Where’s the shame?

I really just think Christopher Maloney doesn’t quite understand the Internet. He will make out-of-context posts all over the place, often just repeating himself. For instance, once the Internet blew up in his face, he posted this letter on a number of sites. It makes specific references and is directly addressed to PZ. His website was even worse, where he put a shitload of posts (which no one was about to tease apart) from Pharyngula and elsewhere where he basically says “Look! Look at my responses! They were dismissed everywhere else, but now that I’m reposting them, they must be true!” He has since taken down a lot of that material, so I guess that shows promise. Honestly. By addressing everything with so much Gish Gallop nonsense, he only made himself look worse (which is a feat in itself); everything clearly was (and is) stressing him out, his (misdirected) SIWOTI sense was (and is) going off the chart, and he was (and still is) only making it worse. Since he obviously can’t make anything better for himself at this point, the best he can do is not make it worse. That should have been obvious from the get-go. It’s the Internet. Learn it.

But, alas, he wants to keep it going.

I have requested meeting Hawkins’ in person, and he has responded by running to your blog.

Note the time stamp on that post. It was May 6 at 7:52 am. Maloney made his request on May 5 at 9:07pm (and it came across as an ambiguous, disoriented threat to go to the police). Now look at the time PZ made his post. May 4 at 5:44pm. Maloney made his request a full day after I emailed PZ with an update. This rearranging of events is common for Maloney. I’ve already documented quite a bit of his lying, but he’s getting so blatant now that I’m almost bored.

Of course, there’s more.

Since this is our first actual exchange, I will repeat. Like all stalkers you will not have the courage to meet with me. It is part of the pathology of stalking, and you are creating a feeble rationale.

Immediately above that post I said I would meet him. The only “feeble rationale” that I put forth was that I would not do it at his convenience, on his terms, sans all other witnesses people, and I would not let him “ply” me with anything, even if it is only useless homeopathic ‘medicine’. He is the one demanding the meeting; he does not get to dictate the terms. Of course, to him this means that I won’t meet him at all.

If you were capable of examining your own actions objectively, you would see that I have not reacted angrily to months of ignorant abuse. I reacted only when you managed, somewhat bizarrely, to get me noticed by Myers.

Right. The hours of hunting down critical websites, the trolling of threads on Pharyngula a month later, and the lengthy posts on his own site certainly do not indicate any sort of anger. Right…r-right?

Oh, and it wasn’t bizarre at all that PZ posted about Maloney on Pharyngula. Maloney and Moritz emailed each other back and forth before collaborating on a plan to get me shut down. The fact that Moritz was the one who sent the whining email is inconsequential to the guilt of Maloney.

But, despite months of your obsession, this is our first actual exchange. To claim that I am somehow the irrationally angry person is classic projection of your own pathology.

Says the guy who has been continuously claiming on his own website that I’m the obsessed one? While he continued to troll Pharyngula, pressing what had become an old, dead issue?

I would ask you this: how have I injured you? Have I reacted in any way that would justify your obsession with me? The only email I sent you was one requesting no contact with me, my family, or my neighbers, which you did not honor.

I actually honored the request not to contact Maloney or his family. He claims he received a paper, but given that he also claims I stuffed it in his screen door, I suspect he’s just lying again. (I never open anyone’s doors, and I doubt I mistakenly gave him a paper in the first place anyway.) His request I not contact his “neighbers”, however, was a silly one. Aside from the fact that the relative closeness of the houses to each other in that area makes it good for distribution, the people physically closest to Maloney need to know the sort of quackery he practices.

But as for injury, naturopaths do not have the proper training to be receiving patients, except according to unfortunate state laws. That is enough motivation for me. The fact that Maloney brought attention to himself in the first place with a letter to the editor of the local paper just raised his profile.

Now I am requesting that we sit down and discuss the situation like adults, but it is evident that your pathology is too severe to allow you any insight.

No, he is requesting that we sit down with no witnesses people so he can “ply” me with diluted ‘medicine’. I’ll be happy to call him a quack to his face, but not under ridiculous, creepo terms.

Your university told me that they have brought up counseling for you, but that they could not force you to take their suggestions.

