Monday, July 31, 2006

Speak Out -- It Matters

By Dian Woodhouse

The local media's non-coverage of the event described in Saturday's Weber County Forum lead article, in which the Mayor of Ogden City followed individual citizens with, one must assume, negative intentions, given the subsequent administrative leave inflicted on one of them, is a glaring example of how the news media has deteriorated. Thank heavens for Fox News, but that was one story one time, and what do we see on the front page of our local paper yesterday?

A story about two Ogden City Council members having a meeting about The Gondola. To me, today, The Gondola is not important. We discuss frequently the dichotomy between projects and infrastructure, and we are currently under a system where the human infrastructure of this city, our public safety personnel, is in trouble. And no media but this blog and Fox News is saying anything about it.

Do we or do we not have freedom of speech in this country? Do we or do we not have a free press? Do we all care, or don't we, about the possible misuse of governmental powers within our government's own organizations?

The officer now on administrative leave worked under a quota system. It may come as a surprise to some in Utah, but many states have laws prohibiting a quota system in law enforcement. It is viewed, and rightly, not as a motivation to improve performance, but as a motivation to view citizens as a money making opportunity. Someone said that it was like the city administration "putting a price on everyone's head," and that, to me, is pretty accurate.

Here in Ogden, the quota system is not some clandestine operation known only to law enforcement, as it is in some places. Rather, this quota system is written down and is a part of the merit pay system. In order to get a 5% merit raise, officers must score a 4 or higher on this scale. It's right out there, in writing, and here's part of it:

Traffic Officer:

DUI ARRESTS

DUI arrests when assigned as a DUI car or afternoon traffic car.

Level/Description/Value= 20

1. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 1 DUI arrest per week.

2. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 2, but more than 1 DUI arrests per week. (?????)

3. Averages 2 DUI arrest per assigned week: OR not assigned to afternoon Traffic/DUI car coverage.

4. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages 3 DUI arrests per week.

5. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages more than 4 DUI arrests per week.

CITATIONS

Number of traffic citations, hazardous and non-hazardous, issued per working day.

Level Description Value=20

1. Averages less than 3 non-parking citations per day.

2. Averages less than 4 non-parking citations per day.

3. Averages 4 non-parking citations per day, with 3 of the 4 being hazardous citations.

4. Averages 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.

5. Averages more than 8 citations per day, with 6 of the 8 being hazardous citations.

(Above question marks mine.)
I have copied the above from the Performance Evaluation Standards (PEP) for Traffic Officers. There are other standards for Patrol Officers, Master Officers, etc. They all involve quotas.

Is it a bit clearer now why this quota system being tied to merit raises is not a good thing? Traffic officers are required by the new merit pay system to view all of us as a means to a bigger paycheck. They will not get that 5% merit raise unless they average more than 3 DUI arrests per week, and 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.

There are 13 traffic officers who do nothing but traffic. But the paychecks of patrol officers and master officers are tied to the quota system also.

The truck pictured at the beginning of Rudi's Saturday article is part of an effort by the Police Benefit Association to protest this quota system being tied to their paychecks. The wife of the officer currently on administrative leave allegedly was seen driving the truck by Mayor Godfrey. The administrative leave happened roughly two hours after this alleged sighting.

I think it's awesome that the police themselves are protesting this quota system being tied to their paychecks, and that it's baffling that the Ogden City Council is allowing it to continue, and most importantly, that perhaps officers who are speaking out against it on their off duty time are being penalized. If pressure is being brought to bear on those officers who are speaking out against this system, I don't think it wise or honorable that the rest of us just shrug that off and let it happen, and allow it to die a small and quiet death, unnoticed by everyone.

Post on this blog. Email WCF articles on this topic to your friends, by clicking the email icon at the foot of each article. If Weber County Forum is the only medium paying attention to this, let's just keep on doing that.

Update 7/31/06 7:05 a.m. MT: Having been "scooped" again by other local media, the Official Boss Godfrey Propaganda Organ finally (and belatedly) addresses the events reported in Saturday's WCF story in a short front-page article, apparently cobbled together last evening by reporter Janae Francis. "I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this investigation," utters Boss Godfrey... in mid-stutter.

57 comments:

stop culture of corruption said...

Does the Standard Examiner and Weber Sentinel have the guts to fight for the Officer and his wife’s right of free speech, or do they think their the only ones with that right? I hope they do make the right choice and fight for the Officer and his Wife?

Even if the Officer was driving the van and not his wife, as long as he wasn’t in uniform or on duty. It is his Constitutional right of free speech!!! Based on this information, Mayor Godfrey and Chief Greiner just went too far. I hope their ready for the civil consequences. I for one will donate my savings and assume most of you will too.

Ogden City Council members, we all know you read this forum. You’re the check and balance against this abuse. Are you with Mayor Godfrey and Chief Greiner? Or will you put an end to this Culture of Corruption?

Does the Standard Examiner and Weber Sentinel have the guts to fight for the Officer and his wife’s right of free speech, or do they think their the only ones with that right? I hope they do make the right choice and fight for the Officer and his Wife?

Even if the Officer was driving the van and not his wife, as long as he wasn’t in uniform or on duty. It is his Constitutional right of free speech!!! Based on this information, Mayor Godfrey and Chief Greiner just went too far. I hope their ready for the civil consequences. I for one will donate my savings and assume know most of you will too.

Ogden City Council members, we all know you read this forum. You’re the check and balance against this abuse. Are you with Mayor Godfrey and Chief Greiner? Or will you put an end to this Culture of Corruption?

Concerned citizen said...

There are many individuals involved in this "Van Billboard" project, not just Officer Jones and his wife. Mayor Godfrey must have staked the van out when it was being moved from 26th and Harrison to 2500 Washington. Officer Jones' wife was the driver of the van and Officer Jones picked her up, in his personal vehicle, after she dropped it off. The Mayor followed Officer Jones for several blocks before breaking it off. Less than two hours later Officer Jones had all of his police powers stripped and he was placed on Administrative Leave for “conduct unbecoming a police officer”. In this status, Officer Jones cannot work his secondary job and loses the desperately needed income.

