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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Charlotte City Council Thinks We're Stupid

Charlotte City Council votes to support corrupt contract

Tonight, after several hours of speakers who were overwhelmingly opposed to the contract with Cintra for building toll lanes on I-77 north of downtown Charlotte, and after acknowledging receiving many more private contacts also against the transaction, many Council members voted to punt on the upcoming CRPTO vote.  They fail in the opportunity to vote against this horrible, corrupt project.


Leadership FAIL

"Led" by new Mayor Jennifer Roberts' speech about how Charlotte's vote really wouldn't have any impact anyway because we were not on the NCDOT contract, those who voted to move ahead continued to say that they "supported the strategy."  It was the go-to catchphrase for the crew defending this indefensible contract.  

They literally had NOT ONE THING to say about benefits or positive financial or physical outcome of dealing with this company or building these toll roads in this way.  


They basically said "we're too dumb to figure out anything else and we've been threatened that if we ask questions or require anything better than this colossal waste of money which ties us to 50 years of gridlock and penalties to a foreign company, we will have to pay outrageous penalties even though we had no say-so in making this contract or choosing this company... but we're too weak and corrupt to say we stand up for our constituents and say "NO"."


MORE EMPTY THREATS

Charlotte's City Council knows or should know the threats about Charlotte paying penalties if the contracts are canceled are lies.  Not to mention the penalties are 'projected to be between $82MM and $300MM" (can you say fraud?).  State-level politicians put a fine point on the issue by taking time to stand in line with other citizens and speak directly to the point:  Charles Jeter, Jeff Tarte and Tricia Cotham spoke together with Jeter speaking clearly in response to all the phony threats from Raleigh, "The only people that can pass laws are standing right here."  They clearly indicated that forcing Charlotte to pay would require passing laws--and just as clearly indicated that would not happen with them in Raleigh.

Inexplicably, it didn't stop Charlotte Councilman Ed Driggs from repeating Roucho's empty threat that "there's no way the state's going to pay this penalty" and that Charlotte and other locals would.  Really?  It's not in the contract. How is it that only the STATE NCDOT can sign or change or cancel a contract but CHARLOTTE would have to pay?  This is a flat out lie.


Governor McCrory looking for scapegoat

County Commisioner Pat Cotham also waited to speak along with Commissioners Puckett and Leake.  Cotham said strongly, "Take out this one bad project.... the Governor needs a scapegoat and you (Charlotte Council) are his target! Call him out."


WHAT!?  TAXES?!

Cornelius Commissioner Milton came to speak and informed us that North Carolina tax payers are contracted to pay the. taxes for Cintra.  What?   What?

This is new information for Citynewswatch and probably for many people.  That's one more argument off the table for the "pro" group who has been touting the boost to our economy for the tax revenue generated by this private company.  We're paying them there, too. 


JOHN AUTRY's MAGIC BUS

Autry talked of how the people who ride buses need a lane where they can ride reliably and quickly, and they can do it on the new toll lanes.  Hey, John, this plan TAKES AWAY THE FREE H.O.V. lane that we already paid for and which is available to buses now and gives it to the foreign company to profit from--where buses will be slowed down by toll lanes, traffic jams, and other problems.  And we will pay their taxes in addition to losing that lane flexibility.

What about the impact of losing that lane for emergency vehicles?  Nobody has addressed that publicly.


AL AUSTIN SPEAKS SOME TRUTH


Councilman Al Austin said, "They knew this contract was one we wouldn't accept and they ACCELERATED it.  We need to put a bow on it and send it back."


LAWANA MAYFIELD REWARDED FOR HER SUPPORT(?)

Councilwoman Lawana Mayfield has been vocal in her opposition ahead of the meeting. One speaker accidentally addressed her as "Congresswoman Mayfield" and the temporary promotion garnered both laughter and applause in a light moment of the evening.

Patsy Kinsey made her usual moronic statement that she was voting for it but "holding her nose," as if that makes it okay.  Will tax payers be able to "hold their noses" long enough to sit on the interstate or when they have to sell their homes because they can't afford the taxes anymore?


PAT MCRORY, WHY IS THERE A SURPLUS EVERYWHERE ELSE?

Maybe we should all move to one of the counties where Pat McCrory has surplus road money to build bridges and roads--you know, where all our taxes are flowing.


Will the FBI please get busy here in Charlotte?  
And Raleigh.







