Russia on the Rio Grande
- Civilian Police Oversight Agency Executive Director Ed Harness spies on his bosses at the Police Oversight Board. Harness went through his superiors' emails.
- Harness and POB Chair Chantal Galloway launch Soviet-style probe into "leaker" of public information.
- Comrades Harness and Galloway hate it that someone sent one of Ed's emails about the federal court judge who's overseeing the police reform effort to the judge!
- War on free speech and individual thought and action.
It appears that some key members of Albuquerque's civilian police oversight agency could give lessons to the Russians, and maybe even the Chinese on how to stomp out free speech, free expression and association, impose groupthink on everybody and investigate and destroy those who dare to be free and who challenge authority.
In a stunningly disturbing series of freedom-crushing moves, the executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, and the chair of the Police Oversight Board have accused a POB member of making public information public and of sending that public information to the federal court judge—James Browning—who is overseeing the Albuquerque Police Department's five-year-old reform effort.
Specifically, CPOA Executive Director Ed Harness and POB Chair Chantal Galloway are outraged that a POB member might have sent an email that Harness sent to all POB members on Aug. 23—an email (public record) in which Harness kind of dumped on Judge Browning for being a hard-ass—to Judge Browning!
(Photo: Comrade Ed Harness)
You read it right: Harness and Galloway are pissed that a member of a public board might have sent—they still don't know who sent it to the judge—Harness' public email to the federal judge who is overseeing the very public police reform process. The two-sentence note—43 words—to Judge Browning about Harness' email said that the sender thought that Harness “is disrespectful and arrogant towards you and questions how you run your court room.”
So what did Harness do about a two-sentence, 43-word note that Browning entered into the reform case file and that he probably dismissed as goofy and petty politics? He basically spied on his bosses. That's right, Harness launched an investigation on the public's dime into the alleged leaker and went through the emails of the POB members to hunt down the leaker of public information.
This is huge because the POB members are Harness' bosses. They basically hired him and can recommend to the city council that he be fired. Harness went through his bosses' emails in an attempt to find the author of the 43-word note. What do you think would happen to you if you rifled through your boss's emails? You know. You'd be fired.
Harness and Galloway don't really know who sent Harness' email to Judge Browning. But that didn't stop them from publicly accusing POB member Valerie St. John, a volunteer, during a Sept. 12 POB meeting of being the evil leaker of public information to a federal court judge. They talked of the need for trust and unity among board members and of the dangers of individual action. How dare an American take individual action! How dare someone go outside the group! The Russians and Chicoms are probably calling Harness and Galloway right now.
The evidence that Harness used to convict St. John was that the person who sent the 43-word note to Judge Browning spelled “oversight” as “oversite,” the same way St. John spells it in her emails. St. John appeared shocked by the accusations and called Harness's and Galloway's actions a “witch hunt.”
(Photo: Comrade Chantal Galloway)
St. John is right. It doesn't matter who sent the note and Harness' email to the judge. The email is public record, and anyone had the right to send it to Judge Browning. Apparently, Sensitive Eddie Harness is pissed that someone called him out to the judge and made him look bad. So now, disliking the executive director of a public agency and calling him arrogant and disrespectful is a crime. At least it is in Sensitive Eddie's confused and authoritarian mind.
Eddie, maybe some people just don't like you and think you're doing a lousy job. Should they be jailed? And, Eddie, people aren't required to like you or to think you're doing a good job. And, Eddie, you're not entitled to the job.
The exchanges between Harness, Galloway, St. John and other POB members occurred during the final seven minutes of the POB meeting. You can watch the video of it below. But we'll go through some of the things that were said and add our comments on how disturbing the actions of Harness and Galloway were. We'll also talk about how disturbing and pathetic it was that POB members—free Americans—didn't challenge Harness' dangerous assault on free speech and seemed cowed by their employee and subordinate.
The bottom line here is that the POB members should have fired Harness on the spot for spying on them—his bosses. And they should have ripped him for making it a crime to make public information public. The exchange shows that the POB members are either ignorant of their roles as board members, or just plain cowards.
