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Montana behind bars.

Dr. Thresher v. Montana

          December 2, 2020

Dr. Thresher v. Montana was my (Dr. Duane Thresher's) third foundational case; see IT Law Expertise in my Credentials on the Apscitu website and About Apscitu Law and Casebook on the Apscitu Law website. Actually, it wasn't just one case — living and running a business in Montana led to numerous cases. Montana is perpetually at the top of the list of most corrupt states and this is well-earned. A big part of the reason for this rampant corruption is that Montana is full of incompetents, particularly IT incompetents (but also lawyers, etc.); see Principles of IT Incompetence (IT Hiring: IT Incompetence Breeds Disloyalty and Corruption).

I learned a lot of law in Montana — I had to educate myself extensively about it. I even thought about going to law school, but in looking into it I realized the days of law school as in The Paper Chase, as I would want it (tough, like MIT was), were over. Law schools had drastically deteriorated due to political correctness, just as their associated universities had. I realized I would be much better off learning just the law pertinent to my cases in depth, more than general practice lawyers, and how to prosecute and defend cases.

Like in Dr. Thresher v. Prof. Bedell — which actually also happened while I was in Montana but did not involve any Montanans — my time in Montana also solidified my thoughts about the high cost of IT incompetence.

As my first business, I wanted Thresher Networks, which designed and installed entire enterprise networks (cabling, switches, routers, etc.), to be on a sound legal footing. Before even going to a lawyer, I read a lot — including the Montana statutes — about limited liability companies (LLC), corporations (Inc.), and the differences between them. I chose to become an LLC and went to a lawyer in nearby Great Falls, Hanna Warhank (of Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C.), to draw up the paperwork.

However, it quickly became apparent that Hanna Warhank was incompetent, at least in regards to LLCs. (Admittedly LLCs are a fairly recent legal invention — it was the mid-1990s before they were widely accepted — but even lawyers have to keep up in their field, which does change.) She insisted I expose all my LLC members by naming them in my articles of organization. Everything I'd read, as well as the Montana Secretary of State's Office, said you don't have to do this; it's considered an advantage of an LLC that you don't.

I dropped Hanna Warhank without paying her a penny and drew up my own articles of organization to become Thresher Networks LLC. (Later I would use this legal knowledge and expand on it to become Apscitu Inc.)

As part of my business, I had to deal, at a technical level, with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) in my area, 3 Rivers, headed then and now by IT incompetent General Manager/CEO David Gibson . Unfortunately, 3 Rivers hired only IT incompetent family and friends for technical positions. Getting any IT work done that involved 3 Rivers took forever and added to the cost. It got so bad that I read through the bylaws of its articles of incorporation and ran for the 3 Rivers Board of Trustees, including giving a critical speech to a large hostile audience at the annual meeting, which is usually an extravagant costly party rather than the serious shareholder meeting it is supposed to be. I also created a website critical of member-owned 3 Rivers: 3 Rivers Revolt! Of course I had no chance of winning since 3 Rivers was handing out jobs to the voters and lots of ad money to the thus very biased local newspapers.

3 Rivers spends a lot of effort getting state and federal grants using dubious justification, like many organizations in Montana, including schools and libraries. When it came to schools and libraries I was sympathetic to the lack of IT competence in Montana and did networking for them at reduced cost, but corruption ruined that too.

For example, I did some networking for the Fairfield Public Library. A librarian there, Tracie Roeder , fancying herself a computer expert, used some grant money to buy a bunch of computers from a vendor of her choice, but then the setup and networking was a disaster and I stepped in to help. While checking out these computers I discovered that the vendor, Quint Billings of Missoula Computes, was a registered sex offender, a pedophile who had spent 5 years in prison for raping a boy (Billings's photo here is his mugshot). Turns out Roeder had chosen Quint Billings without any research — a simple Google search of his name brought up his sex offender registration first thing for me — and had picked him only because his isolated shop was conveniently on the way to her kids' orthodontist.

I discovered some questionable hidden software on these computers that seemed to connect back to Missoula Computes; I immediately reformatted all of their drives and reinstalled a clean operating system. Quint Billings advertised that he specialized in providing computers for schools and libraries (even while he was not allowed near schools or other places children gathered; his business is in an isolated building ). I warned dozens of library, school, and state officials in Montana about him, but not a single one was interested. Tracie Roeder herself was angry at me for pointing out Billings was a pedophile. Corruption is so bad in Montana they don't even care about protecting children. (During one election, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox hypocritically ran on an anti-sex-offender platform.)

