IG Complaint Ignored by Rhode Island Wing & NER

CAP Col Richard F. Hill, Senator Jack Reed, CAP Maj Gen Joe VazquezCAP Col Richard F. Hill, Senator Jack Reed, CAP Maj Gen Joe Vazquez

By AuxBeacon News Staff

[Editor’s Note: On March 25th 2014, 1st Lt Rob Cote submitted an IG Complaint against the Rhode Island Wing Commander, Col Richard Hill to the Rhode Island Wing Inspector General, Lt Col Philip G. Hirons and the Northeast Region Commander, Col Dan LeClair.  Lt Cote tried to do the right thing, but instead, he got punished and eventually, he resigned. All of his allegations were “Dismissed” or ignored despite the documented evidence that he provided. Maj James Burns accurately said “it is a path of continued decline, loss of membership, safety breaches, and what is so clearly obvious, the destruction of the organization. For any volunteer organization to thrive, the membership needs the ability to govern itself, give feedback without the threat of dismissal, and to make changes based upon current needs of the membership.” This is one of many IG Complaints that AuxBeacon has received that was intentionally covered up by CAP National Headquarters that later helped get the “Total Force Partnership” with the USAF.]


Lt Col Philip G. Hirons
RI Wing Inspector General
[redacted]
[redacted]

This letter is to serve as intent to file an official complaint with the CAP Rhode Island Wing Inspector General and the NE Region Commander, in accordance with CAPR123-2 Section 7. This complaint will contain certain allegations against RI Wing Commander Richard Hill for violation of Civil Air Patrol regulations, negligence, inappropriate conduct, harassment of a senior member, intimidation, and conduct unbecoming of a Civil Air Patrol member. This complaint will be supported by specific facts and timelines and will further be supported by interviews of other members.

FACTS OF THE CASE

1. 1st Lt Robert Cote [redacted] is a mission pilot with the RI Wing and has been a member in good standing since joining CAP in February 2009.

2. Lt Cote has received several awards for his service to CAP to include but not limited to several certificates of appreciation for work performed at Air Shows, his contributions to Wreaths Across America, Commanders Commendation Awards for Outstanding Duty Performance, and the Region Commanders Commendation Award for Outstanding Duty Performance.

3. During his tenure in CAP, Lt Cote has been asked to serve in various capacities and to fill in for positions that were absent of a permanent director/assistant director/officer, by several ranking members of the RI Wing, with no prior specific training afforded to him.

4. Lt Cote accepted all duties that were assigned to him, conducted himself as a professional, and was able through his actions, to remedy several pre-existing problematic areas of the wing business.

5. Senior Member Col Richard Hill is a member of the RI Wing.

6. Senior Member Col Richard Hill, up until 17 Dec 2013 was the West Bay Squadron Commander, and in possession of two CAP vehicles assigned to him.

7. Col Hill was appointed as Commander on or about 17 Dec 2013.

8. On or about 18 Feb 2014, Col Hill, without warning or cause, removed Lt Cote from the position of Director of Operations for no apparent reason without affording Cote any previous communication.

9. Lt Cote intends to challenge this decision based upon certain facts that require thorough investigation from the Inspector General.

COUNT ONE

The complainant alleges in count one that during the time of his tenure as the West Bay Squadron Commander/Acting Commander, Col Richard Hill did abuse CAP vehicles and operate these vehicles in direct violation of CAPR 77-1. Specifically, on or about August of 2013 the two vehicles assigned to the West Bay Squadron were found to be non-compliant with the following regulations. CAPR 77-1 Sections 1-3, 1-4, 3-1a, 3-1b, 3-5, and 5-1.

COUNT TWO

The complainant alleges in count two that during the time period of 1/28/2014-2/04/2014, Commander Richard Hill did forward numerous harassing text messages making demands that Lt Cote attend an unscheduled non mandatory staff meeting during the time when Lt Cote was working. Commander Hill also forwarded e-mails to the same. The conduct and demand of attendance is not in compliance with CAP Regulations or RI Wing Regulations.

COUNT THREE

The complainant alleges in count three that on or about 4 Feb 2014, Commander Hill did approach Lt Cote in his office and speak and conduct himself with an aggressive posture. Commander Hill made certain offensive comments to Lt Cote. Lt Cote will argue that his conduct was intimidating and unbecoming of a CAP Officer.

COUNT FOUR

The complainant alleges in count four that during the time period of 17 Dec 2013 – 18 Feb 2014, Commander Hill did in fact appoint several individuals to CAP duty positions who were in direct violation of CAP Safety Regulation CAPR 62-1, Pg 3, para 7. Commander Hill at the time was also in direct violation of CAPR 62-1, Pg 6, para 5.

COUNT FIVE

On or about 14 Feb 2014, Commander Hill did send Lt Cote an e-mail, which was considered by Lt Cote harassing, making demands that were not in accordance with CAP Regulations, and demanding that Lt. Cote coordinate a wing event through an individual that was newly named as the ES Director. The appointment of said individual was not publicized, and the individual was not safety current as of the date of the e-mail sent to Lt Cote, and remains non-compliant as of the date of the writing of this complaint 21 Feb 2014.

MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF COMPLAINT

On or about 5 April 2012, Lt Cote was assigned to the position of Director of Operations. During that appointment Lt Cote conducted his position in the best interest of the Rhode Island Wing and its members. Lt Cote was instrumental in numerous accomplishments in a variety of aspects that can be substantiated in separate documents.

In or around August of 2013, Lt Cote was assigned a duty by Commander Benjamin Emerick to
bring the wing vehicle fleet to current status, as numerous vehicles were in a state of disrepair, no transportation officer was active, and in fact, several vehicles required overdue maintenance, inspection, and registration. Lt Cote was ordered by Col Emerick, to contact West Bay Squadron Commander Richard Hill and advise him to return 2 vehicles in his possession, back to the Quonset base for service and inspection, for the purpose of preparation for the 2013 October Compliance Inspection. Upon making contact, Commander Hill advised Lt Cote that the vehicles could not be returned as he had allowed the vehicles to run out of inspection and registration, and that in fact, he had lost the vehicle log books, mileage records, insurance documents and titles. The vehicles were eventually returned to Quonset base where Lt Cote and Wing Administrator Hutnak, brought the vehicles into compliance with maintenance and registration. All historical log books however, remained lost and Commander Hill was ordered by Col Emerick to reconstruct said books.

Upon the servicing of the vehicles Lt Cote was instructed by Col Emerick that Commander Hill was not to be allowed to have possession of any vehicle until completion of the transportation portion of the Compliance Inspection. Lt Cote relayed this information to Commander Hill who expressed anger directed toward Lt Cote for relaying the Commanders order.

Subsequent to 17 December 2013, and as of this date, the newly appointed wing commander, Col Hill made no attempts to communicate with the active members of the wing, any intentions or visions for the future of the RI Wing. On or about 23 Jan 2014, a Rhode Island Wing senior member contacted Col Hill via cell phone and made certain inquiries as to what was in the future for the organization. The answer given to the senior member was as follows: “My first priority is to get rid of the director of operations”. The senior member questioned why he would make such an inappropriate decision based on Lt Cote’s past performances, at which Commander Hill abruptly ended the conversation. Without publication to any wing members, Commander Hill appointed several members to staff duty positions who at the time were not compliant with safety regulations and who are not current as of this date. See attached exhibits.

On 28 Jan 2014, Commander Hill began a series of text messages to Lt Cote asking if he would be at the monthly safety meeting. Lt Cote informed Commander Hill that he was in Florida on business and would miss the meeting. Lt Cote also informed Commander Hill to re-iterate to all members, the need for filling out all vehicle mileage documents, as up until this date, Lt Cote was also managing the fleet, and had not been informed otherwise that anyone else had been appointed to the position. Lt Cote questioned Col Hill as to why all mileage logs had again, been removed from the books.

Lt Cote was informed by text message that he was not the transportation officer and not to worry about the vehicles. Lt Cote reiterated that repairing the past errors made in the vehicle fleet, was time consuming and wished for the problem not to be encountered again.

On 4 Feb 2014 at 3:04pm, Lt Cote began receiving numerous text messages while he was working, from Commander Hill. The first message asked if Lt Cote was going to attend an unannounced staff meeting that no prior notice or agenda was made public. Commander Hill continued via text to ask several questions pertaining to hangering aircraft. Lt Cote informed him of the process and that the wing was not approved to hanger the aircraft as of that time and date. Commander Hill forwarded several more agitated text messages until Lt Cote informed him that he was in a meeting at work. These text messages have been archived for inspection. These text messages were perceived to be intimidating and harassing to Lt Cote.

At 7:40 pm on the above noted date, Lt Cote arrived as requested to a meeting at OQU. Present at the meeting were members Smith, Anderson, Falvey, Stranahan, Hill and Cote. Once again, Lt Cote explained the procedures for hangering the aircraft and that the aircraft could not be placed in the hanger under an A9 maintenance mission number. Lt Cote explained that historically, if a re-location mission number was not issued, the wing commander or wing administrator would get approval from National, prior to placing the aircraft in the hanger for safe haven during a weather event, or, corporate funds would need to be used to pay the vendor. Commander Hill asked Cote to meet with him in his office where Commander Hill proceeded to aggressively challenge and harass Lt Cote with a series of intimidating questions. Commander Hill stated several times that his policy moving forward was that every Tuesday evening was a mandatory meeting and that “he expected”“that you,{Cote} and every other member be present every Tuesday”. He stated that members that could not be present every Tuesday would not be tolerated or welcome at wing activities. Lt Cote explained that the regulations stated that the only meeting that was mandatory was the monthly safety meeting and that several members including himself, would be unable to attend every Tuesday, particularly when no agenda was made public. Lt Cote also reminded Commander Hill that at any time phone conferencing could be utilized if a members input was needed. Lt Cote remind Commander Hill that several air crew members traveled for employment and would never be able to accommodate his demand. Commander Hill replied that if his demand was not met that he would “get rid of the airplanes”.

