Saturday, September 6, 2008

Harney County DA Declines to Prosecute City Manager

In This Issue:

- Harney County DA declines to prosecute City Manager

- Sarah Palin's Record

- Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter on the RNC

Harney County DA declines to prosecute City Manager on allegations of child harassment

According to a August 4th letter released yesterday by Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff, Harney County DA Tim Colahan has decided not to prosecute Baker City City Manager Steve Brocato on allegations of harassing a child. The incident report accompanying the letter indicates that the incident occurred on May 19, 2008, at a children’s track meet at the Baker High School Track. It involved a 7 year old child who is said to have a form of Down’s syndrome, and who was involved in a physical altercation or “rough housing,” with a child of Mr. Brocato’s. The case was sent out of the County to avoid a possible local conflict of interest.

I had first learned of the incident a couple of weeks ago from Brian Addison, who had put in a public records act request to obtain information about the case. I was told by a person who was at the first Council meeting in June, that prior to that Council meeting convening, a concerned citizen was in the chamber with a large placard that is alleged to express the following sentiment: No Child Abusers at City Hall. I was told that a few people present at the time, including DA Matt Shirtcliff, approached the individual to ask him about the context of the words expressed on the placard. I was told that ultimately, Mr. Shirtcliff dissuaded the gentleman from continuing with his chosen method of dealing with the issue, and instead asked him to come and talk with him about the issue. In the meantime, there has been no report about the incident by local media, even though both local papers have been notified about its existence. This same person told me that the parents of the alleged victim didn’t go to the police initially because they didn’t think they would do anything about it.

Steve Brocato taking pledge to "Take a Stand Against Family Violence" in MayDay poster on a Baker City business window. He is the tallest man in the center back row to the left of police Chief Wynn Lohner.

Subsequently, on June 27th, over a month after the incident, a Sheriff’s Patrol Sergeant, Travis Ash, wrote an incident report (number S200800347). In the report, Steve Brocato was quoted as saying that a boy in a line in front of his daughter said “Lets break her arm” and that later an alleged victim also said “Lets break her arm.” These statements were not corroborated by any other witness’ testimony in the report. A witness who was interviewed for the report wrote that she saw Mr. Brocato “reach over and grab [the alleged victim] with both hand[s] around her face, leaning over her, facing her and in a loud voice telling her to knock it off and leave his daughter alone.” Mr. Brocato told the Sheriff’s investigator that “he stepped in to stop [alleged victim] from hurting [his child.]” He continued his explanation by saying that “he reached out and grabbed [alleged victim] by the face and turned her head to look at him” and that “he didn’t squeeze her face or shake her head.”

For some reason, the incident report did not contain any testimony from another witness, who was referred to a few times in the report, and who approached Mr. Brocato at the time with the admonition to the effect that he could scold a child but should not touch them. I was told that this witness had seen the behavior of Mr. Brocato directed at the child, and was concerned enough to try to intervene. What did she see? Another witness said he “talked with Steve [Brocato] about other choices he could have made such as picking up” his daughter. Another witness said he heard the City Manager tell the 7 year old child with Down’s Syndrome that her poor behavior toward his daughter was ”not a wise choice.”

My understanding, and I'm not a lawyer, is that according to the laws of Oregon and the evidence presented in the report, this incident does not qualify as a case of child abuse because the legal standard for abuse is injury to a child that is not accidental. As to the offense of harassment, the Harney County DA declined to prosecute because he thought that “There is insufficient evidence that the suspect acted with intent to harass and annoy the victim in this case. ... His actions did not appear excessive nor did they cause any physical injury.”