Monday, January 11, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Update on I-77 Toll Votes & COURT CASE DELAY

For anyone who had planned to attend court on Friday, 
Widen I-77 has announced it is seeking to delay the suit it has filed.

Last night, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners voted to send their representative to CRPTO with a NO vote on proceeding with the Cintra/I-77 Mobility Partners toll project heading north of Charlotte.  Widen-I-77 now hopes to sway Charlotte's City Council to vote in kind.  They wish to have the City of Charlotte cast their considerable 38 votes in addition to Mecklenburg County's 2 votes in opposition to the current toll lanes project. 

WCCB Charlotte reports this way:

CHARLOTTE, NC — Opponents to the I-77 toll lanes are trying to delay a lawsuit they filed to allow the political process to play out.

A hearing was set in that lawsuit for this Friday. But Wednesday, Widen I-77 announced it’s asking to stay that suit.

The group hopes to influence the Charlotte City Council, which has a 46 percent vote on the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, which is the group that ultimately decides if the project lives or dies.

“All Charlotte has to do is have one or two municipalities vote with it, and the motion will carry,” said Kurt Naas of Widen I-77.

Tuesday night, Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted 8-1 against the toll lanes.




You should STILL make your opinion known via email addresses always provided to the right sidebar here and phone numbers below:

Office of the City Clerk
704-336-2248

Mayor Jennifer Roberts
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3431

​Julie Eiselt
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: to come

Claire Green Fallon
Council member at large
PO Box 481325
Charlotte, NC, 28269
Telephone: 704-336-6105

James Mitchell
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3430

​Patsy B. Kinsey
Council member, district 1
2334 Greenway Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28204
Telephone: 704-336-3432

Al Austin
Council member, district 2
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3185

LaWana Mayfield
Council member, district 3
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3435

Gregory A. Phipps
Council member, district 4
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3436

​John N. Autry
Council member, district 5
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2777

Kenny Smith
Council member, district 6
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone:  704-574-7241

Edmund H. Driggs
Council member, district 7
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-432-7077



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ARE YOU THIS STUPID OR THIS CORRUPT?

 Is this the first question that comes to mind every time you read of anyone’s support for I-77 Toll Lanes?  It is for the staff at Citynewswatch

Each update is more and more infuriating, including the information from last night’s work session of the Charlotte City Council committee where they took a vote of 3-2 to support toll lanes, with Vi Lyles supporting. 

Lyles is the sole vote representing Charlotte on CRPTO (the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization) with a weighted vote of 31 out of 68 which essentially makes it the only one that counts. She has made it clear she intends to keep supporting the contract with Spanish-based I-77 Mobility Partners/Cintra to build toll lanes which may cost around $20 per round trip at rush hour.  The private toll lanes would skip over certain exit areas altogether and dump traffic into select real estate development areas.  Toll lanes would only be strong enough to support cars (read ==> trucks will be forced to stay on "free" lanes and increase slowdowns and air pollution for the poor masses).

What is the reason for support of this crazy contract?

The State of North Carolina contracted with a company known to default and go bankrupt multiple times in other states.  They have been involved in government bribes.  They were awarded a no-competitive-bid contract with a 50-year non-compete clause so that NC may not add any tax-funded lanes (or should we say other tax-funded lanes?) without paying huge penalties. 

Here’s another problem:  the threats of huge penalties to scare us into submission are fluctuating from a relatively small amount to $300 million. The NCDOT representative also says the number can’t be calculated.

Can’t be calculated?  From a contract you wrote?

Again… 
‘Are you that stupid or that corrupt’ comes to mind.


Of course the representative is Ned Curran, who is also CEO of Charlotte-based Bissell Companies real estate developer.  That’s right:  The chairman of the state Board of Transportation directing where & how our tax money is spent on roads is head of one of the biggest real estate developers in the area. 

Curran has been quoted with statements that voting down this project would affect lanes being built on Independence Blvd. and on Charlotte's outer loop along with other local projects, and further that any “regular” lanes being built on I-77 would be delayed a minimum of 6 months more for an air quality study to be conducted.  Opponents say the first statement is simply untrue and is nothing more than retaliation.  No explanation has been given for the air quality study.  But even if it’s true, wouldn’t a 6-month delay seem inconsequential compared to hundreds of millions or perhaps billions of dollars lost to a foreign country with a spotty record of accomplishment?  Is there any confidence that air quality would be better with Cintra managing toll lanes than with additional “free” lanes?  Probably not—and that should be the comparison for air quality decisions. 