Given the above FACTS, I would have a better chance winning the Power Ball Lottery than Officer Jones being placed on Admin leave for any other reason other than Lord Farqua had connected him to the Billboard Van.

This has been pointed out already, but needs to be repeated many times more. The Police and City Administration are now in a position that they have to find something wrong with Officer Jones, to justify their stripping him of his job, otherwise they will lose face and a civil rights violation lawsuit. We all know that they, the Administrators, cannot and will not let that happen.

If you believe that this is unjust, please write a letter to the editor, email the Mayor and the City Council. The Public Safety Officers desperately need your support

momb said...

I made this comment under the post about the religious leader who refused to use the pulpit as a political device but it seems appropriate here, too.

Observations about this one (religion and politics):

1. Philosopher David Hume suggested that whenever someone starts talking about religion you should put your hand on your wallet to make sure it is safe.

2. Of course Ogden's mayor believes he is doing the right thing. The scary thing is, he comes from a background that says one needs to support authority without question.

3. I wonder where vindictiveness comes under the heading of "integrity." I thought revenge belonged to the god of the mayor's religion.

Several questions, too:

Who would Jesus hate?

Who would Jesus bomb?

Or is "Jesus is love" just another liberal plot?

TOD Transit said...

Peterson makes clear his misunderstanding of Transit Oriented Development when he refers to his project as "Transit-Oriented Development"

TOD is the development that ACCOMPANIES a transit project, not the actual transit project. This is usually referring to shops and increased density that follows the transit routes serviced by streetcars and literail. A gondola system can only encourage TOD at the terminus' and so far this project has not dealt with these possibilities and the planning and zoning necessary to accomodate it.

Can't wait to see the meat of the CP proposal...

a humble public servant said...

It Begins....

In the SE today the story titled, "Ogden of[fi]cer under investigation; wife accused of protesting ticket policies" says it all.

The story reads just like some Oliver Stone script where the mayor states that he does not know anything about the officer, but then later relates, "He said the real problem with the officer’s conduct was much worse than his wife driving the van." HOW IS HAVING THE OFFICER”S WIFE DRIVE THE VAN A PROBLEM AT ALL? What a fool to admit, first in the FOX spot and now in SE print, that citizen cannot exercise her constitutional right with out it being a problem.

You bet it was. The Officer's conduct of challenging Mayor Godfrey is the highest crime in the land. Now Officer Jones is going to pay and pay big.

It only took one weekend for these fellows to conjure up the story to cover their ass and their violation of Officer Jones’ civil rights. This action and their comments make me feel dirty as a police officer. I did not hire on to be one of Mayor Godfrey’s Nazi Brown Shirts! I took the same oath that Godfrey and the City Council took in which we swore an oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Why are they being allowed to blatantly shriek this oath to the side and rule by the power of one? WHERE IS THE CITY COUNCIL ON THIS??? Are they going to hide behind something and just let it happen?

I have described to you above the oath that we took. Let me tell you another oath that I make this day. I swear that I will not rest until those who have worked in this city government, who have abused their power, who have violated the basic individual rights of its employees, are brought to justice in the court of public opinion or a court of law. This oath includes the jelly fish like Council members Garcia, Wicks and Stevens, who to one face will say that they are doing all they can, but when it comes time to take action they say things like, “It is not procedure.” or “That will open up a can of worms.” and my favorite “I will do what every the leadership does.” In Utah law, those who know about a crime and have the power to stop it, and do not, are considered as guilty as if they committed the act.

What is happening here is that if Mayor Godfrey is allowed to railroad this officer, his power base and ego will expand to new lengths. What he is doing is creating an atmosphere where he can have a person, with a Smart Growth sign in their yard, arrested for littering! The action against Officer Jones is NO LESS BLANTANT.

OG said...

Will someone outside of the Ogden Police Department stand up and help. It is obvious that it can not be done from within when Jack booted tactics prevail. The Mayor used a police resource for his own personal gain (FELONY!). The person that ran that license plate for him did the same (FELONY!). Don't let them cover this up. Resignations should be forth with! HELP please!

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi and then others:

Rudi: The story you blast the SE for not covering is in this morning's paper. Front page, below the fold. [Could you put a link here?]

"Stop the corruption" asks Does the Standard Examiner and Weber Sentinel have the guts to fight for the Officer and his wife’s right of free speech, or do they think their the only ones with that right?

The SE, in fact no paper, should be "fighting for" an officer or anyone else in its news columns. Not their purpose. If "Stop" is calling for the editorial board or the SE's columnists to enter the lists on the officer's side, that's another matter. If papers want to do crusading, that's where they should mount their chargers and lower their lances. But I suspect the Editorial Board at least will wait for the situation to become clearer, with more information on the record, before taking a stand. But the news columns are, IMHO, for straight reporting, not crusading [with the exception of the occasional investigative journalism piece, which is not involved in this instance.] From the news columns, what I expect is, in the words of Sgt. Joe Friday, "just the facts, M'am."

"Stop" also writes: "Even if the Officer was driving the van and not his wife, as long as he wasn’t in uniform or on duty. It is his Constitutional right of free speech!" Well, that may in fact not be so. Workplace speech is generally not protected by the first amendment where private employers are involved. You can be fired for calling your boss an idiot or saying the company's new product stinks. Granted, the matter is muddier in this case because the person involved works for the public [and the First amendment restricts government action limiting speech]. Nevertheless, courts have held in the past, and the Supreme Court did recently, that public employees can be let go for workplace speech that contravenes the policy of the agencies for which they work. In some circumstances. As a matter of law, the officer involved may not have the same free speech rights non-police would have in this instance. [Please note: I am not saying this situation is right or just or correct, merely that it's not clear as a matter of law to what extent a policeman's speech involving his job and his department and his city government are sheltered by the first amendment.]

