Public Records

A short while ago I posted in this space that I had filed a Public Records Request with the City of Moscow, and I have now received back the results of that inquiry. My thanks to the courteous people at city hall.

The item of greatest interest to me was Bill London’s email communications with the members of our city council, as part of his attempt to get them to condemn our ministries by name. Bill was doing this because he has got it into his head that we are out to create a neo-Confederate haven here in Moscow, and was doing his best progressivist imitation of Paul Revere. “The rebels are coming! The rebels are coming!”

During their email discussion in response to his strong urging, the response of the council members was mixed, and the majority of it was actually quite principled. For example, John Dickinson wrote, “I do not favor anything that specifically targets Wilson or Christ Church. If they are doing something illegal then we should arrest them; if they are organizing against some political goal that we want, then we need to get better organized.” Nancy Chaney agreed with this, and added, “If they are merely exercising their freedoms of speech and religious practice, we dare not condemn them, lest we move toward profiling, litmus testing, and the very intolerance we seek to stop.” Peg Hamlett added to this, “I agree with your comments. If we do not show tolerance then how are [we] any better.” Hats off to three genuine practitioners of tolerance.

But Bill disagreed, and was still pressing hard. In her response, Linda Pall went along with him part way. She wrote, “Dear Bill and Council [more about this in a minute], I have proposed to Gary [Riedner, the city supervisor] a two pronged response that does not deal with Wilson et al. directly but would clearly place the City on the other side [of?] the Neo confederate crap.” In other words, Linda Pall’s participation in this activity was not in direct opposition to us, but was rather an oblique approach. In her view, we should be targeted, but just not directly. In addition, although we are not purveyors of “neo-Confederate crap,” it is clear that Linda Pall believes that we are.

As an aside, for those interested in pursuing the question of whether we are in fact neo-Confederates, I recommend my forthcoming book Black and Tan. Reading that, card-carrying neo-Confederates will instantly understand the basic distinctions we are making, and they are not trifles. In my mind, they affect the very nature of the gospel. But for our local progressivist leftists, for whom everyone to the right of George Bush is a screaming fascist, all these distinctions are meaningless anyway. But just for the record, for those who cannot function without the revolutionary categories and labels of “right” and “left,” I am not slightly to the right of George W. I am slightly to the left of King Arthur, and a little more conservative than Caspian the Tenth of Narnia.

But back to the cyber-cabal. This happy little email discussion group (back in January of 04) came to a screeching halt when Doug Jones posted the following note to the entire group. “Dear Linda, Bill is quite right about one thing concerning the neo-confederate crap. The proposed resolutions will be easily supported by everyone, especially Christ Church. Any resolution really needs to name us at Christ Church explicitly, or it won’t be of any interest in the national media. Doug Jones.” He was able to crash their party this way because copies of this behind-the-scenes discussion had leaked out to regular citizens.

Anyhow, in their discussion in the aftermath of this gate-crashing (which we now have), the inquiries ran along “what the hey” lines. Someone asked if Doug had been CCd or BCCd. Linda Pall said, “I certainly did not cc or otherwise Doug Jones. I called Bill London and asked him what was up and he said that he had sent this ONLY to the council members and opined . . . [on the possible source of the leak]. He had avoided sending it to Gary and Marshall because of lack of trust/concern for where the message might go.” Huh.

Now there are two things I would like to mention here, and they are both very important. The first question has to do with whether or not Bill London has been elected to any office, and whether it is appropriate for an unelected citizen to be acting like this, trying to line up “back room deals” for the City Council to act on. When citizens show up at a city council meeting to give their lowly legal imput, should they discover that the skids are already greased? Here we have Bill London pressing for a resolution condemning an area church (on the basis of a great deal of misinformation and slander), and he is privately lobbying city council members to get them to act on this agenda. The majority of the council members do not respond to that pressure. He leaves the mayor and city supervisor out of the loop because of a “lack of trust” over security. Now why is Bill London in a position to not issue security clearances to the mayor? The church in question gets no opportunity to correct the record, or answer questions. I trust that a number of people would find this set-up as weird as I do. Not only is this an important issue, it is disturbing. Someone needs to ask some pressing questions. Does this kind of lobbying happen often? Is it standard operating procedure? Or is it only employed against conservative Christian churches and related ministries?

The second issue is this. The city council did take action on several resolutions (Black History and a Generic Tolerance Resolution), and it is clear that the majority of the council members were simply speaking in accord with their convictions, and with no hidden agenda. But Linda Pall really was interested in doing something about us and our monkeyshines. In an email to Gary Riedner, she put it this way, “Also, please pitch this to Marshall with the companion resolution because (1) this Saturday is the neo-confederate dance party; and (2) I have been told in no uncertain terms that some people think this is just too little and we should be out there pronging groups with names and specifics. I disagree and I believe something like this will serve to pull people together and make them think!”

Sure makes me think. Linda Pall was resisting those who wanted the city government to name names, but she was not refraining from naming names for the same reason that other council members were. She clearly had certain names in mind, and she wanted resolutions that would do something about us without having to name us. She wanted the action taken by the city to be indirect, but clearly related to us. That way she would have all kinds of things, including deniability. She was pressing for action because of our “neo-confederate” ball. Now what basis does she have for calling the ball attached to our history conference a neo-confederate event?

As readers of this space know, our ministries have been systematically harassed in numerous ways over the last several years, usually with some government agency being manipulated by private citizens with a personal or ideological grudge. There have been four complaints against Christian ministries on the basis of tax exemption status, two zoning complaints against Christian ministries, one criminal complaint against me for alleged perjury (!), the University of Idaho spent $16,000 dollars against our conference, and now this. That is a total of nine. At the very least, if adjudication of any of these matters come before the Moscow City Council (or any new ones!), Linda Pall must recuse herself from any consideration of the question. There are folks who are actively trying to force us out of town, and Linda Pall has clearly been in communication with them, and has taken governmental action on their behalf. She would not be a disinterested or impartial judge, by any stretch.

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