JAMES MADISON QUOTE - 1822

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

SCOTTSBORO WEATHER

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Requirement of Private Investigators - Code of Alabama 34-25B-1 thru 34-25B--29 Mayor of Scottsboro Improper Investigation of City Employees - US EEOC Info


SCOTTSBORO MAYOR ADMITS TO UTILIZING UNLICENSED INVESTIGATOR IN OTHER SURVEILLANCE CASES
How many employees is the mayor conducting surveillance on after duty hours?

UPDATE - November 10, 2015 - Statement From the Mayor of Scottsboro
After receiving an allegation by a City employee relating to conduct of another City employee in March 2015, I made the decision to obtain the services of a private investigation firm to investigate the merits of the allegation in order to minimize disruption among the staff and to assure impartiality. The investigative firm had performed similar work for the City previously.  The cost of the investigator was $782.72.

The employee was suspended without pay based on the findings of the investigation.  The employee did not appeal the discipline or otherwise file a grievance concerning the disciplinary action.

Later, however, an attorney for the employee sought to have the disciplinary measures removed from the employee’s file and to have the employee’s pay reinstated for the period of the suspension. Upon advice of counsel, I agreed to this request.  Attorneys’ fees were paid in the amount of $2500 to the employee’s attorney. No other payment was made to or on behalf of the employee. I was advised that this resolution of a matter that appeared likely to result in expensive and time-consuming litigation was in the best interests of the City. I subsequently advised members of the council about it.  

It is the Mayor’s responsibility to run the day to day operations of the city.  The council’s role is to pass the budget and provide money for those day to day operations.  The city council receives monthly financial statements. The money for the attorneys’ fees was paid out of the 2014-15 budget the council approved under the professional fees line item. The amount of the referenced payments was within the approved budget and I was advised to approve the payment by the City Attorney in accordance with prior practice of the City.  

Throughout this matter, I have followed advice of counsel representing the City of Scottsboro and I agree that the resolution of this matter as outlined above was in the best interests of the City of Scottsboro and the employee involved.  There are no pending personnel matters with the employee. In accordance with our general practice with respect to personnel matters, I have made no other comment or statement about this matter and have no additional plans to do so.  
Image of statement, click on image for an expanded view.
COMMENT FROM THE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT
From: Patrick Stewart
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:04 AM
To: Steve Kennamer
Subject: Statement 


The Mayor has made a written statement this week regarding certain issues in the city. Copies of the statement have been provided to us and the media. I have reviewed the statement individually with each Councilman. My view is and that of the consensus of the Council members is the information contained in the statement is true and correct.


Patrick Stewart
City Council President
SUMMARY
Unfortunately both parties do not address the fact the Mayor hired a member of the Scottsboro Personnel Board who is an unlicensed investigator to do the surveillance. The Mayor states that this investigator has been utilized previously. There seems to be a dismissal of fact that there is a clear conflict of interest with the investigator being an appointed official of Scottsboro, a Scottsboro Personnel Board member hired to perform surveillance on more than one Scottsboro Employee as an unlicensed investigator. I have been informed that there will probably be an extensive legal action from another employee who has been subjected to the invasion of privacy and harassment due to the negligent surveillance as ordered by Mayor Potter. The motives for the surveillance are listed below - retaliation for denial of sexual advances, jealousy = sexual harassment, hostile work environment, attempt to cover up sexual harassment by requiring the employee to sign a waiver of rights.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT - DISCRIMINATION 

NOTE - I ENCOURAGE ANY EMPLOYEE WHO HAS BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY THE CITY OF SCOTTSBORO TO EITHER SEEK LEGAL ADVICE FROM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, PARTICULARLY AN ATTORNEY WHO SPECIALIZES IN DISCRIMINATION LAW, AND/OR FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE UNITED STATES EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION. FILING A CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION MAY BE FOUND AT THIS LINK: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm

Any employee or officer who is aware of a violation of law or the intentional covering up of criminal activity, where they are afraid of retaliation by officials in Scottsboro are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Office of the State of Alabama - contact link : http://www.ago.state.al.us/Page-Contact-Us

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - RELATED RUMORS
There are all sorts of rumors and statements circulating in the city and city hall regarding abuse of spouses and other hideous acts. Folks, if this is political vindictiveness it serves no purpose and is shameful, if there is truth, then officials who have knowledge must come forward. If you are afraid regarding your job there are other avenues, one is listed above and here regarding the Attorney Generals Office. Investigations Division phone number 334-242-7345

UPDATE - MOTIVE FOR SURVEILLANCE- Sexual Harassment Cover-up: November 19, 2015 - After several interviews a motive for the Mayors actions are revealed - the covering up of SEXUAL HARASSMENT on the part of  the Mayor and other male employees of the City of Scottsboro, specifically pointed at one or more female employees. 