What really interests me, though, is Chief Grenier's statements to the SE this morning that in part at least the officer is being investigated for his wife's "speech" and actions. Here are Chief Grenier's exact words: Chief Jon J. Greiner said... that having his [i.e. the officer's] spouse drive a van with a banner reading, “Welcome to Ogden City, home of Godfrey’s ticket quota,” was cause enough for investigation.

That a public employee's spouse surrenders what would be free speech rights for anyone else by right of marrying a public employee is, I think, a fairly astonishing claim [though I do not pretend to be up on the law involving this matter.] Smacks of a return to the doctrine of "coverture" which prevailed at the time of the American Revolution and which said that a wife has no separate legal or political existence separate from her husband's: that his ideas, his politics, his actions were presumed by law to be hers as well. [There was more to coverture than that, particularly involving property rights, but that's the gist of it with respect to political speech.]

The Mayor has gone mum, and refuses now to say on the record whether he was following the officer's wife as she drove the van involved or not. Stand up guy, our Mayor. But it's hardly a surprise. Asked if he can justify his skyrocketing estimates of how much tax money the city will get from his buddy Peterson's real estate speculations on city land, the mayor will not say. Asked if there have been feasibility studies done that confirm that building residential housing on the Mt. Ogden parklands can be done safely, given that much of that land is currently zoned unsafe for construction by Ogden city, the Mayor won't say. And now asked if he was in fact following a city employee's wife around town, and using police resources to find out who she was, the Mayor will not say. Ah, leadership, Matt Godfrey style: "I know the facts; you don't; but I'm not telling you any more because I don't want to." Our mayor. What a stirling example of integrity in action. Anyone who thinks differently is simply a nay-sayer. Anyone who says differently had better not work for the city.

a humble public servant said...

CRUM:

You state:

"Even if the Officer was driving the van and not his wife, as long as he wasn’t in uniform or on duty. It is his Constitutional right of free speech!" Well, that may in fact not be so. Workplace speech is generally not protected by the first amendment where private employers are involved. You can be fired for calling your boss an idiot or saying the company's new product stinks.

The key element to all of this was that Officer Jones WAS NOT ON DUTY AND THERFORE IT CANNOT BE ONCSIDERED WORKPLACE SPEECH!

This is detailed out in Ogden City Policy on the subject, which just came out a few weeks ago. He is what it says:

“Being a public employee does not eliminate your rights as a citizen to comment on matters of public concern, even if such matters involve your employer, the City. Therefore, your status as a city employee does not prevent you from commenting as a citizen on a matter of public concern in city council meetings, letters to the editor, citizen meetings, etc., even though your comments may involve City government.”

Here is what State Statute 10-3-1108(2b) says on the matter:

“an officer or employee's partisan political activity, political opinion, or political affiliation may not provide the basis for the officer or employee's employment, promotion, disciplinary action, demotion, or dismissal;”

Here is what the constitution says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

If any officers, or their spouse, want to drive this van and legally park it anywhere, they are with in Ogden City Policy, Utah Law and they have the protection of the U.S. Constitution! These are facts that the SE chose NOT to report and that is worthy of screaming STOP this is not right!

mercy said...

E mailing this to others, especially in other states, would shed light on this egregious situation.

If this council doesn't take it's rightful place as a legislative body and stop its demeaning behaviors, we may well be facing a 'blue bubonic plague.'

How can these officers continue to be treated so disrespectfully by thier mayor and police chief?

We are dealing with a sociopathic personality on the ninth floor.

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutley."

Typically bullies shrink in the face of strength. The more strength the police officers display through their proper avenues, including keeping the state and national media spotlight on Godfrey and Greiner, the more Godfrey will back pedal...taking his chief with him.

IF this council will show allegiance to the citizens of Ogden, as they pledged, and come together to amend those offending ordinances that the 'old' council gutted, they may be able to avert a backlash of gigantic proportion.

The previous council, of which 4 members remain, handed over THEIR authority, responsibilities, rights and duties to act as the LEGISLATIVE body.

How does it feel to be castrated? Other than in a mental hospital, I'm hard pressed to find another place where 4 men have performed this act on themselves.

Ms Jeske and Ms Wicks have the opportunity to take the lead to amend, take back your authority and serve this community.

Start by reopening negotiations with the police and firefighters.

Another start would be to call your little dictator on the carpet.

RudiZink said...

Bravo, Humble Public Servant.

Wethinks the always-gentle Curmudgeon entirely misses the point.

toadhall said...

I loved the quote in the sub-Standard Exaggerator of Godfrey's, "How would they have any ideas in any way, shape, or form of happened?" Well, your sleuthiness, they, Matt Jones and his wife, saw you follow the van and their personal vehicle. Matt Jones was present when he was stripped of his badge, gun, car, and city property.

What do you mean, "How would they have any idea... "? What an idiotic stance.

I also found the Utah Code quoted by Greiner to be interesting, "any conduct or pattern of conduct that would tend to disrupt, diminish or otherwise jeopardize the public trust and fidelity in law enforcement." Hello. To clueless Greiner, why do you think that ticket quotas are ILLEGAL in some states. It is because a quota policy does this very thing. It makes public safety entities taxation entities.

As for free speech, the Utah Code and Ogden City's own policy dictates that free speech will not be inhibited while the public employees are off-duty. In light of this, I had to laugh at the Standard article title... "Ogden officer under investigation, wife accused of protesting ticket policies". Wife accused of what? How can they accuse his wife of anything? Does she work for the police department?

The arrogance of this stance in incredible. We truly are viewed as serfs in the Godfrey realm.

dian said...

Let us now address the issue of the behavior of wives.

Remember last year, when some Ogdenites were attempting to get a petition together against the building of the downtown rec center?

Godfrey said the city administration has heard no complaints of intimidation or vulgar phone calls, which one petition organizer reportedly received at home, and would not condone such tactics.
   He acknowledged that supporters of the recreation center - his wife and mother-in-law included - have phoned businesses to express displeasure with petitions being displayed.


If the Mayor's own wife is able to call businesses and protest their actions on a political matter, the wife of Officer Jones should also be able to exercise the right of political protest.

Wouldn't you agree?