Aside from the important effects the incident may have had on the alleged victim, Mr. Brocato’s child, coaches, and some bystanders, the issue is important because Mr. Brocato is our City Manager, and his public behavior is something people will naturally be interested in. In addition, the incident may raise questions in the mind of some, about a pattern they may perceive as bad judgment in his public personal relations. These include several incidents involving the citizens of Baker City who were questioning or criticizing decisions made by his office. Most of the incidents have not been reported on by the local media. The treatment of Vicky Valenzuela was reported by media in a way that ultimately was not completely accurate, with city officials seemingly trying to humiliate her. Other incidents have occurred at City Hall, including yelling at a City Councilor who was speaking with the City Manager in his office, and another incident, involving the City’s former insurers, who were asked to leave with rumors flying about the police being called (this is not a complete accounting). There is also the “Dots” issue, which is not over, despite the urging from the City Manager’s Council supporters to “move on,” and the situation last year, when the City cited a resident for sidewalk maintenance violations at a time when the City manager’s sidewalk at his rental was in similar shape. There are many of us who are not particularly adept at dealing with the way we respond to perceived threats, unfairness, or criticism, myself included, but of course we are not in the position of City Manager of Baker City, being paid over $96,000/yr, to represent an important face of our “nice” town.

Due to technical problems, I am unable to post the report I received from the District Attorney on my Google blog site. If you want the full report, you can request one from the District Attorney. The report is also being distributed to those on the Council, as the City Manager’s review is coming up.

If you need help in making Public Records Act requests, go to and click on the link “Create a record request.” Maybe the Herald will now choose to put the report on their site.

Other Highlights of the Incident Report (that haven’t been quoted above):

Offence: Harassment

Quotes from those interviewed:

One person “was told that Steve approached the two kids and ended up grabbing [the victim] by the head and face and yelled at her.” This person also said that they were “told by witnesses that Steve yelled at some high school coaches and made at least one of them cry.” Further, the person said that “Steve admitted to him that he probably shouldn’t have touched” [the victim], but he, Mr. Brocato, “wasn’t from the area and he was not aware that he shouldn’t touch other people’s kids.”

Another said that “the kids were not causing any harm. …. that Steve Brocato was standing on the opposite side of the Javelin Throw, excluding himself from the other parents.” This person “asked Steve if he was aware that [the victim] was mentally challenged and he told her that he learned that later.

Here is an abbreviated list, from the report, of the ‘People Involved.” (To my knowledge, I have not included any minor children under 15 that were listed):

Suspect: Steve Brocato

Some Others:

Mike Calaway Report indicates Mike C. has interviewed other witnesses to the incident (all may not be in report).

Kylee Curtis

Macquel Kuck

Helynn Scott

Amy Younger

Kris Younger


Sarah Palin's Record

Besides being the poster child for the failed strategy of "abstinence" to prevent teenage pregnancy and providing us with two examples of why birth control is a great idea, Sarah Palin's record in Alaska raises serious questions about her authenticity as a reformer. The following account, on Democracy Now! this week, is from a fellow Alaskan who has followed Palin's political career (I've added the emphasis in bold):

Democracy Now!, September 4, 2008:

AMY GOODMAN: a number of revelations regarding her public and personal life have come to light. On Monday, Palin announced her unmarried seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol was five months pregnant. She also recently hired a private lawyer to represent her in a state investigation into her firing of the state’s public safety commissioner.
Many view McCain’s selection of Palin as his reaching out to the evangelical right. She’s a prominent member of Feminists for Life, has described herself as pro-life as any candidate can be.
For more, we’re joined on the telephone from Anchorage by Shannyn Moore, a local radio talk show host, who closely follows Alaska politics. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Shannyn.

SHANNYN MOORE: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you just give us a thumbnail sketch of—well, of the career of Sarah Palin. And also, first respond to her speech. What did you think?

SHANNYN MOORE: Well, I actually blogged about this last night. I thought perhaps I finally understood how it was for uber-conservative African Americans to watch Barack Obama give a speech. I thought I didn’t recognize some of the Sarah Palin that I’ve known for quite some time. But at the same time, there at times were—the sort of bulldog in this and this tenacity showed through, and certainly sometimes this sort of sweetness. But the snarkiness and the sarcasm, I didn’t recognize. Sarah doesn’t campaign like she did last night, but she’s not in Alaska anymore, either.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about her record, both from being—how she came to be mayor of Wasilla and what Wasilla is like in Alaska and then her rise to the governorship?

