Ann Marie Trout: Oak Creek news unfair

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— I found the article titled "Oak Creek Town Board hears concerns about police," in Saturday's Steamboat Today, very interesting.

I was, however, very disappointed that the article only reported the negative comments at the Oak Creek Town Board (meeting) and not the positive. It appears the intent of the Steamboat Pilot & Today is to print only the negative opinions of a few people in the community of Oak Creek.

I spoke at the Town Board meeting about what a wonderful community Oak Creek is. I publicly sought (a reporter and columnist) out in the crowd and asked both why the positive events in Oak Creek are not reported on or published in the paper. I spoke about the birthday party that occurred on Aug. 8 at Let's Dance Studio for Thelma Moore Bell and what a rich event that was for our community.

I also thanked the Town Board, Chief Caterinicchio, and Eileen Rossi for serving our community. I spoke about the positive interactions that I have had with Chief Caterinicchio and the community services officer, Tony VanDeventer.

After Virginia Paxton made her comments about customers of her being "harassed" for not having their liquor purchase in a bag, Town Board members asked Officer Eileen Rossi if she had investigated the complaints. She reported that she had, but Virginia Paxton was unable to come up with the names individuals who were "harassed." Is this information not worth reporting?

I am disappointed with the negative slant of Saturday's article. In my opinion, this is very biased reporting and is irresponsible. Maybe (the reporter) is following directions from supervisors to only print the negative.

To portray our community in this way is a disservice to the readers and advertisers of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. It provides a resounding ring of truth to the statement that "You cannot always believe what you read in the paper."

Ann Marie Trout

Oak Creek

Comments

Scott Wedel 6 years, 1 month ago

Another employee of the liquor store also stated that she had customers complain about the police and purchased liquor not in a bag. Would probably take a reporter 20 minutes of asking around Town to find the name of someone that claims they were harassed by the police for having a purchased bottle not in a paper bag. There is zero confidence that a police dept that can find no fault with itself on any of the other issues would find that it did anything wrong in this case.

Pillar of the community Jack Romick complained about Tony bothering him about Jack's driving of a tractor which Jack said was legal according the 1961 farm bill.

And there is no shortage of people that think the paper is being very cautious at what is being printed. The paper asked for a copy of the current OCPD taser policy. That would be the policy approved by the Town Board in 2006. Instead, he faxed a policy dated Jan 1, 2008. The same date on a different Taser policy he gave to the police commissioners that he proposed should be the new OCPD taser policy. Thus, according to his own documents and actions, the Chief on Jan 1, 2008 drafted one new Taser policy which he declared to be the new OCPD taser policy. Also, on Jan 1, 2008 he drafted a new Taser policy which was to become the new OCPD Taser policy after it had been approved by the Police Commissioners and Town Board.

I've been told by those that have seen it that the Jan 1, 2008 Taser policy which the Chief by personal fiat declared to be the new OCPD taser policy removes the protections for passive resistance and no longer requires an EMT medical check. Thus, by remarkable coincidence, on Jan 1, 2008 the Chief by personal fiat declared a new OCPD taser policy, not revealed to the police commissioners or Town Board, which then on July 19th was not violated by Officer Foster when he Tasered Cargo.

And he does not have the power to override OCPD policy set by the Town Board so that is not the new policy. Which also means his review of Officer Foster is fatally flawed because he did not use official OCPD policy when deciding if Officer Foster violated OCPD policy.

And the paper which received this OCPD Taser policy from the Police Chief has not published it yet.

Also, at the August 4th meeting when the topic was prejudicial comments made by the police chief affecting the integrity of his review of Officer Foster's action, the chief said that he was misquoted by the paper. At the August 14th meeting when the Chief was asked what did he say and how was he misquoted, he declined to answer. That didn't make the paper.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 1 month ago

The paper could be writing articles every day blasting the Chief and Officer Foster and instead is only printing a portion of the critical comments being made at Town Board meetings regarding the Chief and has one columnist that has written 3 articles on the OCPD.

The paper decided not to write any stories about OC residents legally trying to hitch hike to SB being told by the OCPD with no legal justification that they cannot hitch hike in OC.

The paper is not making up this controversy. It is deep and real. Business owners such as Doug Diamond and Virginia Paxton do not lightly criticize their local law enforcement.

And it is not just the police dept. Why in the world was Chan Zwanzig forced to ask approval to use his warehouse to store and show granite slabs to contractors? And then he was questioned about hours of operation which he said was like 8-5. It is a warehouse in a designated commercial zone. Hayden would never have asked a warehouse owner to seek approvals for normal business hours operations of nontoxic materials at the warehouse. That is exactly why SB business owners are not looking at moving to OC. They see that they will be micromanaged by the Town.

