"Barry Ellis stands in front of the Port Townsend house that he and his girlfriend rented in 2011 and that was the subject of his complaint to county and state public health boards. Ellis said chemicals in the house caused him and his girlfriend to become sick in 2011."
Dr. Tom Locke, Jill Buhler, John Austin, Phil Johnson and the gang seems to be saying that We won't enforce the law and protect renters, protect the citizens of Jefferson County, so let's deregulate and make the law, the standards less so that if the home was a Meth Cook Facility, a Meth Lab then we won't have to test, clean up nor let renters know even if we are putting young children at risk with total disregard to the law, public safety and child welfare.
Yet in Port Townsend Washington, Bent Meyer owns a home that he knew was a Meth lab and yet he rented it out and people got sick, VERY SICK. Children live in the home and are at great risk. Jefferson County Board of Health seems to protect him, why?
I also allege, from what I have heard and believe, Bent Meyer had an issue with the tenant that had the meth lab again and again regarding the Meth Lab and regarding unpaid rent. It is said that Bent Meyer, counselor and either pastor or ex-pastor, traded sex with the tenant in exchange for the rent. I believe that is either rape or prostitution, neither of which is moral, ethical or legal. I wonder if Townsend Bay Property Management knows this too.
"A former Port Townsend resident who rented a 31st Street house in 2011 – and then concluded he had become sick because the place was infused with chemicals from earlier methamphetamine manufacturing – has encountered a setback in his effort for relief.
That former renter, Barry Ellis, at first sought help from the Jefferson County Board of Health, which has the power to publicly post a hazard warning on property proven to have had meth activity, and to require landlords to do a thorough cleanup.
The County Board of Health turned him down, citing a lack of clear evidence.
He then appealed that decision to the Washington State Board of Health. That board, on Nov. 12, denied his appeal, endorsing the earlier decision of the county board to place no restrictions on the property.
Coincidentally (or not, according to Ellis), Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin is both a member of the County Board of Health and the chair of the Washington State Board of Health, to which the appeal was made. Austin, however, recused himself from voting on the matter as a state board member.
In addition, Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, has been a state leader in drafting a law related to drug-infused housing, and argues that standards are too strict and should be reduced.
“I was expecting this,” said Ellis of the state board’s rejection of his appeal. Ellis says he is likely to appeal to a higher power, federal court. He’s not giving up, he said, because he thinks that the health of unsuspecting renters like himself is on the line.
“They can’t admit liability. I’m already talking with attorneys. You never win against the state in the state court. I have a three-year clock,” noting a three-year statute of limitations to sue the state Board of Health.
Ellis said he could draw a lesson from the state board’s ruling. “I think that what happened is this is a good ol’ boy network, and I think they covered their ass with Locke,” he said.
The case is based on Ellis’ complaint about a house at 1507 31st St. in Port Townsend. In his written complaint to the Jefferson County Board of Health, Ellis stated that he and his girlfriend rented that house in April 2011. During the 14 months he was there, “I experienced internal bleeding, two emergency surgeries, numerous medical procedures.” He said his former girlfriend had tried to commit suicide and required medical attention right after moving in.
In his formal complaint to the county, Ellis wrote that a neighbor told Ellis that the house had been used to “cook” methamphetamine.
In April 2012, Ellis went to Marjorie Boyd of Jefferson County Public Health to inquire about possible drug use or chemical infusion at the house.
He also started submitting open public records requests to the Port Townsend Police Department (PTPD) to find out if there were any incidents at the house investigated by police.
In his testimony before the county health board in March of this year, Ellis said he had contacted the owner of the house, Bent Meyer. Meyer “refused to address the situation, but did tell me to move out immediately,” Ellis said.
When Ellis responded that he wanted permission to have the property tested for meth, “I was locked out of the residence without a court order,” he said, so that he could not have the residence tested.
Before being locked out, Ellis said, he removed some items and later had those tested for meth residue. He forwarded the results to Boyd of the county health department.
Ellis said the test results showed chemical levels “between two and 26 times the legal limit.” Boyd told him there was nothing she could do to help him, according to Ellis, a conclusion repeated by other county health department staff.
Ellis said he took the matter to the PTPD, where a case file was created. However, the PTPD apparently could not confirm prior drug activity at the house. Without that finding, the county health department again declined to take action.
Ellis did not let it drop. Instead, he said, he pursued the matter by contacting local police, the state Department of Ecology and the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office. Ellis’ history shows he is persistent. He said he has been involved in more than 30 lawsuits involving the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, and added that he’s won a number of those.