Dan Bosworth, owner of Idlewire Pet Care, where the petition also is available, said Monica Godfrey did not make any threats when he returned a call she had made anonymously to his shop. But she did ask him to get rid of the petition in his business, he said.
   His employee, Erin Moore, said the caller from the Godfrey home, whose number showed on caller ID, did not threaten to withhold business but expressed displeasure with the petition.


That's pretty clear. I don't think Officer Jones' wife made any threats either, and probably believes that the city should get rid of the quota system.

That is her right. And neither she, nor her family, should be penalized or persecuted for exercising the right of free speech and political protest, which we all have in this country, whether we are the wife of the Mayor, the wife of a police officer, or anyone else or related to anyone else.

Here is the newspaper article quoted above. It was written by Kristen Moulten and published in the Salt Lake Tribune: Ogden petitioners claim they are intimidation targets

Anonymous said...

Did Chief Greiner break the same law as Officer Jones, when Greiner criticized his opponent’s public policy?

Curmudgeon said...

Humble Public Servent:

Thanks for the info on Ogden City and state policy on the matter. You may well be right regarding protections afforded public servents under state law and under Ogden city policies. I expect we are going to find out and fast. If the protections are as strong as the sources you site imply, I imagine the City will back off on that particular aspect of the matter.

You are not, however, correct I think in re: 1st amendment protections afforded to public workers under federal law. At least not as interpreted recently by the federal courts.

But the US constitution is not the only guarantor of free speech rights. As you note, state constitutions protect citizens from state limits on such rights as well, and Utah's may in fact protect if not workplace speech, then off-duty speech of municipal employees. I hope so.

None of which in any way affects the free speech rights of the officer's wife [unless she too is a city employee.] Chief Grenier seems to be claiming that the officer has not only a legal obligation, but an enforceable right to prevent his wife from speaking out on a matter of public policy. [Otherwise, he could not possibly be held responsible for her speech.] I would love to see Chief Grenier and the City of Ogden try to put lipstick on that pig, trot it into court and call it a pony. But I don't think that's going to happen.

Oh, and Humble: it's Curm, not Crum. Thanks.

Rudi: sorry, compadre, but you are wrong. [Please don't make a habit of it you'll have to run for mayor.] I didn't miss any point, merely pointed out that the federal protection of workplace speech [on or off duty] for public employees is a matter not at all plain in light of recent federal court decisions. What Humble offered up were examples of state and city law and policies that may in fact provide more protection in Utah for public employees than is provided under the first amendment by federal law. That's new information for me, which I am always glad to have.

One of the nice things about WC forum is it allows those with more information on matters under discussion to inform the discussion by providing it. And this is one such case.

Dan Bosworth said...

Patty Allen, a customer of mine, was and has continued to give me her dog grooming business before, during and since the rec center issue. Monica Godfrey (Patty's daughter) was respectful when I talked with her. She did, however, try to persuade me to remove the petition. dan@idlepet.com

Dan Bosworth said...

Also, Patty has spoken passionately to me in support of the mayor but she's never tried to influence my own thinking - though she knows I oppose the mayor on several issues.

d bosworth said...

Finally, I didn't think is was inappropriate for Monica to as me to remove the petition, just as I support the OPD's right to put billboards out on the street. They might have chosen better wording on the signage however. (sorry I'm fragmented here - new to blogging.)

RudiZink said...

Curm: "I... merely pointed out that the federal protection of workplace speech [on or off duty] for public employees is a matter not at all plain in light of recent federal court decisions."

Got citations for any of them federal court decisions?

NOT this one recently much-discussed one, we would hope: GARCETTI et al. v. CEBALLOS

Garcetti involved statements pursuant to the appellant's official duties, not political speech in the capacity of a private citizen -- as in the instant case.

If you can steer us to specific First Amendment decisions which abridge public employees' free speech rights outside the workplace or scope of employment, I'm sure we'd be interested reading up.

WCF is all about edumacatin' us townsfolks, after all.

Thanks in advance.

P.S.: National Security cases don't count :-)

dian said...

Dan,

The Mayor's wife does indeed have the right to express her opinion on political matters, as does the officer's wife. And in the case of the former, you were not penalized and didn't lose any business or opportunity to make a living because of conformance or non-conformance to that opinion. This in my opinion is as it should be.

We're still waiting to see what happens with the latter, obviously.

RudiZink said...

Welcome to Weber County Forum Dan; and thanks for offering your comments.

sharon said...

The signage is not threatening nor intimidating....unless the target of it is insecure.

Back in the day when we were attempting to get the BONDING of the rec center on the ballot, Patty Allen did call her hair dresser. She asked me for the home phone number as the hd is my neighbor.

A few minutes later, Patty called me back and said this,: "Sharon, I have informed Cami that as long as she has that petition in her shop I will not go there anymore , and I'll see that my friends don't either. But, I do hope she'll keep doing my hair."......HUH?

I envisioned Cami 'doing' Patty's hair curbside.

Yes, the mayor had family, employees and 'supporters intimidating and threatening loss of business to those brave enough to display the petition. And yes, many petitions were stolen out of the business locales.

The mayor, in a dry run, you may say, circled Stop 'n' Shop's parking lot watching petition signature gatherers who had the store's permission to be in the parking lot.

A few minutes after driving away, the owner came out and said he'd had 'a citizen complaint' and they'd have to leave.

Godfrey's supporters showed up being boisterous and loudly pushing THEIR flyers at shoppers.

They hadn't sought permission to be there.

Double standards prevail with this mayor.

We also know that this mayor has had city employees make phone calls about the rec center AND the gondola on CITY (taxpayers') time!


We do have free speech and abuse of power issues here.

The smart lawyers, it would appear, have a strong case of civil rights violations. It would be justice to see Officer Jones and his wife prevail for a very sizeable sum against the city.

Perhaps then this city council will do their job and take back their right to be the legislative arm of this government.

They need to do what is necessary to reopen negotiations with the firefighters and police and stop these punitive reprisals.

When will the A Team start distancing themselves from this little man who would be king?

bonnie lee said...

