Business Insider has the details. As the probe widens, more and more of the botched and frankly stupid operation becomes known:
The WSJ reports today that federal authorities are now investigating why the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix — the same office that oversaw Fast and Furious — released Jean Baptiste Kingery after he confessed to providing military-style weapons to the now-defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.
Kingery, who was arrested and released in June 2010, confessed to manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using grenade components from the U.S. He also admitted to helping the cartel convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.
Mexican criminal organizations are increasingly using these military-style weapons as the cartels’ escalate their wars against the government and one another.
Despite Kingery’s confession, and over loud protestations from the arresting ATF officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office let Kingery go within hours of his arrest.
This has led the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office to attempt to push back:
The Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office denies that it declined to prosecute the case, saying that it wanted to continue surveillance. The office alternatively told investigators that ATF agents wanted to make Kingery an informant, but lost contact with him within weeks of his release.
Prosecutors involved in the case also accuse ATF agents of devising a failed sting that allowed Kingery to take hundreds of grenade parts across the border in the months about six months prior to his arrest.
Kingery had been hauled in by ATF agents and confronted with the evidence and the U.S. Attorney’s office thinks he’s going to go back to work and it’ll be business as usual? Really? I guess they figured out that wasn’t the case when they “lost contact with him within weeks of his release”.
Botched? That’s being kind. And notice too the attempt to distract by the U.S. Attorney with the “failed sting”. It seems to me if that’s the case and six months later the agents had the goods on Kingery, it was probably a good arrest at that point. But apparently the U.S. Attorney there knows better, huh?
This is Clown College stuff. How badly can an organization screw up an operation that was absolutely stupid to begin with? Obviously worse than we thought. The level of stupidity, incompetence and outright dumb decisions wrapped up in this case are staggering. It was a dumb idea to begin with and it was compounded with incompetence, poor execution and it inevitably ended up killing a US agent and untold Mexicans.
The question is, who at what level knew about this in the administration. There are those who believe Eric Holder is certainly knew and there’s speculation that the man in the White House may have known and condoned the operation as well.
The Fast and the Furious case has escalated over the past weeks, with news that at least three White House national security officials knew about the gunrunning program.
Emails obtained by the Committee last week show contact between the head of the Phoenix ATF and Kevin O’Reilly, then-director of North American affairs, about the operation. The White House confirmed that O’Reilly briefed Dan Restrepo, senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Greg Gatjanis, director of counterterrorism and narcotics.
The emails, first reported by the LA Times, do not indicate that the White House aides knew about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns "walk." There is also no indication that the information went beyond those three officials.
Yeah, that sort of stuff never makes it into security briefings for the President, does it?
And you can already see the attempt to limit the damage if it is finally proven the President was aware of the operation (and tacitly approved it) with the line that says the White House security aides didn’t know “about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns “walk.”” That was sort of the whole point of the operation, wasn’t it?
Lots of interesting revelations yet to come methinks. Whether or not the press will cover it in any depth remains to be seen, but in my estimation, this is a large enough scandal that at least Eric Holder’s job ought to be in jeopardy.
Jeremy M. Hill was outside his home in Porthill, ID when 3 grizzly bears, a female and her two cubs, entered the yard. Hill’s children were playing in the area and, unsurprisingly, Hill believed the bears to be a threat to his family. So he shot and killed the female. Then he notified the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. That’s where he made his mistake. He’s now being charged federal court with one count of killing a protected species. Apparently his children don’t rate that distinction.
“Jeremy did the right thing, he called Fish and Game,” Keough said. “I think that prosecuting this case really sets back the grizzly bear recovery effort. … People are saying, ‘Boy, if that happened to me, there’s no way that I’d report it.’ That’s a human reaction.”
Exactly. My guess is if he had it to do over again, he’d just quietly bury the bear and be done with it.
Additionally, the charges are being brought despite the recommendations against such charges by the state and US local Game and Fish representatives:
They also issued a news release, saying that Idaho Fish and Game officials had recommended against filing charges in the case, and that local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had concurred.
Chip Corsi, Idaho Fish and Game’s regional manager, declined to comment on his agency’s stance on charges, but said: “He had three grizzly bears in close proximity to his kids, family and livestock. He had reason to believe there was a threat.”
But, as with most faceless bureaucracies, a decision to prosecute was made over the recommendation of the local representatives by a person far removed from the reality of the situation:
Joan Jewett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, said she couldn’t comment on the case specifically. In general, however, “we do an investigation and turn over our information and evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney makes the decision on whether to prosecute or not.”
