Ms. Debra Horne, Postmaster
Rio Linda, CA 95673
This is to call your attention to violations of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 39, Volume 1, Section 232.1 that occurred at approximately 3:30 PM, Friday June 29, 2001, in and about the Post Office building in Rio Linda, California. [click here for an extract of the code]
This is a plea for your enforcement of these rules and regulations, so as to prevent future similar harassment and disturbances.
I hold elective office as a Director of the Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District. My ingress to the Post Office was impeded by a table placed immediately outside the only entrance door to the Post Office. A female, later identified as Trudy Bianchi, from Sills Ranch in Sutter County, was seated behind the table. The table and Ms. Bianchi were immediately west of the door. To enter the Post Office, I was obliged to walk immediately past the table and Ms. Bianchi.
As I found my way around the obstruction, I noted a freestanding sign on the table which encouraged signatures on recall petitions to recall three Water District Directors, including myself. Ms. Bianchi called out to me, saying that she knew me, and that today wasn’t a good one for me. I noted that there were several signatures on the petitions, and that the place for the circulator to sign was not filled in.
As I suspected Ms. Bianchi did not reside in the Water District, I asked her if she was signing the petitions as a circulator. She replied that she was doing this for Mary Harris, who would sign the petitions as the circulator. I showed Ms. Bianchi the language on the recall petition that requires the witness to the signing certify the petitions. She said that she would sign them if need be. I then asked her if she resided in the Water District. She responded that she was a farmer and held an Elverta address. I asked her again if she resided in the water district, and she evaded my question, stating she had "been here longer than you". I asked "how long" and she said "three generations". I said "How long have YOU been here" and she responded very loudly, over and over, that I was harassing her and she was going to get her camera to prove it. I then went into the Post Office. It was obvious that she was not going to tell me if she resided in the Water District.
As there was a slip in my Post Office Box for me to pick up a package, I was in the lobby, waiting in line for a clerk. There were perhaps six customers waiting. A female that I did not recognize burst into the lobby. She loudly asked, "Who is the person on the Water Board in here?" or words to that effect. I identified myself, and she loudly told me that there was no way that I was going to put a water meter on her well. I attempted to respond, explaining that there has never been any intent by the Water District to even consider such an action. She would not allow my response and continued to loudly berate me. She finally stopped yelling and left the lobby. I was embarrassed and concerned about the reaction of the others in line.
When I exited the Post Office with my package, Ms. Bianchi used her camera and took my picture, again proclaiming loudly that I was harassing her. The female who had burst into the lobby loudly told all who would hear that she had witnessed me harassing Ms. Bianchi. I suggested to them that they should take it to the District Attorney. I left the premises.
Following my encounter, Don Flesch from the Rio Linda Elverta News went to the Post Office, carrying a tape recorder. After giving permission for the recorder to be on, Ms. Bianchi screamed at Mr. Flesch that he was harassing her.
Later Friday, Mr. Darrell Nelson, facilitator of the recall effort and a signatory proponent of the recall, sent a public email to the community that includes the following allegation directed at me:
“There is no reason to act like you have been including today in front of the Post Office. It is my understanding that Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Flesh were intimidating and harassing a volunteer who was trying to collect signatures for the recall and reorganization efforts. The persons partner had stepped away to get more petitions during the attack. The volunteer lives in Elverta and it was assumed to be within the District. This is not the case and the signatures that she got for the recall have been tossed. The ones for the reorg are still valid. It gets confusing but any registered voter may gather signatures for the reorg but only voters within the RLECWD may circulate the water board recall petitions. You do not have to be in the District or a registered voter to help. Jay apparently had a camera and Don apparently had a tape recorder that he was shoving in her face. It is my understanding that there were verbal attacks as well. There are witnesses to the harassment that are willing to come forward in the event that the volunteer files formal charges. The volunteer was so shaken after she was harassed, first by Mr. Flesh and then by Mr. O'Brien and then by Mr. Flesh again that she had to go to the fire dept. for medical assistance…” [click here for Nelson's complete email and for the response to Nelson]The allegations made by Mr. Nelson are patently false, with the exception that I did have a camera on a strap around my neck. I had been using the camera and did not use it at or near the Post Office. However, Ms. Bianchi did take my picture as I left the Post Office, when I was obliged to detour around the petition-gathering table that was impeding my egress. As you can see from Mr. Nelson’s email, there may be a need for your personnel to be called as witnesses to whatever part of this incident they observed. I have contacted several community members who witnessed the incident, and they will testify on my behalf if necessary. Would you please ask your personnel to document what they remember of the incident, should they also be called to testify?
To protect myself from future attacks, if the petition gatherers continue to occupy space around the Post Office, I cannot approach the Post Office to access my PO Box unless I have a witness with me. If, for some reason, you cannot enforce the regulations, would you please make another door available to me for my use?
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Cc: Postmaster, Elverta CA 95626
Mr. Floyd Banyai,
Supervisor, Customer Services
United States Postal Service
Rio Linda, CA 95673
Thank you for your telephone call today in response to my letter to Rio Linda Postmaster Debra Horne dated June 30, 2001.
Thank you for confirming that my contentions about the Code of Federal Regulations, as detailed in the subject letter, are correct. I understand that you have informed your employees that they are to report any petition gathering activities in the future to you. I understand that once such activity is reported, you will escort the petition gatherers from the premises.
I further receipt for your request to inform you should I observe such petition gathering activity on Post Office premises. Be assured that I will do so.
Floyd, I appreciate your diligence in this matter. It is reassuring to see that our Postal Service is dedicated to compliance with the applicable regulations.
Cc: Postmaster, Elverta CA 95626