I decided to cover the Cortright Saga early because it provides a good picture of how the Condon/Straub control of SPD sent the Department on an even faster tailspin downward. That tailspin will continue if those individuals recently promoted to the rank of Major, all of whom are and were Straub toadies, are allowed to remain in their current positions.
A Little Background Regarding Kris Cappel:
I will preface this story by stating I am not a personal friend of Carly Cortright and only know her by reputation as well as meeting with her on two occasions to obtain SPD data when I was doing a volunteer stint for AmeriCorps focusing on the retention of Rogers High School Students. She has an impeccable reputation within SPD and her assistance with the AmeriCorps Retention Project was outstanding. So when I learned that she was in a battle with Straub over his spending and the Golden Goose Fund I knew it was just a matter of time before Straub would get rid of her, the same way he had gotten rid of people who stood in his way while in Indianapolis and White Plains. The information regarding exactly how Straub handled people in his previous failures was of course provided to Addy Hatch of the SR in 2013 but even though the SR had the information regarding Straub’s past employee practices and knew Cortright had been transferred out of SPD regarding budget issues they were either incapable of putting 2 + 2 together or any stories about Cortright were spiked somewhere along the line.
I don’t know how many times without going through my documentation I warned the Media and City Council members of the Cortright/Budget/Golden Goose Fund problems but needless to say there were many.
I should note that I have had a number of discussions with other reporters on how to approach the Cortright/Golden Goose Fund story most notably Mitch Ryals from the Inlander, who are doing a really good job of covering the various dramas, on how to prepare a PRR that would encompass the data needed to look into the expenditures. I explained to Mitch that it would be one hell of a project for a reporter to take on and he would not be able to get via PRR all of the documents necessary to actually reconcile expenditures. I also told him that the Spokane City Council are the people that should be demanding an audit, which is ever so true from reading not only the Cortright statement, but others as well. I also explained to Mitch the importance of getting Cortright to talk, something I told the City Council long, long ago.
Mitch was able to get Carly Cortright to finally open up a bit, and was the only one that ever made the attempt that I am aware of.
Before I get to Carly Cortright’s statement there are a few things which need pointing out. The statements released to the public are not corrected and signed under the penalty of perjury even though there is a separate perjury affirmation and correction sheet. The transcripts do not contain a recorded perjury affirmation (Something I have discussed before regarding formal statements) which should be standard investigative practice for a number of reasons including situations where the subject of the statement refuses to return, correct, and affirm. Experienced investigators know you must also document each and every attempt to get the individual in to correct and affirm the statement, if they refuse you have the individuals voice on tape making the perjury affirmation, which provides great evidence in court, and when the investigator is on the witness stand. Hopefully all individuals in this case were provided the opportunity to correct and affirm their formal statements.
There are a number of mistakes in the transcripts but just so you know Cortright wasn’t referring to an “AutoZone” case… rather Otto Zehm case.
In Cappel’s “Summary Report”, she Summarizes the “The Investigation Scope”;
- Complaints against Chief Straub That Were Known to the Condon Administration.
- The Facts and Circumstances of Carly Cortright’s Transfer to City Hall in October 2013.
- The Facts and Circumstances of Monique Cotton’s Transfer to Parks in May 2015.
- Whether the Cortright and Cotton Transfers Were Consistent with City Policies.
- The Facts and Circumstances That Led to Chief Straub’s Resignation.
- The Facts and Circumstances of the City’s November 13 and November 24, 2015 Responses to the Spokesman-Review’s August 18, 2015 Public Records Request.
- Carly Cortright’s December 2015 Discrimination Complaint.
- Whether the City’s Policies and Procedures for Investigating Sexual Harassment Complaints Were Followed in Connection with Ms. Cotton’s Complaint.
- Summary of Seabold Group’s Recommendations Regarding the City’s Sexual Harassment Policies and Procedures.
Even though the issues involving the Golden Goose Fund were clearly within the “Investigation Scope” and that it was one of the primary reasons Cortright was “disappeared” it was not Investigated by Cappel.
43 Ms. Cortright said she also raised issues with Ms. Muramatsu about how the Chief wanted to use seizure funds. Ms. Muramatsu concluded that the Chief’s spending was an appropriate use of those funds. (Cortright Tr. 40-41). We did not independently investigate this issue.