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misterkindbuds 6 years, 1 month ago

Ann,

It's not about the residents, it's about the consistent issues with these bored, over-hyped officers who have nothing to do.

Easiest solution for Oak Creek:

Hire a hippy cop for your chief. He won't bust you for weed, he'll let you keep your mushrooms, and if you're too intoxicated to drive home from the bar, he'll give you a lift.

That's really all this boils down to.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 1 month ago

Easiest solution for OC is to pay the Sheriff dept for policing and then find a way for Eileen Rossi to patrol OC as a reserve officer or whatever.

People in OC are not upset about lawful DUI or drug arrests. They are not complaining about police not being card carrying members of the ACLU. They are upset that the police appear to repeatedly be breaking the law. Virginia Paxton is not complaining the police are making her customers follow the law. She is complaining the police are bothering her customers that are following the law.

That people leaving bars are routinely followed until they make any slight mistake and then get pulled over to do a roadside sobriety test. Roadside sobriety tests are being done for failing to signal a left turn, failing to come to a complete stop and other stuff that the police could follow anyone around long enough and finally find a reason. People have been pulled over for not taking the shortest route home (because they wanted to finish a cigarette).

And now it appears the Chief fabricated one document that he faxed as if it was the OCPD Taser policy and stole and destroyed a document from a columnist. There is more probable cause to arrest the Chief for fraud and theft than there was to arrest and Taser Cargo.

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upstream 6 years, 1 month ago

Mrs. Trout- thank you for making the effort to step forth and share a different perspective to the one we are all being bombarded with in the Steamboat Enquirer. You and your family represent all that is great about Oak Creek- and Routt County. As for this Scott Weidel...I am not completely certain, but I do believe he lives in Steamboat Springs (not Oak Creek). The horrific state of his properties in Oak Creek tells us all we need to know about how much he respects our community. Keep the faith- we are all about to endure another Cargo roller coaster ride thanks to the editors of the Steamboat Pilot and Today (deja vu, eh?). And, through it all, we will continue to do our good work and live our good lives completely ignored by the media.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 1 month ago

Okay, if you do not like the reporting from the SB Pilot could you please say what factual errors they made?

Or do you think these sort of unpleasant facts should not be discussed or printed?

If you do not like these articles then just wait for Cargo's trial. Kris Hammond is going to have the power of subpoena to get documents and force the police to answer his questions.

So much is going on that I wouldn't be surprised if Rob Douglas ends up writing a book about the OCPD.

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Don Thayer 6 years, 1 month ago

I was at the meeting in Oak Creek, everyone was complaining about the Police force, only you spoke positively about the town. The people of Oak Creek aren't complaining about the town, only the Police force. They've been doing it for months now and ignored by the town board. I think the Pilot & Today is covering the issue very well.

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upstream 6 years, 1 month ago

Ignored by the town board? What are you talking about? Perhaps the town board is busy listening and trying to hear all of the voices of Oak Creek not just those who are shouting and wagging fingers in their faces- Since you were at the meeting, you know the board members voted in favor of pursuing an outside investigation into the events sorrounding the Rodeman case. This is what they were asked to do in the motion put forth by the mayor. He made his case and the members of the board agreed (unlike the last time he tried to railroad the dissolution of the police department altogether, made no logical case whatsoever and received a vote of censure from the board)- so what is all this nonsense we all keep hearing about the board doing "nothing"? Mrs. Trout stood up in a room full of hostility and spoke softly for those of us who are no longer willing to engage in the nastiness. She spoke for those of us who have worked hard to make Oak Creek a wonderful place to live, but have chosen to no longer participate in meetings dominated by this tiny group of loudmouths. We are and will always be the Oak Creek the Steamboat Enquirer ignores. We are not complaining about the police force- if anything we are complaining about being victimized by those who choose to drive drunk, those who buy and sell drugs in our community and those who refuse to take responsibility for their own poor decisions. Mr. thayer, please don't ever assume you speak for "the people of Oak Creek" any more than Mr. Wedel or Rob Douglas do.

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Fred Duckels 6 years, 1 month ago

Ann: I agree with your assesment. This publication has kept us well informed of Oak Creek's faults over the years. I guess it provides us with humor and makes us feel superior.

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Don Thayer 6 years, 1 month ago

Upstream,

I am giving my own opinion, not speaking for "the people of Oak Creek." As far as "ignored buy the town board" that's what I've seen. There have been complaints against the chief for at least two months and I've seen no action until the recent development of the outside investigation. How many self-administered internal investigations has the chief conducted? Do you trust anyone to investigate themselves in an unbiased manner?

This is a police officer who was given a raise based on his own self-evaluation and recommendation. I agree with drunk-driving enforcement, but Oak Creek is a town of 800 people, we don't need 4 police officers, we don't need an animal-enforcement officer. We can hire someone else, our current chief is not our only option.

