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Reader Commentary: Can Oregon Government Change its Spots?Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com reader's views on the William Coleman Civil Rights Case.
(SALEM, Ore.) - (Forward by News Editor: William Coleman's Civil Rights case against the state of Oregon's Dept. of Human Services and former state hospital HR supervisor Cynthia Gregory, was defeated Thursday when a jury returned a verdict in favor of the state. We will have more details in a pending report. This article was submitted shortly before the trial's outcome was known.)
I am a ‘root-diggin’ researcher of historical facts, so I can’t help comment about the naïveté exhibited by some Salem-News.com readers who desire to bury Mr. Coleman and his integrity in the dirt of speculation, assumptions and denials without bothering to access facts which are easily publicly available in public records at Salem, Oregon; or simply because a mainstream media source isn’t running after Mr. Coleman’s story. Omission to report, specifically, the censorship of “Oregon state government news” by mainstream media doesn’t make the truth less truthful, it just makes it harder to be informed about and thwarts mass public outcry over wrongs in government.
In another Salem-News.com article, “A Witness With No Credibility”, on this case, [http://salem-news.com/articles/october292010/newspaper-racism-tk.php# comments] a comment was made (on 03/09/2011), as if by some authority of actual knowledge of the commenter; regarding how the State of Oregon handles litigation over civil rights lawsuits against it. In this particular comment, “Anonymous March 9, 2011 6:38 pm (Pacific time)” wrote “Our local and state governments always settle if they have a weak case, and that goes double for the feds...” and then the commenter challenged, skeptically, “Also Coleman's entire history will be made available, so who knows what info this site has and not has?” [referring to Salem-News.com’s website]
If the Oregon’s case is so “strong” as regards Mr. Coleman, perhaps we should ask: “Why did the state just try so hard this week to introduce information that Mr. Coleman was at onetime “investigated” for those phony charges [trumped-up by the prison-system “elites”], charges which Coleman already trounced (by unanimous acquittal) in a criminal court case originating from the very same “investigation” the state wished to have testimony allowed into the trial this week, testimony from state’s witnesses? Because, the state is grasping at straws? It would be funny if it was not so pathetic. It wouldn’t surprise me that the state asks for a mistrial, or most certainly appeals an unfavorable verdict, the second would to wear down Mr. Coleman’s resources & time, the first would provide a window of opportunity to re-strategize with its state’s witnesses.
Mr. Coleman alleges that when he tried to engage with the Statesman Journal about the racism existing in the prison being a serious problem, he was told he should contact a senior news employee named Bill Church. After reaching Church by phone, Coleman told Church he wanted to discuss a violent and dangerous racism at the state prison, Bill Church's reply was, "I don't need to listen to any of this crap from you" and Church slammed the phone down in Coleman's ear.
That the local newspaper, the Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon, is another lackey of the state government and Marion County government’s entrenched power structure[by way of the Statesman’s ‘non sequitur-styled reporting’] is not surprising; as the Statesman (what a name) clearly operates to support the “status quo” of government power, even when that power is being manifested wrongly, and costly taxpayers millions in settlements that often include “gag” clauses upon the victims, sort of like how ex-Governor Neil Goldschmidt worked out “gagging” his rape victim with a money settlement. There are plenty of situations Oregon government, through the Attorney General, has traded money for silence from civil rights victims, so as to keep its dirty secrets, SECRET. The sordid tales of who in state government (then) knew about Neil’s rapes of Elizabeth Dunham are outlined in this official document: http://blog.oregonlive.com/
Goldschmidt’s past speech writer , Fred Leonhardt, tells of how Goldschmidt scheduled an appointment with Elizabeth Dunham while Gregg Kantor, Bernie Giusto and Leonhardt were present in the early Spring of 1989. The Oregonian had wind of the story around the same time, but avoided it like the plague.
The Statesman Journal’s lack of ethics in reporting and its lack of fair-reporting of this case at hand, regarding Mr. Coleman [so much like the Oregonian’s “hands-off” approach to Goldschmidt’s rapes of Elizabeth] casts a long forward-shadow on the general Salem community’s opportunity for self-reflection; reflection that could leading to a collective desire to protect the civil rights of its minority populations. The Statesman Journal also, by acts and omissions, is ethically complicit in a racist cover-up of the state by keeping in the shadows (from public knowledge) the sordid tales and ‘under color of law” immoral/illegal antics of publicly-employed actors (local, county & state) against Mr. Coleman.
