Spokane County Police State
By Rob Chase
Author’s Note. Let me begin by saying that I have always considered public safety at all levels of Government the first priority of Government. We need to be protected from enemies; foreign and domestic, force and fraud, and to safeguard our unalienable rights, especially freedom of speech.
Transcription from audio recording of Sheriff’s Report September 2, 2017:
“Rob (referring to me as County Treasurer) runs a very, very, anti-police, anti-military Facebook site…that if I was ever going to run against you on something I would just go to this Facebook site (Spokane Liberty Caucus), capturing screen shots and I would use this against you because this is really vile stuff…he and his political surrogate, if you will, (what) John Christina put out is one of the most vile anti-police, anti-military, anti-veteran and people are going to go but wait, John’s a veteran, John was, well he might have been but he’s forgotten a lot then. And it’s really sad and this just recently as of August 26th, 2017 at 1:23PM John Christina posted one of the most vile law enforcement posts that I’ve seen in almost three years. It rivals some things from the alt Left and I find it very, very hard to understand that this is an individual that Rob allows this…
That link goes on to state that we – law enforcement is basically out there killing everybody. He lists several cases that he highlights…What’s the net result? You’re having police officers killed continually in this nation because of this, because this rhetoric spawns that radicalized hate that kills police officers. That needs to end.
More importantly Rob Chase needs to take responsibility and knock this off. I cannot in any way, shape or form support an individual that is going to talk about the men and women who protect this nation this way. He is no different, this is no different than the rhetoric that was put out by the alt Left and quite frankly our former president did nothing to stop it. Rob Chase is doing nothing to stop this. Ladies and Gentlemen Rob Chase is not the candidate for this position (County Commissioner) and quite frankly I hope you will let your Board of County Commissioners know that, especially Commissioner Kerns because I am going to ask Commissioner Kerns in public why he supports an individual that would allow this type of rhetoric to be posted on a Facebook site that he sponsors and controls. This is Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. Have a great day.”
Here is the actual audio recording link of above: – The Sheriff’s Report on spokanetalksonline.com
Usually when a County or City politician favors a colleague’s challenger he will, at most, endorse his opponent. Civility, and a duty to one’s constituents, should be enough to prevent all out attacks because he may have to work in the future with the candidate he has assailed, and it is a public disservice to create an unnecessary feud. Not only did Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich publicly attack me as County Treasurer and County Commissioner Candidate, he also publicly attacked my Deputy Finance Treasurer, John Christina, a County employee. It is one thing to attack a public official, and quite a different thing to attack a County employee in a different department. It is almost never done that I know of.
When I was first elected Treasurer I went to every Department Head in Spokane County Government to visit, and learn about his department, and find out if our duties coincided. When I visited Sheriff Knezovich he immediately brought up Rep. Matt Shea. I suppose because he knew I was Matt’s first Campaign Manager and we had remained friends. He told me, “The main problem I have with Matt is that he went public with his criticisms of me over the Pastor Creech shooting, and using The Southern Poverty Law Center for training my deputies.” I told the Sheriff that I would make sure to run any criticisms I had of him past him before I would go public, and we parted amicably.
In 2014 when I ran for re-election as County Treasurer I stayed out of endorsing anyone (although I wanted to endorse Sheriff Candidate Doug Orr) because I might have to work with the Sheriff, and I had already seen that he could be vindictive to people who had endorsed his opponent. In the course of my re-election Campaign I was told that the Sheriff was going to do a TV Commercial supporting my Democrat opponent, Amy Biviano. I mentioned it to the Spokane County GOP Chair Dave Moore, and he immediately asked the Sheriff about it. I quickly received a call from Ozzie, and he started out by saying, “Matt Shea is a liar. You can’t believe anything he says.” I told him that I hadn’t heard it from Matt Shea, but from three different Democrat friends. Ozzie then admitted that he was friends with Amy, and she had approached him to do a video for her, but he had declined. I asked him why, and he said, “Because I think you’re a good Treasurer.” At that point I guess we were still okay.
In 2017 I went for the appointment for Shelly O’Quinn’s vacated Commissioner Seat. Shortly after Deputy Auditor Mary Kuney also went for the appointment. I soon heard that the Sheriff had endorsed Mary. I was surprised since I had stayed out of his race in 2014. One day at a Department Head Meeting, SCRAPS’s Nancy Hill, announced that SCRAPS would be partnering with Downtown Toyota, as they had with Q-6 Television. I couldn’t resist the temptation to be a bit light. I asked County CEO Gerry Gemmel, who was running the meeting, if any Department could partner with a private business. He said he wasn’t sure. I then said if that were true, then as Treasurer I could have billboards from Lamar Advertising around the County like the Sheriff did, except instead of urging people to call Crimecheck if they witnessed suspicious activity, I could have my mug on the billboards like Ozzie, reminding people to pay their property taxes. There were a few chuckles. Within 15 minutes I received a call from the Sheriff asking why I had ridiculed him at the Department Head Meeting. I apologized and said I was just being a bit light. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.