EASY BACKGROUND

If you need to catch up on this important issue, here’s a video posted on You Tube has been posted some time ago but with good information and a snappy tune:




TONIGHT’S CITY COUNCIL MEETING STUPIDITY

The Charlotte Observer’s Steve Harrison recapped the Council committee meeting including.

Here are a couple of the dumbest highlights:

  • ·       “Lyles, the committee chairman, tried to steer the conversation away from questions about the 1-77 project specifically.”  Um, what did Lyles think people were there to discuss?  A corrupt, outrageous contract for a toll road that should not be built--which will benefit NOBODY except developers with some very specific tracts of land and a company that is building those toll roads.

  • ·       "Upon initial review the (auditor’s) report appears to reaffirm that, while the exact cost of cancellation cannot be calculated, it will clearly be substantial," the DOT said.  It has been stated at about $100 Million or up to $300 Million.  Would you make a contract that may be off by 300% or off by $200 Million?   That’s what Vi Lyles and possibly Jennifer Roberts and others want you to pay for.   And probably your children.  And their children.  50 Years.

  • ·       “Julie Eiselt, a Democrat, said she asked a friend who works in construction in Spain about Cintra, which has been criticized by toll lane opponents. Eiselt said her friend told her the firm has a good reputation.”  Let’s base our decision about Cintra’s reputation on government bribery and bankruptcies and defaults for other toll road projects in major cities that have left those cities bleeding out ransoms of tax-payer funds.  I don’t care what Eiselt’s friend heard at the water cooler en Espana. Embarrassing.




 NEXT

A group called WIDEN I-77 has filed suit to stop the toll roads.  The hearing will be this 
Friday, Jan. 8, at 10:00 a.m. 
in at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse at 832 East 4th Street in Charlotte in Court Room 6170 and is open to public attendance. 


You should also make your opinion known via email addresses always provided to the right sidebar here and phone numbers below:

Office of the City Clerk
704-336-2248

Mayor Jennifer Roberts
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3431

​Julie Eiselt
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: to come

Claire Green Fallon
Council member at large
PO Box 481325
Charlotte, NC, 28269
Telephone: 704-336-6105

James Mitchell
Council member at large
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3430

​Patsy B. Kinsey
Council member, district 1
2334 Greenway Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28204
Telephone: 704-336-3432

Al Austin
Council member, district 2
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3185

LaWana Mayfield
Council member, district 3
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3435

Gregory A. Phipps
Council member, district 4
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-3436

​John N. Autry
Council member, district 5
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-336-2777

Kenny Smith
Council member, district 6
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone:  704-574-7241

Edmund H. Driggs
Council member, district 7
600 E. 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202-2244
Telephone: 704-432-7077



Friday, August 7, 2015

IRRESPONSIBLE "COMMENTARY" FROM THE UPOR

This "commentary" headline is featured today in the local newspaper. It may be a strong example of why the value of the Charlotte Observer and publisher have tanked.  And check out the "highlights" list, too.

For the newspaper to allow this race-baiting, pandering column of biased accusations to run is entirely irresponsible, in the opinion of Citynewswatch editorial staff.  


ERIC FRAZIER

 
AUGUST 6, 2015

Commentary: Jonathan Ferrell faced three officers; only the white one used deadly force

Video in Jonathan Ferrell case is inconclusive
Two black officers joined Wes Kerrick on scene
No coincidence the white officer was one to use deadly force








Please read that 'highlight' again:
"No coincidence the white officer was one to use deadly force"

Frazier goes on to explain how white people will view a video of a tragic night and how black people will view it.  Frazier quotes about a "big bad black man," but isn't quoting anyone.  

Frazier continues:
I have always suspected that Kerrick’s biggest hurdle at trial wouldn’t necessarily be the video, but the actions of the two police officers who joined him that night.
The standard at issue in this trial is whether a reasonable officer, confronted with the same circumstances, would take the same action Kerrick did.
Usually, that other “reasonable officer” is a hypothetical. Here, there are two other real officers.
And they are both African-American.
One, Officer Adam Neal, didn’t pull any weapon. He testified that he expected a violent confrontation, but figured on subduing Ferrell by fighting him.