I was able to make it a little harder for Quint Billings to attract the business of schools and libraries though. As advertised on the Missoula Computes website, Billings was a certified Lenovo Business Partner. Lenovo is a Chinese computer manufacturer, headquartered in Beijing, that acquired IBM's personal computer business (Thinkpad's etc.) in 2005. Their computers are cheap so attractive to schools and libraries. I contacted Lenovo and had this certification removed — like many such contracts there is a moral turpitude clause in it.

I did a larger networking job for the Greenfield School. This turned out to be corruption from beginning to end — led by Principal Paul Wilson and abetted by the school board — and all at the expense of the children. Again, corruption is so bad in Montana they don't even care about protecting children.

Evidence in this case can be found on the website I created about it at the time titled Criminal Activity by Greenfield School Montana Officials.

Due to IT incompetence, the computer network of the Greenfield School was a shambles, particularly regarding computer security, which exposed the students to dangers like pedophile Quint Billings of Missoula Computes (see above). I offered to design and install a new computer network for $15,000 — much less than the job was worth — as part of an $80,000 new construction project at the school.

This new construction was to take place during the summer, to avoid interfering with school, and vice versa. I could not start until it was finished and also would be greatly slowed if school was in session.

Construction thus should have started the day after the last day of school in May. However, choosing a builder was still going on then. This was because Principal Paul Wilson and the school board were desperately trying to give the job to a friend, Brian Burton of Burton Finish Carpentry, by allowing him weeks past the deadline to put together a legitimate proposal, even though another company, Detailed Construction, had already submitted an excellent proposal by the deadline. Principal Wilson had arranged to make extra money by working for Burton on the project, in violation of his full-year school contract, but OK'ed by school board member Michael Hager. This was clearly just a bribe to get the contract.

Burton never could put together a legitimate proposal and Detailed Construction threatened a lawsuit, so they got the job. Even so, construction started only in mid-summer and by the time it was finished and I could start, school was just days away from starting. Mostly I had to work around school being in session. Plus I had to work with 3 Rivers (see above). Progress was difficult to say the least.

While this was going on, I discovered other corruption at the school — at school board meetings that parents weren't informed of so didn't attend — and felt compelled to act:

1. Principal Paul Wilson and the school board tried to cheat a student out of rightfully-earned scholarship money because they didn't like the student's parents. I reported this to the parents; they complained and got the scholarship.

2. Through incompetent planning, Principal Paul Wilson and the school board ended up having to cram all the 2nd-graders into a tiny room never meant to be a classroom, which violated fire codes and endangered the children. I reported this to the Fire Marshal.

3. School board member Mervin Carper of Merv's Floor Installation was "awarded" the flooring contract. He was incompetent and, particularly on the large inside ramp at the front door, he made the floors so slick children were literally falling all the time. I pointed out that this was a serious insurance issue and Carper fixed it at his own cost.

At this point, near completion, I was fired — supposedly for not finishing on time — and barred from setting foot on school grounds, even to collect my tools, under threat of arrest by the sheriff, another friend of Principal Paul Wilson and the school board.

To accomodate the school's budgeting I had required only $3,600 up front. Principal Paul Wilson and the school board gave the job, and the remaining $11,400, to an IT incompetent friend's company, an electrician who illegally ran his business out of 3 Rivers (see above). He only needed to do a few days of work before it was declared finished. (The school's computer network was then no safer than it was, because security settings are done at the end of the network installation, had not been done by me yet, and the electrician was IT incompetent.) Ridiculously, this was presented to me as proof of how much more efficient the electrician was compared to me, completely ignoring the fact that I was already near completion.

With intense study I learned how to sue as a pro se (no lawyer) litigant, since I didn't trust any local lawyers, given my experience with them (see above). Ultimately I did not submit my complaint because I realized it would have to go to the local court and in researching the judges there I found out they were, yet again, friends of Principal Paul Wilson and the school board.

I also made this corruption public with the mentioned website and ran for the Greenfield School Board. Of course I had no chance of winning since the school and the aforementioned businesses handed out lots of ad money to the thus very biased local newspapers, half of whom refused to print my running for Greenfield School Board ad.

