Stay tuned for updates
On May 7, 2018 I also filed a request for copies of, or access to, the Town of Clay Court Dockets for Town Code violations dating back to April 03, 2017. The dockets should be accessible under §2019-a of UJC Law which states, "The records and dockets of the court except as otherwise provided by law shall be at reasonable times open for inspection to the public". As mentioned below, as of the date this blog is being authored less than ten business days have passed.
On May 7, 2018 I filed the attached FOIL appeal to the Town Supervisor. According to NYS Public Officer's Law, he has ten days to respond. As of the date this blog is being authored, the 10 business days has not yet been exhausted.
I was able to meet up with Mr. George and get the 75 pages of documentation. Of the 13 records I requested, I received 12 (there was nothing acknowledging or indicating why records for the 13th were not provided). Including my own though (which I already had), I now have about 85 pages of documentation regarding 13 alleged violations of §211-29
In the documentation I noted that only 6 of the 13 records included a complaint in the case documentation regarding the alleged violation. The 6 complaints that were present came in multiple forms (web form, letters, hand written "in office" form, etc). THIS IS IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION TO THE CLAIM BY CODE ENFORCEMENT THAT THEY ONLY ISSUE COURT SUMMONSES IF THERE IS A COMPLAINT.
Please note that I gave the Town Supervisor and Town Clerk a chance to address this inconsistency in my email dated 4/03/2018 and to date I have still not received a response or acknowledgment of receipt of my email.
We received the attached letter denying my FOIL request dated 4/23/2018. Somehow the Town Clerk translated "the past and current schedules for 'complaints and violations' site visits" to "All warnings, appearance tickets, and citations issues since 03 APR 2017 for violations of...§211-29". How? I have no idea. What I do know however is that we've already determined the latter to be non-searchable records (since they are filed in alphabetical order) as indicated in a previous letter on received on 2/16/2018 from the Town Supervisor. My actual request for "the past and current schedules for 'complaints and violations' site visits" was completely ignored. We'll have to appeal this...
Mr. George called the Town of Clay and they indicated they never received the money order we mailed for $18.75. The next day he delivered a new check in person and picked up the 75 pages of documentation. We did not send it certified so unfortunate there is no way to track down the money order to determine who lost it, the United Stated Postal Service or the Town of Clay. $18.75 lesson learned. Always use certified mail when sending correspondence to the Town of Clay.
Mr. George and I received the attached letter indicating the new FOIL request will not be worked until payment is received for the former one. The issue is that the money order should have been received by now as usually in town mailing are received the next business day. Mr. George told me he'd look into it.
I drafted and filed this request for the schedule of past and current "complaints and violations" site visits made by code enforcement dating back to 03 APR 2017 as well as any associated records. I was informed by Code Enforcement and the Town Prosecutor on 08 JAN 2018 that the Code Enforcement Office has a schedule that they maintain which they annotate all of their site visits pertaining to code-related complaints that are received. This request was for a copy of that schedule.
I was able to get a money order for $18.75 and get it to Mr. George to mail to the Town of Clay for the documents.
The Town of Clay responded in writing indicating that 75 pages of records exist regarding the 13 alleged violations and they would be released upon payment of $18.75 (.25 per page for copies, as allowed for by NYS PBO Law).
The evening of Thursday April 12, 2018 I sent an email to the Commissioner of the Clay Department of Planning and Development, as well as his Code Enforcement Officer for violations asking for the Town's interpretation of the exception that is written into the Town of Clay code for temporary parking of vehicles and trailers over 22 feet. The exception is written in §211-29C and states:
§211-29 "C. Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter to the contrary, the aforesaid prohibition does not apply to deliveries or temporary parking of vehicles for servicing purposes."
An excerpt from my email reads:
"My specific question to you is whether or not this exception applies to us temporarily parking our boats or campers in our driveways during the week to "service them" (e.g. unload from previous trip, reload for upcoming trip, wash, charge battery, etc,) between trips. I want to be even more specific in saying that the "trips" most of us take are on weekends and we would like to temporarily park our campers and boats in our driveways to service them during the week (5 days, Sunday night through Friday night). Is this allowed per the verbiage in the exception noted above?
If it is not, how long may we temporarily park our boats and campers in our driveways to 'service' them?"