Beginning with "I have always suspected hat Kerrick's biggest hurdle at trial wouldn't necessarily be the video..." Frazier exposes he already decided what happened and he makes no logical argument or explanation for arriving there.  He believes the video is a problem for the officer and not for the prosecution.

  One valid point
The only point worth examining here is that Officer Adam Neal testified (and who knows if this is an accurate description of his thoughts at the time?) that he "figured on subduing Ferrell by fighting him."  
It seems too many officers, whether out of fear or malice or lack of experience or training, are too quick to pull deadly weapons instead of learning to avoid many situations or to use their bodies and voices to control some situations, when the option exists.  SOMETIMES it's possible to hang back and talk with someone you are responding to, rather than immediately deciding to use force and try to force compliance.  Some situations would turn deadly fast for officers if they don't have weapons out and ready.  Please don't bother to write to say you worry for officers being killed in the line of duty, with other weapons or their own.  That concern is a fact.  The issue is that for other situations, there's possibly lack of training, poor training, poor preparation to gain experience on the street and in other venues before being released onto patrol, or other causes.  And there are times officers would die if they didn't react fast enough.

But not a valid reaction
If a "journalist" decides that the police department is full of racists who will choose to shoot black men, or decides the police department is hiring people not suited for police work, then investigate and report on that.

Frazier says there were two other officers who acted differently in the same position.  But they were NOT in the same position as Kerrick, who had a man suddenly jump in his direction running at him, for whatever reasons are currently unknown to the general public and may be unknown to anyone but Ferrell.  

Frazier race-baiting
And there is no evidence that Kerrick had any animosity toward black people or wanted to harm Ferrell, despite the terrible outcome.  Why does this newspaper continue to try to cause feelings of racial hate and blame in a case when that is not remotely apparent as causation?  Why not look at police training, training the public on what to do when confronted by police (ie, not charge at them) and work on community relations in the first place?  The only attention paid by many in local media is to stir up racial issues because there is no other story they bother to pursue. It's lazy. It's dangerous. It's inexcusable.  




Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/eric-frazier/article30247107.html#storylink=cpy

Peace
We can hope the full truth about this incident comes out by the end of the trial, but to make up an accusation of racism on the part of one officer and pump it out for headlines that will attract a bunch of people to "comment"-fight is a pathetic way to operate, personally or professionally.

Please stop taking the lowest, easiest road possible and do some journalism.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

RECENTLY RETIRED POLICE CHIEFS' FINANCIAL TIES TO TASER INTERNATIONAL AFTER $MILLIONS IN CITY PURCHASES

CITY OF CHARLOTTE'S 'COMPETITIVE BID' FOR MILLIONS IN BODY CAMERAS


The message to Charlotte City Council and Citizens is that the most recent multi-million dollar contract with TASER was done through competitive bid process and received only one bid.  But a quick review of the Invitation to bid (scroll down to page 37) makes it clear that TASER was the only manufacturer considered:
Charlotte's "invitation to bid" for ONLY TASER products




TASER HIRED TWO RETIRED CHIEFS AS CONSULTANT AND IN TALKS WITH THIRD, AFTER EACH CHIEF RECOMMENDED PURCHASES IN THE $MILLIONS

Citynewswatch located this excellent article on TASER's ties to various police chiefs around the country who  have retired then signed consulting contracts  with TASER after recent retirements:

See   http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=33680550 by KTL from March 3, 2015 and read part of the article here:

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Taser International, the stun-gun maker emerging as a leading supplier of body cameras for police, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising a host of conflict-of-interest questions.
A review of records and interviews by The Associated Press show Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences. It is also hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes just months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.
Over the past 18 months, Taser has reached consulting agreements with two such chiefs weeks after they retired, and it is in talks with a third who also backed the purchase of its products, the AP has learned. Taser is planning to send two of them to speak at luxury hotels in Australia and the United Arab Emirates in March at events where they will address other law enforcement officers considering body cameras.
The relationships raise questions of whether chiefs are acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in their dealings with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser, whose contracts for cameras and storage systems for the video can run into the millions of dollars.