In today's paper I read that the chief has issued a gag order against the town board(concerning the Rodeman case), except Chuck Wisecup. Is this true? Do you support that attitude? I don't believe he has that kind of authority, nor do I think a professional police officer should practice that kind of arrogance.

I've tried to give the chief the benefit of the doubt, but he certainly appears to abusing and over-stepping his authority. I've been waiting to hear someone support him and I haven't. It is not wrong to at least discuss the issue with the town board.

One final thought is this: no one is criticizing the town, they are criticizing the police force for it's actions and the town board for seemingly ignoring their complaints.

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upstream 6 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Thayer- you raise some thoughtful points and I hope you do not take offense at my attempt to shed a different light on things:

First- I'll suggest action has been taken by the commissioners and board members to direct our police officers toward improved performance. For instance, the officers were first encouraged to calm traffic on Main Street as requested by Main Street business owners, they later backed off Main Street when the same business owners squacked about too much presence. One example of the board listening and then directing the police...obviously, there is still a lot to be done on this front. Secondly- Russ received 2 pay hikes this year. One was his cost of living increase. The other was the result of the performance review he received from the police commissioners and this was approved by the board at a public meeting.
Third- We do not have 4 police officers- we have Russ who is full time, Eric who is part time, Eilleen who is "part time seasonal". Last month they handled well over 200 service calls from dispatch- this is documented in the report made public at the last board meeting. Among these were, 6 domestic violence calls, 2 burglaries, 4 elder watch calls, 6 warrant arrests, 3 harrassment complaints and 31 animal complaints. Clearly there are a lot of folks in Oak Creek who feel they need Police assistance...and a code enforcement officer. Fourth- As for the "gag order". The e-mail is public record and the term "gag order" was never used until Dave Ege decided to whip up a media feeding frenzy. Rob Douglas apparently lives for this sort of hype and ate it up. They both know good and well no elected official has any business discussing an ongoing investigation or butting in and trying to alter its course. Ege is so far out on a limb with his "media leaks" (to use a good old conspiracy cliche) it is not funny and, perhaps, criminal. I agree that Russ comes across as painfully arrogant at times and is not the perfect fit for Oak Creek, but I do not believe that he has committed any civil rights violations or criminal acts as suggested by J Elliot, Dave Ege and Rob Douglas. These guys are skewing information beyond belief and it is a disservice to our community. If they keep at it long enough they just may succeed in running out our police officers- just as Cargo herself did when she became mayor (what a coincidence). I hear you - There is clearly room for improvement and Russ has a lot of crow to eat (don't we all). I, for one, am not willing to go back to the era of Oak Creek without our own police department and allow those who do not respect the law, their neighbors or our children to have free reign (drunk drivers fit all of these categories in my opinion). Rob Douglas, Brent Boyer and the Steamboat Pilot and Today should be ashamed of the harm they have bestowed upon Oak Creek.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 1 month ago

If Chief Russ wanted to say that Town Boards should not reveal confidential information including confidential information regarding Cargo's case then he should have said that.

He did not say that. He did not even use the term "confidential information". He said "all information".

Does the Chief recognize his mistakes, retract his statements and apologize?

Has he explained how there came to exist two Taser polices both written on Jan 1, 2008? No, but he has time to write an email to Board members stating that basically no topic related to the police can be discussed with anyone.

Has he explained how he was misquoted by the newspaper as he claimed at the August 4th Town Board meeting?

It is one thing to be misunderstood. It is a whole another thing to claim you are misunderstood and yet never explain what you intended to say.

His recent actions and this email would be unacceptable from any employee at any job. A police chief is supposed to be an educated professional and able to speak and write with precision and clarity. He writes letters to the Town with all the precision and clarity of a somewhat intoxicated late night blogger.

And he takes a document from a reporter with all the professionalism of a child being shown something they do not like.

And this is the CHIEF OF POLICE!!!!!!!!!!

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Eric J. Bowman 6 years, 1 month ago

"...Virginia Paxton was unable to come up with the names individuals who were 'harassed.'"

Another way of stating that, is that none of those people whose names Virginia knows were willing to go on record, for fear of further harassment.

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Eric J. Bowman 6 years, 1 month ago

If anyone still needs convincing that this isn't just "Oak Creek politics as usual", or only the "riff-raff" complaining, or the "bar crowd" or a "small but vocal minority" or any of the other dismissive (and/or derisive) comments being made, then they should take a look at the ad the local business community has been running in the print version of this paper. Copies are available at just about every business in town. At this point, those standing up and praising the Chief and his department, are the ones qualifying as the small but vocal minority. I had nothing to do with its creation, but I will post the statement issued by the "voices of moderation and sanity" in this town:

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Don Thayer 6 years, 1 month ago

Upstream,

You've made some good points. I've only been to two town meetings, but both gave me a bad impression of Russ. My understanding of his raise was that it was based on his own self-evaluation, I think I remember that from the meeting. The fourth officer I'm speaking of is the part-time animal control officer.