Status as of 5/15/2018: I have not yet received a response or acknowledgement of receipt.
The Town of Clay responded in writing indicating that the request was being worked and they will get back to Mr. George with a cost for the documents when it is calculated.
After performing quite a bit of research, my Attorney (Mr. George) and I were able to find the names and addresses of 13 residents that have been cited with allegedly violating §211-29. on 06 APR 2018, Mr. George filed a FOIL request with the Town of Clay for "all files letters and documents" pertaining to the alleged violations in those 13 cases.
After thinking about it, I decided it is only fair to give the Town a chance to state their case prior to blogging about my concerns regarding the response to my FOIL request. Below are two paragraphs take verbatim from my email to Town Supervisor and Town Clerk:
"I'm writing to inquire the Town's position on two issues regarding my most recent FOIL request (both the request and response are attached). I intend on blogging about this on my site (ClayIssues.com formerly Tom's Blog...I've developed quite the following so I upgraded to a real domain), but in the name of objective reporting, I feel it's only fair to give the town an opportunity to clarify the situation prior to reporting on it. I realize this is not as clear cut as the truck issue and my observations could potentially be the result of a simple mistake.
I look forward to your response. I will wait until Friday 06 APR to write my article and will be happy to include any response you send. Thank you for your time and consideration."
Status as of 5/7/2018: I have not yet received a response or acknowledgement of receipt.
Details are here. I asked if the working meeting regarding the trailer law has been rescheduled or if there were any dates in mind to reschedule it. The Town supervisor said no.
On March 26th, we received a packet of information in the mail to satisfy our FOIL request. The packet consisted of 9 pages, and was broken out as follows (remember we asked for all records regarding my alleged violation and all records regarding 2017-01 "the trailer law"):
1. Letter explaining the attached is the response to our FOIL request (Not requested but appreciated)
2. A receipt for $1.75 (Not requested but appreciated)
3. A copy of the new verbiage for 2018-01 (Not requested and we already have it)
4. Another copy of the new verbiage for 2018-01 (Not requested and we already have it)
5. My Appearance Ticket (Part of the request, even though we already have it, which the Town knows)
6. The deposition (Part of the request)
7. A page printed from the internet that states the Town Parking Code (Part of the request, even though we already have it, we have access to the same publicly available webpage)
8. A page printed from the internet that states penalty for the Town Parking Code (Part of the request, even though we already have it, we have access to the same publicly available webpage)
9. A picture of my camper parked next to my house (Part of the request).
What seems to be interesting about all of these documents is that all of them have one thing in common...I already know all of this information.
Where is the complaint regarding my alleged violation that I was told about in detail a couple months ago? Is there really a complaint? During the public hearing on 3/19/2018 the Town stated multiple times they do not ticket a parking violation unless there is a complaint. Is that true? This information does not seem to support that assertion.
Where is all of the information regarding the adoption of 2017-01? Is the only record the Town possesses regarding the passage of that law a printed copy of the law itself from the internet? That can't be true because in MY files I have records regarding it (such as the minutes from the Town Board Meeting when a motion was passed to hold a Public Hearing about 2017-01 as well as the minutes from the Town Board Meeting when 2017-01 was actually passed). Also there should be a host of other records, to include:
- Memorandums, notes, emails, etc, between departments or employees discussing the circumstances leading up to the proposed ordinance.
- Correspondence between the Town Supervisor's office and the Department of Planning & Development.
- Correspondence within the Department of Planning & Development, particularly between code enforcement personnel and leadership.
- Memorandums, notes, or minutes from working meetings regarding the proposed ordinance.
- Correspondence from the Town Attorneys, or any other advisory personnel, regarding the change.
- Correspondence between Town Board members regarding the proposed ordinance.
- ANY records, other than the current written version of the ordinance itself, regarding 2017-01.
Does the Town really not possess ANY of these records? Are they really passing laws that effect the lives of tens of thousands of people without so much as taking notes at a meeting, sending an email for clarification, or requesting a legal opinion on them? Not one memo? Did they specifically pick through the documents and only give me the ones I obviously already know all of the information within (my ticket, a picture of my camper, and a deposition stating the day it was parked at my house)? If so, what are they hiding? I'm not sure what's going on here, but it can't be good...