In response to ‘Anonymous” (mentioned above) skepticism regarding what the salem-news.com ‘has/has not’ and knows/knows not’ about Mr. Coleman’s past; the editors of the Salem-News.com website, like the rest of the world, has had the opportunity available to review the public record (case files and audio tapes) at the Marion County courthouse by which Coleman was unanimously found NOT GUILTY to charges brought about by a clear conspiracy within state government to discredit him in anticipation of this very lawsuit (now being heard in state court).
Why did the state want maliciously prosecute Mr. Coleman at all? It is rather apparent that Mr. Coleman knows at least enough of the dirty tales of prison management and operations regarding prisoner safety (and more) to be considered as a danger to the “prison establishment”. He is not the first, and likely the last. However, unlike years of past, the Oregon state prison no longer regularly hires convicted felons as guards (‘corrections officers”). Mr. Coleman passed background checks just a few years ago, prior to his hiring as an Oregon prison guard. Nowadays, the state ACTUALLY does background investigations on hires. Mr. Coleman still has his integrity intact, unlike some of his predecessor state prison ‘guards’ when they were first hired.
Foxes watching the hen-house:
Let me share (published in mainstream media; Tri-City Herald, Thursday, December 23, 1971, Second Page One) one example where Oregon DOC, in the past, didn’t care about the criminal background of who it hired as a prison guard. The state hired one very-clearly convicted felon around 1951 (Lawrence Sullivan, by his own admission in the article, which was written by the Oregon state capitol correspondent at the time, Paul Harvey Jr., no relation to the Paul Harvey radio commentator). I found it interesting that the Oregon State Prison warden [ a man later described as running the state prison as his own “fiefdom” by the state police (and a retired state judge, Hon. John Warden) ] allowed such facts to be published in a rather amazing article in which the prison guards were asking for better pay. Who knows if the state has completely purged itself of its older felony-convicted guards, as of yet? Mr. Coleman certainly has far more integrity than Lawrence Sullivan did, and the state hired Sullivan.
Mr. Lawrence L. Sullivan described his past in the article (which is available at Google News archives):
Hoyt Carl Cupp, the prison warden I refer to (pictured above), followed his uncle Hoyt B. Cupp’s footsteps and became employed, himself, at the state penitentiary as a guard around 1947. Hoyt (the younger) eventually rose to power over the entire prison and its annexes in 1968, after appointment by the Governor. Another uncle of Warden Hoyt Cupp, namely John Cupp, before World War II worked at the “Oregon Institute for the Feeble-Minded” in Salem [later known as Fairview, and now closed after the Feds basically required it be closed for abuses of Oregon citizens house there], putting to use of his own farming skills on the 700 acres set aside for growing foodstuffs for the “inmates” residing therein.
Warden Cupp’s uncle, Hoyt B. Cupp’s WWI draft registration showing the older Hoyt’s employment at the state penitentiary. Warden Hoyt C. Cupp’s son, Tom Cupp, is the third known generation of the Cupp family to become an Oregon Corrections employee, sometime around 1981.
In 2004, Oregon Corrections reported: “Tom Cupp will transfer laterally from assistant superintendent of Security at EOCI to become assistant superintendent of Programs. Tom has been with the department in a number of positions and prisons for more than 23 years. In 1999, he was promoted to EOCI’s assistant superintendent of General Services, supervising Physical Plant, Food Services, Inmate Work Programs and Safety.” http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/
Amazingly, Hoyt Carl Cupp (after his death) was fingered by an Oregon prisoner (Timothy [Johnson] Kellcy) for providing the murder-payoff to Timothy Natividad (deceased) regarding the murder of Michael Francke. Francke was the Director of Oregon Corrections department in January1989, when he was found stabbed to death at the doorway of his state office building. A few months prior to his murder, Mr. Francke had to deal with a problem at the Oregon State Prison.
Nigel Jaquiss, of the Willamette Week (who won a Pulitzer prize for pursuing the story of Goldschmidt’s rapes of Elizabeth Dunham, recently deceased Jan 2011) wrote in this 2007 article: See: http://wweek.com/editorial/
The A-Shed fire occurred under Neil Goldsmidt’s regime, and his protégé’, now ex-Governor Kulongoski was the Oregon State Insurance Commissioner at the time of the fire appointed by Goldschmidt. Later, a decades- long state employee in Kulongoski’s office at the Insurance Commission, Frank Thompson, ended up inexplicably dead. By many accounts, Thompson had been snooping into state computers, gathering evidence of Oregon Corrections corruption. An informative piece about the highly questionable circumstances surrounding the death of Thompson, and investigation of his death, can be read here: https://docs.google.com/Doc?