When Obamacare (HealthCare.gov), itself an IT security fiasco (see HealthCare.gov Hacked), was implemented, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) provided the health insurance for children, including mine. In one of the largest data breaches at the time, MT DPHHS IT-incompetently lost all their information — names, ages, addresses, medical records, etc. — to hackers. They pretended the only concern was identity theft — so they only had to offer free credit monitoring for a year — but with children the concern is abduction (by pedophiles like Quint Billings of Missoula Computes for example; see above). Again though, corruption is so bad in Montana they don't even care about protecting children.

I demanded state officials, including Montana Attorney General Tim Fox , and federal officials, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey , investigate, but I got no response from anyone; see FBI Hacking Investigation Negligence Lawsuit.

I thus investigated the data breach myself. It was the first time I looked into how Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests worked (like the federal government, state governments have FOIA too). It was then that I learned how long these can take and how unsuccessful they often are; see FOIA: That's Some Exemption, That Exemption 6.

Instead, I created webpages about the MT DPHHS data breach and coverup, which exposed the IT incompetent MT DPHHS officials involved. These got a response from a source working in IT inside the MT DPHHS. He confirmed what I had written on the webpages: that the MT DPHHS data breach was caused by rampant IT incompetence there; again, many IT incompetent family and friends hired for technical positions. He was hired from out-of-state and was moving back after the incident.

These IT incompetent MT DPHHS officials included Ron Baldwin . He was for years MT DPHHS Chief Information Officer (CIO), including before the data breach was publicly reported (10 months after the fact); he was clearly responsible for the conditions that allowed the data breach. Ron Baldwin was then appointed the state CIO for Montana, responsible for all of state government IT; for yet another IT incompetent Montana CIO see IT Incompetent Attorneys General v. Google.

On our way out of Montana, to the Silicon Valley area in California to start web programming work on an idea I have for an innovative social networking website, we needed to store some of our stuff in Montana to get later. Being an Air Force brat who had moved a lot, I chose a storage facility, U-STOR-IT, near Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, thinking it was thus most likely to be reputable.

A couple of months later in California I was contacted by Detective Lieutenant Scott Van Dyken of the Cascade County Sheriff's Office in Great Falls, Montana. He informed me that some of what we had in storage had been recovered from a theft ring — U-STOR-IT had been robbed. Being incompetent, Van Dyken was very irritated that I had not provided better contact information in our stolen goods and he had had trouble finding us.

Det. Lt. Van Dyken demanded a list of what we were missing, knowing how hard it would be to put together. We painstakingly managed to put a list together for him though, and asked when we could get our stuff back. He never responded. Unclaimed recovered items are typically sold off, with the police getting first pick. Later, I discovered that the Cascade County Sheriff's Office itself was under criminal investigation for theft, which resulted in several successful prosecutions of its officers.

U-STOR-IT knew of the numerous thefts at its facility due to its poor security — they advertise camera surveillance but due to IT incompetence can't operate them properly — but did not inform any of its customers, many from Malmstrom Air Force Base and not often visiting their storage units. They tried to continue to charge us rent until we could get back there, itself a big expense. When we didn't pay all the rent, they sold off all of our stuff and sent the remainder of what they say we owed to a shady Montana collections agency, Credit Associates. I threatened to sue Credit Associates and they never bothered us again.

Looking up U-STOR-IT at the Montana Secretary of State showed it was owned by JKW Enterprises Inc., which sounds impressive, like a corporation you wouldn't dream of suing. However, looking up JKW Enterprises Inc. at the Montana Secretary of State showed it was owned by James D. Workman of 4901 2nd Ave N, Great Falls MT 59403, which is just the address of the U-STOR-IT facility. This is just the classic dummy corporation tactic used by corrupt companies. Note that incorporation does not protect a company's officers from being personally sued if they have acted unlawfully; they lose their indemnity.

There were many other incidents in Montana involving illegality and IT incompetence, but the above should be more than enough proof of my initial premise.

From this case I learned all about LLCs and corporations and how to soundly become one without a lawyer. Most importantly, I learned how to prosecute and defend cases as a pro se (no lawyer) litigant. Along with Dr. Thresher v. Prof. Bedell, from my muckraking websites above I learned defamation (usually libel) law (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) and subsequent cases are the most important precedents), as well as the difficulty of FOIA requests. From these websites and those I did for customers, I learned more about copyright law and about buying domain names. Finally, and also along with Dr. Thresher v. Prof. Bedell, this case solidified my thoughts about the high cost of IT incompetence, including that states (and nations) that are too incompetent, and thus too corrupt, are unworkable (this may apply to the United States).