I have been forwarded an email where Maloney claims to have gone to my university. Apparently he wanted to discuss whether or not my paper was endorsed by UMA. I’ve never claimed any sort of endorsement, so I’m not sure why Maloney would think I have. At any rate, I’ve never been contacted by anyone from UMA for any reason whatsoever. Maloney is lying. Again.

The Augusta police department is very familar with you, and if you continue your obsession I will need to take legal action. Not as a threat, Michael, just to make sure you get help.

He says the APD is familiar with me as if I don’t know. After I wrote about how one officer had no idea how to handle a freedom of information request, I personally delivered a copy to the police department. When I later discovered that another officer who was mentioned in the article had a Facebook profile, I friend requested him (not because I thought he would accept, but instead because it made me chuckle to do it at all), sending him all the links in which he was mentioned.

But it’s cute that Maloney is pretending as if he isn’t making a threat. No, no. It’s just out of genuine concern for my welfare, right? Don’t mind all the lies leading up to this new claim.

But I’m curious. What would a lawsuit from Maloney look like? Aside from probably getting him far more national attention, I suspect it would be utterly ridiculed when everyone realized that the complaint came down to “someone was mean to me!”. But hell, maybe I would get more emails from people like Simon Singh and Richard Dawkins.

McCamish Rectifies Officer’s Error

By Michael Hawkins

Lt. J. Christopher Read has been doing his job for close to 20 years. He knows how the Augusta Police Department works. In fact, he knows how the law works better than most. At least, he knows it better than I do. He told me so.

Let me bring everything up to date.

It began with a parking ticket in high school from Officer Richard Dubois. I was illegally parked, but Officer Dubois made the citation out incorrectly. I unofficially contested the ticket. Stubbornness ensued.

Officer Dubois wouldn’t take the ticket back despite the clarity of his error. (He wrote that I was parked on the sidewalk. I was actually on the yellow diagonal lines seen at the end of parking spaces. These lines cannot be placed on the sidewalk, nor are they ever put there.) I was guilty of a $15 crime and would have simply paid the fine had Dubois not made a silly mistake. But if anything, the law is full of technicalities. I saw no reason to not use that to my advantage.

Long story short, I went to great lengths to definitively prove the lack of validity to the ticket (and absolutely did so), but ended up paying it anyway. Okay, whatever. It’s $15.

But then came a great opportunity.

For a journalism course I had to use the Maine Freedom of Information Access Act (FOIA) to obtain some sort of information from a government entity. Inspired by the Boston Globe’s use of the Massachusetts version of the act to uncover the disciplinary record of a State Trooper, I requested the same record for Officer Dubois’.

Okay, I admit it. His stubbornness got to me. Maybe I’m arrogant. Maybe I’m cocky. I’ll accept those descriptions as long as I can still say I was right about that little ticket. I’ll sacrifice image for principle any day.

But whatever the reason for my actions, I requested Officer Dubois’ record. And I had a right to it. The Maine FOIA says so: “… if disciplinary action is taken, the final written decision relating to that action is no longer confidential…”

The language is clear. It’s unambiguous. The disciplinary records of municipal, county, and state employees are not confidential.

Lt. Read was confused on the issue.

I approached the Lt. on a Monday with my request. He informed me that personnel records are confidential. For the most part, yes, they certainly are. I know because the act states this immediately before naming a particular exception.

But I hadn’t read the Maine FOIA carefully at this point. I was turned away, no records in hand. I soon began my research.

Upon discovering that Lt. Read had made an error, I returned two days later. I gave the man the benefit of the doubt. Hell, I could see myself making a mistake like that.

“I think there may have been a misunderstanding. I’m looking for Officer Dubois’ disciplinary record, not his entire personnel record.”

Lt. Read held his ground. It was here that I read him, verbatim, what the law actually states. Remember, the language is abundantly clear.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years; I know how it works…That’s your interpretation.”

I persisted, explaining in the simplest terms possible why he was wrong. It was to no avail.

Realizing the brick wall in front of me, I decided to finish up by reminding Lt. Read that he needs to give me a written response explaining his denial of my request within 5 business days. (I’ve heard it may be 10 business days, though I’ve only read “5”. Regardless, a response is required.)

Looking me dead in the eye, no sign of a smirk, no twitch of laughter, he delivers his line.

“I’m not going to do that.”