And that’s precisely what has happened. Hill is charged with killing the bear and of course now has to now defend himself against the charges. As you might imagine, that’s an expensive proposition. However, outraged neighbors are stepping up to help:
Community members raised $19,558 for the Hill family last week at a 4-H animal sale in Bonners Ferry. Hill’s 14-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was selling a pig she raised named Regina. Bidders bought and sold Regina 15 times, with the final bidder giving the pig back to Jasmine Hill, saving it from a trip to the butcher.
“It was a statement – we’re with you, Jeremy,” said Rob Pluid, of Bonners Ferry, who helped organize the continuous bidding.
Accounts for the family have been set up at Mountain West Bank, Wells Fargo and Panhandle State Bank, said Donna Capurso, chairwoman of the Boundary County Republican Central Committee.
Meanwhile, Hill has a court date of October 4th. A strange and wonderful thing happened at his arraignment:
So many friends and family members showed up to support Jeremy M. Hill at his arraignment that the hearing was forced to move into a larger room at the U.S. Courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.
This is another example of an absurd waste of taxpayers money, not to mention prosecutorial stupidity. Justice isn’t the unthinking enforcement of laws. Extenuating and mitigating circumstances are certainly something which are considered in every case. There are things which happen, such as in this case, which any thinking person should understand mitigate the law’s enforcement. Threats to one’s family fall in that category.
Additionally, when you have agents in the field and charged with enforcing those laws in agreement that no charges should be filed based on the circumstances of the case, you’d better have a damn good reason for proceeding. If I were the judge, the first question I’d ask the prosecution is why they chose to proceed. And if I didn’t get a good answer I’d dismiss the charges. “It’s the law” isn’t a good answer.
Oh, and even if it does go to trial, good luck empaneling a jury that will convict the man.
We’ll watch and report.
Imagine living in a place where the authorities can record everything you say or do without your consent, however if you do the same – for your own protection – that’s a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Sound like a place you’d want to live?
In fact, that’s precisely the case in Illinois. Watch this illuminating 15 minute video. If it doesn’t make you furious, then you simply don’t care about your Constitutionally guaranteed rights. And you’re perfectly fine with the creeping fascism that seems to be infecting parts of our country:
Recording conversations and events pertinent to your legal situation, standing and rights, especially when dealing with public officials in their official capacity, should not be in question. Ever. Wanting a record makes perfect sense and, as you might imagine, has a tendency to keep conversations and actions in line with the law and on a much more polite and civil level.
Most importantly, it is something you must have every a right to do. Why is it they get a legal right to privacy (i.e. can deny consent) when the citizen doesn’t enjoy the same right? That’s not how I understand the purpose of the Constitution and the rights it guarantees the citizens. It is government it prohibits from violating the rights of citizens not the other way around.
I can certainly understand the law saying one must inform a public official that he or she is being recorded (a simple, “hey, I’m recording this” would suffice), but beyond that, I see no requirement that they give obtain consent for that recording to continue, especially while the public official is acting within their official capacity and executing the duties of their office.
What this gentleman is going through is simply an exercise in raw power designed to intimidate. Obviously the law needs to be changed and changed expeditiously. But if that doesn’t happen – and it appears it won’t – his best chance is a jury trial. Most people with any sense are going to reject the government’s case as overbearing, a violation of a citizen’s rights and just plain old un-American. And as you can see in the video, any attempt to solicit information about the case from public officials was ignored. That should tell you a lot about how confident they are about the case.
Bottom line: This is an example of the creeping fascism that is infecting our country. This is “let me see your papers” territory. And it needs to be firmly and swiftly nipped in the bud.
Those of us on the libertarian-ish end if things support, at the very least, a return of government size and scope to its constitutionally defined bounds. As part of that, the last thing we generally want is more Federal laws about most things. We’re supposed to support a more federal system, and decry most Federal pre-emption of state laws. But I’ve been thinking lately there there are a few Federal laws I’d like to see that do pre-empt local and state laws.
In several states, photographers and videographers have been arrested and charged under various wiretapping statutes for filming police officers and other public officials in public. Just yesterday, I wrote about a young woman who was prosecuted for surreptitiously making an audio recording of police officers who were urging her to drop an official complaint against another officer. Whether you are an elected official or a DMV clerk, your duties should be completely open to public audit—except for some rather obvious and narrow military or national security exemptions—and you should have no expectation of privacy in the performance of your duties. Anybody should be able to film or record you at any time you are performing those duties.
