Friday, November 29, 2013

Former Quartzsite police officers win court fight

Editor's note:
So many people have asked what the other two counts are that Judge Aspey has yet to rule on, and since  I did not have room in my article. They are claims under state law (not federal law - as this was originally filed in Superior court, not federal court) defamation, and whistleblower retaliation, although given the wording in the 60 page ruling and the fact that councilmember Crooks called them "liars" from the dais these two unresolved charges seem to be a foregone conclusion.
Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:01 am

PHOENIX — A group of former police department employees in Quartzsite had their free speech rights violated when they were fired after accusing the town police chief of misconduct, a federal judge has ruled.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Aspey found that former police Chief Jeffrey Gilbert, former Town Manager Alex Taft and former Assistant Manager Albert Johnson are personally liable for damages along with the town. An amount will be determined later.
The Arizona Republic reports ( ) that nine police officers and a civilian employee sued after their firings, which came following a contentious period in the western Arizona town that saw townspeople divided into camps split between the Town Council and the police chief.
"Truth for the most part has finally come out," William Ponce, one of the plaintiffs and a former sergeant on the police force, told the Republic in a story published Thursday. "We finally get some kind of vindication."
The officers complained about Gilbert in 2011, filing complaints with the Town Council, the state Department of Public Safety and the state's law-enforcement certification agency. They alleged that Gilbert unlawfully used national crime computers to investigate political foes and violated the civil rights of dissidents by making arrests without probable cause. They also alleged that Gilbert failed to document vacation and leave time.
The 60-page ruling Aspey issued last week found that Gilbert falsely asserted that he had been cleared by a DPS inquiry and sought to intimidate the employees, threatening them with dismissal for exercising their First Amendment rights. The two town administrators carried out Gilbert's threats as retaliation.
Members of the political-minority group have said they were arrested on false charges at Gilbert's direction. Prosecutors threw out all charges against them and publicly decried the abuse of police authority in Quartzsite.
But the two town administrators concluded that police employees made false accusations against the chief, thereby discrediting the community and disrupting police services, and the employees were fired.
Laura Bruno, Quartzsite's current town manager, said she hasn't evaluated the ruling or spoken with attorneys about a possible appeal.
Gilbert, Taft and Johnson no longer work for Quartzsite. Neither they nor their lawyers could be reached for comment Wednesday.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vol 3 Edition 18

Important: BLM meeting Thursday, November 21st. See pg 1
Also, don't forget to ask how the proposed trail closure and RS 2477 will be compatible.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Volume 3 Edition 17

Yes, I know the pages are out of order, but I've been fighting with Blogger for 3 days and it just isn't working right. Maybe it's Blogger. Maybe it's my back up computer. Maybe it's the ghost of laptops past that called my primary computer into the light. I don't know and at this point I don't really care. I've wasted too much time fighting it. So happy reading anyway!