SHANNYN MOORE: Well, Wasilla is twice as big as a town that I grew up in. It’s not considered a small town in Alaska. It has stoplights, for God’s sakes. You know, it’s a metropolis on the scale of Alaska towns. You know, she was raised there by public school teachers and, you know, just had sort of this—what I think is normal.

AMY GOODMAN: Thousand people?

SHANNYN MOORE: I grew up in rural, small-town Alaska. And she, you know, went through the ranks there, city council, and became mayor. And, you know, her record is pretty clear. And there are some people that are, you know, sort of pointing out, wow, well, when Sarah became the mayor of Wasilla, we didn’t have a budget. And then she pushed through some projects that were, you know, pretty irresponsible. And when she left, they were at a $22 million budget deficit. So that happened in a six-year time under her mayorialship, and that’s a large budget for a town, you know, as small as Wasilla.

AMY GOODMAN: I was just looking at a New York Times piece, “Palin’s Start in Alaska: Not Politics as Usual.” Wasilla, about, what, 7,000, 8,000 people. And it says, “Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.”
“The librarian […] pledged to ‘resist all efforts at censorship.’” Palin then fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course when residents made a strong show of support.

SHANNYN MOORE: Yeah, that was—that wasn’t a statewide issue but certainly came up during the campaign with—when she was running for governor, and this whole censorship and this fundamentalism. I mean, when you’re running for mayor in a town in Alaska and one of your platform issues as a nonpartisan mayor is your pro-life stance, that tells you a lot about the town you’re in. And it is a pretty fundamentalist type of town, and—you know, and that plays very well in those towns. You know, this sort of censorship, this sort of “vote for me is a vote for Jesus,” it’s very George Bushian, and it’s very Sarah Palin.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, there’s no question, being at the convention last night, every time the issue of abortion was mentioned, I think it got some of the loudest cheers from people all around. That went back to Wasilla, is that right, running for mayor with the anti-abortion fliers circulating?

SHANNYN MOORE: Sure. And, you know, when she was campaigning for governor, which is when I started asking questions of her, I asked her—you know, sadly, Alaska is a state with the highest amount of incest, the highest amount of rape. This isn’t a statistic we’re proud of. We don’t—we’ve had studies done. Amnesty International certainly has done studies on the First People of Alaska and their statistics. I mean, it’s a devastating statistic.
So I asked her, certainly, you know, “In the case of incest and rape, do you still hold this stance? Is this still something you want for Alaska?” And she said yes. And she said, even if it were her own daughter who was raped, she would still choose life.
And I think, you know, if she wants to choose that for her daughter in any instance of being pregnant, that’s OK with me. That’s something that their families, they have the resources, they can handle. But many families in Alaska do not have—do not have the adequate funds to raise an additional grandchild or deal with a twelve-year-old who has been raped by someone within their family. I mean, this isn’t all lollipop land up here, certainly. And, you know, the fact that she can take that really no-choice—it’s not even pro-life, it’s zero-choice—stance has always been, you know, something that she and I have talked about, but certainly not something that I want to see picking out Supreme Court justices.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at Sarah Palin’s record on the war. Speaking in Wasilla at the Assembly of God Church in June—this is as governor—Palin said our leaders, our national leaders, are sending US soldiers out on a task that is from God.

SHANNYN MOORE: Yeah. Doesn’t that—don’t you think you’ve heard that before, Amy? This is a very—you know, in the same speech, she talked about praying to bring the people of Alaska and companies together to build a pipeline, and we needed to pray for a pipeline; that was God’s will. I find this sort of fundamentalism—the thing is, about Sarah Palin, I don’t think that she does this to get votes. I think she’s the real deal. You know, she has a life similar to many Alaskans. She subsistence hunts. She fishes. All these things are very, very real. And this whole—she’s the real deal. And I think she really believes that she’s been chosen to be this onward Christian soldier. And we’ve had eight years of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Her son, though, is going to Iraq. While she said that when asked by the Alaska Business Monthly—this was over a year ago—“I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.” Now, apparently on September 11th, her oldest son is going to head there. What do you know about that?