Yo Dan

Good to hear from another sane citizen. Glad to have you clarify your relationship with the Allens and Godfreys, and also good to hear they didn't "punish" you for exercising your constitutional rights - like they apparently are trying to do with this officer and his wife.

What do you think it would cost to have my 9 year old cat's urinary problems fixed? Poor thing spends an inordinate amount of time trying to go in the cat box! I'm worried.

ArmySarge said...

Perhaps we can someday elect a REAL City Council...one constituted by people with the courage to do the right thing.... NO MATTER WHAT!!

Our current one is sadly lacking in courage!!!

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Yes, that is one of the cases involved, decided just recently. Here is a write up on the case:

High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights

Here is an excerpt: "Critics predicted the impact would be sweeping, from silencing police officers who fear retribution for reporting department corruption, to subduing federal employees who want to reveal problems with government hurricane preparedness or terrorist-related security."

The extent of the law's reach is a matter of some debate. Whether a government employee's statements are "protected" if made after 5:30 [say in a letter to a newspaper], and not protected only if they are made on the job in official correspondence is, as I said, not yet clear and a matter of some debate.

Now, when a city employee, say a policeman, speaks out claiming to explain a departmental policy [we've been ordered to write a quota of tickets to get raises], and when his "explanation" flatly contradicts his department's explanation of that policy [officers have not been told their raises depend on their fulfilling a quota of tickets], is that policeman engaged in work-related speech or not? You may think this is now clear. I do not, nor do others who have questions about the reach of the decision. It will take more litigation, I think, to settle the matter. Given the present court, I would not want to bet my job on their agreeing that a policeman in this context is engaging only in "private speech." I think he is. But I am not at all sure the courts would agree. Nor, apparently, are others sure. The uncertainty is what I raised in my post.

It does seem that Utah provides clear and unequivocal protection for such speech in its constitution, though, which is good.

There are other cases trending in the same direction. For example, Ashcroft's invoking the "state secrets" claim to head off a court hearing for a federal employee who was fired for whistleblowing. Here's a link:

Supreme Court Denies Review in FBI Whistleblower Case

In short, the trend is not good of late for [federal] judicial protection of free speech rights by government employees. Are they done trimming government employees' free speech rights in re: work-related speech? I don't know. But as I said the signs are not good. Hopefully, Utah's [stronger?] committment to such rights, included in its constitution, will determine the matter in this state. And in Ogden.

CONCERNED CITIZEN said...

One thing that this Blogg fails to mention is that if Officer Jones actions were not that becoming of and officer, then they must also put on suspension, the Ogden Police Benefit Association as well, after all they were the ones that rented the Van and also had the signs drawn up. Oh that is right.

Lets not go after all of them that just might be a little to embarrassing for the administration ( Mainly boss Godfrey and His little henchman Jon Griener) to defend. And after all who will police Ogden City. And look at the possible courts cases they will end up with for years to come.

Instead lets just make one example of a police offer to show the rest of them the “whiners’ who is the real boss in this town and remember, “the ends do justify the means”...

a humble public servant said...

CONCERNED CITIZEN:

I agree with your message in part.

They cannot punish the whole because they would show that indeed the punishment is for the van. This is why they need to trump up separate charges on Officer Jones; to save face and their asses as well as any looming law suit.

I know that it was not just the OPBA that was involved in this van. There are many individuals outside the OPBA that directly and indirectly supported and are supporting this van. After all, Officer Jones' wife is not a member of the OPBA and this point need not be hidden.

momb said...

Does anyone know how long Officer Jones will be on Administrative Leave - how long the investigative process takes? Is he on paid leave or is he just losing the income from his second job? (Just?)

Doesn't it say something that our officers have to have a second job to make ends meet?

Is something being set up to offer him financial support?

I hate to think of him suing the city (which doesn't just mean the mayor and the chief). Is the city covered by some kind of insurance to cover law suits.

a humble public servant said...

Curm: (I spelled it right this time…sorry for the past miss-spellings)

I see your point and train of thought, but here is a counter thought specific to Officer Jones’ case:

Federal case law and precedence is one weight to this issue, but Ogden City Policy is the official department guideline for those actions and I believe it has even more weight. The key factor is that it is Mayor Godfrey’s own policy that empowered Officer Jones to take a part in the “Billboard Van”, even though he only did so by picking up his wife after she drove it. This puts the city in the unusual situation of claiming that their own policy is not correct and the broader interpretation of the federal case laws apply here.

As you said, “Lipstick on a pig…”

Dan Bosworth said...

Dian,
It seems we agree.

Sharon,
Though I defend the conversation I had w/ Monica; the initial anonymous call (except for caller I.D.) was indeed obnoxious. I’m sure it surprised her when I called her back and I doubt she knew I owned Idlewire or she would probably have called me at home.

Bonnie Lee,
I'm sorry about your cat. I'm not a vet but it sounds like you need to get your kitty in to see one. If you want help finding one send me an e-mail.

WCF Bloggers,
I'm gonna fade into the background again but I have to thank you for your intelligent and informative comments. My thoughts tend to be stronger on opinion than on objective knowledge or experience and that is not helpful to anyone. You are a brainy bunch of folks! The civility that is usually sustained in this blog is refreshing and keeps me coming back. Blogs are worthless when they are fraught with emotion and name calling.

If you know me outside of cyberspace, say hi so I can shake your hand. Thanks all

anonymous too said...

Re: Utah Code quoted by Greiner "any conduct or pattern of conduct that would tend to disrupt, diminish or otherwise jeopardize the public trust and fidelity in law enforcement."

Mr. Greiner's behavior certainly disrupts, diminishes, and jeopardizes my trust in law enforcement. In addition to behaving in an unscrupulous, illegal manner, he is clearly interfering with our officers' ability to do their jobs properly.

Mr. Greiner seems to be the one who should be on Administrative Leave?

Monotreme said...

Even if I accept Mayor Godfrey's protestations in today's S-E at face value, they don't hold up to examination.