A few days after filing our FOIL request we received a response indicating there are a total of seven documents that can be released to us for a fee of $1.75 (0.25 per page as prescribed by NYS Public Officer Law for Freedom of Information Requests). Hmmm, seven pages doesn't seem like much considering the breadth of our request, but for now let's give the Town the benefit of the doubt. We sent in the $1.75 and sat back.
Again, there's more information on this in an Issue 1 update. As of the date I'm writing this (April 9, 2018), I have not received an acknowledgment of receipt or response to the letter I sent regarding 2018-02 either, other than the return receipt I requested from the USPS.
Status as of 5/15/2018: I have not yet received a response or acknowledgement of receipt.
On my behalf, Mr. George (my attorney) filed another FOIL request. This time we're seeking information pertaining to my own alleged violation (which they should be able to find because, fortunately, I know my name). This should include any complaints the Town received about my camper (e.g. "the list" I mentioned above), investigative documents the town gathered about the incident, depositions, photographs, etc.
In addition we requested "...all files, letters, and documents regarding Town of Clay Ordinance No. 1 of 2017...", otherwise known as "the trailer law".
The day after Tom's blog went live, I received an email notifying me that the working meeting I had been inquiring about regarding the trailer Ordinance had been postponed with no date of reschedule.
There's more information on this in an Issue 1 update. As of the date I'm writing this (April 9, 2018), I have not received an acknowledgment of receipt or response to the letter I sent regarding 2018-01, other than the return receipt I requested from the USPS.
Status as of 5/15/2018: I have not yet received a response or acknowledgement of receipt.
On Tuesday March 13th Tom's Blog (now ClayIssues.com) went live with the article that is now listed as the main article under "Issue 1" of this site. It was posted to social media and, according to Google Analytics, received 73 hits from the Upstate New York area on the first day, 179 hits (almost all from Upstate New York) the second day, and several hundred more as the week moved on. Almost immediately people started emailing me and messaging me through social media to show support. What I had thought was true, was. People DO care! We are just not informed in a manner that is consistent with our current culture. Point blank, the legal section of the local newspaper and lists of notices, written in legal jargon, buried within the Town website, just aren't cutting it (although they are consistent with the requirements of NYS Town Law).
The next morning the phone begins ringing. The media was indeed interested in the story, read the agenda, and felt the situation was "confusing" (their word not mine) enough to report on. I gave them a few links to information that I found and they indicated they wanted to run with the story. Seemed like a win to me in that, regardless of how they report on it, more people will show up to the meeting to comminucate any concerns if it's mentioned on TV. And hey, that's the point of a public hearing right?
...And that's when the Town Supervisor called. I'm not going to get into the specifics here but it's fair to say that he was upset (specifically about me emailing code enforcement regarding, what he called, a "Town Board issue" as well as contacting the media about the upcoming public hearing). I communicated that I was frustrated that the Town Board did not seem willing to engage upon my legitimate concerns and it seemed that pursuing other avenues was the only way to get them to take this seriously. I also stated that I was trying to gather a decent turn out for a public hearing since this Ordinance could have a significant impact on our community and I felt that working with the media was the best way to advertise it. In short, it's fair to say we did not see eye to eye on my approach.
The good news is I got an Email from the Town Councilman who promised he'd let me know when the working meeting regarding the trailers is scheduled for! It was scheduled for Saturday March 24, 2018.
Fast forward a couple weeks to Monday March 5. I've now decided that it is time to show up to a Town Board Meeting as ask, in person, what the status is of looking into the trailer law. Prior to heading there I went to the Town Website, downloaded the agenda, and found this:
"Move the adoption of a resolution calling a public hearing March 19, 2018, commencing at
7:35 P.M., local time to consider proposed Ordinance 2018-01 amending CHAPTER 211,
TRAFFIC AND VEHICLES ORDINANCE of the Code of the Town of Clay, §211-29
entitled “Parking of certain motor vehicles and trailers prohibited in residential
districts” by deleting the words “maximum gross unladen vehicle weight” and replacing
with “gross vehicle weight rating and/or gross combined weight rating” in subparagraph D of
...So not only are they continuing to push off dealing with the unintended consequences of an ill-informed Ordinance that was passed at a meeting that practically no one attended, NOW THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT AGAIN!!! I'm not going into this issue on here as there is a whole section that details the situation in "Issue 1" of this site. I will however speak to my interactions regarding the matter, as this is the "my story" section.