SHANNYN MOORE: Well, it seems like—and this was pointed out last night—that’s actually when they’re having a deployment ceremony. So it’s sort of disingenuous, because that’s not when he’s actually leaving. I mean, he is being deployed, and, you know, God bless the troops, yadda yadda. But the truth be told, that’s when there’s a ceremony. That’s not when they’re being deployed. And it’s illegal to tell when any outfit is being deployed. You know, those are sort of kept secret for some reason.

AMY GOODMAN: And her son, his commitment to going to war with Iraq? His decision?

SHANNYN MOORE: You know, I don’t live at their house. Certainly, I can tell you that in small-town Alaska, rumors abound. And this isn’t any other case from that. And I know people in the media in Alaska who have known of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy for, you know, over a month and didn’t bring it into the press, because they didn’t think it was any of their business. And certainly there have been rumors abounding regarding Trig and his—whether it was a decision or avoidance of some sort of “how to get out of trouble” card. You know, I don’t have anything to verify that, but that’s certainly the small-town rumor that’s gone about.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk for a minute about Governor Palin’s support for the Bridge to Nowhere. In both her first speech, when she stood with John McCain, when everyone was so surprised that he had nominated her, she made a big point of saying that she did not support the Bridge to Nowhere. She said she had said to Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But it turns out now that she had supported this bridge. Can you, first of all, explain where this bridge is and what her record is on it?

SHANNYN MOORE: Well, it’s in southeast Alaska. It’s near—it basically connects an island—Gravina Island, I believe—to the mainland there. And it’s—you know, there’s very few residents there. And what people haven’t understood, I think, about Alaskans is a lot of us live in remote areas or have lived in remote areas—I certainly have—where you could only get there by floatplane or boat, by choice. I didn’t live there hoping they would build a bridge at some point.
And so, when Don Young was earmarking all of these sort of projects, and Ted Stevens, as well, you know, it was about the project. It was about getting the funds. Regardless of if it was—if it had local support or not, they were really trying to bring those things in. And it does bring money to the state. And they’ve brought a whole lot of money to the state. But initially, Sarah thought, you know, any of those projects were good. In fact, when she was mayor of Wasilla, she had more requests for earmarks than anybody. I mean, it was just remarkable how many she requested. That was a good idea for her as a mayor.
But this Bridge to Nowhere, basically what happened was they said, “Well, you know, you’re going to have to pay for part of it.: And then, at that point, it was like, well, forget about it. If we want to build it, we’ll build it. But, you know, we weren’t going to cough up the money to match it. And so—and it wasn’t even a match; it was considerably less.
So that is an issue that, you know, I was really, really surprised when she brought that up. I was really surprised when she said that she stood up to big oil. She has, in some respects, by raising a tax on them, but at the same time, she’s suing the federal government over polar bears being on the endangered species list. I have the feeling that if George Bush has listed an animal on the endangered species list, it’s probably too late. But, you know, in doing that, she’s ensuring that the oil companies can continue to drill. Her lieutenant governor is a former oil lobbyist. So, you know, the whole idea of maverick, it’s so easily debunked in Alaska. All you have to be to be a maverick who’s a Republican is not going to jail or being indicted or having your home searched like Ted Stevens’ was.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about indictments and her relationship. It has been portrayed nationally here as one where she was critical of her own party, broke ranks with Ted Stevens, the senator, his congressman son, Don Young. Then it turned out she was head of a 527 committee for Ted Stevens. Shannyn, can you explain?

