Sheriff’s Dept. shortcomings
I wanted to respond to Mrs. Margulies’ opinion and question printed in The Sheet on March 21. Mrs. Margulies ended with the question of why candidate Braun was terminated from Mono County Sheriff’s Department and requested transparency of her personnel records before voting her into such a powerful position. Mrs. Margulies also stated she held a “bird’s eye view” of how the command conducted themselves.
First, in reference to the powerful position, we must remember that Mr. Obenberger was never elected. We never saw his personnel records prior to him being appointed by the Supervisors when the last Sheriff retired prior to his term ending. Secondly, in reference to the personnel records, the Press has no ability to seek out and examine the personnel records of candidate Braun, as they are not public record. Lastly, viewing it would basically sum up the opinion of the Administration that let her go. Mr. Obenberger himself was part of that Administration so I do not think would be a non-biased opinion. I don’t think either candidate’s personnel records are relevant. If Candidate Braun was incompetent, Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD) would not have “hired” her. She obviously passed the rigorous background process for MLPD to hold the position of a Reserve Officer.
I was a Peace Officer that worked for a City in Southern California, during which time I was a first line supervisor as a Field Training Officer, amongst other positions. After working in Law Enforcement and returning to Mono County I worked as a Criminal Defense Investigator for the local Public Defenders. I worked hundreds of local cases, contacted hundreds of local residents, had contact with Officers in the field as well as worked in contact with the DA’s and their DA investigators. I believe these experiences gave me a very unique “bird’s eye view” of how the criminal justice system works within Mono County. I saw the inner workings of how the MLPD, California Highway Patrol, Mono County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorneys’ office work.
To be quite honest, I believe there are some shortcomings that need to be overcome within the Law Enforcement community in Mono County.
I do believe the Mono County Sheriff’s Department needs improvement: just look at the recent suppression ruling against Deputy Torres. Our local Judge did not even think the initial stop was legal. We must also take into account the recent rulings pertaining to Deputy Madrid. Again you have a Judge siding against the Administration and indicating a “serious abuse of discretion.” I also believe the Department is internally divided. I don’t think we will hear much from current Deputies, based on it being their employer and they have to live with whoever wins. But I have talked with many people who have stated that there is a “good old boy network” in place and that it is wise not to swim against the current.
I firmly believe that extensive training and new approaches to Policing as well as a new Administration within the Sheriff’s Department will lead to more efficient and effective Department. I also feel that with the current attitude and a level of incompetence, certain Deputies and Administrators are putting the County at risk, I feel that a lawsuit is just lingering above one of the local agencies, waiting for the time a screw up gets caught on video, almost every phone has one, or the time a false arrest or use of force leads to a serious request for the taxpayers money from an aggressive petitioner.
During my time as a Defense Investigator in Mono County, I have witnessed the arrests of individuals that have broken no laws, unlawful searches (of persons, vehicles and residences), violations of standard lawful procedures that led to arrests as well as straight out rude and unprofessional conduct by certain LEO’s.
I personally was troubled by the public statement that then Under Sheriff Obenberger provided a reporter pertaining to the arrest of a Mr. G****. Mr. G**** was arrested for possession of Concentrated Cannabis (Hash), and although he had a Doctor’s recommendation for Medical Marijuana, Obenberger supported the arrest by his Deputy and stated that the Hash was not covered by a Doctor’s recommendation. Mr. Obenberger was wrong and endorsed the false arrest of an individual, when simple research into case law would have revealed the fact it was lawful to posses Hash with a Dr.’s recommendation. The DA dropped the case and Mr. G**** went on his way, only after the Sheriff’s Department released a statement of the arrest and provided the press with his photo.
This man’s civil liberty was taken from him, HIS FREEDOM, a violation of his Forth Amendment right from unlawful seizure! He is a Medical patient, what about medical privacy laws? He should have never been arrested! What about the fact that the incumbent candidate defended the unlawful arrest? What else does Mr. Obenberger need to get up to date on?
Hertzog mea culpa
Last year my company purchased overstock and dated inventory from MMSA under an agreement negotiated with Senior Vice President, Pam Murphy. This purchase from MMSA represented a portion of clearance inventory purchases we make each year. Our agreement was that this MMSA product would not be sold in Mammoth at our stores. My company breached that agreement over the past couple of months by commingling some of the MMSA clearance inventory with our other clearance inventory at our Mammoth stores. This was not intentional but hurtful nonetheless I take personal responsibility for this happening.
My businesses have a clear strategy to merchandize a percentage of Clearance product. Some more. Some less.
Our intention was never to display MMSA tagged clearance product or MMSA product at all in Mammoth.
I want to personally apologize to the Retail Community for this breach. This will not happen again.
Mammoth Outdoor Sports
Auxiliary scholarship support
After seeing “Scholarship Season” in this week’s paper, I wanted to encourage locals interested in pursuing a career in health care to apply for the Mammoth Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship. I also want to thank the Auxiliary for the assistance that I have received.
I grew up in Mammoth and graduated from Mammoth High. I studied at University of California Santa Barbara and then moved back to Mammoth after I graduated. It was after working as a physical therapy aide at Mammoth S.P.O.R.T. Center that I decided that I wanted to be a physical therapist. I applied for the Mammoth Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship and was awarded scholarship money during three years of physical therapy school, as well as an additional year before physical therapy school while I was completing several pre-requisite classes.
With the overwhelming cost of education, I was lucky to have some assistance from the Auxiliary. I was then able to return to Mammoth and get a job as a Doctor of Physical Therapy for Mammoth Hospital S.P.O.R.T. Center.
I am happy that I am now able to give back to our community, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Mammoth Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship program.
Ariel Wilbur, DPT