Friday, May 22, 2015
Shocking Allegations of Rough Justice at a P&Z Hearing in the Rural West: Environmental Activist Opposing Oil and Gas Project at Public Hearing Charged with Criminal Trespass and Spends Five Days in Isolation
Last week, an attorney here in Idaho alerted me to allegations currently against the Payette County, Idaho Planning & Zoning Commission that are so mind-boggling horrific that, well, I had to blog about them.
The allegations are as follows. An environmental activist opposing the modification of a CUP for the construction of a natural gas facility spoke during the public comment period at a public hearing on the modification request. In her comments, she alleged potential conflicts of interest of some of the commissioners. Later, after public comment, commissioners accused the activist of "telling whoppers." The activist requested a "point of order" asking for clarification, to which the chair of the commission called the sheriff. All of this, of course, is run of the mill P&Z stuff.
When the sheriff arrived, though, things allegedly took a turn for the worse; he proceeded to arrest the activist for criminal trespass...at a public hearing! The allegations also state that the sheriff then held the activist for eight days in a county jail. Five of those days in jail were in isolation where the activist was "given no access to a shower, no contact with her husband, no access to clean clothes, and was forced to use the toilet while a male prison guard watched her." And let's keep in mind all of this arose out of public comment at a public hearing on a conditional use permit.
If these allegations are true...wow.
There has been substantial media coverage of the Cliven Bundy-style of violence that is running through the rural west these days. If the allegations from Payette County are true, they point to another, more insidious type of violence despoiling public discourse in these same rural small towns and preventing civil debate about their futures.
I will continue to follow the case and give updates as it evolves.
For all of the details: Download Notice of Tort Claim - Alma Hasse