For folks that don’t know who Ms. Muramatsu is, she is the SPD legal advisor who has the responsibility to advise SPD on legal issues. To be clear her job is to provide legal advice to SPD, and not PROTECT SPD or follow their whims. SPD has had a “Legal Advisor” since back when I was on the job, some were cops and members of the Bar. I sat through a lot of meetings with those folks and the meetings DID NOT involve… “How do we cover our ass?”.
I won’t get into the Body Camera issue again regarding Muramatsu, the articles above should provide some perspective. I will note however Ms. Muramatsu is on the list of folks who “declined to participate”, and were never forced to because Condon refused to invoke Garrity. Note that Muramatsu, Dalton, and Steinolfson are still OUR employees and could be forced to provide statements under Garrity should Mayor Condon decide not to further obstruct an investigation. The City Council could also subpoena them, granted they would very likely either claim a privilege or stand on the Fifth Amendment, however not doing so leaves the door completely open for any Mayor under our “Strong Mayor” form of government to do whatever the hell they want without fear of accountability. Obviously you won’t be able to utilize the CC’s Administrative Subpoena Power to force the people who have left Spokane to comply with a Subpoena, however a few of those still around besides, OUR EMPLOYEES, could be subpoenaed, refuse and risk a Bar Complaint.
There were several important witnesses who declined to participate in the investigation.
- Frank Straub
- Monique Cotton
- Nancy Isserlis
- Erin Jacobson
- Pat Dalton
- Mary Muramatsu
- Meghann Steinolfson
- Selby Smith
This statement in Cappel’s report is critical to understand:
Finally, our factual findings are based on a “preponderance of evidence” standard, which means that based on the credible evidence gathered during the investigation, it is “more likely than not” that a particular event occurred or did not occur as alleged.
The “preponderance of evidence” standard is the standard used in almost every law enforcement agency throughout the Nation, but one glaring exception is the Spokane Police Department who depending upon who you are utilize the higher standard of “Clear and Convincing Evidence”.
The reason it is important to understand the difference is because the SPD standard of “Clear and Convincing Evidence” is utilized arbitrarily depending upon who you are and whether or not you are willing to conform to the Condon/Sanders agenda. The Furniture-gate/Captain Arleth case is a perfect example of just that.
It is interesting note regarding Furniture-gate is that the case went to mediation and the Mayor and Teresa Sanders’, I will do anything to keep my job surrogates, Craig Meidl and Meghann Steinolfson refused to dismiss the finding of Rick Dobrow who was acting directly for Condon and Sanders. That should give you somewhat of a clue as to what is going on at City Hall and SPD, especially when you look at the recent promotions to Major of other very inexperienced pliable individuals. Interesting… is it not…that Meghann Steinolfson declined to participate in the Cappel “Investigation”.
I feel it is always good to demonstrate how favoritism plays a role in IA cases, and there are many SPD IA cases that reek of favoritism or the reverse. One of my favorites as far as contrasts are concerned is the way Mayor Condon handled the Steroid Case of Straub’s friends, Golden Boy and Golden Girl, Mel and Lydia Taylor. Some of you may remember the efforts made by then Director of Strategic Initiatives Tim Schwering to hide the Taylor IA Case from public scrutiny. I had to do a PRR with both the City and County to get the damn thing. You can read the links below to get a feel for what I’m referring to. Schwering you might recall was gifted by Mayor Condon, at our expense and even though he failed the SPD Civil Service Exam, with a free trip to the State Law Enforcement Academy, and a job as a probationary SPD Patrolman. Schwering has always wanted to be a cop so Condon granted his wish, and if you read the statements from the Cappel investigation there may be a clue why Schwering got his wish.
Of course no one had any trouble whatsoever getting the Furniture-gate IA Case.
***Just so you folks know SPD still has not put the IA Cases back up on Tim Schwering’s IA Website, which is now Major Justin Lundgren’s Website, even though the Use of Force Commission and Cops/DOJ touted what a great job it was for SPD to do so.