First, I sent an email to the Town Board expressing my concerns. I received an email back rather quickly from the Town Supervisor, although I found it less that encouraging. 2018.03.05_1st Truck Email to Board.pdf.
I attended the meeting and I was given a chance to speak at the beginning. First I asked about the status of the trailer issue. The Town Supervisor responded by saying that he realizes this issue is important to me, however we are in the middle of winter and there are more pressing issues to deal with. He further stated that a working meeting will take place later in the month to look into it but he is not promising any particular outcome (fair enough). I asked if the public could attend the working meeting and he stated, "no". He was then corrected by a Councilman who said working meetings are open to the public. I thanked him and asked him how I could find out when the meeting will be held. The Councilman stated that he would email me.
I continued to address the issue of the proposed change to the Truck Ordinance (although I was concerned that I was skating on thin ice as the Supervisor specifically stated that this time was only to address issues of concern that were not on the agenda, and the Truck Ordinance clearly was). The Town Supervisor stated that tonight public hearings were being voted upon for the Truck Ordinance and we would not be discussing them at all until the actual public hearings. (Once again, fair enough, I sat down)
As the agenda progressed, and just before the vote to push forward with the public hearings, the Town Supervisor asked me if these were the public hearings I was concerned about. I stated that they were and I was concerned the Town Board did not word the announcements for the hearing (and subsequent ordinances) in the way they intended. I further asked if I could request that the public hearings be postponed so I could communicate the error in the verbiage to the Board at an appropriate time (hopefully to avoid having to get half of the Town worked up and involved in the public hearings to avoid another over reaching law). The Town Supervisor's exact words to me, "YOU may not, no." The board went on to vote unanimously to post the public hearings as worded, and as scheduled. Not one councilman asked to hear WHAT the concern was with the wording prior to voting.
After the meeting, the Town Supervisor motioned to my wife and I to come up to the meeting table. He introduced himself, we shook hands, exchanged some pleasantries, and I got right to the point. "This law you are proposing bans all one ton pickup trucks from residential areas and I don't think that is your intent. Lot of us have one ton pickup trucks and this is going to hurt us."
His response was basically to tell me that was not true at all. The new ordinance bans large commercial vehicles and the change is only because there was a court case that basically ruled the current wording was unenforceable. (Now, not to throw too many daggers here, but the current law is not worded the way it was intended either? I'm starting to notice a pattern. Maybe, this should be a sign that we need some better legal review of these Ordinances and their potential impacts prior to voting them into law. But I digress.) He further stated that the new law will be no different than the current law, as they are just replacing an ambiguous term with an official term.
I explained by adding the terms GVWR and GCWR, rather than the current verbiage that has the word "unladen" in it, they are opening up enforcement to a completely new set of vehicles and that the law will effectively be very different. Moreover, people in the Town are going to react when word of this proposed change gets around. This was met with the retort that the code says "commercial vehicles" so my point is invalid. I took out a copy of the code and responded, "the code says 'commercial AND business vehicles' and pretty much every pickup truck in the parking lot says 'Commercial' on the license plate as that is how they are registered by default at the DMV. What you are saying and what the proposed law says are two very different things". At this point he told me they'd look into it. This was what I was hoping to accomplish prior to the public hearing verbiage being finalized and posted, but at this point it was pretty much too late as the vote had already taken place.
I went home, did extensive research on the topic and sent the Town Board two more emails explaining what I had found that night in addition to an attachment that states the GCWR of a common model pickup truck. I also sent a similar email with the attachment to the code enforcement office as well as a couple local media outlets, in an attempt to stir up interest for the upcoming public hearing.
I reached out to the attorney I originally contacted and explained my situation. He referred me to Robert George, Esq., another area attorney who has experience with NYS FOIL law, as well as the politics involved with local government. He got involved in an issue that happened in Cicero a couple years back and was able to bring a lot of information to light (there are articles that can be found on google pertaining to that situation).
I'm not going to get into the particulars of his advice to me in this forum, but it is fair to say that as a seasoned attorney, he is obviously more knowledgeable on how to obtain they type of information I am looking for, as well as the options available to us, than I am. So now, we are moving forward on this together.
