Tag Archives: Mitch Richards

Keep Columbia Free Joins Coalition to Recall Chadwick — Richards Will Not Run

Ginny Chadwick

Ginny Chadwick

Two local groups, CoMo Council Watch and Keep Columbia Free, have joined forces with local cannabis law reformers to recall Councilperson Ginny Chadwick. More groups are likely to join the effort soon.

Columbia advocates for cannabis legalization, Aaron Malin, Eapen Thampy, and Duell Lauderdale, started the recall effort in response to Chadwick’s reversal of her public campaign promise to support Councilperson Barbara Hoppe’s proposed cannabis cultivation ordinance. Her vote was the last in a long string of outright betrayals since being sworn into office only six months ago. It was the straw, or perhaps the leaf, that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

Even Councilperson Barb Hoppe was confounded by Chadwick’s dishonesty.

“I think we felt misled… It’s hard to tell what she really thinks. She’ll say she’s for something and then vote against it.” — Councilperson Barb Hoppe on Chadwick’s cannabis vote

Aaron Malin

Aaron Malin

The recall announcement made by the pro-cannabis crowd was simply the first. A newly formed organization of First Ward voters calling themselves CoMo Council Watch had their own recall petition in the works which listed many of the same grievances, chief among them being Chadwick’s less-than-transparent slight of hand in her dealings with the Opus student housing project.

Barbara Hoppe

Barbara Hoppe

 

I was at the coalition meeting along with several of the Keep Columbia Free faithful. This writer has chronicled Councilwoman Chadwick’s flagrant misdeeds for several months and all in the room were in agreement that she had amassed a laundry list of recall-worthy actions. Besides her 180 on her cannabis reform campaign promise and her good ol’ boy relationship with Opus, Chadwick has also proposed an overtly racist plan to ban alcohol in Douglass Park and is now pushing to change the legal age for tobacco purchase to 21 and include e-cigs in Columbia’s smoking ban. And she doesn’t give a damn what anyone has to say about it, going so far as to scrub constituent comments from her official Facebook page, even blocking some users. 

Eapen Thampy

Eapen Thampy

The folks from the Bistate Regional Advocates for Vaping Education (BRAVE) have expressed great dismay over Chadwick targeting e-cigs and will hopefully officially endorse the recall effort soon.

There is little doubt that Chadwick has sided with the establishment “powers that be” in Columbia. Even the great establishment propagandist, Tribune Publisher Hank Waters, has jumped to her aid with his barrels of ink and an overtly erroneous editorial in which he attempts to pigeonhole the recall effort as a “small group of disappointed supporters of looser marijuana restrictions.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Even his own newspaper reported the facts. Apparently, Ol’ Hank doesn’t read his own publication.

The editorial prompted this apropos response from local liberty activist Spencer Pearson…

HA! This Op-Ed from Hank Waters about the ‪#‎RecallChadwick‬ movement is outrageously false. It must be nice to own a newspaper and tell voters in other wards what to do without any real knowledge of the movement you’re writing about.

The “small group” of people who are members of the Recall First Ward Councilperson Ginny Chadwick page already outnumber Chadwick’s public like page! And the grievances First Ward voters have go far beyond her broken campaign promise to support decriminalizing cannabis cultivation.

Waters concludes the piece with a Confucius quote: “The real fault is to have faults and not try to mend them.” When Chadwick publicly stated she didn’t have to make a case to a group of angry constituents, THAT was the deciding point of the recall. She has flat-out refused to address the people who elected her, as is her job. Perhaps Mr. Waters should show this Confucius quote to Ginny Chadwick instead of patronizing First Ward voters by telling so many of them their efforts are “without merit and should be ignored.” Or perhaps he is just projecting

But who will replace Chadwick?

mitch

Mitch Richards

There are a few names being tossed around, but those discussions have been kept secret so far. The First Ward wants to make sure that they don’t get fooled again, hoodwinked by more snake oil, ending up worse off than before. There is little doubt that the determined First Ward voters will produce a fully-vetted and qualified candidate. Enough is enough. After a decade of poor representation from the likes of Paul Sturtz, Fred Schmidt, and now Ginny Chadwick, the ward is ripe for real reform and meaningful action. But who will it be?