CITY COUNCIL DEMANDS INVESTIGATION INTO POLICE CHIEF WITH TASER TIES AFTER HE RECOMMENDED $1.9 MILLION IN PURCHASES


Citynewswatch also located this excellent and detailed reporting on TASER's ties to Ft. Worth, TX (now former) Police Chief Halstead after Halstead recommended millions of dollars in purchases from TASER:

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2015/03/03/ap-former-fort-worth-police-chief-has-financial-ties-to-body-cam-maker/  (quoted in it's entirety below for educational purposes)


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Taser International, the stun-gun maker emerging as a leading supplier of body cameras for police, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising a host of conflict-of-interest questions.
A review of records and interviews by The Associated Press show Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences. It is also hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes just months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.
Over the past 18 months, Taser has reached consulting agreements with two such chiefs weeks after they retired, and it is in talks with a third who also backed the purchase of its products, the AP has learned. Taser is planning to send two of them to speak at luxury hotels in Australia and the United Arab Emirates in March at events where they will address other law enforcement officers considering body cameras.
The relationships raise questions of whether chiefs are acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in their dealings with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser, whose contracts for cameras and storage systems for the video can run into the millions of dollars.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) —  Taser International, the stun-gun maker emerging as a leading supplier of body cameras for police, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising a host of conflict-of-interest questions.

>>WATCH: CBS 11 Investigative Reporter Mireya Villareal has been digging into this issue for weeks.  Click here to read her report<<

A review of records and interviews by The Associated Press show Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences. It is also hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes just months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.

Over the past 18 months, Taser has reached consulting agreements with two such chiefs weeks after they retired, and it is in talks with a third who also backed the purchase of its products, the AP has learned. Taser is planning to send two of them to speak at luxury hotels in Australia and the United Arab Emirates in March at events where they will address other law enforcement officers considering body cameras.

The relationships raise questions of whether chiefs are acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in their dealings with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser, whose contracts for cameras and storage systems for the video can run into the millions of dollars.

As the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas, successfully pushed for the signing of a major contract with Taser before a company quarterly sales deadline, he wrote a Taser representative in an email, “Someone should give me a raise.”

The market for wearable cameras that can record arrests, shootings and other encounters has been growing fast since the killing last August of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. President Barack Obama has proposed a $75 million program for departments to buy the cameras to reduce tensions between officers and the communities they serve.

City officials and rival companies are raising concerns about police chiefs’ ties to Taser, not only in Fort Worth but in such cities as Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Salt Lake City.

“Department heads need to be very careful to avoid that type of appearance of an endorsement in a for-profit setting,” said Charlie Luke, a Salt Lake City councilman. “It opens up the opportunity for competitors of these companies to essentially do what we’re seeing here — complaining about that public process.”

He said he was surprised when he learned last year that the city’s police department had purchased Taser cameras using surplus money, bypassing the standard bidding process and City Council approval. The department declined to say how much it has spent acquiring 295 body cameras and Taser’s Evidence.com video storage program and hasn’t responded to a month-old public records request.

The city’s police chief, Chris Burbank, said that his relationship with Taser, which includes company-paid travel to Taser-sponsored conferences, is appropriate. He recently recorded at the company’s request a promotional video in which he praised Evidence.com.

Burbank said he does not receive speaking fees and believes he hasn’t violated a city code prohibiting paid product endorsements on public time. He said he accepts Taser’s speaking invitations to promote the best ways of using body cameras. But Luke, the city councilman, questioned what value Salt Lake City gets from Burbank’s trips.

A Taser spokesman said the company has no control over how cities decide to award contracts. Taser says early adopters of technology are the best ones to discuss its benefits and drawbacks and share their experiences with colleagues.

“This is a pretty normal practice for police chiefs and other recently retired individuals to speak on behalf of the industry,” Taser chief marketing officer Luke Larson said.
Taser’s competitors say its cozy relationships are hurting their ability to seek contracts. They complain they have been shut out by cities awarding no-bid contracts to Taser and are being put at a disadvantage by requests for proposals that appear tailored to Taser’s products.
“Every time I do a presentation, as I’m standing there looking through the room, I wonder, ‘Who is tainted by Taser?'” said Peter Onruang, president of Wolfcom Enterprises, a California body camera maker.

Taser reported Thursday that orders for body cameras and Evidence.com soared to $24.6 million in the final three months of 2014 — a nearly fivefold increase from the same quarter in 2013. The company said it had contracts with 13 major cities and is in discussions or trials with 28 more.
A no-bid contract in Albuquerque and Taser’s relationship with the police chief prompted an investigation by the city’s inspector general.

