Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Passing of a Freedom Fighter


A warrior now at peace: Robert Foster finds a refuge during his battle with the Sunriver Police Department.

 
Robert Foster was in the company of his family during the early morning hours of January 16 when his depleted body surrendered his indomitable spirit into eternity. At his bedside were found his Bible and the pocket-sized copy of the US Constitution he always carried with him.

The disease that put Bob into a hospice in Bend, Oregon made its presence known just weeks before he passed away. Cancer of the liver is difficult to detect until it has reached a stage at which it is almost impossible to cure.

There is a chance, albeit an exceedingly small one, that Bob's prospects for survival would have been better if he hadn't been forced to spend the past seven years in an expensive and exhausting battle with the abusive political clique that rules Sunriver, the tourist enclave in central Oregon where Bob and his family had operated a successful business.

From 2010 to 2012, Bob was subject to a court order that allowed Sunriver police to arrest him practically at will. All that was necessary was for Bob to come within visual range of either Sergeant Joseph Patnode or Officer Kasey Hughes, who had filed petitions accusing Bob of “stalking” them. Those orders were issued in an illegal ex parte proceeding, and resulted in Bob being arrested on two separate occasions.

Prior to those arrests, Bob had never known the indignity of being handcuffed. A native of the area, Bob established a hot tub service and repair business in 1992 that eventually boasted more than 500 clients – people of means who eagerly and gratefully allowed him unsupervised access to their property. His “offense” had been to speak out in local town hall meetings against a scheme to turn Sunriver's police force into a revenue-collection service for the Sunriver Owners Association (SROA), the village's equivalent of a city council.

Reign of terror? Bob with his pickup truck.
Most of Sunriver's small population consists of wealthy people who maintain second homes in the resort community, which attracts over 1,000,000 visitors a year. Until 2007, Sunriver's tiny police force was restricted to investigating crimes against persons and property

Because it was a private enclave, rather than a municipality, Sunriver's streets were considered private roads accessible to the public rather than “public conveyances,” which meant that the police couldn't write traffic citations or otherwise exploit out-of-state motorists as a source of revenue.

This changed when the SROA prevailed on Oregon State Rep. Gene Whisnat to sponsor a bill that extended police “authority” to include “premises open to the public that are owned by a homeowners association.” A year later, the SROA imposed a multi-million-dollar special tax assessment for the purpose of expanding a “service district” (SSD) it had created in 2002. In this fashion the Sunriver PD – whose role had previously been analogous to that played by security officers in a shopping mall – became a fully realized apparatus of regimentation and plunder.

Many Sunriver residents had opposed this scheme in its early stages. Bob was practically the only one to express that opposition publicly, repeatedly, and forcefully. After the SSD was created, Bob used town hall meetings to urge its abolition, pointing out that it was both prohibitively expensive and entirely unnecessary. Sunriver already received law enforcement “services” from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, and for a fraction of the expense imposed by the SSD the village could contract with the nearby city of La Pine for emergency services.

Echoing the warnings of the men who wrote the Constitution he constantly carried with him, Bob also protested that the SROA controlled the service district, thereby consolidating powers that should have been kept separate.

None of this endeared Bob to the village's entrenched elite.


After the newly-enhanced Sunriver PD began making life miserable for visitors, tourists, and businessmen in 2008, Bob became an informal, part-time cop watcher, taking notes on the behavior of officers and reporting what he found in town meetings. He was the best and most commendable variety of civic irritant, and he was an itch that the SROA and their armed flunkies were desperate to scratch.

There was no procedural tactic that would prevent Bob from speaking at public meetings. Sunriver Police Chief Michael Kennedy suggested to the SROA that Bob be “trespassed” from the town hall.  The SROA's legal counsel – much to its frustration, no doubt – had to veto that proposal as legally untenable.

Since the SROA and the Sunriver Police Department had no legal means to silence Bob, they devised what can only be called a criminal conspiracy to violate his rights. This is not a matter of speculation. Chief Kennedy disclosed the details of that conspiracy in a letter he wrote to the Deschutes County Commission following his termination in February 2012, and he confirmed his account under penalty of perjury in an affidavit filed with the County Court the following June.