So let's get to it.
Galloway opened the exchange by saying that the board had just come out of executive (closed) session where it had discussed a personnel matter (believed to be the anonymous sexual harassment complaint we reported on in July). She then asked if there was any other business. That's when Harness started in.
Harness; “Yes, Chair Galloway, the issue of a board member sending a letter to the court. I think it's an issue that needs to be discussed … Well, Chair Galloway, the fact that it happened, how it occurred, who did it, what was the motivation, um, the ramifications for the agency and the board for that kind of individual action, ahh, I think all are very serious matters.”
So Sensitive Eddie has already convicted St. John! Does he know 100 percent that she sent it to Judge Browning? Of course not. He's just convicted her without any due process. And Eddie obviously hates the fact that free Americans—even POB members—dared to take individual action and think and act outside the group. Find and destroy them!
At this point the POB members should have shut Sensitive Eddie down and told him that his emails are public records and that anyone can send them to anyone they please. But they didn't. It was cowardly on their part.
Then POB Vice-Chair Joanne Fine attempted to inject some sanity into the situation by telling Harness that anyone could have sent the note and email to the federal court judge.
Fine: “But (POB member) Dr. (Bill) Kass enlightened us and read us the letter and we realized that it could have been anyone. Do you have any other information on that?'
Harness: “That's possible. However, the email itself was only sent to board members, and so therefore a board member had to give it to somebody to give it to the court. However, I have a very strong belief that it was a board member that sent it to the court.”
Fine: “Do you have evidence to that effect?”
Harness: “I have some indicators, yes.”
Fine: “Are you going to share them with us?”
Who cares if Eddie has evidence? This is America, not Russia, China or Cuba, and even POB members are free to send public information to the federal court judge who oversees the police reform case. Fine and the other POB members should have immediately shut Harness down, told him he was wasting their time with an authoritarian witch hunt and voted to fire him. And they should have asked him how much public time and money he wasted by trying to track down the author of a 43-word note to a federal court judge.
Then came another idiotic and embarrassing moment that showed just how dumb, ill-informed and cowardly some POB members are. Member Eric Olivas asked this of Harness:
Olivas: “Have there been any IPRA (Inspection of Public Records Act) requests that would have potentially picked this item up that you are aware of? I'm not sure you can disclose that to begin with.”
Eric, are you stupid or are you just plain dumb? All IPRA requests are public record! Public record! Where did you come from? Where do city councilors find these goofs to serve on the POB? If you don't understand the public records laws you should quit. And again, if Olivas had any brains and courage he would have scolded Harness by saying it didn't matter who sent the email to the judge because this is America. And he should have dumped on Harness for launching a Soviet-style investigation/witch hunt in an attempt to discredit someone who thinks he's doing a lousy job. Remember, silence and destroy anyone who disagrees with you and who challenges you.
Then came the bombshell that Eddie had been spying on his bosses and going through their emails:
Harness: “No. There have been no IPRA requests, um, so it was not disseminated through an IPRA request or any other way. And it was not forwarded from, ah, other board members' emails either.
Galloway: “Because you did a check of our emails?”
Harness: “I did.”
At this point the room should have basically exploded with shock and outrage. POB members should have demanded to know why Harness—their employee—had spied on them. And they should have immediately voted to fire him. But they didn't. In fact, Comrade Galloway, who appears to be Harness' partner in trying to quash free speech, independent thinking and dissent seemed not at all concerned that Harness had spied on board members. I suspect that Comrade Galloway conspired with Harness to search through the other POB members emails. Her statement about going through the emails was not a question, but a statement. Mayor Keller and city councilors get ready, Comrades Galloway and Harness will be looking at your emails next.
We emailed Comrades Harness and Galloway a list of questions about this Soviet-style purge and asked both if Harness had sought and gotten permission from Galloway to go through the board's emails. In true Russian fashion, neither responded to our questions. And these are the same people who demand openness and transparency from the police department and from police officers. They aren't hypocrites, are they?
