Plagiarism in Cochise County

I have a folder of examples of plagiarism in Cochise County, and the subject probably deserves a page of its own.  So, starting with newest first, here are some (this page will start with just one, then add to it as time allows).

From August 20, 2014:

The Sierra Vista Herald recently hosted battling letters to the editor, arguing over "who is the real monster?" -- militant Zionists or militant Islamists.  Calling each other "monster!" isn't my idea of good conversation, so I only looked at one of the letters.  It happened to contain a large amount of plagiarism.  The letter is posted at
http://www.svherald.com/content/submitted/2014/08/17/387057

Plagiarism is copying the words of other writers, with little or no changes, and passing the result off as your own work.  That's theft from other writers, and lying on your readers.  Grade school students are taught not to do it, and grown-ups shouldn't do it either.  An eminent local reporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, refers to "the crime" of plagiarism.  I agree.  I hate plagiarism.

A writer may have the best cause in the world, yet will hurt that cause by plagiarizing.  Any writer who wants to be taken seriously should avoid plagiarism like the plague.

Here are the plagiarisms that I found in the above letter, just on my first reading.  What follows is a little long because I have to quote complete sentences in order to show you the plagiarism.  In the examples below, the format is:  a quote from the letter, followed by an outside original of the quoted but uncredited language, then a link to the outside source.

In paragraph 2 of the letter:  "The death toll surpassed 100,000 in June 2013, and reached 120,000 by September 2013.  Tens of thousands of protesters, students, liberal activists and human rights advocates have been imprisoned.  There are reports of widespread torture and terror in state prisons."
-- Here's a source for that passage:  "the death toll surpassed 100,000 in June 2013, and reached 120,000 by September 2013. In addition, tens of thousands of protesters, students, liberal activists and human rights advocates have been imprisoned and there are reports of widespread torture and terror in state prisons."  That's from
http://ncku-mun.weebly.com/specpol_topica.html

In paragraph 5:  "Until the 1967 war, the Arabs living in Israel did not call themselves Palestinians - 20 years after the founding of the modern state of Israel.  The name Palestine came from the Romans who destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem ...."
-- Here's a source:  "Until the Six-Day Way [sic] in 1967 the Arabs living in Israel did not call themselves Palestinians.  It was the Romans who gave the land of Israel the name Palestine ....  They did this after making the tragic mistake of destroying the Temple in Jerusalem ...."  That's from
http://ohr.edu/this_week/israel_forever/473

In paragraph 6:  "on Aug. 17, 2005, Israel began to evacuate all the Jews from Gaza.  1,700 families were uprooted at a cost of $900,000.00.  Including 166 Israeli farmers who produce $120,000.00 in flowers and produce (15 percent of Israel's agricultural exports originate in Gaza.  Sixty percent of its cherry tomato and herb exports.)  Israel would also lose 70 percent of all its organic produce grown in Gaza."
-- Here's a source:  "On August 17, 2005, Israel began to evacuate all the Jews from Gaza....  A total of 1,700 families were uprooted at a cost of nearly $900 million.  This includes 166 Israeli farmers who produce $120 million in flowers and produce.  Approximately 15 percent of Israel's agricultural exports originate in Gaza, including 60 percent of its cherry tomato and herb exports.  Israel will also lose 70 percent of all its organic produce, which also is grown in Gaza."  That's from
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/gaza_settlements.html

In paragraph 8:  "There has been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem over centuries, the only times Jews did not live in the city were in the period after the Roman destruction and a short time during Crusades.  Jerusalem has always been the national capital of the Jews.  It was home to Jewish kings, the Sanhedrin and High Priests.  In 1948 it became the capital of the State of Israel.  Jerusalem was never the capital city of any Muslim rulers.  It is interesting to note that the PLO's founding document doesn't mention Jerusalem even once."
-- Here's a source:  "There has been a Jewish presence in the city of Jerusalem over the centuries ....  The only times Jews did not live in the city were in the period immediately after the Roman destruction and for a short time during the Crusades ...  The city has always been the designated national capital of the Jews.  It was home to the Jewish kings, the Sanhedrin and the High Priests.  In 1948 it automatically became the capital of the State of Israel....  It is interesting to note that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO's) founding document ... does not mention Jerusalem even once."  That's from
http://www.bje.org.au/learning/israel/history/presence.html