If the officer is guilty of something actually illegal or unethical (the S-E paraphrases Godfrey as saying "the real problem with the officer's conduct was much worse than his wife driving the van"), then the Mayor's only legal and ethical course of action is to let that disciplinary action succeed or fail on its own merits.

To do otherwise creates the appearance that the Mayor and/or Chief have used their powers to publicly flog an officer for having the temerity to let his wife exercise freedom of speech.

That opens up the Mayor up to charges that he is a thin-skinned, small-minded, lying Napoleon. I'm sure he wouldn't want that.

CONCERNED CITIZEN said...

Thank you Curmudgeon for that insight of what the US supreme court has ruled on.

There is one idea that comes to mind if employees are not allowed to blow the whistle on wrong doers if they are fearful of their employment status. It reminds me of a phrase that was often repeated in the sitcom show that was depicting War time Germany during WWII. The charitor is named “Sargent Schultz”.
When ever something was going on and if he was fearful of retaliatory action from superior officers, the ruthless “Nazis or Gestapo” as they were known as. He had one saying that kept him for ever being held accountable for not reporting it.

That phrase was: “I SEE NOTHING, I HEAR NOTHING, I KNOW NOTHING”. That phrase made him as dishonest as his superiors. The high court ruling was of such that lawbreakers in high positions now have the blessing of the Supreme Court and now is given the green light to retailiate after the whistleblowers. This now creates and runs fear in the hearts of those who try to live up to there solemn Oath Of Office.

There is where the problem of society runs amuck.

“If every government employee truly have done their best to live up the law of the land, to honor the Constitution of the United States, and also to the state that they live in, and show real commitment to their Oath of Office.

There would never be a need for whistle blowers. This would include Presidents and Governors, Judges and Law Makers. To the Police Officer and Fire Fighter to the lowly Custodian, and Secretary, Book keeper and Clerk and everyone in between.”

There should never be a conflict with policy or decisions being made. You would have a society that was truly honest in their dealing with their fellow being.
The problem lays with who now does my allegiance lay with!!!
Their superior, or their Oath of Office????
If their superior is in harmony with his Oath of Office, there should never be a conflict with their allegiance to that Superior or their own Oath of Office.
This is further proof that you don’t need to be superior intellect to be corrupt, ignorance is a form of corruption as well.

Especially when you are in a high position of government making decision that effect the public as a whole. I am flabbier gassed how these people can slit hairs in these type of decisions.

disheartened said...

Anon Too,

Just think what your choice for Senate in Dist 18 will be in Nov;;;;Greiner or Reid!!!

Just bought a delicious pizza at Pizza Runner...and said THANKS.

Monotreme said...

Could someone with knowledge of the S-E's inner workings comment on why today's story was bylined "JaNae Francis" instead of "Scott Schwebke"? I thought his beat included police and firefighters. Francis, I thought, was strictly a features writer.

Could it be that he feared retribution from the people he is assigned to cover? Just speculating.

Curmudgeon said...

Monotreme:

I know nothing in particular about the inner workings of news assignments at the SE, but I know a little, from experience elsewhere, of the matter in general. It's entirely possible that the reporter who might usually cover a story was already working another story. Most papers have general assignment reporters available on an "as needed" basis as stories come up and have to be reported. They also have part-timers who fill in for evening work sometimes, etc. And reporters get sick. Take vacations, or days off for a variety of reasons [the slackers!].

From past experience elsewhere, I wouldn't necessarily draw deep conclusions from the assignment over a weekend of any particular story to one reporter or another. Lots of things can affect assignments in the short term.

Now, does it sometimes happen that a reporter will so tick off the powers that be that they will demand/suggest/request that he or she be assigned elsewhere? Or even fired? Yes. For example, in a major college football town that hosts an Enormous State University, writing embarrassing exposures of the university's football program can be... well, let's just say can be not a career enhancing thing to do. [This example is NOT drawn from Ogden or any other city in Utah.]

But any newspaper that let a politico run a reporter off an assignment [unless the editors were convinced the reporter had botched the assignment or was incapable of being objective] would be a paper not worth reading. Yes, sad to say, there are such papers. I don't think the SE is one of them, but plainly there are other opinions about that at WC Forum. In my opinion, SE reporters in general are less curious and likely to ask interesting follow-up questions of official spokespersons than I would like them to be, but that seems to be a generic tendency at the SE and not one specifically designed to assist the Godfrey administration out of tight spots. For example, the paper this morning did not bury the Mayor's refusal to say whether he was skulking about the city, following a city employee's wife as she drove around downtown. It reported the Mayor's refusal to answer. A paper in the administration's pocket [so to speak] probably would not have.

Generally speaking, on most papers I think sucking up to power is more likely to occur on the editorial pages than in the news columns. But, as I said above, clearly opinions on the SE differ here at WC Forum.

Colette Jones said...

Thanks everyone for youre support and information. I am that officers wife. I have not been very politically invloved before this. I am now trying to learn.

My husband loves his job and he was trying to express his opinion. So he, the fire fighters and police can continue to do the job they love.

Im glad that we are not alone in this.

Thanks again

sharon said...

Dear Colette,

Your family (all the HPS's) are in our prayers.

We applaud and respect you.

My husband and I attended the Police event at the park tonite. We just wanted to show our support and say thanks.

We saw Councilwoman Jeske and Councilman Stephens there tonite.

If any others of the council came...they may have been there earlier. I didn't see any of the city administration there that I recognized, before seven til after eight pm.

Most of us are concerned about your family. Please let us know what would be helpful for us to do.

Arlene said...

Sharon -

What police event in what park?

I feel disappointed that I was not able to attend so that I could tell the cops and their families how very much I appreciate all that they do and how proud of them I am for having the courage to stand up to the bullying of the city administration.

They are inspiring to this citizen. It is very unfortunate that the city council does not take this lead and start truly representing the people against this immoral group in the mayor's office.

Monotreme said...

This morning's S-E contains two competing claims:

--Chief Greiner says Officer Jones' hanging offense was "lying".

