A front page column blared out the headlines that Doug Havens had been charged with four misdemeanors by the Idaho State Attorney’s for buying items at a county auction he had signed off on in his capacity as county Commissioner.
My first thoughts were why was this commissioner being charged with misdemeanors by the State Attorney General’s office.
My first instinct was to contact someone in the county commissioners office to find out what was really going on. I learned that a Bob Tippett, who was a former county commissioner had a vendetta against Doug Havens. He had filed a formal complaint with the local prosecutor over the matter. I was also told that Patty Weeks had been involved.
Next I contacted Patty Weeks and advised her that she was being accused of trying to oust Doug Havens. Patty denied the accusation and stated she had heard the accusation before and was tired of people blaming her for the complaint. It appeared from listening to Patty that she was telling the truth.
Bob Tippets after complaining to Weeks and the Prosecuting Attorney went to the Lewiston Morning Tribune and complained about the conduct of Doug Havens. The Tribune did an initial story on the incident then dropped the matter.
Next I contacted Justin Coleman, the county prosecutor. I had two questions for him. One was why his office did not investigate the incident and two was whether his office was being used to force Doug Havens out of office. Justin was very open and transparent. He was very believable.
Justin stated that Bob Tippetts had come into his office to complain that Doug Havens had bought surplus property belonging to the county. Justin told him that he could not look into the matter since he had represented Havens in his capacity as prosecutor. Justin advise Mr. Tippets that he would refer the matter to the state attorney’s office. He subsequently did just that.
Tippetts left coleman’s office and wemt to Patty Weeks office where he complained about Havens. Finally Tibbetts went to the Morning Tribune. The tribune did an initial story on the incident then everything quieted down.
Coleman meantime sent a formal letter to the commissioner’s office advising them that they could not take part in any auction since it was a conflict of interest. Coleman followed up with a class on ethics in government. That seemed to be the prudent course to take.
In the course of talking to various people involved in this incident I learned that the practice outlined in the complaint was common. In this case there was no one who appeared at the auction to bid. Many of the employees bid on the property just to keep the property from being taken to the dump. None of these employees were charged; only Doug Havens.
Doug Havens called. He stated that he did not know of any organized attempt to get him removed from office. We discussed the case then he hung up.
Next a Scott Graf, public information officer for the attorney general office called. He stated that he could not discuss the case. I told him that I was not calling to discuss specifics of the case. I was calling to find out one why the Idahe State Attorney General was involved in a misdemeanor case in Nez Perce County and second was his office being used as a means to oust Doug Havens from office. Mr. Graf simply took the safest approach and referred me to the statute under which they were authorized to act. He emailed me a copy of the complaint and the statute.
To the question of whether his office was being used to oust Havens Mr Graf stated he could not speak to the issue. That answer left open the question of whether the criminal justice system was being used to oust Doug Havens from office.
It is this publication position that this was a de minimus non curat lex violation and should have been treated as such. No other county employee was charged in the incident. All were equally as guilty. The Coleman approach was probably the best approach under the circumstance. This whole practice had gone on for a long time and no one paid any attention. In fact there were so few people at the auction that the auctioneer actually bid on an item.
IN VINO VERITAS—WINE BRINGS TRUTH
Hello this is Darrell Castle with today’s Castle Report. Today in this Report I will be talking about how truth sometimes does come from a bottle of wine, as the Latin title translates. The legal battle between Oberlin College and Gibson’s Bakery is the real subject for today as well as how truth was revealed in that case through a bottle of wine.
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college and conservatory of music in Oberlin, Ohio. It is the oldest co-educational liberal arts college in the United States, having been founded in 1835. It claims to be the first college to admit women and the first to admit African Americans, and today it is described on Wikipedia as “known for its progressive student activism.”
The other side of the case we are talking about is Gibson’s Bakery, a small business located near the Oberlin campus since 1885. Gibson’s then is a fifth generation family owned business which has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 130 years. The elder Gipson is now 90 years old and still works in the bakery, and was present for much of the trial.
This case actually started the day after the 2016 presidential election. Apparently a lot of students at Oberlin, as well as the college administration, had a hard time accepting the results of that election. The day after Donald Trump was elected, I suppose in despair and wanting to drown his sorrow, a student, who happened to be African American, along with two companions, came into the bakery, stuck a bottle of wine in his coat and walked out without paying.
Allyn Gibson, whose great-great-grandfather founded the bakery, confronted the young man and told him he was going to call the police. There was a physical altercation outside when Mr. Gibson tried to take a picture, and when the police arrived Mr. Gibson was on the ground, apparently having been beaten and kicked by the three. The three men, all black, were arrested and charged, and then the president of Oberlin sent the following email to the student body:
“This has been a difficult few days for our community, not simply because of the events at Gibson’s Bakery, but because of the fears and concerns that many are feeling in response to the outcome of the presidential election. We write foremost to acknowledge the pain and sadness that many of you are experiencing. We want you to know that the administration, faculty, and staff are here to support you as we work through this moment together.”
The administration of Oberlin clearly had a political agenda and was willing to tie it to the incident at Gibson’s. The poor students at one of the most elite colleges in the country have apparently never experienced very much pain and suffering in their lives because they were simply unable to cope with not getting the results they wanted from the election. The College’s agenda, at least implicitly, encourages the left wing actions of the students and lets them know that it sympathizes.