One name that has been mentioned is former First Ward candidate Mitch Richards who lost to Fred Schmidt in 2011. I asked Richards if he might run to replace Chadwick should the recall effort prove successful.

“Absolutely not! I have no intention to run for Council at this time nor in the near future.

That said, I do support the recall effort. Councilperson Chadwick has advocated an overtly paternalist set of policies since taking office. She arrogantly singled out Columbia’s African-American community as being unfit to consume alcohol in Douglass Park only to change course and try to ban alcohol everywhere in hopes of countering the justifiable cries of racial insensitivity the initial proposal faced. She wants to include e-cigs in Columbia’s smoking ban despite the fact that these devices provide a somewhat safer alternative than smoking for tobacco users and now she wants to tell young adults that while they can vote, pay taxes, and serve in war, they cannot be trusted to buy tobacco products. Her secretive work on the Opus project ran counter to the wishes of her constituency and now she’s made a 180 degree turn on the marijuana cultivation ordinance — an ordinance to which she pledged support during her campaign. Campaign promises should be sacred. The First Ward needs to send a strong message to current and future leadership that these types of fundamental betrayals will not be tolerated.”

These strong words from Richards echo the popular sentiment across the First Ward. There is little doubt that this recall effort will produce plenty of signatures in a very short time.

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Pack the Council Meeting

Come out and help send a strong message to the Council. The people of Columbia are united against corporate handouts in the form of EEZs and TIFs, blight, and eminent domain abuse. Help pull Columbia out of the plutocratic race to the bottom! 

Recall petitions will be available for signing! 

 

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Police Labor Unions Beset Burton

Today, Ashley Cuttle, the paid director of the local police labor union, the CPOA, renewed and doubled down on her attack on Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton. Burton has done his best to reform a troubled department despite the foot-dragging of veteran officers. Change never comes easy, especially in government, but when the pant-suited pit bull Cuttle is leading the charge against that change, there is a recipe for trouble.

To assist her in her character and career assassination of Burton, Cuttle has enlisted the help of labor leader Kevin Albrand, President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. The two appeared on the Gary Nolan Show following their meeting with Mayor Bob McDavid and City Manager Mike Mathes where they lobbied for Burton’s termination.

Mitch Richards of Keep Columbia Free called the show and artfully challenged the legitimacy of the CPOA argument during the second half of the radio segment. You can stream to the radio interview HERE or go directly to the mp3 download by clicking HERE.

While the CPOA has fought Burton at every turn, the real attack started after Burton fired Rob Sanders. Sanders was fired following his brutal assault of an unarmed and detained suspect after which he laughed about the incident as the suspect writhed on the floor in agony stemming from a broken neck.

Read all about the incident HERE

Please show your support of Chief Burton by signing our online petition. Click HERE to go to the petition.

Here is the video of the brutal attack at the hands of Rob Sanders. 

 

Update

It looks like Keep Columbia Free has worked its way under the skin of the police brutality apologists. This is a screen-shot from a Facebook page run by disgruntled ex-CPD officers. It’s a little flattering to have made their hit list alongside the Chief of Police, the City Manager, and the Editor of the Tribune.

http://www.keepcolumbiafree.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/cop-threats.jpg

Another Update:

Keep Columbia VP, Abhi Sivasailam, is featured in this ABC 17 news story talking about why we support Chief Burton.

 

Here’s another video of former officer Rob Sanders in action. This time he’s not violently assaulting an unarmed, detained citizen, but he is harassing local police watchdogs, Citizens for Justice instead of serving and protecting the public…

 

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Rick Santorum v. Mitch Richards

Keep Columbia Free’s own Mitch Richards challenges Rick Santorum’s grasp of our beloved Bill of Rights as he asks how denying cancer patients medical cannabis fits with the 9th Amendment. 

Check out the Keep Columbia Free endorsement of the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation initiative.

Check out the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation website. Sign the petition, donate some money, donate some time, and help end the violence and racism that are at the heart of modern prohibition. 