--Mayor Godfrey points to an unspecified "citizen complaint".

I wonder if the citizen is named "Godfrey"?

ogden is falling said...

I am so very disappointed in our mayor.

This saddens me greatly. He should be protecting freedom of speech especially when it isn’t in his favour. I am embarrassed to have voted for him twice. This fool mayor needs to be censured by the city council. His actions are not those of a leader. He has dishonored himself, his city, and his constituency. Very discouraging.

sharon said...

Exactly, Mono

....."I need to know why public officials are going around following people at 7 PM at night?"...asked Colette Jones.

Good question. First, it's reported that Godfrey pulled up next to her! What if she'd been a minor....THAT might have been a reason to call Chief Greiner.

Then he 'got to the municipal parking lot first.'

How childish. A big man wouldn't care about a sign. But this little guy has no sense of humor...no ability to let others have an opinion contrary to his own.....unable to TAKE any criticism, but surely can DISH it out!

NOW, he says he 'recognized Matt Jones"...if so, why did he have Greiner run the plates?

"Early Th night Godfrey saw a woman whom he believed to a police officer's wife'....do police officers' wives have a distinctive "look" that makes them prey to public officials following them?

Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams couldn't be reached....."

Of COURSE he couldn't!

"Greiner said the officer in Th's incident, WHOM HE DID NOT IDENTIFY, (the officer and his wife's name are all through the article!) is being investigated for an UNrelated citizen complaint and NOT THE VAN ISSUE".

Yeah, right.

But Greiner may launch a separate internal investigation into the van issue.

So which is it? The van issue or the 'citizen's complaint"?

Mono got it right. That citizen is the intrepid 'Dick Tracy aka Godfrey.

A SLC atty, Brian Barnard "said..... However, OFF-DUTY OFFICERS AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE FREE TO EXPRESS GREIVANCES REGARDING SALARY ISSUES WITHOUT FEAR OF REPRISAL.'

I hope the city has enough insurance to cover the Godfrey Goof this time.

Monotreme said...

Correcting my earlier mistake...

I re-read the S-E story and it attributes the "lying" allegation to both Godfrey and Greiner. The "citizen complaint" charge is attributed to Greiner.

Curmudgeon said...

Sharon:

Right. It's embarassing. I live in a city where the mayor, the MAYOR, for gawd's sake, spends his time skulking around the city streets at night, looking for city employees' wives who might be opposing his policies so he can follow them, race them to parking lots, and get the police chief to track them down. The mayor for gawd's sake.

We need to make sure next time that we elect a grown-up.

This is just plain embarassing.

Jason W. said...

Little Matty Godfrey's behavior is beyond embarrassing, it's criminal. The myopic Lilliputian will face yet another PR shitstorm after the city is most certainly sued over his and Greiner's behavior in this van stakeout -- and believe me, Mrs. Jones, the entire thinking community stands behind you and your husband -- but is that all? Why is it not illegal for the mayor to follow around a private citizen engaging in protected speech? Why is it not illegal for Godfrey to ask Greiner to run the plate, using police resources? Godfrey repeatedly makes poor choices because of his hubris and remarkable dearth of intelligence, abusing the public's trust, his office, our resources, and our money all the while. Isn't there a point where he's violated city or state statute and must be held accountable? I simply cannot believe the voters in my town choose this circus clown twice -- twice!

anonymous too said...

I am considering making up a t-shirt with the "Welcome to Ogden City, home of Godfrey's ticket quota" on it. What will they do, run my "walker's license" through the DMV?

It shows how really sad our City's government is that I was relieved (this is sarcasm, BTW) to see that our Mayor was following Mrs. Jones around on his own time, rather than during working hours.

dan s. said...

Be sure to read Kristen Moulton's article in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, which includes interviews with a couple of other brave officers who went on record in support of Jones.

The article also states:

Ogden's attorney recently sent an e-mail to all city employees advising them they are not allowed to speak ill of the city while on the job.

I hope this email went to the mayor, who has been going around town for the last four months (e.g., City Council work session, April 13) telling people that Ogden is in a "downward spiral."

At this point I have just one question for the Joneses and the other officers whose freedom of speech is being challenged: How can I help?

mercy said...

Anon Too:

Thanx for an out-loud laff!

I think posters in our yards...when the rain stops...saying just what the van did would be a great thing to see.

Popping up in yards all over town in support of the OPD and wives.. and free speech!

When you think about it, skulking around after the officer and his wife AFTER HOURS may be the only thing Godfrey has done with INTEGRITY.

See? He told us he had some. So there.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the links, Curmudgeon.

Remember I urged you not to rely on Garcetti (Caballos). That's a public whistleblower workplace case, (at least as I "read" it,) highly distinguishable on the facts to the one now brewing in Ogden City.

Even worse is relying on lay articles from sources such as the San Francisco Chronicle,. Although the "Chronny" is BY FAR my personal favorite newspaper in America, it's not exactly the first place I'd look for a cogent discussion of any case that emerges from the halloed halls of our beloved SCOTUS.

Although I haven't yet made a trip to the law library for some serious research on the subject, I remain unaware of ANY case that substantially abridges the rights of public employees to comment on matters of public interest outside the workplace or scope of employment when off-duty, particularly where issues involving salary grievances are involved.

Garcetti has certainly altered the legal landscape for on job whistleblowers; but the case simply doesn't address wholly-private advocacy in matters of public concern, such as heen practiced by "Ogden's" finest" in this instance.

That isn't to say that our new Supreme Court won't reinterpret the rules for public employees in the future. We'll all have to keep our eyes on that.

And I fully agree with the issues raised in your linked ACLU article. It's quite clear that the federal courts are in many instances are allowing "end runs" around traditional free speech principles, by validating draconian laws like the so-called patriot act.

In the meantime we believe that our Ogden police officers are well-justified in relying on existing federal caselaw, which supports their present off-duty activities. Nothing in Garcetti hints of the Court's intention to abridge the rights of public employees outside the workplace.