There should be some system whereby any private citizen who has performed federal military or law enforcement service can obtain a federal concealed weapons permit that is valid in every place in the United States, irrespective of any state or local laws to the contrary. Those eligible should have completed at least one term of service with an honorable discharge or its equivalent, have no criminal record, and no history of mental illness.
There have been a troubling number of incidents where police officials have served warrants in the wrong locations, often late at night, resulting in armed confrontations with homeowners. Sometimes, the homeowner is shot and killed. Sometimes, as in the Corey Maye case, a police officer is shot and killed, and the homeowner faces a terrible legal ordeal. That’s just wrong. If the police serve a warrant at the wrong location, for any reason, they forfeit the right to charge the homeowner for any unfortunate gunplay that results. As the police are solely responsible for creating the situation, they should be solely responsible for the outcome, as well as any damages that might accrue from their mistake. This should include prosecution for animal cruelty for a police officer who commits puppycide during these raids. I hate it when they do that, and they seem to do it a lot.
You might notice that all my laws place burdens on the government, not the citizens. Maybe you could suggest some other liberty-friendly laws.
This is the story of 20 year-old Tiawanda Moore. It seems she was dissatisfied with a contact she’d had with a Chicago police officer.
Moore, of Hammond, Ind., was being interviewed at police headquarters about her complaint that a patrol officer had grabbed her breast and given her his phone number when he came to her boyfriend’s South Side apartment on a domestic disturbance call.
No doubt the officer, having Moore’s best interests in mind, thought he would be a much better boyfriend. Sadly, Moore took this concern for her well-being amiss, and decided to file a complaint against the officer. At police headquarters, the investigating officers—who similarly appeared to have only Moore’s best interests at heart—suggested an alternate method of dispute resolution, that is to say, to drop her complaint entirely, as they preferred not to conduct a formal investigation, which would, really, just be an inconvenience to everyone involved. At that time, Moore decided to record the remainder of the conversation.
On the muffled recording, which was played for the jury Tuesday, Internal Affairs Officer Luis Alejo can be heard explaining to Moore that if she dropped the complaint, they could “almost guarantee” that the harassment would not happen again. He also suggested that going that route might save her the time and aggravation of a full investigation.
Ah. You see, if she decided not to demand a formal investigation, the IA investigators could "almost guarantee" that the breast-grabbing officer would get the word to cool his jets. And, isn’t an "almost guarantee" good enough? Not for Moore, apparently, who decided to use her Blackberry to record the conversation, because she felt, for some incomprehensible reason, that the Chicago Police Department might be downplaying her complaint.
And that’s why this case is being heard by a jury, as the quote above indicates.
The officers, of course, are not being tried for corruption or dereliction of duty, of course. Tiawanda Moore is the defendant, on two counts of—I kid you not—eavesdropping on a public official. In response to questioning by Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh, Moore said:
“I was sure about what I wanted to do –I wanted him (the officer) to be at least fired from his job,” Moore testified. “I wanted justice, I wanted to be protected.”
But this is not the Chicago Way. The Chicago Way is to slap down hard any civilian peasant who presumes to record their politically-protected betters in a possible wrongdoing.
On the one hand, of course, we all know what the eventual result of an internal affairs investigation would be. The police would carefully investigate the police, and after due course would conclude that the police had done nothing wrong. And recording public officials without their knowledge when they are engaged in corrupt behavior might actually endanger their ability to engage in corruption.
On the other hand, all this could have been avoided by dropping her complaint in return for almost a guarantee that she won’t be bothered in the future.
But in Chicago, public officials, engaged in public duties on the public’s dime, have an expectation of privacy, and cannot be recorded without their consent. You, as a member of the public, can be recorded by the police at any time, with or without your consent, but you can never record them unless they graciously allow it.
The only possible reason for such a law, as far as I’m concerned, is to protect corrupt officials, and to prevent the public from exposing it.
We don’t drag public officials naked and screaming out of their offices to tar and feather them any more. Indeed, we can barely muster up the will to toss out incumbents who vote for such laws. But in a just world, , the Illinos Legislature, Internal Affairs Officer Luis Alejo and Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh would, even now, be sporting the sleek plumage of an Albatross from the Exxon Valdez.
UPDATE: A commenter informs me the jury appears to have done the right thing and acquitted Moore. Still, none of the other players are sporting a heavy layer of fine down, so the glass is only half full.
One of the bits of genius installed by the founders of this country was three co-equal branches of government, each responsible for a different part of the governing turf. And the function of the three is not only to be the primary governmental institution in its explicit area of control, but to serve as a "check” on the others and provide “balance” by not letting one branch get more powerful than another.