As we got into the investigation, we learned that there were at least 34 (possibly more) public records requests, resulting in the production of many thousands of pages of records, that were potentially encompassed within the original scope. Such an undertaking would have consumed the investigation budget and likely much, much more. Accordingly, at the investigator’s recommendation, the Committee agreed to limit the inquiry to the documents that were produced on November 13, 2015, and November 24, 2015, in response to a records request filed by the Spokesman-Review on August 18, 2015.
***Yes folks there are thousands of pages of documents in my possession…but what the hell…I’m not charging $250.00 an hour plus expenses… so not to worry.
I now want to get into the Carly Cortright to an extent but with some hold backs for possible litigation.
With respect to all of the statements in this case, at this point, I don’t find any evidence that the statements were compelled under Garrity v New Jersey it appears they were all done voluntarily. When I learned that some of OUR employees were not willing to cooperate in the Cappel I emailed a suggestion to the City Council on March 9th, 2016 that they formally request Mayor Condon invoke Garrity forcing OUR employees to cooperate. Because they were unfamiliar with Garrity after explaining it to them I suggested that they consult their legal counsel, which they did, on March 11th, 2016 I was informed that my suggestion had been “acted upon”. During that email interaction, because I had considerable information regarding the case I correctly predicted that Mayor Condon would refuse to invoke Garrity, even though doing so would not only speed the investigative process but would also eliminate the need for subpoenaing witnesses. It was far too risky for him to have people talk so in my mind his refusal was a given.
I have already heard the rumblings… so for any of you folks that have their panties in a wad over me offering suggestions to the CC as far as the Cappel Investigation is concerned, LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR, it isn’t the first time I have offered suggestions, or been sought out for suggestions because of my background and experience, and it won’t be the last. As a Citizen of Spokane and as a Citizen/Journalist I have every right to make suggestions and will continue to do so. Another area where I offered suggestions that were followed was the SPD Body Camera Issues and I’m glad I did at least it got the legal ball rolling.
But that is part of the problem is, if you briefed him, it’s not clear if he wasn’t briefing Straub, but then you would get in trouble for not having told Straub. So then I started reporting to Straub, and then Craig would get upset that I was telling him. It was very unclear who, technically, I was supposed to be reporting to.
***This of course was a problem throughout Straub’s tenure, what makes it even worse is that the problem still exists and is worse having been exacerbated with the temporary hiring of Condon Crony Jim McDevitt and lowering the standards necessary to become an SPD Major.
Around March, the chief started to become impatient. Some things weren’t changing quickly enough for him, which I was always found very ironic, because as a person has a Ph.D, he should realize that you need time to have things in place before you can measure here was the baseline, here’s where we’re at right now, two months isn’t enough time to see significant change. His major number one mandate is, we need to bring down crime. You know, nothing else matters. We have to bring down the crime numbers.
And so we would do that, but it’s like, but now we don’t know which system is working because you’ve overlapped them. You don’t know what you’re measuring.
***I have explained over and over how that was accomplished so there in no sense in doing it again here.
I mean, Straub would, “You’re not doing this. We need to work faster. We need to, you know, stay ahead of everybody else. You know, we’ve got to keep council off beat. You know, we have to –“
He was quite upset, during a budget presentation, that people didn’t have the answers, and so he was basically caught off foot by the council, and we got chewed out the next day, that we needed to know all that, that we always needed to know them — know the answers so they couldn’t catch us that way again.
*** The translation for “off beat” in law enforcement vernacular is “in the dark” …just so you know.
Yeah. That’s when a lot of the, right, bad things started happening. One of his favorite — and he would do this — I mean, numerous times. We’ve all seen it – where he would make references to, “Let’s us take out and measure,” and then he’d slam his forearm down on the table in an apparent reference to measuring penis size.
Yeah. We would just flop his arm out, so we’d take them out and measure.
Oh, he’d say, “Let’s take them out and measure.” I mean, it was — and then flop it down like he was graphically trying to display slapping his penis down on the table.
***I’m not going to comment much on this, other than to make note that obviously it took a while for Cappel to grasp what Cortright was saying.