SHANNYN MOORE: I can, but I will tell you that I completely attribute her winning the election to two things. One was that Frank Murkowski was absolutely a miserable governor and went from being, you know, elected several times as a senator to being elected as governor and then losing in the primary to Sarah Palin. He only got 19 percent of the vote as an incumbent who had served Alaska for, you know, many decades. That was part of his sort of—his sort of charm, let’s just say, that wore off. He bought a jet that, you know, the legislature had told him not to. He went ahead and did it anyway. And that was mentioned last night in Sarah’s speech, that she put it on eBay. And I would say that the state lost $600,000, I believe was the amount by the time that was done. It didn’t sell on eBay, by the way. She did list it.
And the other thing was, Ted Stevens swooped in in the last several days of the election, like the very crucial time, and said, “I’m not going to be able to open ANWR if Sarah Palin isn’t governor,” and did all these ad campaigns, just this media blitz of Ted Stevens in the last couple days. Ted Stevens helped her secure her election, very much so, and said, “You know, I’ve worked with Sarah before, and I need her in Juneau to help me in Washington to open ANWR.” And that is the carrot for so many people here. But she did in 2003 work in a 527 group that raised, you know, huge funds from corporate donors for Ted Stevens, and it was called the Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service Inc., which is remarkable now looking at his seven indictments. But she served as one of three directors under his—under this sort of flag of collecting money from corporate interests.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Shannyn Moore, the issue of Troopergate and where it’s going from here, the issue of firing the public safety commissioner of Alaska, who refused to get rid of a state trooper who was married to Sarah Palin’s younger sister?

SHANNYN MOORE: Yeah, that’s been a really interesting case. My understanding is—well, I actually interviewed her right after this whole story broke. And at that time, she said that she didn’t know of any pressuring. Certainly, after that, there were several dozen phone calls that were released. And when asked on the air about how did she feel when she first heard the tape of Frank Bailey speaking to one of the troopers about her and her relationship with Monegan and getting rid of trooper Wooten, she—we asked her what her first thought was, and her response was, “Wow! I didn’t know that they tape their phone calls.” So, that was, I think, kind of indicative of the surprise that it was that this might actually become something. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Bailey was.

SHANNYN MOORE: —Hollis French, who’s a senator here, you know, he’s a Democrat, but he wasn’t—he wasn’t the one that insisted on this. The people that brought this investigation out and the people that continue to hate Sarah Palin are the hardcore, old-guard Republicans. And the people in her own party are the ones that asked for this investigation. And at the time, she said, “You know, I’ve got nothing to hide. Bring it on.” And so, they did say, “OK, well, we’ll do this investigation.” Now she’s hired an attorney, but she didn’t hire the—she’s not paying for the attorney; the state is paying for the attorney. And that’s becoming an issue for some people here.

AMY GOODMAN: Shannyn Moore, I want to thank you for being with us, radio talk show host in Anchorage, Alaska, talking about the record of Governor Sarah Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter on the RNC

Democracy Now!, September 3, 2008

SCOTT RITTER: I’ve retained my Republican registration, but what I’ve found as I’ve grown politically is that rather than identify myself as a Republican or an anti-Democrat, I’ve come to identify myself as an American. An American, first and foremost. And I’ve warned the Republicans—I’ve done this in Congress, I’ve done this when I speak to them—that this war in Iraq—and I said this before we invaded—will destroy the Republican Party. And it has.
Here in Minnesota, watching the Republican National Convention convene, watching what occurred yesterday, wasn’t a celebration of patriotism. Yesterday was a celebration of a unilateralist vision of an America that has lost track, that has deviated from the course of ideals and values that are set forth in the Constitution, a Constitution, by the way, these men and women who served in the military took an oath to uphold and defend with their lives, a constitution that our political leadership has done the same. How can one claim to be a proud American and watch what occurred in St. Paul yesterday, this wanton abuse of the term “patriotism”?

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?
SCOTT RITTER: Again, they hijack it. If you’re not in support of the war, you’re not patriotic. If you’re not in support of holding Iran to account in accordance with the terms set forth by the Republican Party, you’re not a patriot. If you’re not in support of defining America along the terms that the Republican Party, in its very narrow-minded manner, seeks to define America, you’re not a patriot.
You know, America is bigger than the Republican Party, and I think the Republicans might find this out this coming election, that there are people out there that aren’t going to automatically vote Republican on the ballot, not only because they believe in something else, but because it’s hard to see what the Republicans believe in today that can be legitimately aligned with the values and ideals of this great nation.


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