I’m dumbfounded. I gave this man the benefit of the doubt. I read him the act. Twice. I interpreted it for him clearly. Yet here I was.

I reminded Augusta’s finest of the $500 fine that comes with a violation of this law. He was wasn’t fazed.

Going a step further with the overly-nice guy routine, I even offered Lt. Read a copy of my written request. I figured he may realize he’s wrong somewhere in the next few days. He’d need my contact information.

He refused it.

It was at this point in my mind that I questioned the honesty of the officer. I believe him when he says he’s been in law enforcement for 20 years. But I draw the line when he claims he knows how this law works. He had no idea that the disciplinary records were not confidential. He had no idea he was required to give me a written response. He didn’t seem to realize there was a fine associated with his bungling of the situation. “Liar” may be a strong word here, but it can’t be too far off the mark.

I let Lt. Read know I was going to see City Manager William Bridgeo with an identical letter. He had every chance to correct himself.

Bridgeo was in a meeting, but a clerk took down my whole story alongside copies of my letter and a printout of the relevant section of the law. She said the manager would get back to me.

And get back to me he did.

Within a couple days, I received a letter from Bridgeo. Perhaps the nicest man in Augusta, he praised my efforts (yay me!) while also informing me that Officer Dubois had no disciplinary record in the past two years (records are not kept longer than that, with exception for repeat offenses).

In other words, the records are public information. Great. Tickets made in error aside, Officer Dubois seems to be on the up-and-up. This is far more satisfying than finding an officer riddled with reprimands and suspensions.

But the story doesn’t end there.

A few days later I received another letter. This one was from Police Chief Wayne McCamish.

“I must apologize that as you are aware, should there be a final written decision relating to a disciplinary action taken against an employee, that information is not confidential and you would have a right to access of that information.”

He goes on to explain that as a result of Lt. Read’s handling of the situation, “[a]ll Police Supervisors are to review our Standard Operating Procedure, Public Access to Records, to ensure that a request for information is handled properly…I am truly sorry for the inconvenience you have experienced.”

Twenty years is a long time, but it doesn’t hold up against the law. But maybe that’s just my interpretation.

Troopers troopers

I have updates for two previous posts. The first is about that Dallas cop – Robert Powell – that stopped a family from seeing their dying relative. He pulled a gun on these people. Think about that: a vehicle slowly runs red lights, puts on its hazards, and pulls into a hospital parking lot. What’s your first thought? Well, if you’re normal, it’s that there’s an emergency. If you’re an almost surely racist, hillbilly cop, it’s to pull a gun out on t’em t’ere niggers. That’s what Powell did, among other things. He has resigned.

“I made this decision in the hope that my resignation will allow the Dallas Police Department, my fellow officers and the citizens of Dallas to better reflect on this experience, learn from the mistakes made, and move forward,” Powell said in a statement issued through his lawyers.

No, he wants to ease his legal situation as best as possible and he knows he’s going to be fired anyway. Understandable move, but he’s lying.

My second update is about my run-in with some officer at the Augusta Police Department who had no idea how the Maine Freedom of Information Access Act works. The Capital Weekly (a local, weekly paper) has asked me to do a first person write-up of the incident. It will not be kind to the offending officer – Lt. J. Christopher Read.

Maine Freedom of Information Access Act

There is a law in Maine similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act. It allows the public to access information that is produced through government agencies (with notable exceptions). Many states have similar laws on the books, all varying in one manner or another. One of these states is Massachusetts. Recently, the Boston Globe used the act in order to obtain the disciplinary record of asshat trooper Michael Galluccio. This gave me an idea.

I am currently taking a journalism class because I was too slow at signing up for the classes I actually wanted (though I am enjoying this class). One of my assignments is to obtain information using Maine’s FOIA. Until I saw the Galluccio story, I was at a loss of what to do. However, with the knowledge that disciplinary records are public information in one state, I decided to pursue the record of a particular officer at the Augusta Police Department in hopes that Maine law is sufficiently similar.