Yeah, ’13. And I don’t — I don’t remember the context. It, obviously, probably had to do something with budget, which is why I was brought along. So we rode from the Public Safety Building here at City Hall, which isn’t that far. I rode in the car with him. After the meeting was over and we got back and drove off, we were crossing the Post Street Bridge, and he made a comment to me along the lines of, “Well, that was just like we went and masturbated each other.” And I just remember sitting there like, this is so weird. I don’t know you well enough to have you make that kind of comment. And I still remember that after all this time, because I joke about it with one of my friends. I’m like, I felt like asking, “Do you need a tissue?” I mean, I just — I didn’t know how to respond, it was so weird. And he clearly meant it as a joke, I’m trying to be friendly with you. But again, it was that same — that’s just really inappropriate from a boss, and I’ve known you three months. I mean, it’s weird.
*** Carl Cortright admits in her statement that her long association with law enforcement has kind of made her a potty mouth which is par for the course for the vast majority of women entering that environment, but simply being a potty mouth doesn’t eliminate one from being the victim of a hostile work environment, or sexual harassment for that matter. Potty mouth or not it appears someone needs to help Carl with what Straub may have been leading up to with the comment she alludes to in her statement.
After she reads this she may understand what it could have been, assuming Lynds statements are true
Keep in mind that the link above are NOTES from an interview on 4/29/2016 and took place after the Lynds formal statement on 3/15/2016. The reason the second interview took place was because during the Teresa Sanders statement on 4/27/2016 the issue of an affair between Cotton and Straub came up. (More on this later.)
So that was Monique, Brad, and myself. I believe both Craig and Joe were on vacation. But he specifically said, “Executive staff, I want you to meet now.” So we step into the room. He closes the door and yells. I mean, turns bright red. And I’ll never forget it because I’ve never had a boss speak to me in such a horrible manner. I mean, it was just — and he yelled at us and said, “If either one of you ever disrespect another member of this command staff ever again, I will fire you –” and he pointed at me – and then “I’ll demote you,” pointed at Brad, and then said, “If you don’t believe me, call Indianapolis, because I’m a real cocksucker,” and then stormed out of the office. And from that moment on, I was — I’m like, he’s going to fire me. I mean, it’s pretty evident that he hates me; that, you know, I came in for — ironically, it didn’t last very long — for about the next week just pretty sure that I was going to get fired at any moment.
*** Well the fact is that shortly after Condon hired Straub some of us retired cop folks did our research and did call several people in Indianapolis as well as White Plains and NYC and were able to easily determine that Straub was in fact “a real cocksucker” we of course passed that info on to the CC and the SR.
So he wanted to bring it here to Spokane. So we had gotten got a proposal from the company that does it, and I want to say it was around $75,000. With city budget rules, anything over $50,000 needs to go to council for approval, and really, anything over — I can’t remember the limits now — 15,000, 10,000 — are supposed to go out for RFPs. A good steward, so the city’s money. So we canceled source contracts, but you have to justify why. So he wanted that done. I had to come up with funding for it. He really wanted to use — and we didn’t have a lot of extra money. I mean, our general fund money almost all goes to paying for cops. We have some grant money, and then the rest of our money comes from seizure and forfeiture. The seizure and forfeiture money has a lot of strict regulation on it, that it can only be used towards drug enforcement.
Right. So and that was — we had some pretty significant cases at that point time, that that was our fairly large — and I don’t remember the exact amount, but we had a hundred thousand or so in there. I mean, it was pretty substantial. And we’ve always used it traditionally to fund our SWAT team for new equipment, and there’s an nexus there to drug enforcement or anything for the gang and drug units.
So he really wanted to spend the money on that with this YPI program, with, you know, it’s keeping kids out of gangs, so it’s going to keep them out of drugs. Like, okay. I mean, there’s kind of a link there, but — so that’s what we were going to do. Accounting was like, no, we don’t feel comfortable doing that. We’re going to get audited, and we can’t show that clear link. And then our purchasing department said, no, you can’t do a sole source. You need to put this out for an RFP, which, of course, takes time. So I came back and told him that.