After Francke’s murder, the Oregon State Ethics Director, Betty Reynolds, investigating goings-on related to the Department of Corrections & the Oregon State Prison [ involving corruption allegations that implicated a powerful state senator (“Cub” Houck)], suddenly left the state. A Private Investigator gathering information on the Francke murder for a pending court case spoke to Reynolds just shortly before she announced she was leaving Oregon. Here are transcribed notes of the investigator, Tom Nesbit-Lance, from his meeting with Reynolds:
Later, a July 1990 news report of Reynolds’s ‘off the record’ words, [ accidently taped after the end of an Ethics hearing around July 11, 1990] may help the public better understand how fear of one’s life and liberty can grip those in state government trying to expose corruption in state government and the prisons.
“No one should have to put up with this. I’m dead. I’ve been destroyed.”
The next month, August 1990, Reynolds [while addressing the Portland Rotary] expressed her concern about the adequacy of the police investigation regarding Thompson's death, saying: "I'm afraid there is a much darker side", according to media reports at the time.
The name of Cub Houck had been brought up earlier, in 1986, by state Senator L.B. Day. Day had heard allegations about Houck and certain corrections officials having ‘off-the-record’ deals related to Houck’s construction company which involving building materials, prisoner labor and certain contracts. A VERY short ‘state police’ investigation (less than three months) took place after Day complained to Governor Atiyeh about the allegations. Atiyeh was a ‘lame-duck” governor at the time, Goldschmidt took office in January 1987. A secret service investigation went “no where”.
A few month before Day brought his complaints, state pathologists, were implicated in shady activities.
Pathologist Larry Lewman did the highly questioned autopsy on Michael Francke. Although, initially, it was reported that Lewman would be “fired” he remained, and after Francke’s murder he eventually led the state’s Medical Examiners office.
During the onslaught of the investigation, the head of the penitentiary, a Cupp protégé’, resigns.
By August 1986, Senator L.B. Day complained (by letter for certain) to Governor Atiyeh that the state police investigation had become a “cover-up” for Corrections. Day was apparently concerned, that to give the corrections investigation “plausible deniability” only a few low-rung corrections employees were hung out to dry. The prison-system higher-up “elites” Day wanted looked at avoided scrutiny. Later, another investigation would confirm Day’s suspicions. However, Senator Day would not live to see this happen. Within three months of his written letter to Atiyeh, Day would die. Day practically died in the arms of Cub Houck.
Rumormongers have speculated that rapid onset of arsenic poisoning in his drink or food at the event, and difficult to detect at autopsy by state medical examiners, was the cause of Day’s massive heart attack. The actual autopsy results were never reported by the media, as far as is known.
WEAK CASE? The state has the advantages of money, power, the courts, the prosecutors, and “prison snitches” or “potential felons on the hot seat” they can conjure up or manipulate to do their bidding. I would say, the State of Oregon should NEVER have a “weak case’:
s regards the state of Oregon “always” settling “if they have a weak case”, this comment by ‘Anonymous’ stands as irrational as any I have read, to date, at Salem-News.com regarding Mr. Coleman. Here’s why: The state of Oregon doesn’t decide if they want to settle a case, the person filing a lawsuit does. Also, if the state can destroy the complainant by prosecuting them on trumped-up charges and gaining a conviction, they don’t worry about much of anything as to “settling” even a strong case against the state. It’s such a more ‘final’ outcome to keep from having the state’s “dirty-laundry” aired by an ex-employee “whistle-blower”.
Mr. Coleman, seems determined to expose the state for the cloak and dagger entity that it is, I am all for his doing so in court, in lieu of some financial settlement. Fortunately for the public, a trial record will occur from the case, and pre-trial motions and motions in limine will be available for future discussion. Those ‘motions’ are always fun to read, because they will explains what the defense (THE STATE this time around) is afraid of the jury knowing about in Coleman’s lawsuit against the state.
Oregon’s desperate need to keep it’s star witness, the violent criminal Mr. Salazar, out of jail as this lawsuit-trial of Mr. Coleman’s was looming, and to keep Salazar’s prior CRIMINAL history away from the jury in this present matter are simply two more, informative pieces of the ‘puzzle of deceptions’ the state of Oregon is too willing to assemble when it needs to cover its nasty tracks or wants bury a political “target” alive, in the media and behind prison walls.
Mr. Joe Salazar must be very glad he met Mr. Coleman at the Lee Mission cemetery. . Mr. Coleman was his now, (and possibly perpetual) “stay out of jail” card if this case continues past the jury decision in the current case brought by Mr. Coleman.
Lee Mission Cemetery, Salem, Oregon.
Previous Installments in this series:
Articles for March 9, 2011 | Articles for March 10, 2011 | Articles for March 11, 2011