The Mayors specific actions have created a hostile work environment for all employees which has resulted in (my opinion as a retired Equal Opportunity Management Specialist within Department of Defense) unfair personnel actions carried forth against male employees where the mayor in his jealousy has suspected an affair with female employees during off duty time. Actions have been carried forth to counsel in the forms of threats to employees not to discuss such matters.

 Inquiries and investigations have revealed there was no misconduct during any period of time on the part of city employees where the employees were surveilled during off duty hours. I interviewed Mayor Potter on or about September 14th  and ask the question if the suspension and or demotion of city employees was related to sexual misconduct on city property or if there had been a hostile workplace situation created by an employee that had faced adverse personnel action. The Mayors reply to me was no to both questions. The city attorney was called into his office and the mayor was advised not to answer further questions.

Reports, statements, have been received that senior male employees, a Department Head or others, have made photographs of the breasts of one or more female employee(s) and circulated them around in city hall with the Mayor's knowledge. There are reports, with specific dates and times, where the Mayor of Scottsboro has facilitated sexually explicit rumors about female employees of the City of Scottsboro as a retaliatory action.

The recent surveillance of Scottsboro Employees appears to be retaliation directly related to sexual harassment because the Mayor's sexual advances were denied by one or more female employee(s). 

He hired an unlicensed private investigator and conspired with associates and political allies to cover up his and other male employees harassment of female employees The Mayor, because he was outraged that the female employee denied his sexual advances, carried forth adverse personnel actions toward city personnel.

Interviews have revealed (1) the Mayors wife has came to City Hall and confronted female employees about alleged sexual affairs. This has created a hostile work environment for employees of the City of Scottsboro. Employees of the City of Scottsboro have stated that the Mayor has had affairs with employees he previously supervised establishing a pattern of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment.

Interviews have revealed (2) a trend of sexual harassment by specific male employees of the City of Scottsboro. This conduct has been encouraged and facilitated by the Mayor of Scottsboro.

It is disturbing that employees must fear for their jobs and are afraid to file complaints with the appropriate authorities regarding discriminatory actions and other possible violations of law centered around political officials.


INFORMATION FROM THE EEOC

Sex Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Sex Discrimination Harassment

It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Constructive Discharge/Forced To Resign

Discriminatory practices under the laws EEOC enforces also include constructive discharge or forcing an employee to resign by making the work environment so intolerable a reasonable person would not be able to stay.

  • VALIDITY OF WAIVERS 
    1. "...an employer cannot lawfully limit your right to testify, assist, or participate in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding conducted by the EEOC or prevent you from filing a charge of discrimination with the agency.  An employer also cannot lawfully require you to return the money or benefits it gave you in exchange for waving your rights if you do file a charge."  http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_severance-agreements.html#III

    STALKING and /or HARASSMENT
    ALLEGATIONS
    UPDATE November 6, 2015 - It has been reported that police reports have been filed. There are victims and suspects regarding alleged criminal activity and the mayors improper investigation. A new question - Did the mayor use his position to facilitate a criminal act?

    There is a motive as to why this conduct occurred. Whether the investigation will proceed to include involvement of those who have participated in this harassment and cause of mental anguish/threats is yet to be determined. There must be a conclusion for the benefit of the citizenry, not a benefit for a politician whose ego has overcame their better judgment; the politician has asked others to participate in his scheme; he hired a private investigator who was not licensed. 

    Code of Ala. § 13A-6-90.1. Stalking in the second degree. (2012)
     (a) A person who, acting with an improper purpose, intentionally and repeatedly follows, harasses, telephones, or initiates communication, verbally, electronically, or otherwise, with another person, any member of the other person's immediate family, or any third party with whom the other person is acquainted, and causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of the other person, or causes such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business, or career is threatened, and the perpetrator was previously informed to cease that conduct is guilty of the crime of stalking in the second degree.
    (b) The crime of stalking in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor.

    Code of Ala. § 13A-6-92. Definitions. (1994)
    As used in this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings, respectively, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

    (a) Course of conduct. A pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time which evidences a continuity of purpose.