Mayor Keller and City Council President Klarissa Pena should step into this mess immediately and fix it. Harness is clearly out of control and Galloway has enabled him. Since Harness is a city employee and Galloway is appointed by city council they should both be fired for wasting taxpayer money and making a laughing stock out of the POB.
Later, POB member Bill Kass, as he always does, babbled on almost incoherently about Harness' evidence before asking:
Kass: “I suspect that now it looks like it was a POB member based on what you (Harness) just told us. That seems to be fairly firm evidence.”
Galloway: “I think Joanne asked the question if there's anything you'd like to share with us as far as your, who you suspect.”
Harness: “If you look at the spelling of “oversite” in the letter, that's consistent with the way Member St. John spells oversight in other emails.”
Galloway: “I agree.”
St. John: “This is a witch hunt. It wasn't me. The last couple of weeks my daughter has been in and out of the hospital in intensive care. I haven't been home ...”
St. John should have told Comrades Harness and Galloway to fuck off. She should have said something like, “Assholes, it doesn't matter who sent it, this is America and we are all free to express our opinions. You people are sick and dangerous. Why do you so hate freedom, you power-hungry, authoritarian freaks? I will send the video of this sickening witch hunt to the city council and demand that they remove you, Comrade Galloway, from the board, and that they fire you, Comrade Harness. And the other members of this board, who are like the crowd at the Salem witch trials, you should do the city and police department a favor and resign. How can any of you sit in judgment of police officers and allow this sort of witch hunt to go on without dissent?”
But she didn't; she professed her innocence to something that isn't a crime, and that's pathetic.
Then Comrade Galloway launched into a rant about loyalty and working together. And she appeared disgusted that someone would dare to send information about board business to the judge who is overseeing the police reform case.
Galloway: “I think that that is important and there is not going to be a way for us to successfully work together if that trust is breached, and we've been hot on the heels of it for several months, for several months. And it has got to stop. The issue that I discussed with Director Harness is that I don't necessarily have an issue with the content of what was sent. I have an issue with the fact that things are sent circumventing this body. The appropriateness of it was raised during our closed session as well—the appropriateness of reaching out to a judge.”
Wow! Maybe U.S. District Court Judge James Browning would be interested to hear that Comrade Galloway can't abide people communicating with the court. And where were Comrades Harness and Galloway a few months ago when POB member Chelsea Van Deventer tweeted nasty things about the Blue Lives Matter movement and accused President Donald Trump of being a child molester? And where were they when Van Deventer wrote an opinion piece for the Albuquerque Journal a few months ago expressing her personal views about crime and policing? Did they investigate Comrade Chelsea? Did Chelsea get permission from Ed and Chantal to express her personal views? And Comrades Galloway and Harness have themselves breached that “trust” by secretly sneaking through everyone’s emails. They have breached the public trust by acting like Soviet-era communists and by wasting taxpayer time and money.
POB member Joanne Fine told us that the board and the CPOA have better things to do than to fight about who sent one of Harness' emails to the judge.
“At the last board meeting, Lindsey VanMeter said DOJ and the city were deciding which set of backlogged cases of serious use of force and officer involved shootings should be reviewed,” Fine said. “I asked specifically if CPOA's board would be involved in that decision and why after 17 months of none of those cases we were not to see all of them?
“There are cases in the original DOJ report (five years ago) that we have not seen, like James Boyd, for example. This is an outrage, and yet we are diddling around with Ed and our emails. Shame on all of us.”
And Joanne Fine is right. Shame on all of you goofs.
The entire POB and CPOA should be dismissed for their conduct. These are not the people Albuquerque wants overseeing police officers. Galloway and Harness are dangerous and reckless and they clearly abused their authority to go on a witch hunt for someone they believed crossed them. The other board members are either asleep or have IQs that would make Forest Gump look like a genius. Mayor Keller and City Council Chair Pena, this one is on you. It is time for both of you to correct the insanity at the POB by removing these people.
Here's the video of the POB meeting. Thanks to Charles Arasim for posting it.