One Sided Attack from: Gun Law Suit? Selecting a Candidate? Personal Vendetta?
One Sided Attack from: Gun Law Suit? Selecting a Candidate? Personal Vendetta?
Gazette reporter Dave Philipps again demonstrates his lack of journalistic integrity and inability to serve the readers of our community by leaving out pertinent facts in his article, “Sheriff sets own policies.” This is not the first time he has allowed his personal bias to misrepresent and skew the facts. Only a few weeks ago, he intentionally ignored key information that did not support his skewed and biased article, "Missing file on candidate Bill Elder sparks accusations, conspiracy theories.” In that article he failed to include confirmation that I did request Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to assist with the missing file investigation. Only when called on the facts, he confirmed it and wrote an elusive and incomplete correction that did not contain CBI's confirmation. He also failed to include that not only did I request assistance from CBI, I also requested assistance from The Colorado Attorney General’s Office. When I offered to provide him the name of the Assistant Attorney General I spoke to and the dates and times I spoke to him, he said, "Oh no that's okay, I won't need that." He was quick to report in his article that he could not confirm my claim that I did seek CBI's assistance, but interesting how he never shared with the readers that I also solicited assistance from the Attorney General and offered him the name of that Assistant Attorney General. Unfortunately, he rationalizes his inappropriate behavior through terms like, "I worded that carefully as to not directly accuse." When challenged on his exclusion of facts and truth, he will state that his space allocation was limited or, "Well I am just reporting how I see it.” These are mere excuses to avoid accountability by what I will describe as immature, unprofessional and self serving reporting.
In his article on March 6, 2014, "Sheriff sets own policies," he failed to explain what El Paso County Policy states. El Paso County Policy is entirely separate from the Sheriff's Office Policy and governed by the combined Board of County Commissioners. The El Paso County Policy was provided to him by my public information officer and yet he decided to cheat the readers from this knowledge. His literary waste was based on a December 2013 change made to the introduction of our policy manual to clarify and make consistent with El Paso County Policy and Sheriff Office Policy 201 which had been in effect since the 90’s. Furthermore, Philipps made the statement that I changed Policy 313 IV A (39) at the same time where he wrote that the Sheriff was "requiring all staff ranked lieutenant and above to seek his permission before endorsing a political candidate." He didn’t quote the policy correctly nor is it accurate that it was changed in December 2013; it was revised a year earlier in 2012. As with all our policies, this policy is available on the Sheriff’s Office website; his claims are a boldface lie. The following is the response given to him in writing on March 4, 2014 in its entirety:
"The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedure manual is the Sheriff’s adopted set of policies. As the final authority of the manual, the Sheriff can change or completely discard the manual for use at anytime without seeking permission from any outside governmental entity or any internal governing body. The policy manual is comprehensive and continues to be developed through historical and future institutional and industry experiences.
The change in December in the Sheriff’s Office policy manual you make reference to was for clarification purposes. The policy manual excludes the Sheriff since the Sheriff is an elected official; the Sheriff is not legally an employee and therefore provisions within the manual do not apply. Even from a practical approach, and to name just a few policies which wouldn’t apply to the Sheriff include vacation, sick, compensation, time keeping, chain of command, evaluations, notification procedures, release of information to the media, social media and disciplinary process.
The change made in December was not a “new idea” or change in practice, but was a necessary point of clarification regarding the distinction of the Sheriff as an elected official. Even the county policy has long contained a statement in the definitions section exempting elected officials from the provisions of that manual (see below), as do policies on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Obviously, the clarification made to our policy in December is consistent with El Paso County policy.
The following is extracted from the definitions section of the current El Paso County Personnel Policies and Procedures manual. The same verbiage existed in the manual at least as far back as 1999:
Elected Official: Any of the following: Assessor, Clerk and Recorder, Coroner, County Commissioner, District Attorney, Sheriff, Surveyor or Treasurer. Elected Officials are not County employees nor are subject to the provisions in this manual, except that they may receive group insurances, workers’ compensation, retirement, social security and other benefits as determined by the Board."