    (b) Credible threat. A threat, expressed or implied, made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a family member and to cause reasonable mental anxiety, anguish, or fear.

    (c) Harasses. Engages in an intentional course of conduct directed at a specified person which alarms or annoys that person, or interferes with the freedom of movement of that person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress. Constitutionally protected conduct is not included within the definition of this term.


    CITY OF SCOTTSBORO FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS REVEALED IN A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST INVOLVING THE HIRING OF AN INVESTIGATOR, IN THIS CASE A NON-LICENSED PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR



    PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS MUST BE LICENSED
    It is required by the Code of Alabama 34-25B-1 thru 34-25B--29,  that all Private Investigators, PI, be licensed by the State of Alabama Private Investigators Licensing Board. The requirements and definitions are very specific. The bottom line is simple, if you perform duties of a PI you are required to be licensed. All persons in the State of Alabama who are licensed per the state licensing board are listed in the below link. If their name is not on the linked roster and they have been performing duties as a PI since the passage of the law or are currently in business as a PI they are in violation of the Code of Alabama. Violation is a crime, it is a class A Misdemeanor as stated in the referenced law. 

    Why is this important? The Mayor of the  City of Scottsboro hired a Private Investigator who advertises on Face Book but is not listed on the roster of licensed PI's found at  http://www.apib.alabama.gov/roster/Roster10.19.15.pdf Inquiry to City Hall revealed that the investigator hired did pay a business license fee with the City of Scottsboro as Investigative Services. That is not sufficient under the laws of the state to qualify as a PI. The Alabama PI Board was contacted and there are no indications that the party hired by the Mayor was or is licensed or has a license in the making.

    This PI was allegedly told by the Mayor to follow, document and/or photograph the activity of certain public employees. The non-licensed PI, according to the above roster, was paid with public money in two installments by checks written on the City of Scottsboro via the First National Bank. These two payments equaled nearly $800.00.  

    The Mayor, having the power to terminate and carry forth personnel actions against the investigated employees, suspended and//or demoted the employees. 

    One of the employees suspended didn't appreciate the actions of the Mayor and apparently threatened legal action if there was not a reinstatement of pay and restitution for legal services fees accrued. The City of Scottsboro issued or ordered to be issued through its legal representatives $4200.00 to be paid as restitution to one employee. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, the other employee involved in the improper investigation has not received restitution and appears to have been discriminated against.

    I have been informed by a public official that the entire City Council of Scottsboro and the Mayor are fully aware of these facts, with maybe the exception that PI's in Alabama must be credentialed and licensed and that those performing investigations without proper credentials are in violation of the Code of Alabama as described above and below. However, the representative at the Alabama Private Investigators Licensing Board informed me that all local and county entities in Alabama have been informed of the requirements that PI's be licensed.

    Scottsboro Mayor Melton Potter (photo by G. Morgan)

    I have interviewed the Mayor and 6 others in these matters. The mayor denied relative questions or refused to answer such questions on advice from legal counsel. I have seen the checks issued to the Mayor's investigator and the check issued to the employee for back pay and or legal services. I have also seen email(s) relating to this incidence which would be classified as public documents due to the city council and mayor each receiving the email(s). Due to sensitive family considerations involved I will not go into details of any email document. 

                      FACE BOOK AD PAGE OF MAYOR'S INVESTIGATOR
    UPDATE Nov. 5, 2015: This Face Book site has been removed by site owner. (copies of the page exist) 

    Section 34-25B-2
    Definitions.
    As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
    (1) FELONY. A criminal offense that is defined and punishable under the laws of this state, or an offense committed outside the State of Alabama, which if committed in this state, would constitute a felony under Alabama law; a crime in any other state or a crime against the United States which is designated as a felony; or an offense in any other state, territory, or country punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
    (2) PRIVATE INVESTIGATION. The compensated act of any individual or company engaging in the business of obtaining or furnishing information with reference to any of the following:
    a. A crime committed or threatened against the United States or any state or territory of the United States.
    b. The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, including, but not limited to, the credibility of a person giving testimony in a criminal or civil proceeding, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, activity, movement, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputations, or character of any person.
    c. The location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property.
    d. The cause or responsibility for fires, losses, accidents, damages, or injuries to persons or to property.
    (3) PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. a. A person who, for compensation, performs one or more of the private investigation services defined and regulated by this chapter.
    b. A person who, for consideration, advertises as providing or performing private investigation. The term does not include an informant who, on a one time or limited basis, as a result of a unique expertise, ability, or vocation, and who provides information or services while under the direction and control of a licensee of the board, that would otherwise be included in the definition of private investigation.
    c. A person who is engaged in private investigation as defined herein and who is licensed in accordance with this chapter.
    (Act 2013-306, p. 1021, §2.)
    Section 34-25B-10

    Practice of private investigation without a license; location of records.