Ellis appealed to the state Board of Health, calling on that panel to overturn Jefferson County Public Health’s decision against taking action on the house.
In a Nov. 12, 2014 memo on the case prepared by state board vice chair Keith Grellner, Grellner said that Ellis’ complaint was reviewed and that three of the four witnesses Ellis cited in his written complaint were interviewed.
Neither the state board investigator nor the Leader was able to get landlord Bent Meyer to return calls.
“There was no evidence found or presented that proves that hazardous chemicals were used to manufacture illegal drugs at 1507 31st St., Port Townsend, Wa.,” Grellner wrote in a conclusion. “There was no evidence found or presented that a law enforcement agency or property owner notified Jefferson County Public Health” that the property was contaminated, he continued.
“The sample results submitted by Mr. Ellis did not provide grounds for Jefferson County Public Health to post the property or conduct further inspections under RCW 64.44 and WAC 246.205,” he added.
And finally, he said that public records requests resulted in no findings or documentation that there was ever a meth lab on the property.
Locke said he is pushing to relax state cleanup laws related to buildings used as drug labs, laws that he helped to write. Locke said the cleanup threshold is so low today that it impacts the supply of public housing. When traces of meth are found in housing projects, Locke said, cleanup crews are “charging tens of thousands of dollars” to do “very destructive cleanups” of homes “when there is no evidence that the amount of meth detected is dangerous.”
It is not a new subject for Locke.
“I felt especially strong about this code because I helped write it,” Locke said last week. In the late 1990s, Locke said, clandestine drug labs were a real problem. “We had several in Jefferson County and hundreds around the state,” he said.
But today, Locke said, meth labs are a much smaller problem, because the market is flooded with cheap meth made in Mexican superlabs. “There’s a very small amount of shake-and-bake,” he said of meth that is made in 2-liter soda bottles. “Meth labs have virtually disappeared, and those that do exist, exist on a very small scale.”
But those strict cleanup laws from a decade ago are still on the books, he said.
What is happening now is that any tiny amount of meth – even from smoking it – can trigger a massive cleanup that involves practically tearing the house apart.
“The point is, the cleanup standard is so low, we’ve been urging the state to raise the cleanup standard,” he said.
Locke is proposing the state raise its cleanup standards from 0.1 micrograms to 1.5 micrograms per 100 square centimeters, which is the level the state of California recommends based on a 2007 study, according to public health department minutes from April 17, 2014.
“Current cleanup protocols call for all drywall, carpeting, appliances and personal possessions to be removed,” state the minutes. “This is expensive and has limited the availability of public housing because units are closed and/or demolished rather than cleaned.”
“The law was not written to compel cleanup of residences where the only thing that has happened is the smoking of meth,” Locke said. He said tiny amounts of meth on surfaces of things, such as floors, aren’t dangerous unless you do something like prepare food on them.
Locke said that at a recent state hearing, even the Peninsula Housing Authority testified that the law, as written, is having an impact on public housing because of the high cost of cleanup. He noted that public housing is already in short supply.
Again, Ellis isn’t buying it.
“By asking to relax these standards, it sets up landlords to be able to move people into contaminated houses without legal recourse,” Ellis said in August. “It sets up renters as second-class citizens.”
“I’m going to sue them over what they have done. It’s discrimination,” he said.
Ellis said he still suffers from his days in that Port Townsend rental home, but he’s moved out to the country and is starting to feel better. He asserts that Locke and county officials are trying to protect their tax base.
“Anyone who owns property here, they give protection to. But some child goes and gets in that house and gets sick, there’s no protection,” Ellis said."
"My name is Barry Ellis. I am here today to address a situation which was not dealt with
appropriately by Jefferson County Health Dept.
My former girlfriend and myself took occupancy of a residence owned by Bent and
Joanne Meyer located at 1507 31st Street in Port Townsend in late April of 2011.
During my fourteen months at this residence, I experienced internal bleeding, two emergency
surgeries, numerous medical procedures, an attempted suicide by my former girlfriend
and my fiancée required medical attention right after moving in with me.
In April 2012, neighbors of ours, Denise Early and Paula Martin (Guardian ad Litem
Jefferson County), told us that the owners had cleaned up remnants of a meth lab two
weeks before I moved into this home.
I then contacted Bent Meyer, the owner of the residence and he refused to address the situation but did tell me to move out immediately.
When I asked for permission to have the premises tested for meth residue, I was locked
out of the residence without a court order.