In the area of immigration, to this point, the executive branch, under Barack Obama, has mostly done that with notable exceptions. But now, it appears, all appearances of following the law as laid down by Congress seems to have been thrown under the bus. The Obama administration has, for all intents and purposes, decided what how the law will be interpreted whether Congress likes it or not. After all, there’s an election in the offing, activist groups to be satisfied and votes to be bought:
Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.
The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.
But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”
Right … and to totally ignore cases against illegal immigrants who meet the arbitrary standards the administration finds to be “acceptable”.
This, of course, makes it clear to any illegal immigrant what the bare minimum is necessary to avoid deportation. It’s a government sponsored “okay” to stay illegally. Just meet one of the criteria (or appear too) and we’ll ignore the law for you.
However you feel about illegal immigration, we’ve always featured ourselves as a nation of laws, not men. A nation of laws is one which follows laws and, if they don’t like the law, feel it is fair, or whatever, go through the process of changing the law or abolishing it. What a nation of laws doesn’t do is ignore the law or arbitrarily pick and choose the parts it will follow. Imagine, if you will, deciding that you weren’t going to follow certain laws because you felt they were unfair. Say, doing 25 in a school zone. You tell the officer who stops you that doing 25 is not fuel efficient and you’ve chosen to ignore it and do 45. How far do you think that would get you in terms of avoiding a ticket?
In this case we have an administration that has decided to pick and choose what part of laws it will enforce. It isn’t the first. But this sort of blatant disregard for enforcing the law is both dangerous and something which needs to be stopped and stopped now.
If the executive branch finds a law to be something it has concerns or problems with, it’s recourse should be changing it through the legislative body, per the Constitution. Or taking it to the Judicial branch for a Constitutional check, if that’s appropriate. What it must not do is precisely what it is doing – ignoring Congress and literally taking the law into its own hands.
That is the law of men – arbitrary, selective, dangerous and wrong.
Fox news is reporting that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a provision of the recently passed health care law is unconstitutional. The court held that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when it mandated the requirement.
"This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority," the panel said in the majority opinion.
The suit was brought by 26 states and one private group – the National Federation of Independent Businesses, who were pleased with the ruling:
"Small-business owners across the country have been vindicated by the 11th Circuit’s ruling that the individual mandate in the health-care law is unconstitutional," said Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s legal center. "The court reaffirmed what small businesses already knew – there are limits to Congress’ power. And the individual mandate, which compels every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine, is a bridge too far," she said.
The ruling is obviously a set back for the administration and will most likely ensure the Supreme Court will take the case soon.
Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal. The NY Post gives a good summary:
The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.
"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.
"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."
That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.
If all of this is true, then yes, it should be. Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity. But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing. He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.
The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles. But here’s the problem:
As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."
In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought. So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?
Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress.
Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."
So what’s the purpose of the operation then? If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this? Then NY Post throws out a possibility:
Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.
"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."
Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.
Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched? Not really. This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt. And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics. So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.
Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.
It think his point is well taken. At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have. With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing. And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.
So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco. The “plausible” explanation is out there. And right now it is as good an explanation as any. If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:
If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.
We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.
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So how does the left feel about the 3rd term of George Bush – when it comes to prosecuting wars?
The Obama administration, which refuses to send terrorism suspects to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, on Wednesday defended its decision to interrogate a detainee for two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship, outside the reach of American law.
“He was detained lawfully, under the law of war, aboard a Navy ship until his transfer to the U.S. for prosecution,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney said.
Uh, wasn’t that the argument of the Bush administration? Didn’t they say that detaining unlawful combatants at Guantanamo was a lawful detention under the “law of war” (or similar words to that effect)?
After all, the only difference here is location. One place is located on an island outside the US and the other is a ship located outside the US. However, the very same thing happened in both locations – something Obama argued against most strenuously when but a mere candidate for office.
My, my … you mean George Bush might have been right about all this? That it is indeed both legal and necessary? How come we’re not being treated to the usual “Bush did it” this time?
Oh, and so much for Miranda rights, huh?
“Wherever possible, our first priority is and always has been to apprehend terrorism suspects and to preserve the opportunity to elicit the valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people,”Mr. Carney said. He added that the International Committee of the Red Cross was allowed to visit the Navy vessel “and had an opportunity to interview the detainee aboard the ship.”
