Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ron Harper challenges Verizon's explanation

NewsLanc forwarded a copy of "Verizon's explanation for removal of Lancaster Post Box" to Ron Harper, Co-Publisher of the Lancaster Post and asked if he cared to comment. Below is his response:

The Verizon manager, Lance Dunlop did indeed call me the first time to tell me about the box. I accused him of being a pawn of F&M and Lance claimed that he didn't know of any of the controversy regarding the box and the location. When I told him of the problem, he said that we could leave the box attached to their pole and that all we had to do was fill out paperwork - which he said he would email to me.

I specifically asked him if I could keep the box there while the paperwork was being processed. He assured me that would be fine and that he'd get the paperwork to me. (As I had been assaulted a few feet from the corner, I was not exactly anxious to return and move the box.)

The day the box was missing, Lance, who assured me that the box could stay while the paperwork was being processed, emailed the promised one page form which I completed and returned in five minutes of receiving.

Days later, I discovered the missing box a mile and half away from it's location on the sidewalk in front of our office. (after I replaced the box and reported it missing to the police). I put the long-awaited email from Lance and the discovery of the box together and confronted Lance who admitted that HE took my box. I asked him, "After you cut the chain and detached my box, what right did you have to put my box into your truck and move it away?" "Why didn't you tell me that you took my box? You had my cell number and my email address." Lance had no answers for why he took my box or why he didn't tell me.

Remember how Lance assured me that they were not part of some grand conspiracy and that we could get permission to attach our box to the pole without any problem? The next day after filling out Verizon's paperwork, I received a call from Verizon telling me that they rejected my application to attach to their box because of concern that someone would slip and fall on the grass!!

The United States Constitution protects the rights of the Lancaster Post to publish and distribute their paper in a newspaper box in the public right-of-way. Since we placed our box in the 80 foot right-of-way on Marietta Avenue, it's been taken twice (once by F&M police and once by Verizon), vandalized and we've had our papers stolen. When Chris and I merely placing our box on the public right-of-way, I was assaulted by F&M employees. (minutes after the F&M gardener warned us that "we'll see about that" when told him of our right to place the box - talk about a conspiracy!) Next, Chris and I were held against our will for 2 and half hours during which they continually denied my right to speak to an attorney.

It's important to note that Verizon came out to our box because F&M called to have Verizon and other utilities show where their underground utilities are located. Amazingly, Verizon's Lance Dunlop manage to get my cell number when he called to tell me to remove the box but couldn't find my number when he took my box. The Verizon official now says that Lance called me and told me the box was removed. That's an absolute lie and makes me think question every other assertion they now make.