Gary Dielman, Baker City Historian par excellence, informed me the other day about a new website/blog in Baker County. It is called Reclaim Baker County.
After checking in to some of the pages there, and reading Gary's objections to their anonymity, I tried to track down the "owners" and principal writer. Reclaim Baker City gives a P.O. Box of 1157, in Baker City as their contact address. After some searching, I located an owner of P.O. Box 1157, but it is not clear as to whether the owner listed at the Oregon Secretary of State's office's Corporate Division's Business Name Search is still the owner of the P.O. Box. The owner listed at the Business Name Search is No Bull Communications, and the person listed as Authorized Representative is Edward Franklin Merriman. The address for the concern is 230 COURT STREET, P O BOX 1157. There is no County record of 230 Court Street, and as far as I can tell, the address does not exist. There was an Ed Merriman who worked as a reporter from 2008 to October, 2010, at the Baker City Herald, and who subsequently reported for the Bend Bulletin from October 2010 until october, 2011.
[Added 3/16/12] Yesterday, I neglected to mention the following:
On 2/20/12, PO Box number 1157 was also being listed under the name “Buck Sterling” (likely a pseudonym) for the website http://reclaimbakercounty.org/ (Reclaimbakercounty), with the registrar being listed as Wild West Domains, LLC, which is not registered in Oregon. The email address listed is email@example.com and a phony phone number listed is (541) 523-0000. This information can be found at IP Address.com.
The website, Reclaim Baker County, has made several accusations against both the Baker County Sheriff's Department and its employees, including Mitch Southwick, and against Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff. For the most part, the allegations are unsubstantiated, with little actual evidence of wrongdoing having been produced on the website.
See for example:
DA Shirtcliff Commits Fraud in Child Support Prosecutions!
"Know anybody in Baker County being prosecuted for delinquent Child Support obligations? Better have him read this article. He is the victim of FRAUD.
Let us first make this “perfectly clear”. We at Reclaim Baker County do not condone any unlawful or immoral or deceptive practices by anyone in private or public conduct. We believe in traditional family values, and oppose legislation that tears us away from those values."
They go on to say that:
"Matthew Shirtcliff has signed an agreement entitled “DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT–CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT”, under the terms of which he has agreed that he will actively prosecute violators of federal and state law AS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTING PARTY!"
Their conclusion is that DA Shirtcliff, in these cases, acts without any authority and that his actions are "an outright fraud!"
Are there problems with child support prosecutions? Probably. Is it fraud? Probably not.
I asked Tony Green, Communications & Policy Director at the Oregon Department of Justice to comment. Here is the relevant portion of the response:
ORS 25.080(1) provides DA offices with the responsibility for support enforcement. ORS 25.080(6) and (7) require all county governing bodies and district attorneys to enter into child support cooperative agreements with DOJ. Every county, whether they provide the child support services or not, enters into these agreements.
The primary enforcement authorities are The Division of Child Support of the Department of Justice, and the district attorney in cases other than those described in paragraph (a) of ORS 25.080(1).
ORS 25.080 (6) & (7)
6) The district attorney of any county and the department may provide by agreement for assumption by the Division of Child Support of the functions of the district attorney under subsection (1) of this section or for redistribution between the district attorney and the Division of Child Support of all or any portion of the duties, responsibilities and functions set forth in subsections (1) and (4) of this section.
(7) All county governing bodies and all district attorneys shall enter into child support cooperative agreements with the department. The following apply to this subsection:
(a) The agreements shall contain appropriate terms and conditions sufficient for the state to comply with all child support enforcement service requirements under federal law; and
(b) If this state loses any federal funds due to the failure of a county governing body or district attorney to either enter into an agreement under this subsection or to provide sufficient support enforcement service, the county shall be liable to the department for, and the liability shall be limited to, the amount of money the state determines it lost because of the failure. The state shall offset the loss from any moneys the state is holding for or owes the county or from any moneys the state would pay to the county for any purpose.
DA Shirtcliff has said he will get back to me on this, and another inquiry has yet to be responded to.
Reclaim Baker County also posted the following about Sheriff Southwick and his department:
Sheriff’s employee “security issues” rip off the public!
Sheriff Deputies Intimidate Halfway Crab Feed Participants!
Similarly, Peggy Iler sent the following letter to the Baker City Herald yesterday, March 14, 2012.
Bail machine at jail is not fair
The similarities between the letter posted by Peggy Iler and those on Reclaim Baker County were close enough for me to look into cases involving Iler at the County Court House today. What I found prompted me to send in a reply on Reclaim Baker County today. I sent it in at 5:49 PM, and it is now 8:45 PM. It is still being looked at by the moderator and has not been posted.
On the other hand, Gary Dielman sent in a response around 6:40 PM and it was almost immediately posted.
Here was my reply to their posts about DA Shirtcliff and the Sheriff:
March 15, 2012 at 5:49 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
You folks, whoever you are, may have a point that there are problems within the justice system, I believe that to be the case, but there are also glaring problems with your approach.
“We at Reclaim Baker County do not condone any unlawful or immoral or deceptive practices by anyone in private or public conduct.”
If that is so, why don’t you reveal who you are, as a writer, and as a committee? It is deceptive to present many serious claims against the Sheriff’s Office, the judicial system, and DA Shirtcliff without revealing who you are. FRAUD is a very serious charge.
It is also possibly immoral and certainly deceptive, to make the claims you have made without presenting evidence, such as the contract you refer to, along with the legal references in the federal code or the Oregon Revised Statutes. If you are serious in your claims, don’t leave it to the reader to prove you are wrong or right–-present your actual evidence, a real case. Words are cheap.
It appears to me that you, the writer, are engaged in a vendetta against DA Shirtcliff and the Sheriff’s department.
I noticed the letter to the editor in last night’s Baker City Herald from Peggy Iler.
See: Bail machine at jail is not fair , http://www.bakercityherald.com/Letters/Letters-to-the-Editor-for-March-14-2012.
The letter raises valid questions about the practice of using a cash bail machine with a 7% charge. I think it is wrong to charge an additional 7% of bail to hard-pressed people entangled in the justice system. Peggy also suggests voting for Dee Gorrell for Sheriff.
I also thought of the similarity between Peggy’s letter and the two posts on Reclaim Baker County about the Sheriff. On Reclaim Baker County, one talks about the problem of the bail machine, the other suggests voting for Dee Gorrell and speaks of honor (as did Peggy’s).
Are you James Iler?
What are your political beliefs?
Have you had troubles with the Sheriff and the DA in the past?
Have you brought charges against, or filed civil injunctive relief petitions against the DA and Judge West in the past?
Have you filed other petitions for adjudication of claims and had them dismissed?
Have you changed your name to James Russell Iler in a civil name change petition?
Have you faced failure to appear charges?
Have you faced charges for failure to carry present license, driving uninsured, and failure to register a vehicle driven?
Have you faced charges of criminal trespass 2 and been convicted on any charges?
Are you engaged in a senseless vendetta against the Sheriff and the DA?
How about canning the deception and starting with a little transparency? How about toning down the wild charges and just sticking to a realistic, evidence based analysis of the problems within law enforcement and the justice system? A good mind is a terrible thing to waste.