Shortly after that Ozzie attacked me on his radio show. He said I had told 6th District Republican Precinct Committee Officers at a Commissioner Appointment Forum, that I said the Emergency Management System EMS radios cost $14,000 (instead of $5000). I later checked with 5 other people who attended the meeting and they agreed I had said $5000. That I had refused to read the 8 inch tall stack of papers I had requested from him on the Emergency Management System Project (I had said I wanted an Executive Summary and shouldn’t have to read 8” of technical reports. I did read them and highlighted them and gave them to Deputy Treasurer Mike Volz to read. See: ‘Spokane County Emergency 911 Bond Issues’ at inlandnwreport.com). That I had said EMS could eavesdrop on everyone’s private calls (I had been told that was possibility by constituents and had asked Ozzie about it years before), and using a recommended slate of Candidates in Party Politics as had I done twice was political corruption (it is not political corruption, it is a legal strategy in party politics used often).
After I listened to the audio I called the Sheriff, and said we needed to get together, because everything he had said was wrong. I was able to get an appointment for a few weeks later. I brought my Deputy Treasurer Mike Volz with me as a witness. I went over each of his accusations and told him where he was mistaken. I did apologize again for the billboard joke, but I wanted him to publicly retract his erroneous remarks. He said he would publicly retract them. He never did.
I kept my earlier promise to him not to publicly criticize him until I spoken to him first throughout my two terms as Treasurer, but he did not keep his part of the bargain. Shortly before the Interview for the County Commissioner appointment he launched an attack again on me from his radio show, The Sheriff’s Report (see opening statement above).
After someone told me about the Sheriff’s remarks I went back and read the article he referred to: ‘Anarchy in America: Shot Down Like Dogs in the Street’ on rutherford.org
The article was written by noted Civil Libertarian John T. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute. It did not mention Sheriff Knezovich, or Spokane County. It was written with a national perspective in mind and the author cited several incidences that reflected a trend towards police overreacting to events. I believe the author feared something akin to a potential Police State if the trend was not checked. Neither I nor John Christina deserved to be lambasted publicly by the Sheriff. His ultimate purpose was to defame me to give his favorite, Mary Kuney, a better chance to get the appointment.
The website where the article was posted on by John Christina that the Sheriff referred to is a Facebook site called Spokane Liberty Caucus. It had started out as Republican Liberty Caucus of Spokane County, but with the demise of that organization one of the administrators changed the name. It is an open group and people are allowed to post most anything in the spirit of “Liberty” and free speech. I really didn’t have much of an active role in managing, but I usually post there to be part of discussions. Sometimes requests to join the site were sent to me by Facebook. There were many people who wanted to join who had only one friend on the site out of over 700 members – Sheriff Knezovich. Many people who were on the site would tell me that the Sheriff had privately messaged them disagreeing with what they had to say in discussions. I wondered how he had the time to do so on this and other Facebook sites. It occurred to me that he had a lot of friends join those sites who would alert the Sheriff that someone had posted something he would disagree with, and he would engage them. He also accused me several times on Facebook of sponsoring “radicalized hate” after John Christina had posted the article in question.
“Hate” is a word used too loosely these days. Perhaps it was the Southern Poverty Law Center training that influenced Ozzie’s judgement? I don’t hate anyone. Not even the Sheriff. It seemed to me like Big Brother was watching.
Just before the Sheriff made the broadcast attacking John Christina and I, he confronted me on County Campus and demanded that I reprimand my employee John Christina for posting the article. I told him I didn’t see much of anything wrong with the article and nothing John did arose to the need to reprimand him. After all it was a site dedicated to free discussion. The Sheriff then told me to remove himself from the site and I replied he could do it himself. I suspected the Sheriff wanted to say that we advertised a free speech website, but we had removed him. He could then play the martyr. I wasn’t going to fall for it.
Shortly after that I was informed that the Sheriff was trying to get John Christina fired from the County over a technicality. We had hired John two years before to fill the position of Chief Deputy Finance Officer after his predecessor had resigned. We advertised the open position, and after interviewing with Mike Volz and myself, I hired John. I had been friends with John for several years and knew he was qualified and capable. John accepted our offer, and even took a pay cut from his previous job. His previous job had allowed him to work from home so we arranged that John could also work from home but would come to the office weekly and as often as required. There were other people at the County who worked from home and the arrangement was approved by Human Resources.
