Grants Pass, Ore. — I’m a good citizen, work hard, own a house and property and pay my taxes. Why then, did FBI Special Agents visit my private shop Tuesday?
It was retribution, pure and simple — an attempt to intimidate me because I use my 1st Amendment right to free speech by writing letters to the local newspaper, illuminating the morally bankrupt local government.
Special Agent Jeffery Gray from the Medford, Ore., FBI office explained that the official reason for the visit was that the FBI received a tip that I had threatened Grants Pass city councilors. If they feel threatened, it’s because they know I may write the truth about their actions. They are threatened by the 1st Amendment.
I was elected to the City Council. But after seeing the corruption, I couldn’t stomach it and resigned.
To alert the public, anything I’ve said or written about Grants Pass city government officials since has been out in the open, in the public domain — usually in published letters to the local newspaper or letters to the official City Hall email.
Back in 2006 or 2007, I did go beyond that when I reported the Grants Pass city government to the Secretary of State for violating State laws. They routinely held their annual Grants Pass City Council planning session far outside city limits at a luxury lodge. That made it nearly impossible for local citizens to attend to listen or participate. State government officials immediately recognized the illegality and forced Grants Pass to cease and desist.
In 2010, the Grants Pass city manager, assistant manager and police chief were found guilty of violating State election laws for illegally influencing a public vote on a safety levy tax increase. When the three went to Salem to appeal, I wrote a letter to the City Council protesting the use of my tax dollars toward their defense. I documented a pattern of behavior that made me feel they weren’t worth defending.
Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Police Chief Joe Henner insisting that I: “cease and desist” speaking about him or the “next communication will be from my (his) lawyer.” I forwarded his benign threat to the Secretary of State.
When former Mayor Mike Murphy appointed city councilors in a secret backroom deal with no public input or media observers, I paid for a full-page newspaper ad exposing his brazen flaunt of the democratic process.
Last year, when a former strip club DJ, Mark Gatlin, allegedly turned Christian and ran for City Council, I dug onto my own pocket again and paid for a citywide postcard mailing warning voters of his background.
In several open letters published in local newspapers, I have been critical of the lack of real work and huge overcompensation that the city’s firefighters’ union has managed to extract from the citizens under the complicit eye of Henner.
Upon the recent announcement of Henner’s planned retirement, I wrote a letter criticizing his management style and lack of scruples.
On Tuesday, someone connected to the Grants Pass city government sent the FBI to rattle my cage. I don’t rattle. I grew up in Chicago, and the corruption and moral decay in Grants Pass government and politics is nothing I haven’t seen before.
US~Observer Editor’s Note: Bob Anderson is an example of a citizen who stands against corruption on the local level by demanding accountability. We could all take a page out of his playbook and begin holding our own officials’ hands to the fire. Thank you, Bob, for not rattling.
Bob may be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.