In paragraph 11:  "Hamas militants in Gaza employed tactics including traveling in ambulances, hiding in hospitals, dressing up in Israeli army uniforms, concealing rockets in United Nations schools, concealing tunnel entrances near mosques and using animals for suicide missions."
-- Here's a source:  "Hamas militants in Gaza have employed tactics including traveling in ambulances, hiding in hospitals, dressing up in Israeli army uniforms, concealing rockets in United Nations schools, concealing tunnel entrances near mosques and using animals for suicide missions."  That's from
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/23/ambulances-schools-and-mosques-hamas-top-10-hiding-places-that-are-frustrating-israels-fight-against-terror/

In paragraph 14:  "Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.  Arabs in 2011 held 14 seats in the 120-seat Knesset."
-- Here's a source:  "All have equal voting rights -- Israel is one of a very few place where Arab women have the right to vote, and Arabs currently hold 14 seats in the Knesset."  That's from
http://www.investorvillage.com/smbd.asp?mb=2234&mn=533882&pt=msg&mid=14095583

In paragraph 15:  "In 1970 Israel started opening its doors to the world's refugees.  It has saved non-Jewish people in distress and those seeking refuge from countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo, Eritrea and Sudan.  Since 1995 Israeli doctors acting through Save a Child's Heart have been giving kids from around the world, including from the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Jordan and other Arab nations free life-saving heart operations.  Since the organization first started 2,300 children have been treated, almost half are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Iraq."
-- Here's a source:  "In 1970 Israel started opening its doors to the world's refugees.  It has saved non-Jewish people in distress and those seeking refuge from countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo, Eritrea and Sudan.  Since 1995 Israeli doctors acting through Save a Child's Heart have been giving kids from around the world, including from the Palestinian Authority (PA), Iraq, Jordan and other Arab nations free life-saving heart operations. Since the organization first started 2,300 children have been treated, and almost half are from the PA, Jordan and Iraq."  That's from
http://www.israel.org/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Aid/Pages/Israel_humanitarian_aid.aspx

In Paragraph 16:  "Arabs won't tolerate a Jewish presence in the Muslim Middle East.  The Jews offer to negotiate peace but the Arabs are really just negotiating the end of Israel."
-- Here's a source:  "Arabs won't tolerate a Jewish presence in the Muslim Middle East -- period.  The Jews offer to negotiate peace but the Arabs are really just negotiating the end of Israel."  That's from
http://www.therefinersfire.org/no_palestine.htm

Trying to prevent plagiarism raises free-speech concerns, but the Herald might consider instituting a policy that letter-writers must certify that they aren't stealing other people's words.

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From August 19, 2010:

COCHISE COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE PRINTS PLAGIARISM BY COMMITTEE CHAIR VERA HYLSKY


There are stirring words on page 1 of the August Cochise County Republican Committee newsletter, in an editorial signed by Vera Hylsky, Chair of the Committee.  But Hylsky's editorial is plagiarized -- that is, stolen, with Hylsky not giving any credit to the person who actually wrote the words.

A copy of the editorial is at
    http://littlebigdog.net/CCRCPage1.jpg
The editorial's source appears to be an ehow.com article from 2008.  See
    http://www.ehow.com/how_4499051_be-educated-voter.html

One short paragraph in the editorial, "Never be swayed by commercials that use character assassination and other 'dirty' tactics," is not based on the 2008 article.  Everything else but a few scattered phrases is plagiarized.  See for yourself in the paragraphs below, where plagiarized parts of the editorial are compared to the 2008 article.


THE PLAGIARIZED PASSAGES COMPARED TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE

The plagiarized parts of Hylsky's copied words, and the words in the original source, are in red.

1, Hylsky's plagiarized title:  Be an Educated Voter
-- the original source's title:  How to Be an Educated Voter

2, Hylsky's plagiarism:  Watch debates.  Do the candidates answer the questions asked or do they just "spin" or spew "talking points".  Take notes as the candidates give their idea and proposed policies, and then research them.  Have they ever worked?  What were the results?
-- the original source:  Watch the debates.  Do the candidates actually answer the questions posed, or do they just launch into their talking points?  Take notes as the candidates put forth their ideas and proposed policies.  Afterwards, do a little research into these proposals.  Have these ideas ever worked?  What were the long term results?

3, Hylsky's plagiarism:  Don't depend on the newspapers to give you 'fair and balanced' coverage.  If you miss an event or speech, remember that the reporter is giving you what she/he thinks a politician was trying to say.  Instead watch it on You Tube or CSPAN.
-- the original source:  Don't depend on quotes in a newspaper article or sound bites on the evening news to give you the whole picture.  Try as they might to be non-biased, a reporter's interpretive summary of what they THINK a politician was trying to say, or should have said, is NOT the same thing as hearing a speech in context.  If you missed the original speech or news conference, read the transcript online, or watch it in it's [sic] entirety on YouTube or CSPAN to get the whole story.