I had contacted Marjorie Boyd at the Jefferson County Health Dept. and to my surprise,
she stated there was nothing she could do except if the Port Townsend Police Dept.
notified her or the owner. I had also contacted Sgt. Green at the Port Townsend Police
Dept., and in essence was told, this was a civil matter.
Before I was locked out of this residence, I removed items from the house and had them
tested for meth residue and forwarded the results to Marjorie Boyd at the Jefferson
County Health Dept., which were between two and twenty six times the legal limit (See
exhibit A/B/C), and was again told there was nothing she could do.
I then contacted Sgt. Kaare at the Port Townsend Police Dept. and he initiated a hazmat
investigation report # 2013-00000872 (See exhibit D/E). In doing so, Sgt. Kaare spoke
with the Jefferson County Health Dept., and was told not to open a case on this matter
and in response Sgt. Kaare told them “I’m covering our ass on this one”, and opened a
case number on it. Through a public disclosure request, I asked who Sgt. Kaare spoke
with at Jefferson County Health Dept., but he could not recall (see exhibit F). I also spoke
with Ms. Armstrong at the Dept. of Ecology, and she also forwarded the lab results to
Jefferson County Health Dept. I received letters from Mr. Jarrod Keefer, Marjorie Boyd
and Christy Fiedler which I want to discuss now.
In short, the letter from Ms. Fiedler reads:
We do not have the authority to respond to this type of complaint except when it is
referred to us from a law enforcement agency or the property owner. If we are requested
by either law enforcement or a property owner to investigate a property for potential or
known contamination, then we would carry out duties as outlined in RCW 64.44 and
WAC 246-205 (See exhibit G). In short, the letter from Mr.Keefer reads:
Jefferson County Public Health Dept. received the above referenced report from the City
of Port Townsend Police Dept. on February 6, 2013. As we stated in our letter on
November 2nd, upon referral or request by law enforcement and/or the propertyowner ,
we will post and inspect the site. We have yet to receive, from law enforcement or the
property owner, a notification of potential contamination at that address due to the
manufacture of illegal drugs ( See exhibit H).
Exhibits D&E were the notifications of potential and verified contamination given to
Jefferson County Health Dept. in February 2013 by the Port Townsend Police Dept. and
by the Washington State Dept.of Ecology.
In a letter drafted by Mr. Keefer that was received through a public disclosure request
(See exhibit I), Mr. Keefer refers to me as Mr.Dundee which is corrected in an email
from David Alvarez (See exhibit J). The letter goes on to state that “the police report does
not confirm that the site is an illegal drug manufacturing lab”.
Our jurisdiction is limited
to the illegal manfacture of drugs. I am now going to read the RCW, WAC and Jefferson
County ordinance. Nowhere in these laws will you read or hear the term “illegal drug
Source and Full Document with Exhibits Click Below
Public Health Supervisor
Deputy Director &
Chief Operations Director
Environmental Health & Water Quality Director
Dr. Thomas H. Locke, MD
Is it a conflict of interest to be on multiple boards such as this?
Jefferson County Board of Health
Yet Counselor Bent Meyer is a slumlord, and has a total disregard for the law, and for the civil and human rights of the tenants of his rentals.
Bent Meyer Counselor
"Houses formerly used as meth labs, called meth houses, put their residents at risk of serious health consequences, says Stan Smith, a doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Drug Endangered Children Task Force, a division of the California Drug Enforcement Agency.
Upon moving into a meth house, people have experienced short-term health problems ranging from migraines and respiratory difficulties to skin irritation and burns. Long-term problems are less well known, but the results from a 2009 study in Toxological Sciences suggest that methamphetamine chemicals may cause cancer in humans.
And because children have small, developing bodies and a tendency to play on the ground and put things in their mouths, they are especially susceptible to adverse health effects from meth toxins. “When we go into a lab, if there are children, the first thing we do is take the children to the hospital and assess them for contamination,” said Smith.
The chemicals used in methamphetamine production are highly toxic and range from pseudoephenadrine — the main ingredient in meth and active ingredient in decongestants — to any one of 32 other precursor chemicals. These include acetone, the active ingredient in nail polish remover, and phosphine, a widely used insecticide.
Home-cooking meth spreads toxins to every inch of the room where the meth was cooked and beyond. Nothing escapes contamination — the carpet, walls, furniture, drapes, air ducts, even the air itself becomes toxic. “Ingesting some of these chemicals, even a tiny drop, can cause immediate death,” said Smith."
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