The Gibson’s were accused of racial profiling since those arrested were black and the Gibson family is white. Student protests formed outside the Bakery, including a boycott which the college participated in, as well as cancelling business with the Bakery. Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, participated in the protests along with the students although she said she was there only to support the students and protect them, but she was seen handing out flyers along with the students. The Bakery was severely damaged economically, and was virtually out of business. For several months it struggled to make ends meet and had to lay off most of its 12 employees, some of whom were black. When this type of confrontation is going on outside a business no one wants to risk going there especially with the things being said about the Gibson family.
In the meantime, nine months later, after the Bakery was basically ruined, the three students pled guilty to shop lifting and publicly admitted that there was no racial profiling and no racial intent at all. The Gibson’s filed a lawsuit against Oberlin College, its administration, and Meredith Raimondo for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with business relations and many lesser counts.
There is a long standing rule of law that basically holds that a college cannot be held independently liable for the actions of its students. To hold otherwise would stifle the free speech of the students and the college as well. In an ironic twist of fate, a college which often argued that speech it doesn’t approve of should be suppressed now defended itself by arguing for free speech. In this case, however, the Gibson’s weren’t suing the college because of the actions of students, but for its own actions. That is a concept the College’s lawyer and none of the administrators could ever seem to grasp.
The trial lasted a month and during that time the jury heard much in the way of evidence and much in the way of attitudes. The jury held for the Gibson’s and awarded them $11 million in compensatory damages, with another hearing to be held for the jury to consider an award of punitive damages as well. My own opinion is that when the jury saw what was happening on the Oberlin campus and inside American higher education in general, they were shocked and appalled. The stultifying political correctness and intimidation that exists on American campuses spilled over into their local community.
Several students testified that there existed an atmosphere of theft at the college and the Gibson’s were able to show a loss of $1500 per month in theft which could be devastating for a small business. The students seemed to have the attitude that they were entitled to anything they wanted from the normal people of the town. Well, there were normal people sitting on that jury and when they saw how this family-owned, five generation business was abused and destroyed, and how this family, which had done nothing wrong ,was treated by this elite college and its elitist, morally self righteous students, they decided to send them a message.
The Gibsons were not political, just business people trying to make a living and stay in business and suddenly a mob appeared outside and didn’t leave. The jury saw working people who get up early to get to work before daylight to bake those donuts the students steal, and they were appalled by it. Oberlin College did not get the message the jury tried to send though, and that is obvious.
After the verdict, but before the hearing on punitive damages, the lead counsel for the College sent a letter to students and alums of the College. In that letter she criticized the jury and said it did not agree with the “clear evidence her team submitted.” She went back to the same failed concept she tried for a month of trial to use and that was, it’s not our fault, it was the students. She just couldn’t understand that the College was being sued for its actions not the actions of the students. It was the colleges and Dean Raimondo’s own conduct at issue, not the conduct of the students.
In the hearing for determination of punitive damages the Gibson’s lawyer, who was great throughout by the way, had a field day. The term taking candy from a baby comes to mind. The post verdict email was exhibit A, and it clearly showed the jury the unrepentant contempt this college, its administration, and even its lawyer had for them. The College also argued poverty and asked the jury not to deprive them of their chief duty of educating students, but the evidence presented by the Gibson’s lawyer was that the College had $887 million in endowments as well as $1.5 billion in total assets so they were not hurting.
In his closing, he said to the jury “how do you get to know a company that has a billion dollars.” Well the jury thought $33 million punitive in addition to the $11 million compensatory for a total verdict of $44 million might get their attention but unfortunately to this point it has not done so. State law in Ohio restricts the punitive award to twice the compensatory so that would be a total collectable verdict of $33 million which is enough to get most people’s attention, but apparently not in the elitist world of higher education.
Oberlin did not get the message that is clear because the college president sent out an email saying she does not think they did anything wrong and they will continue to fight. So, I’m sure that Oberlin’s lawyers will file an appeal and delay the Gibson’s recovery but hopefully the court will require them to post an appeal bond of say 10% of the total judgment or about $3.5 million. In addition, interest will run during the pendency of the appeal, so what is two years at 10% on $33 million? I don’t know but I’ll wager it’s a lot.
When ordinary people sitting on a jury are made privy to the way these privileged few inside America’s education establishment think and behave, they are shocked and appalled. It’s never been the generally accepted policy in this country for a few “intellectual elites” to hold some special status which allows them to intimidate and victimize working Americans. It’s also hard to see the Alumni opening their pockets to replenish the lost endowment money this will eventually cost.
The campus indignation and outrage at what they perceived as how the system failed, finally got the better of them. The most self-righteous people in the world reside in the ivy covered buildings of the educational establishment. It is really an outrageous thing to see how they attack and victimize ordinary people because they are right and they are on the right side of history and it’s just a matter of a little time before the rest of us are crushed and merged into the new world that awaits them and their storm troopers.
Finally Folks, the battle lines are drawn and the thin veneer of moderation has been removed from the tactics of our intellectual betters for all to see. Remember that it began with the truth revealing power of a bottle of wine.
We can at least thank Oberlin College for revealing the dark, ugly inside of modern education to the world; and we can thank the Gibsons for reminding them that you can’t steal my wine no matter what color you are. However, the Administrators and bureaucrats of Oberlin College can’t seem to accept a jury’s verdict anymore than they can accept the outcome of a presidential election.
American Freedom Defense Initiative
Idaho Freedom Foundation
Media Research Center
Middle East Research: MEMRI
National Taxpayers Union
US News and World Report
Vote Smart Info on Politicians
The Weekly Standard
World Net Daily