4, Hylsky's plagiarism:  Don't be swayed by political commentators.  You have the right to form your own opinion.
-- the original source:  Don't be swayed and intimidated by all the "talking head" political commentators.  They're basically like sports announcers, giving their opinion on the game, and they're not always right!  You have the right to watch the game for yourself and form your own opinion.  The more you educate yourself on important issues, the less you'll depend on other people's judgement, and have confidence in your own!

5, Hylsky's plagiarism:  If you're registered to vote, you should have received your Voter's Guide in the mail.  Read it for information on local candidates.
-- the original source:  If you're registered to vote, you should receive a voter's guide in the mail several weeks before the election.  Read your local voter's guide for information on local candidates, propositions, and issues.  Read the statements for and against the propositions before deciding.  Use the enclosed sample ballot to mark your decisions, so you don't have to do all your research again in the voter booth.

6, Hylsky's plagiarism:  VOTE!  All of this is worthless unless you exercise you [sic] right to vote, so cast your educated ballot on August 24th.  Remember -- brave American men and women have fought and died so that you are able to live in a free society where you have the right to vote.  People around the world long to live in freedom and to have this right.  Many came to this country and earned their citizenship for these reasons.  Don't waste this opportunity to make a difference!
-- the original source:  VOTE!  That's right, all of this is worthless unless you actually cast your educated vote.  If you won't be able to make it to the polls in person, apply for an absentee ballot.  Brave American men and women have fought and died for your right to live in a free society where your voice is heard and your vote counted.  Millions around the world long for this basic right in vain, and would gladly trade places with you!  Don't waste this precious opportunity to make a difference!


FOLLOWING UP THE PLAGIARISM

Hylsky has denied plagiarizing, saying "I have no idea what you mean.  I put this together from so many ideas.  I had no idea there were similar ones, but it makes sense because these are sensible ideas."

Hylsky's failure to realize that she plagiarized is consistent with the tag line she puts at the end of her emails:  "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.  Mark Twain".  However, a different quotation, from a contemporary of Twain's, probably applies better:  "I did that, my memory says.  I didn't do that, my pride says.  My pride sticks to it ... and eventually memory loses," Friedrich Nietzsche.


In any case, plagiarism is theft whether it's intentional or not.


Besides, the issue with plagiarism isn't thoughts, it's words -- and most of Hylsky's words are clearly lifted from elsewhere, with no credit given to the author who actually created the words that Hylsky lifted in chunks.


Plagiarism steals intellectual property which other people worked to create.  Plagiarism is contemptible.    For a basic discussion, see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

Exposed plagiarists often lose their jobs, and always suffer some consequences.  Here are three local examples:

-- In October 2007, the Cochise County Planning Department posted a column signed by a newly hired high-level employee named Don Spiva.  The piece was almost 100% plagiarism, and was quickly exposed.  See
    http://littlebigdog.net/PlanDeptPlagiarism.htm
Soon, Spiva found work elsewhere.

-- The former Pinal County Sheriff was a plagiarist.  In the 2008 election, his opponent, Paul Babeu, made that an issue.  See
    http://www.sheriffpaul.com/news/2008/May15pinal_sheriff_vasquez_merits_investigation.aspx
Voters rejected the plagiarist, and Babeu is now Pinal County Sheriff.

-- In a lawsuit about Rick Mueller's campaign for Mayor of Sierra Vista, Mueller's attorney complained about plagiarism in an opposing filing in which "a large section ... is a verbatim cut-and-pasted copy of an argument ... in Maricopa County Superior Court last week....  Whether or not the argument was copied word for word does not matter a whole lot but [the judge told Mueller's challenger] 'It is disingenuous not to attribute where you got it and pretend that you came up with this all by yourself.'"  See
    http://173.201.176.156/content/news/2010/06/22/mayoral-candidate-stay-ballot

Hylsky's plagiarism damages everyone's ability to trust the Committee newsletter, including any contribution from Hylsky.  Hylsky's refusal to admit obvious plagiarism will only worsen the damage she has done to her own credibility.  The Cochise County Republican Committee may, or may not, try to regain some credibility by addressing its chair's plagiarism.


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From November 27, 2007

Cochise County Planning Department plagiarism and coverup

November 27, 2007

The Cochise County Planning Department has a pattern of abusing and betraying the public. The most recent example involves plagiarism, and an attempted coverup.

