It’s A Family Affair

Some of you may know Kathy Brown. She has been Long Beach resident and homeowner for many years. Her late husband was a beloved teacher and coach, and her now grown children were popular and well-known in our community. Kathy is also involved in community affairs, and of late has been working against our Town Board’s plan to continue a tax which should have expired this year. So, Kathy Brown was helping to organize the collecting of signatures for a petition to remonstrate against the tax. This remonstrance is of concern to the Town Board, and reportedly especially to Town Board President Peter Byvoets.

One day Kathy received a call from the Deputy Town Clerk Deanna Carlson. It seems that a neighbor of Kathy’s had made a Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.) Request for the floor plan, septic records and related information concerning her home. Deanna said that she could not find all the records and was calling to see if they could be located. Kathy told Deanna that she did not have to be told who was making the request. She already knew.

The records were located and the first time Kathy saw her neighbor she asked him why he wanted them. He said that he did not have to tell her why he wanted the records concerning her home. They were public records and he did not have to explain to her why he wanted them. Nor did he explain why he simply did not ask her to begin with.

Kathy Brown’s neighbors are, in fact, Jeff and Kendra Bartlett. Kendra is the daughter and Jeff is the son-in-law of Town Board President Peter Byvoets, and both Jeff and Kendra are active in local government. Among other things, Kendra has been the Head of the Park Board and Jeff is a volunteer fireman. They are both active with the Long Beach Alliance and both were instrumental in Peter Byvoets election campaign. Jeff has also been known to do odd-jobs and to carry political water for his father-in-law. For example, during the Fall election campaign Peter Byvoets took to the floor of the council to complain on behalf of his son-in-law that Jeff Bartlett was not getting certain requested documents quickly enough. (Bartlett was always requesting documents, some of which he would seemingly have had no use for himself) Byvoets then related how he had to become personally involved to secure their release, implicitly witrh the advice of the Town Attorney. At the next Town Board Meeting when asked if he was seeking legal advice from the Town Attorney in order to obtain the documents for Bartlett, Byvoets did not know what the questioner was talking about.

But back to confrontation between Jeff Bartlett and Kathy Brown. When Bartlett demanded to know how Kathy had discovered that he was trying to obtain information about her home, Kathy told him about the telephone call from the deputy Town Clerk. Bartlett said, “Thank you for the information, because she broke the law by calling you and violated my rights. I’m going to het her fired!” Apparently Bartlett believes that the plans to Kathy Brown’s house and other information are not confidential but his request for it is, and that the Deputy Clerk (the same woman that his father-in-law had threatened with arrest for trying to attend the “secret” executive meeting of the town board in June (see: “Secrets Hurt” ) deserved to be fired for trying to locate the information he had requested.

Bartlett’s response concerned Kathy. Perhaps she was thinking of the $2,000.00 the Town was charged for research by the Town Attorney, research designed to support the proposition that the Deputy Clerk could not attend an executive meeting of the Town Board because she was not a resident, and which included a photograph of the clerk’s private home, research which nevertheless failed to establish its purpose. Or maybe she was simply concerned that Bartlett apparently believed that he could indeed use his connections to get Deanna fired. Either way she called Deanna to warn her and to assure her that she had done nothing wrong and in fact had done everything right.

The author remembers and longs for another Long Beach. A Long Beach when after an election the candidates all went on with their lives, and there wasn’t the kind of strife or hypocritical secrecy that the members of the Long Beach Party have brought us. Everyone got along, raised their children and went on with their lives, but that was before the current town government…and the zealots from the Long Beach Community Alliance….

Frank Parkerson

5 Comments

  1. The current policy that Byvoets created stemmed from Bartlett not getting his way. On a day that Bartlett was to view plans from the recent Oakley jobsites, the owner of Oakley Homebuilders happen to be in the building that morning prior to the viewing. It was Bartlett that left in a huff. A short while later Byvoets was in the town hall yelling and carrying on at the Building Commissioner, over his son-in-laws decision to leave and not getting to view the plans. Now, a year later, and Bartlett is still up to his same tricks.

    The result of all of this? Dr. Angelo read the Building Commissioners account of the entire ordeal at a Town Council meeting in Aug 05 of which Byvoets denied (Byvoets had documented run-in’s with Keith Durbin, frmr Building Commissioner, too). Building Commissioner had to deal with Jane’s behavior, too. An account of her actions were also read, and she also denied. Both can be seen on archived video’s on Alco-TV (access LaPorte County). Byvoets goes on to compose a policy for FOIA request that Pat McDonald runs past the good folks that over see the open-door laws in Indy…”toxic” is the term they used to describe it. Byvoets apparently made some changes but ultimately put it into service at the Jan 2016 Building Commissioners meeting. Were his changes ever proofed? His policy makes everything available. And Bartlett? Well, it’s strange that all the FOIA requests have stopped coming into Town Hall? Carla Fargo, Pat Sharkey, Joe Jogmen; all members of the alliance and all inundated the town hall with requests. Those request have just stopped since Larry Wall has stepped in as Building Commissioner. But getting back to Shaky-Pete’s FOIA “policy”… as currently implemented, plans and permits are ok for everyone to view but the detailed legal bills are not? Things need to be accessible for Byvoets’ son-in-law but the remainder of Long Beach just needs to have blind faith and be kept in the dark? And where are the plans and permits? Not being stored securely at Town Hall. They are at the Community Center where Joe Jogmen, among others, have keys.

  2. Thank you for your viewpoint Aaron. I assume that when you refer to the “current policy that Byvoets created” you mean the ordinance that he submitted and had approved which limited the time that local government had to respond to F.O.I.A. requests? I am not sure that he meant for that to apply to the current opposition. We still are waiting for non-redacted attorney bills…and there certainly seem to be a lot of very costly ones lately. Julie Paulson, the Town Attorney (Harris, Welsh & Lukman) is getting rich at our expense. It is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paulson, with Peter using our money.

  3. August 24, 2016

    It appears that under the guidance of Pete Byvoets some individuals associated with Town Government have resorted to threats and intimidation to silence opposition to Pete’s actions and agendas.

    One case in point is the very fact that Pete’s daughter Kendra along with her Husband Jeff Bartlett would secure their neighbors residence information under the Freedom of Information Act for no apparent reason. While this is not illegal it’s not what good neighbors do.

    My guess is this action by Kendra and her Husband (an LBVFD Fireman) is a dog whistle warning aimed at Kathy Brown for her opposition to an unpopular, soon to expire tax Pete wants to keep alive.

    If this proves to be true then it is a form of intimidation against a long time Long Beach resident and should be documented for legal recourse at a later date. These Alinsky tactics by Members associated with Long Beach Government are what you would expect in Eastern Europe not America.

    The time has come for all concerned residents to push back as the quality of life in Long Beach as we knew it is at stake.

    Banding together for strength in numbers and forming an LLC Community Awareness Association could be one way. This then would be used as a conduit to inform the majority of Long Beach residents as to what is happening in the community. This will require legal advice, and a base to work out of, do this and the residents just may take notice and join in the fight.

    Bob Boyce

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