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