Keep in mind, the language directly above was taken right from El Paso County's Policy. He had access to this information and failed to share those important facts because this reporter is trying to use his personal bias to create a name for himself. He is deliberately withholding pertinent facts from the readers to create drama and attack the integrity of my Office. I have been told by a reliable source in the media that Philipps got into trouble in the past and is now banned from writing stories on local military because his stories did not contain factual information from “both sides.” I’m sure The Gazette will not confirm that information. Had this reporter done his job as should be expected, he would have researched online at the Sheriff's Office web site under Policy 201, where it states the following:
POLICY: It is the policy of the Sheriff’s Office to provide all members with written directives that serve as guidelines in communicating changes that occur within the organization.
A. Policy statements will be approved and issued by the Sheriff. The Sheriff may amend or cancel policy directives at any time. In the Sheriff’s absence, the Undersheriff may issue policies and procedures, which may be amended upon the return of the Sheriff.
1. The Internal Affairs Section will maintain all policy statements, amendments, and cancellations.
2. A policy will be considered in effect when initialed by the Sheriff or his/her designated authority.
D. MAINTENANCE OF POLICY:
1. It is the responsibility of the lieutenant of the Internal Affairs Section to coordinate, review, revise, update, or purge the Office policy manual as required, or when directed by the Sheriff.
These statements are pulled directly from Sheriff's Office Policy 201. Clearly, it confirms under section A, second sentence, the Sheriff can "amend or cancel a policy at any time." That policy has been vetted through numerous third party auditors and found in compliance with national standards and trends.
Additionally, this reporter spoke to Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) who reported to him upon his request that their policy was similar to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in that there is a distinction that their Sheriff is an elected official, not an employee. This is another example of him deliberately withholding pertinent facts from the readers to create drama and attack the integrity of my Office. He knows he was unethical because we have a copy of an email from DCSO where before even speaking to them he admits he already wrote the article. Here is an excerpt from email Philipps received from DCSO, "I also pointed out that there is a distinction between elected officials and employees; for example, before Sheriff Weaver took office, he was required to retire as an employee of the DCSO." And another from the DCSO to Philipps, "But when asked about a policy exempting the Sheriff from DCSO policies, I told you that I would have to check, at which time you informed me that the article was already written." Yes this is how Philipps does his dirty deeds. If you recall, he used that same line when attempting to defend his decision to not include CBI's response. Yes there is an absolute pattern.
Philipps also states that he spoke to a staff member who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution who told him how policies are revised. This too was inaccurate information and the staff member and Philipps should read the Manual Revision Procedure in the Policy manual and provide factual information; however, that would not serve Philipps’ purpose. These are more examples of many false statements that he has made to serve his personal agenda. The entire policy manual is available on line and yet he is too ignorant to realize that the public has complete access to it and can find the facts themselves. Additionally, I doubt he found an employee who is in fear of retaliation to provide the information and I firmly believe he is making up this source. I will share that it has been told to me that this reporter has a tendency to fabricate sources claiming they want to remain anonymous and some of those sources don't exist. I will claim the reporter fabricated this employee since he has a habit of always using the self serving excuse that the employee wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
However, let’s pretend he did find a current employee of my Office; first, the employee gave him bad information and the Gazette was negligent in confirming this employee's claim. Additionally, this employee should be in fear of not retaliation, but for being held accountable for providing false information since he or she provided incomplete and misleading information and directly disregarded existing Sheriff's policy concerning the release of information (policy 709). Interesting how a play on the words "retribution" or “retaliation” can create a different perception upon the reader and this is what The Gazette and this reporter are doing. Being held accountable is not being retaliated against and rulings from the high courts support that principle.
If Philipps did speak with a person at all, one who gave him bad information, I would suggest this employee is most likely not an employee anymore and is attempting to use their position for political gain and I challenge The Gazette to prove this employee is not attached to a candidate running for Sheriff who I am not supporting. They will not do it because this reporter knows the so called "employee" is imbedded in one of those campaigns.