On 6 Feb 2014, Lt Cote was informed by maintenance officer Lt Anderson that he was ordered by Commander Hill to put the aircraft in the hanger to be paid under an A9 mission number. Lt Cote immediately sent a detailed e-mail to Commander Hill, once again, explaining to him why payment to the vendor could not be made with A9 monies. Copy of the e-mail text is as follows:

“Rick,

Please be advised that the placement of 767CA in the hanger at Avport was not done in accordance with a correct procedure. As I mentioned, we cannot hanger the plane under an A9 maintenance mission which was what was done. In this situation, I will not be able to reconcile the form 18’s. All A9 missions require entry into WMIRS, fuel, tack time, hobbs time, etc, which generates the monthly aircraft utilization records to be reconciled on the form 18.

As I said, to hanger the plane, if there is not a region relocation number assigned, we have to get prior approval from national, or, pay for it from wing corporate funds. I spoke to Avport today and told Pam not to bill us under the mission number that was given to her as it will get rejected and render the form 18 un reconcilable.

Rob”

As of this date, Commander Hill has not responded to the detailed e-mail sent by Lt Cote.

On 18 Feb 2014, Lt Cote received an automated e-mail informing him that he had been removed from the position as Director of Operations. No attempt to contact Lt Cote was made by either Commander Hill or Vice Commander Stranahan. No notification of dereliction of duty was ever presented. Lt Cote was never questioned about his performance during the time of his duties as DO. No complaints had ever been lodged against Lt Cote during his tenure as DO. In fact, in the previous month, Lt Cote was awarded the Region Commanders Award for Outstanding Duty Performance. During the above noted time line, Lt Cote made numerous attempts to speak via cell phone to Commander Hill on a variety of topics and was informed that he did not have time to discuss the issues as he was working. This same lack of communication behavior has been noted by several wing members as of this date, who also, have tried to contact Col Hill via telephone or e-mail.

CONCLUSION

It is clear by the events and timeline that the removal of Lt Cote from the DO position in the Rhode Island Wing was a retaliatory action taken against Lt Cote for removing the wing vehicles from the West Bay Squadron during the time that Commander Hill was the acting Squadron Commander, and for attempting to correct his many violations of CAP regulations that have been presented in this document. During that time period, Commander Hill had several heated arguments with Lt Cote to attempt to justify his negligence for the loss of the vehicle log books registrations, and titles.

In particular, Cote made it known to Commander Emerick at that time, that the recovered vehicles were in deplorable condition, unclean, and not kept in accordance with CAP regulation 77-1. For several weeks, Commander Hill was not allowed use of any vehicle due to the circumstances, by order of Commander Emerick. The loss of the vehicle books and accompanying documents jeopardized the standings of the transportation department during the compliance inspection scheduled for Oct 2013, and caused undue, unnecessary work to be performed by several CAP members including, Lt Cote, Lt Phillips, and Wing Administrator Hutnak to bring the vehicles back into accordance with CAP regulations.

As of this date, Commander Hill has not formally communicated with any of the wing members as to what his expectations are, other than that he demands attendance every Tuesday at OQU. He fails to answer e-mails directed to him by members, and has put in place a command of bully tactics. As of this date he has appointed people in positions who have been documented in the past to be in violation of safety regulations, and Commander Hill himself, by appointment of the aforementioned individuals, is in violation of CAPR 62-1. Commander Hill’s actions have quickly demoralized numerous key members of the Rhode Island Wing and his conduct has been found to be unprofessional and unbecoming of a CAP Leader.

Lt Cote respectfully requests a complete and thorough examination of his complaint under the rights afforded to him under CAP regulations. Lt Cote requests that any and all members of the Rhode Island Wing that have information about the allegations contained within this complaint be questioned, and that their comments be noted into the permanent record of this complaint.

Lt Cote requests that the unfounded removal of his position as Rhode Island Wing DO have no effect on his outstanding service record. Lt Cote requests a complete interview of the events and timeline of the allegations contained within this complaint. Lt Cote requests that the RI Wing IG forward this complaint to the NE Region commander in accordance with CAPR 123-2 Section 7, Complaints submission. Lt Cote is hopeful that this matter can be rectified and disposed of at the lowest level in accordance with CAPR 123-2 and the RI Wing can move forward with the CAP mission.

Respectfully submitted,
Lt Rob Cote
[redacted]
21 Feb 2014

Received by:
Philip G. Hirons
[Rhode Island Wing Inspector General]


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2 Comments on "IG Complaint Ignored by Rhode Island Wing & NER"

  1. A staff member serves at the pleasure of the commander they serve. A commander may appoint or remove any staff member for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all. The removal from a staff position, even at the Wing level is not considered an adverse membership action. Any IG complaint requires a specific regulation section that a members is supposed to have violated as part of the complaint. The complaint is also supposed to be confidential.

    It is very clear to anyone that reads this missive and understands the way the system works, that this complaint had no chance of going anywhere. Again, it was not an adverse membership action and there were no specific regulation violations that were listed as part of the complaint.

    What did he really expect that IG to do with it?

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