 

 

Mark Flakne

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STOP the CID Tax

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The following letter was composed by Eapen Thampy and Mitch Richards and is addressed to all citizens of Columbia who are eligible to vote regarding the proposed CID tax increase. If you are one of the few eligible CID voters, Keep Columbia Free urges you to vote NO on this proposed tax hike.  Please read the following letter and share it with everyone you know. Do your part to end the fleecing of our local consumers for the benefit of a few CID bureaucrats.   

Sincerely, 

Mark Flakne

 

Hi,

The Community Improvement District (CID) is proposing through a ballot initiative on November 8, 2011, that downtown residents approve an increased sales tax of up to ½% for sales happening in the downtown business district.  The justification is that these funds will be spent on “downtown beautification”, “technology and public information enhancements”, promotion of downtown events and assistance to entrepreneurs, “event recruitment and promotion” and “enhancements” to downtown shopping, dining, and entertainment.

 We urge you to vote against this tax. There are several reasons.

As a first principle, we think we should be trying to lower the taxes on people trying to spend money in Columbia, not raise them. A new tax will increase the cost to consumers of doing business downtown, and will drive marginal consumers to other places where the sales tax is lower.

Second, many of the proposed improvements being pushed by the CID are unnecessary. There is no unique reason why a government agency should be in charge of event promotion, building smartphone apps, or providing WiFi. There are a variety of Columbia’s citizens AND BUSINESSES who make it their livelihoods through providing these services, and we shouldn’t give a government agency tax dollars to compete in these markets. Moreover, it is inevitable that the decisions made by a public agency to micro-manage Columbia businesses will cause division and turmoil fostered by accusations of favoritism and collusion. We don’t need that in our community.

Third, the First Ward needs another police officer and perhaps another fire company. If we are going to raise taxes to provide public services, these are the vital services that are needed in our city, and we should reject spending money on other projects until our most vital needs are attended to.

Fourth, the CID has lost the trust of many voters and citizens. In joining with Keep Columbia Safe to push for the installation and public funding of surveillance cameras, the CID joined forces with people who used city dollars to push a partisan agenda. Moreover, whether or not you feel the cameras were necessary, campaign promises to not use these cameras for live surveillance were broken, and the cameras have been installed in places where they are not conspicuous and easily visible, as the ORDINANCE mandates. It would be difficult to place further trust in an entity which has engaged in said conduct. We should also consider the risk that future tax revenue will be used to pay for more surveillance cameras instead of making real investments in law enforcement or fire protection services.

For these reasons, we ask that you reject this proposed tax at the ballot.

Eapen Thampy

Mitch Richards, Keep Columbia Free

If you’d like to contact us on this or similar issues, emails directed to Eapen.Thampy@gmail.com will reach us. You may also call at 573-673-5351.

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Thoughts on the CPRB Public Hearing and Work Session

The recent Citizens Police Review Board public hearing and subsequent work session was nothing short of entertaining. Outside of Bill Easley’s cantankerous rant and Marlon Jordan‘s “klan” theatrics, the public hearing was moving. The overwhelming majority of the nearly 80 in attendance, and the 15 or 20 folks who addressed the board in 3 minute increments, were there to ask that the board reject the changes proposed by Chief Burton and the Columbia Police Officers Association. [See our previous blog on the proposed changes] There were a handful of seats occupied by current and former police officers or police volunteers, two of whom addressed the board in support of Chief Burton and the CPOA, but there were no civilians who voiced approval for the ordinance change.

When the public hearing came to a close, after a 30 minute extension, the board’s work session began with an invitation for Chief Burton and CPOA representatives, Eric Dearmont and Ashley Cuttle to take a seat on the stage. Much to the chagrin of the citizens in the crowd, public comment was stifled as these three were given unlimited time to rebut and refute any and all input from the public.

It is important to note that while the Chief is a public employee and an argument could be made for him having a seat in the work session, neither Eric Dearmont nor Ashley Cuttle are public employees and are instead paid employees of the CPOA. The CPOA, while comprised of citizens employed as police officers and attorneys hired to represent them, is not a public entity. It is a private organization, not subject to sunshine laws or official public scrutiny. In reality, the CPOA is no different than any of the other reputable organizations that were in attendance at the hearing and limited to only 3 minutes of input each.