City Council members demanded the inquiry after learning that Chief Ray Schultz, who had supported the $1.9 million contract for Taser cameras and storage, became a company consultant shortly after stepping down. A U.S. Justice Department investigation last year blasted Albuquerque’s rollout of the body cameras, saying it had been so hasty that officers had not been properly trained.

Today, Schultz speaks in an online promotional video about Albuquerque’s experience with Evidence.com. Although he has recently been hired as assistant chief in the Houston suburb of Memorial Villages, Schultz said he will be paid by Taser to speak at the international conferences in March.

Former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas confirmed he signed a Taser consulting agreement after he stepped down in August and has spoken at company-sponsored events in Canada and Arizona. Less than a year earlier, in December 2013, the city agreed to a $1.4 million contract with Taser for 420 cameras and storage.

In an interview with the AP, Serpas declined to detail how the consulting deal came about but said it did not violate a state ethics law because he is not lobbying his former employer. He also said he was not on the committee that recommended Taser for the contract.

Serpas said his role is to speak about how technology affects policing and not to promote products. Taser marketing materials reviewed by AP, however, quote him as calling the company’s Axon cameras and Evidence.com “a game changer for police departments here and around the world.”
In Fort Worth, emails obtained by the AP under Texas’ open records law show that then-Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead was seeking 400 more body cameras for officers last year and that Taser promised a discount if the deal could be approved before the end of the company’s sales quarter.

“Close of the month? I do not wear a cape or have x-ray vision you know,” Halstead wrote a Taser representative.

But over the next three weeks, Halstead successfully pushed the city to approve a no-bid contract worth up to $2.7 million. He kept Taser representatives aware of his progress, adding at one point that he deserved a raise.

In the following months, Taser had Halstead speak at events in Phoenix, Miami and Boston, covering his airfare and lodging, records show. The four-day Boston trip for Halstead and a companion cost Taser $2,445.

Halstead said he reached an oral agreement during the contract negotiations to travel to three other cities at Fort Worth’s expense to talk about his experience with Taser cameras. In one email, he told a Taser representative he believed he could persuade San Antonio to buy its cameras, “but my fee is not cheap! LOL.”

Halstead, who retired from the department in January, said he hopes to become an official consultant before he travels to speak at overseas events in March. He said he discussed such an arrangement during the end of his city employment, but had nothing promised.

He defended his ties to Taser as a “good business relationship” with a company that supports law enforcement.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke said he does not believe Halstead violated rules that prohibit employees from accepting job offers or other benefits that might influence the performance of their official duties. But he said the episode might reveal “gaps that we need to fill” in the code.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)    **for educational purposes, fully credited



BONUSES:

An interesting exchange about paying for body cameras from TASER INTERNATIONAL from the full TASER purchase discussion which can be found here: 
        Charlotte City Council Minutes Jan. 26, 2015:

Mr. Barnes said I think this might answer it; in an earlier slide, either the Chief or Mr. Harrington noted an intent by the Manager and by CMPD to make asset forfeiture contributions as possible and I think to Ms. Lyles question our historical experience has been that we get much more than $100,000 per year in asset forfeiture funds. For the sake of simplifying this exercise tonight and getting through this process I think if we leave it the way it is, if the Council is comfortable with it, I was trying to get us to actually draw down the capital contribution and increase the amount of money coming from another source, but if you want to leave it the way it is and take their word for it that they will contribute the asset forfeiture funds as allowed and as possible I’m fine with that as well. But I think the Chief was confident that he could contribute $100,000 per year for those three years throughout this process. 

Mr. Phipps said I was wondering would we apply that same thing if we happen to get grants that we would apply for; would we apply those as a reduction from the capital if we did that? 

Mr. Barnes said if I might Mr. Mayor, Mr. Phipps I think no grants are listed here as an opportunity so I don’t know if the Manager would be thinking that. I think we are operating strictly within what the staff laid out for us and the potential for contributions within those sources. 

Ms. Kinsey said I might be able to hold my nose and vote for this with $100,000 in there; I don’t know why we wouldn’t be able to leave it in there if you can look at $324,880 in the year 2019 and project that why not $100,000 each year? 

Mr. Carlee said would you repeat the question? 

Ms. Kinsey said I said I could probably hold my nose and support this with $100,000 from asset forfeiture in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 and I did raise the question if we could project $324,880 in year 2019 why not $100,000 each year? 

Mr. Carlee said we don’t have a problem with that. 

