Association News: Batons Again Removed from PMC Patrol

By Patric Hedund

As we go to press, it has been confirmed that Pine Mountain Patrol was ordered Tuesday, April 13 to again relinquish their defensive batons pending policy review by the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association board and counsel. The issue is on the agenda for the Saturday, April 17 board meeting.

An actively campaigning candidate for the board, Finn Myggen, is said to have approached new PMC General Manager Rory Worster and PMC Board Chair Lee Benavidez with “concerns” that led to the action.

General Manager Worster, in an interview early Wednesday, April 14 said, “A member brought an issue to me and upon reviewing it, [I feel] there is enough concern about our status within the association that it does not allow us to carry a deadly weapon.

“I don’t know when that issue— whether it is a [state] code or statute—came into being. I’m still reviewing it. I made the determination on my own to remove the batons which are considered a ‘deadly weapon’ while I put together a document for the board to review to limit the liability exposure. We have inquiries out for [expert] opinions.

“Patrol still has their pepper spray. This has nothing to do with any individual’s license or performance.”

When asked if there was an event that triggered this action, Worster said, “Absolutely not. I want to emphasize that it had nothing to do with performance.”

He also said there “has been no issue with our insurance carrier. There has been no change in our status with them.” He said he has calls out for guidance to consultants and that the question “will be brought before the board this weekend.”

Finn Myggen was contacted at 8 a.m. Wednesday to seek an explanation about what issue he has raised in regard to Pine Mountain Patrol.

“I need to check with Rory and Lee to see if I am morally allowed to talk about this. I have knowledge that I don’t want to comment about until I talk with Lee and Rory,” he said, referring to board chair Lee Benavidez and General Manager Rory Worster.

Benavidez was charged by members this year of “waging a vendetta” against PMC Patrol, after they reported him to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for possibly poaching a bear in June, shortly before he became chair of the PMC board. Benavidez denies he took the bear, despite having allegedly asked a member of patrol to help him move it and telling numerous people of his own actions. DFG did not fully investigate the charge. A California Labor Board complaint was filed by the chief of patrol alleging “retaliation.”

These events, coupled with numerous PMCPOA contracts going to Benavidez’ employer this year have resulted in continuing turmoil and charges alleging “corruption” in public comments and open letters by PMC members.

New Assessments

At a budget meeting Saturday, April 10, members were told that an $88 per parcel assessment increase is being proposed by Worster and Director of Finance Todd Draa. If adopted, the new assessment would be $1,371. The board will consider the proposed budget at its Saturday, April 17 meeting.

Candidates Announced

Four seats are opening on the nine-member PMCPOA board of directors. Ballots go out in May. Election results are tallied in June. Outgoing directors include the controversial Lee Benavidez.

Running for the single two-year seat are: Derek Edwards, Larry Shifflett, Kim Wickers and Chantal Blanchard.

Running for the three three-year seats are: Finn Myggen, Sigrid Insull-Lucking, Stephan Bates, Mike Joseph, Bill Martin and Gary Biggerstaff.

The Citizens Review Committee, which presented an independent review of the PMC Patrol in March, announced they are running as a slate for reform. That includes Wickers, Biggerstaff, Martin and Joseph.

This is part of the April 16, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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