The message sent by allowing the CPOA unlimited and unrebutted input into the proceedings is undeniable. The review board has been labeled as sympathetic to the police since its inception, and allowing the CPOA a bully pulpit at a work session only serves to bolster the label.  The reaction from the crowd in attendance was also undeniable as eruptions of vocal discord periodically interrupted the work sessions with shouts of “bullshit” (disguised as sneezes) and loud demands for public rebuttal to the misleading and outright false claims made by both the Chief and the CPOA.

In an interesting turn, one board member, Susan Smith, who this blogger previously derided as a police stooge, heroically stood her ground against the unencumbered onslaught from Chief Burton and the CPOA, and forcefully repelled the attack with well reasoned arguments. This180 degree about face caused several jaws to drop in the audience. It was a truly pivotal moment as Ms. Smith informed the Chief that it was the City Council and not the CPRB who had already ruled on who might have standing in front of the board so asking for another change would be futile. Not only had the City Council ruled on standing, they had broadened the scope of who can file a complaint after the board suggested it be tightened. Smith made it clear that the board would not be making the same request twice. Ms. Smith went on to point out the many holes in how the Chief described the board’s rulings. Kudos to you, Ms. Smith.

There were two more vocal heroes who piped up during the work session. Betty Wilson continued her stalwart support of the citizenry as she made it clear that she was having none of what the Chief and the CPOA were offering. Even Rose Wibbenmeyer, in her role as city legal council for the board, pointed out why a charter city like Columbia does not need to adhere to State definitions of misconduct and went on to refute several other disingenuous legal arguments made by Eric Dearmont. Rose maintained her professional distance and did not offer an opinion,merely facts.

Even newcomer and former LAPD officer, Roger Dowis, challenged a few of the Chief’s points, seemingly finding his voice on the board. Strangely, many for the other board members spoke only once, or for procedural rules of order, or not at all. 

Enjoy a few videos from the hearing, most of which are courtesy of the amazing folks over at Citizens for Justice.

 

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Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Since its inception, our local Citizens Police Review Board has garnered a great deal of media attention. Whether it is fielding an appeal from California marijuana activist and global pot guru Ed Rosenthal or defending the human dignity of local Derek Billups, the CPRB continues to end up in the news. The recent decree from Mayor Bob McDavid that the CPRB and the Columbia Police Department resolve their differences is no exception.

Seemingly in response to recent CPRB rulings with which he did not agree and no doubt with the help of the Columbia Police Officers Assiation, the local police labor union, Police Chief Ken Burton submitted a written request to the city asking for changes to the ordinance which governs the board. Each of the suggested changes in his five-pronged attack, if implemented, would serve to weaken the board both in appearance and reality.

The appearance of the CPRB, as it is perceived by the public, is important. The board’s reputation has already been tarnished as Chief Burton summarily ignores every ruling or suggestion made by the board. This, along with his front and center presence at CPRB meetings, jumping to the podium frequently, without invitation, but also without protest from the board, has given the impression that the CPRB is slowly becoming a branch of the police department or is, at most, an impotent bureaucratic ruse.

For the most part, but with a few respective exceptions, the individuals on the board have done a fair job of judging each complaint. The ordinance which currently governs the CPRB is already weak. If the changes recommended by Chief Burton are added, the CPRB may as well be dissolved.

Here are Chief Burton’s proposed changes along with a few more issues as identified by the Columbia Missourian:

1. The definition of misconduct

The Chief of Police had recommended a definition based on the Missouri Revised Statute. The review board had recommended misconduct to be defined as “any violation of federal law, state law, city ordinance, city regulation or police department policy, guideline, directive, rule, regulation or order.”

Regardless of how the State of Missouri defines “misconduct,” the fact remains that this is our local police force, sanctioned by our local community to use force when necessary and funded by our tax dollars. It is right and just that these public servant police officers, whom we have hired to protect and serve the citizens of our community, should be answerable to the citizens of our community, either directly or via a representative board like the CPRB. To suggest that the citizens of Columbia do not have the right to define “misconduct” as it applies to the actions of officers in our Columbia Police Department is not only wrong, it is obscene.

