Gold Hill candidate quits, cites police harassment

Accused sergeant offers no comment;

Muchow: Issue will be handled internally

GOLD HILL — A candidate withdrew from the city’s mayoral race Wednesday, saying he had become a target of police harassment.

Allan D. Jennings, a Gold Hill public works employee who was seeking election to the city’s highest office, said Sgt. Hank Hobart tried to intimidate him after Jennings filed a complaint with the city that may have ramifications within the Police Department.

“I’ve been stopped three times in the past weeks,” said Jennings. “Hank has written me a ticket, he’s called my wife and freaked her out and he’s called my supervisor and council members with bogus claims about me. I can’t have all this. I’m just a working man.”

Michael S. Stanley and Daniel Morris remain in the race for mayor.

Jennings, the city’s union shop steward, said Hobart began harassing him after he filed a complaint requesting the council clarify its policy on cell phone repayment. The council is demanding payment from public works employees for private calls, but not enforcing the same measures for police officers, Jennings said.

“I thought it was a just request,” he said. “But Hank has come down hard on me.”

Hobart did not return calls for comment. Police Chief Dean Muchow declined to comment, saying the issue should be handled internally.

On Oct. 8, Hobart issued Jennings a $242 traffic ticket for failure to use his lights. Jennings said Hobart cited him at dusk while he was driving the city’s backhoe on private property while on city business.

Jennings said Hobart also stopped him Friday while Jennings was hunting on the outskirts of town.

“I had a license and a tag,” said Jennings.

Hobart expressed concerns about the city vehicle Jennings was driving at the time, Jennings said. He was later stopped a third time by Hobart, but again not cited.

Jennings’ supervisor, public works director Royal Gasso, said Hobart called him to volunteer a “packet of concerns” about Jennings.

“I didn’t request any information,” said Gasso. “He said he did it to assist me in any matter dealing with Mr. Jennings. None of the information in the packet indicated proof of misconduct or wrongdoing.”

The packet also was given to Councilwoman Kathleen Price, the former council liaison with the police.

Council President Donna Silva sent an e-mail to the council expressing concern about Hobart’s and Price’s actions.

“She stated she was gathering information on Allen Jennings,” wrote Silva. “Kathleen also had some documents that she received from officer (sic) Hank Hobart.”

Silva on Wednesday said she also has concerns about police officers offering personal information to specific council members and about the seizure on Monday of former Council member Christine Alford’s computer by Gold Hill police for investigation of identity theft.

Jennings said Alford’s troubles have him concerned there is a “search and destroy” policy in place against anyone who challenges the Police Department.

“I sure didn’t expect this,” Jennings said. “I thought I could do good things for the city. But I don’t want to be like Christine Alford, staying up all night afraid the police are going to come banging on my door.”

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2006/1019/local/stories/gold_hill-notmayor.htm

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