I’m sure the Red Cross was able to visit – after our boy had coughed up what he needed to cough up. I love the expression of the “first priority” too. To “preserve the opportunity to elicit the valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people.” But evil Bush – not so much huh?
Funny how the rules change when you get stuck with the responsibility of prosecuting a war and protecting the nation and everything is fine that you condemned previously. Ignorance and hypocrisy are the operative terms here.
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John Gonsalves, who runs one of the most awesome charities I know of, Homes for Our Troops, has a problem. And its one that will make your blood boil.
Gonsalves and his folks build specially built homes for disabled war veterans who have special needs. Such as SFC Sean Gittens.
Army SFC Sean Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak or communicate as a result of a battle related traumatic brain injury. Deployed for the third time in his career, SFC Gittens suffered multiple concussive traumas throughout his year-long deployment to Iraq from April 2007-April 2008. Upon returning home, suffering from headaches and other head-injury related symptoms, SFC Gittens suffered an aneurism in his brain and a subsequent stroke which left him with paralyzed and non-communicative. Treated at multiple hospitals, both military and civilian, SFC Gittens now receives care from trained medical personnel in his home.
Homes for Our Troops identified a place for the home they wanted to build SFC Gittens and his family and went to work getting buying the property and getting the necessary approvals.
Building on the 2700 square foot home was to begin this Friday. Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and preparations for building the home have been ongoing over the past month. These homes are a reflection of the gratitude of the community and are given mortgage free to the veterans once complete.
Homes for Our Troops received building permits for the project and has been working closely with the Knob Hill Board of Directors, making multiple changes to the plans for the home as requested. The written approval came from Knob Hill BOD President Rick Trump on June 2nd.
Everything is cool, no?
Late last week, a lawyer for the HOA served the contractors on site with a cease and desist letter to stop the preparation of the build site. Facing strong opposition from the Property Owners Association, the Knob Hill Board of Directors and the Property Owners Association met again on June 20th, just four days before the planned kickoff of the home build. Homes for Our Troops was then notified that the house plans do not meet the Knob Hill standards and the original approval was thus rescinded. Homes for Our Troops has now been told that it must begin anew the entire approval process and that the house needs to be at least 3400 square feet and multi-level to even be considered.
"Shockingly, it appears that the Knob Hill community has decided it does not want to welcome SFC Gittens and his family, as we were previously told," said Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves. "Despite our working closely with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association over the past four months, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We cannot afford to add 700 square feet to the house, particularly under our special adaptive plans. And our experience in building over 100 homes dictates that severely injured veterans need a specially adapted single level home. Frankly, this late action begun by the Knob Hill Property Owners means we must suspend working on the home. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association has now assured that SFC Gittens and his family will not be able to have the home they so desperately need. We have done everything in our power to try to resolve this situation, but it appears that the community is not willing to accept this home, and SFC Gittens and his family into the community."
According to Gonsalves, the Knob Hill neighborhood covenants state that the minimum size for a house in the subdivision is 2,700 sq ft (see Fox News clip). He also points out that there are many 2,700 square foot homes in that subdivision. And, as you might imagine, given that’s the minimum size the covenants allow, that is the size of the proposed Gittens home. In other words, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association (Evans, GA) are not following their own covenants. Gonsalves was told the home was “too small” and “didn’t fit in” to the surrounding neighborhood (with some homes as large as 5,000 sq. ft).
I’m sympathetic to property owners rights 99% of the time. But this is that 1% where I’m totally against them. And that’s because they’re attempting to void their own covenants and not abide by them. Remember, these are their PUBLISHED covenants. These are the minimum standards they AGREED too when they built their homes in that subdivision. It is the document they’d certainly use to legally enforce the standards therein if it was necessary. But now they simply want to ignore the document and impose arbitrary new standards that simply don’t exist other than in their demands.
I think the Knob Hill Property Owners Association needs to rethink this entire thing, don’t you? If you’d like to share your opinion concerning their denial of a disabled vet’s opportunity to live in a home that meets all the standards of their covenants you may want to drop them a line.
Please be polite and respectful, but feel free to make your feelings clear about their actions. Also remember that, per Homes for Our Troops, not all the people living in that subdivision agree with the board’s decision. The email address for the board is - firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not how America should treat its disabled vets.
UPDATE: Just in (1:20 pm).
The president of the Knob Hill Property Owner’s Association says plans are moving forward for the construction of a home for Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens.
The homeowners association and Homes For Our Troops have been talking. A list of items Knob Hill requires is being provided to Homes For Our Troops.
Both organizations said they hope to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.
Keep the pressure on, but please, be polite and respectful.