2. Who can make an appeal?

The police want to limit the right to make an appeal only to people directly involved in the incident or parents or legal guardians of people directly involved.

The review board maintains it should not be limited.

This suggestion is an obvious attempt to place another bitter bit in the mouth of the CPRB by further limiting who has standing before the board. This plank in Burton’s campaign of domination reeks of the prevailing paternal police perspective as it implies that the board cannot judge standing or the legitimacy of any case on its own. The board should decide what cases are legitimate and what cases are not.

3. Open records

Due to a section in the review board’s ordinance, the filing of a complaint causes opening of records that are otherwise closed by law, including police officer personnel files and closed criminal reports. Police recommend that this section be eliminated. This would allow the board to review the personnel files, but they will be off-limits for the public.

The review board disagrees with this recommendation.

4. Closed sessions and interviews

Police have recommended giving complainants the option to make a request for a closed testimony. In an earlier Missourian report, the board’s new chair, James Martin, had said the board’s sessions should not be closed.

These two points speak to the issue of transparency. The purpose of this board is to pierce the “Blue Shield” of police secrecy that has plagued Columbia for some time. Before the CPRB, complaints would often be swept under the rug or buried in department bureaucracy and red tape. While personnel and employee privacy questions may seem valid, we must remember that, as public employees, the police are employees of the public. As employees of the public entrusted to use lethal force in the line of duty, transparency is of even greater import.

5. Training recommendations

McDavid said the police have asked for “more defined” training standards for the review board members.

The Missourian missed the meat of this issue. The police and their labor union have repeatedly asked that the board submit to an increasing amount of police-directed training. Board members already do some training directly with police and can always request to voluntarily meet with police for a ride-along or any other investigative/learning session. It is also true that several members of the board are former police officers or have had some police training. The newest member of the board, Roger Dowis, is a longtime veteran of the LAPD who served during the Rodney King era and is surely well versed in the use of force in law enforcement. Carroll Highbarger is a retired, career police officer who rose to the rank of Deputy Chief of the CPD before retiring to teach criminal justice at Columbia College. Susan Smith, who sadly seems to represent the police more often than not,  is a former prosecutor who also teaches criminal justice. Also in the law enforcement mix is Steve Sheltmire who is the graduate of civilian police academies in both Kansas City and Columbia.

The public, especially the African American community, already sees the CPRB as somewhat weak and weighted heavily by former officers and law enforcement lackeys.  This requirement for more training, while certainly providing the opportunity for the department to directly influence board members, would send the undeniable message to the civilian citizens of Columbia that the CPRB is in bed with the CPD and the CPOA and is therefor useless. How’s that for some confusing acronym usage?

6. Police policies to be posted online

One of the differences is the review board’s recommendation that police post their policies online so that the public, the board and police can easily access them. The police department didn’t address this issue in its report.

Of course the police failed to address this issue just as they fail to address any issue brought to light by the CPRB. The Chief as thumbed his nose at the board since its inception and he will continue to do so unless reigned in by both the elected and appointed representatives of the public he paid to serve.

7. Regular reports on complaints

The review board has asked the police department to provide it with monthly and annual reports containing information on complaints.

It will be interesting to see if the department provides this report and if the report is thorough and accurate. I’ve not heard much discussion on this issue and it seems like a reasonable request.

At a recent CPRB meeting a discussion took place regarding these changes. Several attorneys and members of the public asked the board to deny the chief’s requests and stand their ground. Here are Mitch Richards’s remarks on behalf of Keep Columbia Free. His exchange with the newest appointee, former LAPD narcotics officer Roger Dowis, happens during the last half of the video.




During the meeting seen in this video, the CPRB opted to have a public hearing on the proposed ordinance changes. It is of vital importance that the citizens of Columbia take the time to come to this hearing and take part in democracy at the basic and most important level. There will be plenty of opportunity for public comment if you have something to say, but you don’t have to speak. Just show up and show support. Just show up and let the City Council and the CPRB know that it is important to you that our local police become and remain accountable directly to the citizens whom they serve. Please put this public hearing on your calendar. It is August 24th at 7:00 pm at the new City Hall building. Everyone is welcome.

Mark Flakne

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