The Sheriff had told County Prosecutor, Larry Haskell that he had received a complaint that John was not working his off-site hours, and asked Larry if any actions against John were warranted. He also told Deputy Treasurer Mike Volz that he wanted John gone but didn’t contact me. At any rate, as a consequence of his employment, John had kept copies of his time sheets he had submitted to payroll. The Prosecutor told Sheriff Knezovich there were no issues with John.
For my part I never complained to the Sheriff about any of his employees, whether they had killed a popular Spokane Valley Pastor, or ran over a boy on a bicycle at night while speeding. I kept my silence.
As an activist Republican I had recruited dozens of Republicans to get involved and become Precinct Committee Officers. Four of them, Rod Higgins, Ed Pace, Caleb Collier, and Mike Munch went on to become Spokane Valley City Councilmen.
Maybe because they were also friends of Rep. Matt Shea is why the Sheriff came after them in their races in 2017. In talking with them they still can’t understand why the Ozzie Machine was brought to bear on them. Former Councilman Ed Pace said they had attended a lecture where the idea of decentralizing the Spokane Valley Police Force from the Sheriff’s contract was discussed, but they had no intention of doing so.
Although City Council races are non-partisan, the Republican Sheriff publicly supported their liberal opponents. Chris Jackson against Mayor Rod Higgins, Ben Wick against Ed Pace, Brandi Peetz against Caleb Collier, and Linda Thompson against Mike Munch. Ozzie’s friend, Bob West, was on the Citizens Advisory Board along with his candidate daughter, Brandi Peetz. Bob was fired by the City of Spokane for using City time to campaign for his daughter. Only Mayor Higgins narrowly survived the attack by the Ozzie Political Machine. Both Mike Munch and Caleb Collier are Conservative Christians, but like many youths had strayed when they were younger. Their baggage from those days was brought to light by unknown players for all to see, which not only resulted in their losses, but caused much anguish for their families. Would the Sheriff want his past imperfections brought to light for his family to see?
We are always urging good people to get involved by running for public office, but why should they if they are going to get their names dragged through the mud by a brutish opposition? It would be a nice to see the Sheriff go after a Democrat for a change.
Actually, I am not sure what Ozzie Knezovich is politically. I suspect if he ran for Sheriff in Whitman County he probably would run as a Democrat. He certainly saves all his vitriol for Republicans like Matt Shea, John Christina, Josh Kerns, Rod Higgins, Ed Pace, Caleb Collier, Mike Munch, John Charleston and Cecily Wright of Northwest Grassroots, not to mention myself. Democrat Representative Timm Ormsby had a car wreck last year in Olympia while driving under the influence. If Matt Shea had done that Ozzie would have called one of his numerous press conferences to demand he resign. I have known Matt Shea and Ozzie Knezovich for over ten years. The Sheriff has called Rep. Shea a liar. Matt Shea has never lied to me, but the Sheriff has lied to me, and about me.
Ozzie’s detractors say that he is thin-skinned, vindictive, paranoid, narcissistic, and a bully. To that I would add he is a shrewd politician. All natural statistics distribute themselves around a Bell Curve. Spokane County tends Republican over Democrat, perhaps 55 – 45% but the Sheriff cuts the right side of the Bell Curve in half again and attacks the Conservative Constitutionalists. The result is the moderate Republicans love it and the Democrats follow suit. This is why he will usually get 70% of the vote.
Most of the people on the Right Wing are responsible, law abiding citizens, but many are afraid of the Sheriff. They pay the Sheriff’s salary through their Property Taxes but many have told me they would be hesitant to call him.
Sheriff Knezovich was also the main cheerleader for the 1/10 of 1% sales tax to pay for the updated Emergency Management System (‘Spokane County Emergency 911 Bond Issues’ at inlandnwreport.com). I still think the $200 million project may be the biggest boondoggle in Spokane County history with tens of millions of $’s wasted. I was very vocal about the need for more financial transparency, and the Sheriff was critical of my concerns on the Mike Fitzsimmons show on KXLY Radio in the spring of 2017.
The attacks by the Sheriff on John Christina and myself for the article by John T. Whitehead only prove the author’s contention that we need to beware of a growing Police State. I think Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich with his spooky, Orwellian billboards, his expensive radios, his local informers, his demagoguery, his hateful obsession with Rep. Matt Shea and anyone else who may disagree with him are loathsome traits in an Office which has so much power.
In 2016 Ozzie said he had to hold his nose to vote for Donald Trump for President. In 2018, along with 28,000 others, I had to hold my nose and vote for the deceased DumpOzzie.com for Sheriff as the better candidate.