The main point I'd like to make is that I think the paper is covering Oak Creek fairly, there are a lot of complaints about the police department, and if they're true it's certainly something that should be discussed.

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jpgolden 6 years, 1 month ago

( Scott Wedel) Easiest solution for OC is to pay the Sheriff Dept. for policing, and then find a way for Eileen Rossi to patrol OC as a reserve officer or whatever. Scott Wedel you write alot about Oak Creek in the community comments. I bet you don't even live in Oak Creek, I know for a fact you live in Steamboat Springs, to clean up Oak Creek is a good thing, the only people complaning are the rif-raf, it's time the rif-raf clean up thier act or move.

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jpgolden 6 years, 1 month ago

(Don Thayer) when you say we don't need an animal-enforcement officer. the we part, are you speaking for eveyone or just your self?

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Eric J. Bowman 6 years, 1 month ago

No, I'm afraid this problem goes well beyond "people who want to drive drunk but can't now", etc. What I see is not a community divided, but one that's coming together to solve a serious problem with an out-of-control Police Department. I'm sure there are some here who will continue to look down their noses at those of us who live in Oak Creek, and continue to find this kerfuffle "entertaining" as a result of keeping their blinders on to avoid seeing reality.

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Eric J. Bowman 6 years, 1 month ago

An Open Apology

We, the undersigned business owners of Oak Creek, sincerely extend an apology to our customers who feel they have been treated rudely or unfairly by the Oak Creek Police Department. If you are one of the many who have since opted to avoid our town limits, we want you to know that although our sales have suffered dramatically, we understand and respect your decision. But please... do not give up on us. We promise to continue to voice our concerns over this issue to our town board members and will work together diligently to rectify this unfortunate situation in a manner that will return our beloved little town to the peaceful and welcoming communnity that we all once enjoyed.

Angelina Iron Inc - Brett Lindstrom Black Mountain Tavern - Doug Diamond, Dan Bubenheim Bonfiglio Drug - David Bonfiglio Brand Spankin' Used Thrift Store - Janine Pierce Chelsea's Restaurant - Andy & Jaila Benjamin Cheryl's Country Station - Tim & Cheryl Carl Curry Laundromat - Scott Wedel Dinty Moore's Family Restaurant - Tina Zywicki Dovetail Designs, LLC - Mike Roach Elks Tavern - Shirley J. Montieth Judy's Country Donuts - Judy & Mike Deming Local Flavor - Lawrence Jaconetta Mugshot Coffee Shop - Jane Sindell New Victoria Stained Glass - Paul C. Rutledge Oak Creek Liquor - Bill Paxton Rio-Oso Nursery and Trading Post - Annie Kayhoe Spiro's Trading Post - Virginia L. Paxton Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters - Julie Spitzley The Colorado - Becky Elliott Town and Country Properties - Dave & Kerry Eaton

We wish to thank all of the supporting citizens who willngly and generously offered donations toward financing this announcement.

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Ed Miklus 6 years, 1 month ago

I feel bad for the Oak Creek businesses that felt it necessary to issue an apology to their customers for the conduct of their police department. However, our Country is founded on the principle that government derives its authority and its existence from the people; it's not the other way around. The citizens of Oak Creek should issue more than apologies, they have a civic responsibility, a call to action if you like, to take back control of their community from arrogant individuals ignorant of our Constitutional from of government. Then no apologies will be necessary.

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Don Thayer 6 years, 1 month ago

jpgolden,

My comment about an animal control officer is my own opinion, Oak Creek seems to be too small a town to pay the extra costs. I live in Willow Hill and I don't see a real problem here or downtown.

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max huppert 6 years, 1 month ago

I think it would be a better use of tax dollars to hire someone to go around and clean up trash, landscaping, free removal of bulk trash if its such a issue, scott you should like that idea. Also you have to think why would people want to come to OC for? Prices are higher then Steamboat, so what marketing could the local business do.. When I am mayor I will share the Ideas..

Max,,, I wonder who will tell Rimini he has to be on a leash

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Duke_bets 6 years, 1 month ago

upstream - Rob Douglas eating up a media frenzy and living for that type of hype.

Are you kidding me! That is shocking news!

Your statement is fairly similar to his job description.

And, what a crime spree OC was on. You outlined 52 calls of which 31 were barking dogs. Several of the domestic calls were the same couple and possibly all of the harrassment calls were related.

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