our sense of humor these days !
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Cheerful Garrett
Tue Oct 02 2007, 07:49PM
Registered Member #118
Joined: Thu Mar 09 2006, 06:26PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 186
The Mountain Park City Hall must have a Poltergeist that takes over normally good, responsible people and turns them into secretive, angry, Dictators once they get into office. These officials suddenly have their own agendas, think nothing of calling the police on citizens, giving people a hard time, making up their own rules; and giving some homeowners a pass, while going after others for the same thing.

Next time the Tibetan Monks come to bless the Lakes, maybe we should have them bless City Hall and the Community Center. Or sprinkle some of the water from our Natural Spring on the heads and seats of the Mayor and City Council members.
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E.T. Bass
Wed Oct 17 2007, 02:15PM
Registered Member #152
Joined: Fri Jul 21 2006, 03:54PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 76
Mayor Upham flat out lied last night when she said she has not started an ethics investigation without a sworn complaint while being mayor. Go ask Frank Baia. What kind of mayor would use the power of the office to rake Frank over the coals for asking someone to move their car and not investigate Councilman Pulling for allegedly coming to a meeting while intoxicated? Leadership or Cronyism? You decide.
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Bill Schmidt
Wed Oct 17 2007, 04:04PM
Registered Member #68
Joined: Fri Sep 16 2005, 09:14PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 141
Sec. 2-215. Complaints.
Any person having a complaint against any official of the city for an alleged ethics violation shall file in writing a sworn complaint setting forth the particular facts and circumstances which constitute the alleged violation. The complaint shall be filed with the mayor, or in the event the complaint regards the mayor, shall be filed with the mayor pro-tem. Within 30 days of receipt of a complaint in such form as may be prescribed by the council, the mayor, or in the event the complaint regards the mayor,the mayor pro-tem, shall appoint three members of council, who along with the city attorney, shall constitute an investigating committee to determine whether the complaint sets forth significant facts and circumstances so as to warrant a hearing before the ethics committee. The investigating committee may require that oral complaints, and complaints illegibly or informally drawn, be reduced to a memorandum of complaint in such form as may be prescribed by the city council. In the event the complaint does not set forth sufficient facts to constitute an alleged violation and is found unjustified, frivolous or patently unfounded, it shall be dismissed and the complainant notified immediately; provided, however, that a rejection of such complaint by the investigating committee shall not deprive the complaining party of any action he might otherwise have at law or in equity against the respondent government servant.
In the event the complaint is found to state sufficient facts to warrant a hearing before the ethics committee, the ethics committee shall be appointed as provided herein.
(Ord. No. 268-03, § 1, 12-15-2003)

The controversy apparently centers on the definition of sworn complaint.

The bolded portion of the ordinance indicates that oral and informal complaints are enough to trigger formation of an investigating committee who at their discretion can require that the complaint be reduced to a form as prescribed by council. To the best of my knowledge council has not prescribed such.

Remember.

The mayor in handling a complaint is not charged with determining guilt or innocence. They are charged with forwarding to council for further investigation.

That is what happened. That is the process. And the process worked.

To sit on a complaint, parsing definitions, could be an example of cronyism, and in this case the exact opposite occurred.

In the Pulling situation, again to the best of my knowledge, no complaint has been received at city hall.
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E.T. Bass
Wed Oct 17 2007, 04:19PM
Registered Member #152
Joined: Fri Jul 21 2006, 03:54PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 76
Sec. 2-215. Complaints.
Any person having a complaint against any official of the city for an alleged ethics violation shall file in writing a sworn complaint setting forth the particular facts and circumstances which constitute the alleged violation. An investigating committee is supposed to be appointed only AFTER a sworn written complaint is filed. The city won't even investigate a barking dog without a written sworn complaint. Parse that.

Mayor Upham danced around the question. She knows it, Bill Schmidt knows it, and the voters know darn well what we're dealing with here.
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Bill Schmidt
Wed Oct 17 2007, 04:30PM
Registered Member #68
Joined: Fri Sep 16 2005, 09:14PM
{LOCATION}Posts: 141
Why have the verbiage allowing the investigating committee to reduce oral and informal complaints to a prescribed form if they weren't sufficient to trigger an investigating committee?

A statement was made last night that the ordinance was crystal clear.
Legal bills from previous investigations interpreting the ordinance indicate a different reality.

My understanding is that Jim Wright wrote this ordinance. Perhaps he can explain the legislative intent behind the competing sentences.

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