In his story a couple weeks ago he claimed he received information from an office employee, who wished to be anonymous, that I had told Jim Reid I would endorse him if he gave me a contract. That is an absolute lie and I challenge them to show any proof that I made that statement. First, there was no employee present during my conversation with Reid. Philipps knew that but he never asked the employee if he or she heard this conversation; the employee would have had to say no because he or she was not there. The conversation with Reid was via the telephone and I was not at my office but was in my personal vehicle. I had another person present in the car that witnessed the entire conversation and can validate that a contract was not a condition of support. It was briefly discussed with Reid as an offer to assist with a potential transition, I would make myself available by phone for a few hours a week. I specifically told Reid if he wanted more hours it would take a contract and I would not entertain anything over 15 to 20 hours and wasn't sure I could even commit to that. I never told him keeping the Undersheriff in her position was a condition. He asked me who I thought he should have in that position and I told him my opinion, but further stated he would need to have that discussion with her because I was not even sure if she would stay. Jim Reid knows those two items were not conditions. Yet this reporter claims an "employee" who was not present for the conversation came to him and again is anonymous because of fear of retaliation. As I stated, it’s not retaliation when an employee makes false claims and lies, its accountability. Philipps again presents misinformation based on rumors, fiction and lack of first hand information and claims he is a reporter. His actions are two-faced, filled with double standards and hypocritical. Since The Gazette condones this behavior they are just as guilty. I challenge him to bring forward one witness that can substantiate his lie. He cannot, but I can if need be.
Philipps will even go to the extent of concealing a criminal act if it serves his agenda and bias. He is the recipient of evidence that links one of his phony sources to a theft of campaign literature belonging to John Anderson, yet he will not provide the name of the source and allows, through tacit approval, this type of corruption to exist. This not only demonstrates his ethics but that of his employer.
I have caught Philipps lying and have him on a recording lying directly to me and two other witnesses. Yet he rationalizes his lies, and again The Gazette is tolerant of this underhanded behavior. I phoned the publisher, Dan Steever, three weeks ago after the first biased article was printed to express my concerns. I was passed off because he was too busy. I did receive a phone call from an editor who left his name and number but it was inaudible. I phoned the publisher again leaving him a voice mail that the message the editor left was inaudible and have yet to hear back from them. This demonstrates their disinterest in the lack of accurate reporting and one could even claim they don't care about the integrity of their reporters or paper. I will even go as far to say that I spoke to a reporter with The Gazette who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, and that employee told me, "It's sad what has happened to The Gazette because it's not about informing the readers. It's all about creating drama to make sales." A former reporter and employee of The Gazette confirmed this as the reason they went to another media outlet as well and further added The Gazette was becoming a "cesspool" and yet The Gazette failed to recognize that as the reason they were financially broke and couldn't find a buyer for over two years. That former employee also wished to remain anonymous due to potential future retaliation.
Bottom line is that he knows I am scheduled to testify in the upcoming trial at the end of the month, on the Colorado gun legislation lawsuit and he is trying to attack, and undermine my credibility through his promotion of rumors and hiding the facts and truth. It is time he and his employer are called out for their underhanded tactics. I tried to discuss it with them and they ignored me. The Gazette does not want to hear the truth nor have these facts presented because they don't want to be forced to “retaliate” against Philipps.
They say don't get into a fight with one that buys ink by the barrel. But sometimes those that buy it by the barrel need accountability and it is the citizens that can accomplish that. Let The Gazette know your feelings. I know this writing is lengthy, but enough is enough.
One element I do not want overlooked through all this political hype is the fact that our Office is recognized as an industry leader not only locally, but nationally. Our Criminal Justice Center is audited and inspected voluntarily by outside auditors more than any other jail in the State. We received among the highest of audit scores nationally and every audit requires a review of policies. We have certificates and other forms of recognition confirming this. Our Law Enforcement functions are among the best as well, with a very strong clearance rate and more importantly, conviction rate. Our organization performs at a very high level and that is a proven fact. Do not allow a few malcontents or political hacks undermine the amazing job Sheriff’s Office employees do every day. I hear often from employees how much they love working for the Office and what a great organization we have; a fact which is demonstrated by how many employees recruit their family and friends to join our organization.