On 02/16/2018, I had the pleasure of opening my mailbox to one of the most ridiculous things I've ever had the opportunity to read. My FOIL request appeal was denied. The (new) reason my FOIL request was denied was because it was determined that the records I was seeking are not "searchable". And the reason the records are not searchable? ...Wait for it... Because they are filed in alphabetical order... Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Read the letter.
Also, in the odd case that this may actually be true and the town has absolutely no way of locating the citations they wrote last year (because apparently they are gone and lost forever in a sea of alphabetized paperwork), don't you think the code enforcement officer might know who he wrote tickets to? They're probably still on his computer. Has he really written so many hundreds of these that finding them would be an overly laborious task.... And even if it is, can he not find ANY of them to include in at least a partial response?
Now it's fair to say that I'm wondering what in the world is going on in Town Hall...
If you read none of the other attached documentation to this issue, read this and the response in the next section. This is where where things start to get really interesting.
I submitted an appeal to the initial denial making a pretty iron clad case, and quoting case law from three separate cases, that the denial was unfounded.
Pretty much immediately after I filed the above mentioned FOIL request, my request for the records was denied. The reason stated in the letter is that the documents I was seeking are "court records". Obviously that is ridiculous seeing that I did not request the records from the court. If law enforcement records that have been, or may someday be, filed with a court are considered court documents not subject to FOIL, then pretty much every law enforcement agency in the State of New York would be exempt from FOIL for all enforcement matters...which would undermine the whole point of the FOIL law.
Also, Court Records are releasable under §2019-a of the NYS Uniform Justice Court Act. So even if this assertion was true, would it really be worth denying access to the information because one of our residents quoted the wrong statute when requesting it? Why wouldn't we want to disclose these public records? Are we hiding something? We're going to have to appeal this...
After several more days of not receiving a response, I decide it's time to start collecting some data. How many people has this Ordinance effected? What are their situations? What are the enforcement patterns (housing developments, rural plots, densely populated areas, all of the above)? And more importantly, who's on my side here? There is strength in numbers and if we can organize, chances are we'll have a better shot at getting responses and getting the ball moving toward finding a solution or a compromise. So, in accordance with New York State Public Officers Law, I filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request to begin gathering some of this data.
After a little more than a week I hadn't heard back, so I followed up again. Again, no response.
Now that several weeks have gone by, the holidays are over, and the beginning of January is over...the world is back into the swing of things and I decide to follow up with the Councilman and the Town Supervisor in seperate emails. Here is my email to the Town Supervisor. I did not get a response.
I took some vacation time from work and went to the Town of Clay Court, as directed, to answer this "parking ticket" (as the Town Code Enforcement department refers to them as). I was directed to arrive at 3:30. I actually arrived at 3:15 and was out of there by 5:00. Unfortunately there is no option to take care of it by mail as you would with most parking tickets. The summons clearly states that you go to court or an arrest warrant will be issued.
While there I was directed to meet with the Town Prosecutor (an attorney from a local Law Firm the Town uses to prosecute code violations) and a Code Enforcement Officer. They were both very professional and understanding of my situation, but they had a job to do (as I told them, I fully understand that they do not make the laws). Since I moved the camper they offered me an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), which basically means if I don't do it again in 6 months it's thrown out all together. I explained that while I appreciate that, my real concern was over the fact that I'm not legally allowed to park my camper or boat at my house ever again, and while I'm happy to find a place to store it, that makes the logistics of packing up and preparing these vehicles for trips very burdensome (to the point it's probably not even worth doing). That was again met with the response that "they only ticket if there is a complaint". To which I responded, great so every time I go on a camping trip I have to worry all weekend whether I'm going to get a citation in my mailbox later in the week and then have to take another vacation day from work to go to court....I think I'd rather just stop camping so I can obey your law...and that's unfortunate as my family loves camping.
We all smiled, shook hands, and moved on. Like I said, these folks are good folks, and continuing to make my argument to them isn't fair to them or productive for me.
On 21 DEC, I received a response from the Town Supervisor stating that I make some very good and valid points in my letter and that he will be looking into it with the Commissioner of Planning. I replied thanking him.