-- Plagiarism

Each month, Cochise County Planning Department head Judy Anderson publishes a column entitled “The Planning Zone.” Anderson’s column for October 2007 said it provided the perspective of Don Spiva, a new employee. The column was almost 100% plagiarism, with no credit given to any source. The plagiarism is often word-for-word. Here’s a site which, for every passage in the column, provides an original source:

http://littlebigdog.net/PlanDeptPlagiarism.htm

Plagiarism is theft and fraud. Plagiarism is theft from the original author, and fraud on the people who read the plagiarized piece. It’s illegal, too, when a copyright is violated. Here’s a link to Wikipedia’s discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

A plagiarist, by committing theft and fraud, gives up any claim to readers’ trust. So does a person who tries to cover up plagiarism, and commits illegitimate censorship in the attempt.

-- Coverup

In order to email Planning & Zoning Commissioners, citizens must route emails through Judy Anderson. On November 14, a Commission meeting was set for 4 p.m. At 8:46 a.m., I sent the Commissioners an email via Anderson. It included the material at

http://littlebigdog.net/PlanDeptPlagiarism.htm

At 2:36 p.m., almost six hours later, Anderson answered that she had not forwarded my email, but instead had emailed the Commissioners a description of the issues in my email, and asked the Commissioners if they wanted my email. The immediate result was that I printed out the material at

http://littlebigdog.net/PlanDeptPlagiarism.htm

and handed a copy to each Commissioner at the 4 p.m. meeting.

Anderson’s illegitimate censorship quickly ended, and the next day, I obtained a copy of her email to the Commissioners: “Mr. Jackson has sent me a request to forward an email alleging plagiarism in the most recent Planning Zone Column that I have been writing since about 1996. The column was related to the Building Code and used information provided by Don Spiva our Building Official and not related to the type of actions that are reviewed by the Commission. We have consulted with the County Attorney and while they agreed that we could have done a better job of attribution the information was extracted from the Insurance Service Organization site and the International Building Code site and thus most likely not a legal issue. Please let me know if you are interested in having Mr. Jackson’s email forwarded to you. Thanks”.

Anderson’s email makes it clear that not only did she obstruct my email, but also actively covered up the facts.

Anderson’s email admits “extracting” material (“the information was extracted from the Insurance Service Organization site and the International Building Code site”), but covers up the fact that the material was almost 100% plagiarized, with no credit given to any of the original sources.

Anderson’s email says “the County Attorney … agreed that we could have done a better job of attribution” — which covers up the fact that there was no attribution at all.

Anderson’s email says the column “used information provided by Don Spiva.” That muddies the authorship of the column, in which the credit line says “Guest Columnist Don Spiva, Building Official,” and the first paragraph states “Meet Don Spiva … this column provides his perspective ….” Coverup.

Anderson’s email says “the information was extracted from [trade organizations] and thus most likely not a legal issue.” That evades the real issue, which is that plagiarism is morally and ethically wrong. As to the legal issue, the named trade organization websites include copyright notices, and at least one of the sites specifically prohibits unauthorized use. No attorney who examined those sites could conclude that plagiarizing from those websites would likely not create a legal issue. Coverup.

Anderson’s email says the column “was related to the Building Code and used information … not related to the type of actions that are reviewed by the Commission.” However, anything related to the Building Code is subject to review by the Commission, and the column was an argument in favor of extending building codes — an issue which is always before the Commission. Coverup.

On November 22, I emailed Anderson the following:
“The plagiarism recently published in your column was reprinted on at least the following websites: Beickerinsulation.com [and] Inform.com and it appears as by Don Spiva only at http://www.willcoxrangenews.com/articles/2007/11/20/news/news12.txt#blogcomments [.] Will you be informing those sites that the article was plagiarized, and that the official Cochise County website published it without knowing that it was plagiarized — or will the county give the appearance that it endorses the publication of plagiarized material?”

On November 26, Anderson answered “I did talk to Keith Allen at the Sierra Vista Herald/ Bisbee Review about this.” Later that day, I replied that her answer “does not address the spreading of the plagiarism by websites which Mr. Allen does not control, such as the Beickerinsulation.com and Inform.com sites…. In my personal opinion, and I acknowledge your right to have a different opinion, it is unwise for Cochise County government to be seen as a source of information which cannot be trusted, while on the other hand, public trust in local government would increase a great deal if the government were to be seen as following high standards in communicating with the public.”

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