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Brown County Rejects Delivery of Bibles UPDATE: New emails from the County

by Jerry Bader

Okay, it's a bit more complicated than that: Brown County Supervisors received the following email:

Supervisors,

Good afternoon!  I received a phone call from a few Supervisors as well as from the County Executive questioning if we had received strange mailings from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Approximately 5-months ago several boxes were sent via Fed Ex to our office and inside were individually addressed boxes of Bibles to each Supervisor.  Our office refused the packages and had them sent back, that was the directive we were given by our Document/Mailing Center.  It sounds like the FLDS is now attempting to get that information to each of you on their own by sending it directly to your homes. 

Executive Streckenbach informed that he had been in contact with Sheriff Gossage in regard to this matter. 

As of right now I am sending out this email as an FYI.  If I have anything further to report I will send out another email.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the County Board office.

Thank you,

Alicia

Alicia A. Loehlein

Administrative Secretary

Brown County Board of Supervisor 

Okay, the FLDS is controversial. But really, sending Bibles receives this kind of reaction? And why on earth is the Sheriff being brought into this? County Supervisor Pat Evans responded:

Dear Alicia and Theresa,

Is it illegal for them, or anyone, to send us information?  Why was the initial package refused by the County Board office?  Who determines what is "strange" and that it cannot be forwarded on to the respective Supervisor?  I can understand if there is a dangerous item (ex. chemical) then it most certainly should be refused... but Bibles are now something the County Board office is not allowed to accept based on the Document/Mailing Center?  Who is in charge of the Document/Mailing Center?  Can I please have the policy which states we do not receive Bibles?

I would like the answers to my questions shared with everyone please....

Thank you,

Pat

 I look forward to those answers too.

UPDATE: Here's a continuation of the email thread. Getting curioser and curioser:

Morning, Supervisors;

Supervisor Evans, I was more than happy to distribute them on your desks at the County Board meeting, that was the original plan, however, Ms. Beno, the Document Specialist from the Document Center came into our office, saw the boxes and informed us that they should be sent back and had them removed.  For the record, in the years I have been here, I have never not provided you with mail that has come into this office.  Ms. Beno informed me that boxes of material were coming twice a week, she stated that she had called them and asked that they stop as we were a government agency.  You can contact Ms. Beno for further explanation with regard to these decisions.  She also noted that items were coming in stating “postage due” and they had refused them because it was a matter of who was going to be paying for these mailings, County Board budget?

County Clerk Juno informed me that the County Clerk’s office has been receiving these mailings for the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office.  She informed me that she had contacted all of the counties in Wisconsin and they stated that they were also receiving this information and that the standard procedure was to refuse the items or throw them away. 

In the future, if items similar (larger items like this) come into the Board office, from now on, I will contact each Supervisor and ask if they would like to receive the item and arrange for pick up or will transport to the Council Chambers for distribution.

Lastly, Sheriff Gossage had also contacted me this morning as a request from the County Executive, he stated that after speaking with District Attorney David Lasee, it was not illegal for these items to be sent however if people were coming to the house and it was persistent or unwanted then it could lead to charges of harassment or possibly disorderly conduct if law enforcement were to be called. If you have any concerns, he had asked that you give him a call.

I have also received your communication re: “Who determines what information is forwarded to Supervisors, as it has come to Supervisor's attention that some materials are not being forwarded” and once Executive Committee Chairman Lund approves it, it will be added to the Executive Committee agenda.

Thank you, 

Alicia Loehlein 

Greetings!

My apologies in my late response to the e-mail traffic that has been generated throughout the day on this topic.  As far back as the 2004-2006 county board term, there has been a written edict within the board office in regard to supervisor mail and the handling thereof.  Simply, the board staff will not open mail as addressed to individual supervisors.  Our staff continues to function within this manner.  In regard to the delivery of packages, with the scenario as described, particularly requesting postage due, I find no fault in the actions of the staff.  They took direction of an individual whom is experienced in this area.  Further, I have no quarrel in Supervisor Evan's request to the Executive Committee meeting agenda.  The airing of issues as they arise can but only ensure we are all on the same page moving forward.

Regards,

Patrick W. Moynihan, Jr. 

To which Supervisor Evans replied:

Thank you Chair Moynihan and Alicia,

I understand what you are saying... except that something just doesn't add up here... I contacted the DePere US Post Office.  I was told that on a Postage Due item, they are NOT brought to a company/resident/governmental agency.  They deliver a notice stating that there is a postage due item, AND do not know the contents of the package.  They will hold on to the item for about a week and if not claimed then sent back.  Additionally, for a postage due item, the organization/person sending them has to pay some initial postage to begin the delivery process. 

Thus, I'm not sure how Bibles could be delivered postage due... and/or then how Ms. Beno or our staff knew they were Bibles... I must say I'm confident in our staff providing us our information, but am a little skeptical about the Document/Mailing Center.  The issue is not about who is sending the items and if you agree with that person/organization or if you think they are "strange or weird or offensive" the issue is about a decision being made not to forward information to elected officials.  And it doesn't matter if we are a governmental agency or not... and in reality, as we are a governmental agency we most certainly have to be open to receiving ALL information that is being sent to us.  The separation of Church and State has nothing to do with us receiving religious material or from a religious entity.

I believe we not receiving the full story.....

Thank you,

Pat

 I don't think we're getting the full story either...