Yes. So I would come back and relay that information. Like, okay, I’ll get going on RFP so we can do this. We’ll have to find some other way to fund it. And then, again, we’d get the lecture of, what do you mean, that’s stupid, just go do a sole source. I can’t do a sole source. They won’t let me. I mean, it was just this constant, like, really? I really believed that he thought I was purposely just saying no because I wanted to. We did end up putting it out to RFP. I think we ended up talking to our legal advisor, who decided that the link there was close enough that we’d be able to justify using the seizure money. So that, kind of, full process happened.
*** You might want to ask yourself why Mary Muramatsu refused/declined to participate in the investigation? Could it be that someone might ask her exactly what the “nexus” is between Frank Straub’s buddies at YPI and the laws governing forfeiture expenditures? Of course I would also be asking why we are spending thousands of dollars out of the forfeiture funds for legal fees when we have a City Attorney’s Office, among a multitude of other questions I would have for her.
Yeah. Which, again, I think it was $8,000 a person. And I remember saying that, you know, I’m like he’s — he’s going to get rid of me. And my family, my friends were all, “He’s spending $8,000 on you for leadership training. He can’t quite possibly dislike you as much as you think he does.”
***Straub all the time he was here was spending one hell of a lot of money on un-necessary travel and training. The question is where did the money come from? You might recall that Straub told the Use of Force Commission that he was spending all this money on travel and training in order to eliminate the need for the infamous “Culture Audit”. The exchange between Straub and Earl Martin during one of Straub’s presentations before them was nothing short of hilarious.
Yep. He knew who he was hiring. His name is Tim Schwering, S-c-h-w-e-r-i-n-g.
*** Yes, he sure did and so did Mayor Condon.
You know, we’ve got this vacant position so we can fund it. And, you know, can someone please fill out the — the, like, the council briefing sheet that we need to do. At that time is when I found out the salary range for this new position, which was titled Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives, which was to be in charge of the department’s seizure, so civil assets, and he was hiring a gentleman from the federal defender’s office who had experience with fraud and seizures.
*** That was the public narrative but not the truth Carly.
So, again, it was sort of a slap in the face, at that point in time, that here we are hiring this new man who is going to make the same amount of pay as I am with less responsibility. He was given a take-home car, because, in theory, he’d be out doing I don’t know what. You know, I — I wouldn’t have taken a take-home car. I mean, I’m single. It would have been a pain in the butt to try to juggle two cars. But it was never offered to me. It was never suggested that I needed a take-home car. I was down at City Hall weekly for meetings driving my own car.
*** Carly…Carly…Carly… don’t you understand that special cronies get special treatment in this Administration, and especially those with dirt?
No. The only difference would be the rush on when it was done. We had met Tim before we went to Boston. I mean, he had met him somewhere, and he thought Tim was, quite frankly, the bee’s knees. And so he was interested in bringing him on board. I think what’s different — and maybe not different. I think, again, it was another one of these we’re going to create a job description to fit the person we want to hire instead of what I believe is the correct method of, I’m going to create a job description, then go find the right person.
*** Yes Carly Straub met Schwering and his wife at one of those fancy “Big Wig Parties” and just created a job for him, that is the way it works in this City Administration.
In October of 2013, after I was moved out and they reorganized, he developed a new position for Tim, which basically took over all of the functions I previously had, plus the Internal Affairs department, and that new position afforded him an $18,000 raise.
***Well of course…. that is the way it works!
You know, I mean, she’s complicit to that extent. And that’s her job as the HR director, to make the department heads happy. They want this job spec, I’ll go make it for you.
***It is imperative for any Mayor of questionable ethics to have a Director of Human Resources who is “complicit” in creating jobs for pliable cronies to protect their rear end, and that was exactly the case with Heather Lowe and Condon/Sanders it is no wonder Heather Lowe split town for San Clemente Calif. The complicity continues with the redefining of the rank of Major and dropping the 3 year in grade requirement down to 2 years in order to get people in power positions who Condon, Sanders, McDevitt, and Meidl feel will protect their back ends.
I may return later to Carly Cortright’s statement but as I stated earlier I have hold backs.
All of you can read her statement and draw your own conclusions, however I feel her statement provides a pretty good picture of what was and is going on at City Hall and SPD.
What happened to Carly Cortright was not only corrupt but also a tremendous waste of a very talented Law Enforcement asset, which given the way things are going may never be recovered.