The Service District's attorney instructed Chief Kennedy “that we would be filing a stalking order against Bob Foster,” Kennedy admitted in his letter to the county commission. “While I was not in favor of this solution … I followed our legal counsel's advice. At the request of legal counsel, I contacted Sergeant Patnode and Officer Kasey Hughes to see if they would be willing to have the stalking orders file on their behalf. They subsequently agreed and the stalking orders were filed.”

Sunriver PD Chief Kennedy (r) accepts an award for servility.
According to Kennedy, this was done at the initiative of SROA Board President Bob Nelson and board member Bob Wrightson, both of whom are “also on the Service District board.” 

As officers in a homeowners' association, Nelson, Wrightson, and their colleagues could not making binding policy decisions regarding the police. However, as officials in the Service District they had “effective control over the operations and funds of a public taxing district,” Kennedy pointed out. The Service District “put entirely too much control into the hands of a small segment of the community,” he concluded – thereby validating everything Bob Foster had been saying for ten years.

The purpose of the stalking orders was not to protect victims of “coercive harassment”; it was to intimidate Bob Foster into silence. However, as Kennedy advised the county commission, “Foster didn't immediately roll over.” Kennedy and the people who employed him were used to dealing with cringing, timid sycophants; they weren't prepared to deal with an actual man.

After Bob challenged the stalking orders and filed notice of a tort claim against the SROA and the Sunriver Police Department, the association “appeared to withdraw support” from the chief and his underlings, and instructed them “not to talk about the case.” Board President Nelson, who had devised the plan in the first place, used an executive (that is, off-the-record) session of the Service District to upbraid Kennedy for using tax funds to defend the stalking orders “when this is clearly a civil matter between these two officers and Bob Foster.”

“I reminded him that we had asked those officers if they would be willing to file the stalking orders at the request of legal counsel after he and Bob Wrightson had directed us to do so,” Kennedy recounted in his letter to the county commission. “I advised him that if I was asked, that is how I would have to testify in court.” Following that confrontation, the chief related, the SROA began to dissociate itself from the matter “even they were the ones who initially started us down the path of filing the stalking orders.”

Poor, pitiful creature: Officer Casey Hughes is on the right.
 Kennedy and the two officers who agreed to this arrangement had to place their manhood, such as it was, in escrow. In seeking a protective order against Bob, Sergeant Patnode and Officer Hughes had to attest that the mere presence of the slender, mild-mannered, unarmed businessman induced within them a bladder-loosening surge of unconquerable fear. 

In the language of the state statute and relevant judicial precedents, the officers solemnly swore that the sight of Bob Foster left them incapacitated with “actual fear or terror resulting from a sudden sense of danger.”

When compelled to offer a sworn deposition as part of Bob's lawsuit, Chief Kennedy committed willful perjury in order to maintain the pretense that the victim of a politically motivated conspiracy was, in some sense, a deranged criminal mastermind.

“He breaks the law all the time,” Kennedy asserted in his June 15, 2010 sworn deposition.

“Well, have you ever arrested him?” inquired Foster's attorney, Frank Wesson.

“I have not,” admitted Kennedy.

“Has anyone in your department ever arrested him?” Wesson persisted.

“Not to my knowledge, sir,” was the chief's dishonest and non-responsive reply. When asked about the crimes Bob allegedly committed, Kennedy listed “disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer, menacing, harassment, and stalking.”

“Was he ever arrested for any of those?” Wesson asked the chief.

“No; fortunately for him, no,” Kennedy replied – without explaining if this reflected culpable incompetence in the administration of the law, or willful perjury.

“The wicked flee, though none give pursuit,” the Old Testament instructs us, “but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Bob and his equally redoubtable daughter Rebecca were eager and prepared for a civil trial; their enemies were just as anxious to keep the matter out of the courtroom, or any other venue they couldn't control.

For over a year the SROA and the police department pursued a “settlement” that would have made the stalking orders permanent. William Flinn, the Bend attorney who acted as third-party mediator, urged Bob to accept that arrangement – despite acknowledging that it was manifestly not in his interest to do so.