Mayor Clodfelter said I think the Manager has endorsed the restructured motion. 

Ms. Lyles said I just want to say sometimes I’m really hesitant because my memory is not what it used to be, but I recall that asset forfeiture funds are governed strictly by a set of regulations that are federally imposed upon us to protect local communities from estimating revenues and causing police actions to go and purpose those revenues because it is projected in a future year. I don’t remember if that has changed or not but I’m just curious if that intent of estimating future revenues for asset forfeiture is really compliant with the intent or the regulations stated, and if it is not then I would agree, but my recall is that there was a great deal of caution about that so that communities wouldn’t go out and seize assets from citizens so that they could meet their project that year. That has been by concern and I don’t know if anyone can address that and if the rules have changed or the intent has changed, I’m very comfortable with the motion. If it hasn’t I would make a substitute motion to accept the recommendation as it is. 

Motion was made by Councilmember Barnes, seconded by Councilmember Howard, to (A) Approve a five year contract with Taser International in an amount not to exceed $5,491,186 for hardware, software license, services, storage, and ongoing maintenance for the implementation and support of Body Worn Cameras; (B) Authorize the City Manager to approve contracts for additional purchases in an amount not to exceed $1,551,058 for ancillary hardware, software, and services for the implementation and configuration of Body Worn Cameras; (C) Accept a donation form the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Foundation, in the amount of $250,000, to be used for the Body Worn Camera project, and (D) Adopt Budget Ordinance No. 5563-X appropriating $6,724,880 as follows: $5,900,000 from capital fund reserves, $574,880 from assets forfeiture funds and $250,000 from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Foundation. The remaining balance of $317,364 will be funded within the future operating budgets with an amendment to include the $100,000 per year for FY16, FY17 and FY18 from asset forfeiture and reducing the capital contribution by a corresponding amount to take the capital down to $5.6 million and the asset forfeiture contribution would go up to $874,880 as available. January 26, 2015 Business Meeting Minute Book 137, Page 878 mpl 

Mayor Clodfelter said Chief you heard the question from Ms. Lyles; are we allowed to appropriate future asset forfeiture funds that we don’t yet know whether we are going to have or not? 

Chief Monroe said that is correct. 

Mayor Clodfelter said we are or we are not allowed to do that? 

Chief Monroe said we are not. 

Mayor Clodfelter said we are not allowed to do that, by Federal law? 

Chief Monroe said yes sir. 

Ms. Kinsey said then why can they put in $324,880? 

Mayor Clodfelter said Ms. Kinsey asked the quite appropriate question that in the out year of 2019 you have $324,880. 

Chief Monroe said that should be appropriated now. 

Mayor Clodfelter said from currently available funds? 

Chief Monroe said correct. 

Mayor Clodfelter said so Chief are you saying that the item before us really should have $574,880 of currently available asset forfeiture funds in the present fiscal year appropriated. 

Chief Monroe said in order to comply that needs to be loaded now or committed now. 

Mayor Clodfelter said Mr. Harrington, do we have that? 

Mr. Harrington said yes, and that is reflected in your budget ordinance under Section 4, the $574,880. 

Mayor Clodfelter said so that is exactly right so Councilmember Lyles needs to speak up so everybody understands what the point is and why everybody is getting confused by this chart. 

Ms. Lyles said the chart on Page 6 is a schedule of expense; you must appropriate the entire amount to encumber this. All you are seeing in this chart is when it is going to be scheduled. That is why I’m very reluctant to add money where it is not shown; what we are actually doing is appropriating $7,042,000 plus today; the chart shows when it will be expensed, but you have to by law encumber the amount of the contract and you must show that those revenues are there. It will show up in the asset forfeiture account of encumbrance of $574,000 which I am sure is in the account now. 
Mayor Clodfelter said otherwise you would not be requesting the action, correct? 

Ms. Kinsey said this is exactly why we should be doing this through the budgeting process or have more time to talk about it and to understand it. This is very confusing; I am not the dumbest person in the world and not the smartest either, but it is just very confusing and we are spending a lot of money in the overall scheme of things; $7 million is not like some we have spent but we really have not studied this as a Council and I hope we never do this again because it makes us look stupid and I don’t like looking stupid even if I am. I hope we don’t do this again because it is not pretty. 

Mr. Barnes said may I amend my motion? 

Mayor Clodfelter said I think it might be in order.



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