I decided to send a letter introducing myself to the Town Board, explaining the situation, and asking if we could find a compromise. After all, several hundred people in this Town have trailers. This Ordinance (that very few people even seem to know was passed) certainly couldn't have been intentionally aimed at changing the status quo for such a large contingent of our population when it was passed in a meeting that no one attended...could it? At this point in the story, let's give the Town Board the benefit of the doubt.
I originally sent this letter to a Town Councilman who I later found out was no longer a Town Councilman, prompting me to forward it to the Town Board distribution list (which I found shortly after sending the email the first time). That evening I received a response from a sitting Town Councilman who requested my number and called me. He was very friendly and understanding and explained to me that I was correct in my assessment that the intent behind 2017-01 was never to ban campers and boats from the whole town. He had heard other complaints as well and agreed something needed to be done to get us back to the original intent (which was basically to do something about the fact that there are a few homes in our town that are beginning to accumulate multiple construction and utility trailers in addition to large vehicles on their front lawns). He also mentioned that it was indeed the holiday season and the beginning of January is a busy one for town government, so we wouldn't likely be able to settle on a solution right away.
My strategy a this point...wait until mid January. The Councilman appears to want to help but has a very good point on the timing. All is going well.
Later that day I called the Town Department of Planning and Development (which includes Code Enforcement) to ask if I understood the situation correctly. I specifically asked if it was illegal to park my camper (or my boat which is 23'...trailer slightly longer) in my yard or if the citation was for "storing" the camper in my yard. I was told that, as a result of the law change, it is now illegal to PARK a trailer over 22' anywhere in a residential district. It was further explained however that, law aside, they do not ticket unless there is a complaint. The individual I spoke with explained to me that in my particular case, the the Town has never received a complaint about me parking trailers at my house for the 10 years I've lived there....until now. Evidently someone else in town received a citation for their camper and felt singled out. As a result (and most likely in an attempt to drum up some support against this new restriction), a car ride ensued resulting in a whole list of addresses that were submitted to the Town of houses with campers parked near them, and "yours truly" had the good fortune of making the list.
I explained that I could appreciate the fact that they do not ticket unless there is a complaint, but we should be obeying laws regardless of the likelihood of "getting caught". Passing overly broad laws so that we can enforce at our discretion and look the other way when it's convenient is simply wrong. It seems like that may have been what happened here, potentially inadvertently, and if so...let's just identify the true intent and fix it. In fairness it's not the job of the Department of Planning and Development to pass or amend laws, so making the argument to them isn't really appropriate.
For the record, I am not upset in the least with the person who turned in the list. I completely understand why they did what they did. I personally feel what I'm doing is a more productive way to effect change, but not everyone has the time to dedicate, and had I not been cited I would probably not be involved now to the extent that I am now.
At this point, I felt the most sensible thing to do initially was to contact an attorney to get some advice. I contacted a local attorney and he explained to me that this was not his area of practice but, before he even called me, he took the time to research the issue anyway and explain that this Ordinance was freshly updated this year (note: it was 2017 at the time of the conversation) which was likely the reason I haven't had a problem in the 10 years I've been living here but am having on now. He told me has wasn't able to represent me given the legal area of the case but he offered to help out with a place to put the camper, as I may not want it to still be in my yard on my court date. He did all this as a fellow neighbor in our community and I'm proud to say I live in an area where people will go to these lengths to help each other. I'd love to give him a plug here, but in keeping with my statements above, I won't do so without his permission.
Upon returning home from travel one Saturday this past December, I checked my mailbox and found two things I was not expecting: A slip from the USPS informing me they are holding "receipt requested" mail for me from the Town of Clay in addition to an actual piece of mail from the Town of Clay sent via regular mail. As it turns out, both were exact copies of the same thing, an appearance ticket.
In short, the ticket stated that I had a trailer of approximately 36' parked in a residential area where it was unlawful to park trailers over 22'. There are two pertinent pieces of information here, the first of which I knew (my camper is approximately 36' long and was parked on my lot, next to my house), the second I did not (it was unlawful to park a trailer over 22' on any property, public or private, in a residential district). My wife and I found this particularly disconcerting since we decided to move to this area because of the camping and boating opportunities and made sure to check with our realtor and lawyer when purchasing to ensure that we would not end up with a lot where it was against any local law, or association policy, to have a boat or camper parked on our lot. Not being to happy with these events, I decided to dig into the situation. Buckle up, because it's one interesting ride...