And a high standard of speech protection exists by statute in Utah, of course, as you so aptly note. Even so, I don't believe arguments in favor of First Amendment protection for the activities of our Emerald City police fall back to being purely academic.

Until we hear differently from our new U.S.S.C. on this smatter, I believe Emerald City Officers should not overlook the First Amendment as a primary basis for their actions.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

If I were Officer Jones' atty, I wouldn't ignore a claim based on the first amendment either. I'm just not sure it will win on those grounds. And there may be juridictional reasons he might not want to do that. As I understand it, he can raise a first amendment issue in state courts [because the states are bound to uphold and enforce the US Constitution too], but a decision on first amendment grounds could be appealed in the federal courts. However, if he bases his case on speech guarantees of the state constitution, and wins, I don't think that is appealable to the federal courts since it does not involve a federal issue. It can get complex, tactically speaking.

To take Garcetti as an example: the cases seems to turn on the fact that the atty from the prosecutor's office involved made his statement at work, in a memo to his superiors. But in thinking about the case, and reading about its implications, and chatting here and there, I have to wonder this: is the Court truly saying that if the atty in the prosecutor's office had clocked out, gone home and put a sign up on his lawn saying "The city prosecutor's office is tampering with evidence in pending cases," and invited the press to drive by, he could not be fired? Merely because he made his views public on his own time and off city property? Somehow, I doubt that. As I read the case and commentary, this seems to be a point the court did not directly address [it not being germane to the case before it]. We shall have to wait and see. That the matter is not a clearly decided one now [given Garcetti] is the only point I wanted to make.

Now as for using news reports as sources. Depends. I've found that court reporting in the majors [of which the SFC is definetly one] is on the whole not bad. The majors tend to assign reporters who have [or acquire] some knowledge of court proceedings and, at least in general, court precedents regarding decisions they report on, and I find the general level of accuracy to be better [though by no means perfect] than in other reporting.

And as a historian, I am more interested in the general significance of decisions rather than the kind of summaries usually done by attornies and legal scholars, who are as a rule much more concerned with the legal reasoning and detail than I am.

I looked at several sources on the meaning of Garcetti, with particular attention to the reach of the decision, and came to the conclusion that it is a matter of some debate and not yet settled.

But if I were Jones' atty, I might well raise a first amendment defense as part of the package. It would be very interesting to hear it argued and to see where it came out. But I suspect [not being a paid professional shark, I don't claim to know for sure] that Officer Jones' if he raises a free speech defence my have a stronger one under state law or perhaps even city policy than under the first amendment.

Not to be become too ineligant, I think Hizzonah and Forgetful John may have screwed the pooch on this one. Going to be interesting to see if they back off and the "questions" about Officer Jones' conduct are resolved internally and in his favor, or if in fact this ends up in court.

ozboy said...

Well Rudi and Curmudgeon:

Your knowledge of the law is indeed impressive. Hell I feel half way bright just half undersanding half what ya'll wrote about.

However, Griener and Godfrey are ahead of both your arguments. They have conceded a serious problem in persecuting Officer Jones because of the Van and signs and that messy little lst Amendment crap you guys are so enthralled about. They have simply changed the game plan and conjured up some criminal charges on some other subject and that is what they are going after him on.

So youse two egg heads can debate the finer points of Garcetti all you want but it aint pertinent anymore.

Maybe you two can find a new case to toss around? One that deals with lyin scoundrels in power who bear false witness and cook up phony charges against honest public servants that do not kneel before their highness.

mercy said...

How will the LT's fare who have the task of 'internally' looking into Officer Jones' alleged misdeeds?

Will THEY actually recommend the 'discipline'..IF called for? Or are they going to have to toe the Marxist Line?

Will they suddenly have Dick Tracy
following them also?

I'm dizzy from all the spin...and again in the Substandard today.

Curmudgeon said...

Mercy:

Sorry, but I'm hard put to see what's wrong with the SE story this morning. It reported Cheif Grenier's side of the story, reported on a previous complaint that resulted in a two day suspension w/o pay for the officer involved [a fairly serious disciplinary action]. It went to the officer for comment, and reported his refusal to say anything more at this point pending legal advice [wise]. It reported Chief Grenier's agreement that the timing looks bad. It reported the city atty's refusal to comment at all on using police recources to look up license plate owners by request of the mayor, it reported Councilwoman's skepticism about Chief Grenier's account of his actions and the timing of them. [Which skepticism I share.]

Exactly what other would you have had the SE do? Decide NOT to report the Cheif's statements? What exactly is your problem with the story?

mercy said...

Curm,

I'm willing to wager that when you dust the house, and I'm sure you're a great husband to Mrs. Curm....you don't miss a speck o' dust!

I was referring to Greiner's statements, which you have masterfully explained on the other thread.

Greiner was going to put the officer on leave Th, but forgot...then it was going to be Fri a.m.

That's all. Nothing sinister here against the SE...in fact, it was good to see they still had a story.

Now if only K Moulton could teach a journalism class at the SE.

Curmudgeon said...

Mercy:

Ah, I suspected as much. Your target was Forgetful John. But it seemed like you shot wide and got the messenger too [the SE].

Since a lot of what we know so far, including several of the the Mayor's and Forgetful John's more embarrassing and incriminating statements, we know because the SE and the SLT printed stories that went beyond the original radio report. I've thumped 'em both here when I think they've dropped the ball, but on this story, so far [other than not being first out of the gate with it], I think they're doing OK. Both of 'em.

On the news side, that is. Seems to me, though, the editorial side ought to be able by now to have cobbled together an editorial bemoaning the mayor's embarrassing exploits in an attempt to quell criticism of his administration. There is more than enough on the record for the SE editorial board to say something on that. Be interesting to see if it will

mercy said...

I agree. Curm.

I've been waiting for an editorial also.

Even a spot-on Grondahl!

I'm a little rusty with the shotgun...took lessons from Cheney...goes a little wide sometimes.

Curmudgeon said...

Sharon:

"Took lessons from Chaney."

He he he. Love it. He he he.

mercy said...

Curm..

giving credit for my bon mot to someone else!!??

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