Backstory: Sometime ago in high school I got a parking ticket. I was parked at the end of a series of spaces where there were yellow diagonal lines. Clearly, I was illegally parked. I do not dispute that. However, on the ticket the officer wrote “sidewalk”, indicating that the reasoning for the ticket was that I was parked on the nearby sidewalk. This was not the case. 1) Those yellow lines would not extend to a public sidewalk. 2) I went to City Hall and obtained a property blueprint for my school. It was clear that I was not on the sidewalk. I brought this to the attention of several officers, including the one who issued the ticket. Of course, they refused to admit they were wrong. It would be one thing to give me a ticket I technically deserved. Unfortunately, what they did is issue me a ticket for an offense I did not commit. It would be like arresting someone for assault who actually committed theft. The sentence (for the sake of argument) may be roughly the same, but that does not mean that the thief is guilty of something else simply because the result is similar. Just the same, I was never guilty of parking on a sidewalk. The ticket is bunk.

So fast forward to my journalism class and the Globe article and I’ve got my idea. I am going to get the disciplinary record of the officer who issued me the incorrect ticket. I make out a FOIA letter (which is a courtesy, not a required form) and head on down to the APD. I am told by Lt. J. Christopher Read that personnel files are not public information. Bummer, right? Possibly. I follow this up with a call to the Globe. They say he is almost certainly wrong. I then also ask my instructor. She says basically the same thing. I go the next necessary step and find the exact wording in the act.

Personnel records pertaining to municipal, county, and state employees are for the most part confidential. For example, complaints, charges or accusations of misconduct, replies to those complaints, charges or accusations and any other information or materials that may result in disciplinary action are confidential. However, if disciplinary action is taken, the final written decision relating to that action is no longer confidential after the decision is completed if it imposes or upholds discipline.

It is clear. If a state employee is disciplined and there is a final written decision, it is public information. I am entitled to it. Now armed with this information, I make some corrections. First, I obtain the name of the offending officer. I originally only knew him as Officer 135. I now know his name is Richard Dubois. I also change my timeframe. I originally asked for all records dating to January 2001. I figured that covered a couple of years prior to my ticket and it also wasn’t so much as to be a pain in the butt. Because I was given incorrect information, however, I have updated my timeframe to date to either 1990 or Richard Dubois’ date of hiring; if they’re going to make me do extra work, I’m going to return the favor.

I bring my updated information back to the APD and speak with Lt. Read again. I present my new letter and read, verbatim, the part of the act I have bolded above. He tells me personnel files are off limits. I again inform him that the exception is when disciplinary action is taken. He tells me that is simply my interpretation and he has been “at this for 20 years”. In other words, the explicit text that says “if disciplinary action is taken, the final written decision relating to that action is no longer confidential” can be interpreted to mean something other than, well, that final written decisions related to disciplinary action are not confidential. One wonders what Lt. Read thinks it means. I guess 20 years on the job gives a person super special reading skills and insights. Or it makes them stubborn. Draw your own conclusion.

After it has become clear that Lt. Read is not going to give me the information to which I have a law-given right, I inform him that he needs to give me a written response within 5 business days because the law clearly states that to be the case. He says – and I quote – “I’m not going to do that.” I then ask him if he is aware that there is a $500 fine associated with violating the act and he says “That’s fine.” I presume that is code for “I acknowledge the fact you have just told me, but I do not want to admit that I am ignorant of a tremendous amount of this law.” I then ask Lt. Read if he wants a copy of my letter. My intention here is quite kind, if I do flatter myself: the man is wrong and I know he is wrong. If he checks with other supervisors or simply reads the law, he may realize this. Without my letter, he will not be able to contact me and will thus be forced into violating the law. He says he does not want it. I inform him that I have an identical letter addressed to the City Manager, William Bridgeo.

Once I leave, I head over to City Hall. Mr. Bridgeo was in a meeting but I gave all this information to the clerk/secretary/whathaveyou in the office. She asks for the name of the officer who refused to give a written response, makes copies of my letters along with my excerpt of the act, and tells me that, yes, a written response is required. (She said 10 days, but seemed unsure and soon qualified that it may depend on the information requested. At any rate, a written response is required.)

Further information: I originally saw Lt. Read on Monday, March 9, 2009. I saw him next, new letter (and different dates) in hand on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. He has 5 (or 10) business days to give me a written response to my first request. The second request is being handled by a more responsible entity.

Lt. J. Christopher Read of the Augusta Police Department in Augusta, Maine

Lt. J. Christopher Read of the Augusta Police Department in Augusta, Maine