"I know Bob feels that, had he accepted the [settlement] offer, the police still would have found some way to construe episodes of his future conduct as stalking,” Flinn wrote to Bob's attorney on July 11, 2011. “But, I don't think that was a good reason to reject the offer." In a letter sent four days later, Flinn insisted that “there is virtually no chance that Bob will prevail in court, despite your excellent trial skills and some evidence of paranoia/lack of candor on the part of the police."  (Emphasis added)

Running out of money and subject to arrest at the whim of the Sunriver police, Bob was forced into exile, leaving his business in the care of his employees and spending much of 2011 with family in Florida. He returned the following January 26 for a long-anticipated court date – only to find that Flinn's prediction was correct. Bob wouldn't be able to “prevail in court,” because the local judiciary wouldn't allow him to make his case.

Rather than convening the trial at the scheduled time and at the designated location, the presiding judge spent several hours conducting a series of sidebar conferences with the parties in her chambers as dozens of people, nearly all of them friends of Bob and his family, waited for several hours in a crowded, poorly ventilated courtroom. In one corner of the room (seated right next to me, in fact) could be found an ill-disguised Detective from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, who furtively took photographs of everyone who had gathered to support Foster.

The “deal” presented to Bob by the judge would leave him subject to the illegally granted protection orders, but impose the trivial requirement of a judicial hearing before he could be arrested for a “violation.” This would have made his situation substantially worse, as the “victims” would have been able to tie Bob up in court, wasting his time and further depleting his financial resources.

Bob’s refusal to accept the “deal” precipitated the frantic meeting of the Sunriver Service District that brought about Chief Kennedy’s termination, and his “If I Go Down, I’m Taking You With Me” letter to the Deschutes County Commission. In late 2012, Kennedy – who had received a $100,000 severance package from the SROA – filed a lawsuit against his former employer in the mistaken belief that he was entitled to $1,000,000 to salve his injured feelings. This made public the former chief’s disclosures about the criminal conspiracy to deprive Bob of his rights.

And yet the SROA refused to vacate the spurious staking orders, largely because of a well-founded fear that Bob would refuse to drop his lawsuit. Unfortunately, Bob’s tormentors were in a position to exploit funds extorted from tax victims, which meant that they could simply outlast him.

In January 2013 – a year after the aborted trial – Bob and his two “victims” signed a “Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release” in which both the stalking orders and Bob’s lawsuit were dropped. Rebecca and her husband Ian moved away from Sunriver, and Bob reluctantly prepared for retirement.

And yet, this still wasn’t the end of the matter.

In January 2014, Michael Kennedy, who had used his position and his department’s resources to surveil, harass, and unlawfully arrest Bob, subpoenaed the victim to testify on his behalf in his lawsuit against the SROA.

Kennedy was at the center of the campaign to criminalize Bob – that is, to impose a bill of attainder that made him subject to arrest merely for being present in the town where he lived and maintained a business. He committed and abetted perjury in the service of a criminal conspiracy, and only found his conscience after he had been betrayed by his co-conspirators. 

Bob and his daughter, Rebecca.
After Kennedy was fired, “we tried to get him to meet with us, and he wouldn’t,” Rebecca explained to me. “Then he changed lawyers, and we made the offer again – and heard nothing, until Dad got hit with the subpoena. I told Dad that I felt this was some kind of trap because I don’t trust either party in this lawsuit.”

Rebecca’s concerns were fortified when Bob received an unexpected – and unofficial – visit from an Oregon State Police trooper after Kennedy’s subpoena arrived. Without elaborating on the advice, the trooper told Bob to “be alert and careful.”

This took place in January of last year. Within a few months Bob was diagnosed with the sickness that ended his life. He was literally hounded to his death by the feculent cabal that runs Sunriver, and the vicious little costumed parasites who enforce their will.

That struggle left Bob physically depleted and severely disillusioned. Like countless others who had been subjected to the capricious malice of the “justice” system, Bob came to understand that the Constitution he cherished provided him with no effective protection against the malevolent intentions of people in power. Even in the depths of his justifiable disillusionment, however, Bob never stopped believing in truth and freedom.

There is no government so small that it cannot kill or impoverish innocent people. As a result, there are far too few people who are sufficiently brave and principled to speak the truth about the behavior and ambitions of those who presume to rule them.



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Dum spiro, pugno!