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to act as a private investigator without first obtaining a license from the board. For prosecution purposes, a violation of this chapter is classified as a Class A misdemeanor.
    (b) Each person licensed in accordance with this chapter shall designate to the board a physical address where his or her records are to be kept.
    (Act 2013-306, p. 1021, §10.)
    Here are the exceptions as described above
    Section 34-25B-24

    Exceptions.

    This chapter does not apply to the following:
    (1) An employee of any business or entity that is not primarily engaged in the business of private investigation when that employee is performing duties related to his or her employment.
    (2) An investigation of the internal affairs of a private business entity investigating a current or prospective employee.
    (3) An employee of any business or entity that is not primarily engaged in the business of private investigation when that employee is working under a contract for his or her services that his or her employer signed with a third party.
    (4) Any person or professional, including without limitation an attorney providing legal services, who is not primarily engaged in the business of private investigation, but who in conjunction with his or her business or profession may occasionally perform private investigation services.
    (5) Any business or entity that is not primarily engaged in the business of private investigation.
    (6) A consumer reporting agency as defined by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
    (7) Any certified public accountant authorized to engage in the practice of public accountancy in this state or any entity licensed or otherwise permitted to engage in the practice of public accountancy in this state or the affiliated entities thereof.
    (8)a. An attorney-at-law in good standing and licensed to practice law;
    b. An employee of a single attorney or single law firm who is acting within the employee's scope of employment for the attorney or law firm; or
    c. A consultant, accident reconstructionist, or forensic scientist when the person is retained by an attorney, insurance company representative, or appointed by a court to serve as an expert witness or to investigate, or to make tests, conduct experiments, draw conclusions, render opinions or make diagnoses, where those services require the use of training or experience in a technical, scientific, or social science field.
    (9) Any individual engaged in any of the following:
    a. Computer or digital forensic services.
    b. The acquisition, review, or analysis of digital or computer-based information in order to obtain or furnish information for evidentiary or other purposes or to provide expert testimony before any court, board, officer, or investigating committee.
    c. Network or system vulnerability testing, including network scans and risk assessment and analysis of computers connected to a network.
    (Act 2013-306, p. 1021, §24.)

    What was or is the involvement of at least one member of the Scottsboro Personnel Board in the improper investigations and actions of the Mayor?

    The use of City Funds to pay for secret investigations, secret settlements ( Which some maintain are ethics violations since the City Council did not approve the settlement.), routed thru secretive routes utilizing secret attorneys creates many problems and appears to be unacceptable conduct in our system of laws; for the citizens of Scottsboro this tramples accountable, open government. Maybe some public officials should be considering a resignation.

    UPDATE: NOVEMBER 7, 2015 - Check for Employees Legal Fees, $2500.00, this was not approved by the City Council. There is another check which apparently is back payments to an employee, $1700.00 as a result of a improper suspension. All of these transactions conducted in secret to apparently cover-up what appears to be questionable conduct of the Mayor. 

    Open Government and Secrecy
    There is a bottom line in this and other issues involving OPEN GOVERNMENT and secret activities of political officials. The City of Scottsboro carries out the people's business, that is the purpose of our government. It is this writers thoughts that there are an excessive amount of SECRET settlements that have occurred in the City of Scottsboro regarding legal actions involving public employees and public officials. These SECRET settlements are not indicative of supporting the peoples business nor the concept of OPEN GOVERNMENT, but does support the negligent and wrongful actions of public officials. If we are to be a society where government is a tool of the citizens to carry forth our business under the law, secret activity of our government's elected and appointed officials cannot and should not be tolerated. Particularly when that activity is illegal and involves what appears to be the discriminatory actions of a public official.

    2 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Hope Linda don't quit her day job.....a blind deaf person would be a better PI than her!

    Jones Diaz said...

    Wow, very informative post. Really it is absolutely true that the work of private investigator is very heard. It's very difficult to solve a case through investigation. When I lost my Important data from my computer I consulted Dallas private investigator Institute of Computer Forensic Examinations and Criminal Investigations (ICFECI) to recover the data. Finally after a long work they solved my problem. Really Private investigator does a very excellent job. Thanks for sharing.