From: Anglen, Robert
Date: Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 9:40 AM
Subject: Story on camelback consign
To: Glenn Michaels
Story is in today's paper. Your blog is mentioned prominently in the story. Thanks for all of your help. Here is a link:
1. Received notification from Special Agent Ismael Fuentes of the Office of the Attorney General of Arizona that the investigation into Camelback Consign & Design, in which he had been involved (out of the Health Care Fraud & Abuse Section), was transferred to the Consumer Protection Section ("the appropriate section.")
2. According to Agent Fuentes, "The last I heard regarding this case was that interviews were being conducted."
3. Supervisor of the Consumer Protection Section is Frank Curatola.
4. To date, I have not been contacted for an interview. (Have you? If so, let me know.) My complaint number is CIC 13-13018.
5. Since November 25, 2013, this blog has accrued over 10,000 hits (aka page views).
1. Unconfirmed: I've been informed that another article about Camelback Consign & Design is being developed for a local publication.
2. Bill Roach, one of the landlords for 1030 E. Camelback, formerly Camelback Consign & Design, has made quasi-heroic efforts to assist some victims in the recovery of their missing items. At last report, at least one victim expects to recover a substantial portion of very valuable items consigned and sold by the Consignment Vampire thanks to the aid of Mr. Roach.
Consumer fraud, as defined by Arizona law, is any deception, unfair act or practice, false statement, false pretense, false promise or misrepresentation made by a seller or advertiser of merchandise. In addition, concealment, suppression or failure to disclose a material fact may be consumer fraud if it is done with the intent that others rely on such concealment, suppression or nondisclosure. Merchandise may include any objects, wares, goods, commodities, intangibles, real estate or services... A private citizen can also bring an action for a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act within one year from the date the claim arises.
1. Again and again, leading Arizonans have demonstrated or admitted their allegiance to "Because I can get away with it." One doesn't know whether to be amazed at the fact that, ultimately, they didn't get away with it or at the fact that they got away with it for so very long.
Cases in point:
A. The Veterans Administration scandal. Alleged: Falsified documentation of appointment wait times associated with veteran deaths. Management practices that enabled discriminatory treatment of various employees and retribution against any that spoke up about such matters internally.
Former Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman vigorously denied the existence of the issues or knowledge thereof.
In fact, according to Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic,
"Since 2005, federal investigators have issued at least 21 reports detailing problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs health system.The list of people who received the reports reads like a political who's who: three Cabinet secretaries, a dozen prominent senators, a Democratic and a Republican presidential nominee, and Arizona's entire congressional delegation."
My father died at home a week after being released from the Phoenix VA hospital on 7th Street and Indian School, in 2010.
B. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal admits posting various scathing (and, in some cases, patently untrue) comments under various pseudonyms over several years. For example, he wrote:
"We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English."
(Written as Falcon9 on http://www.espressopundit.com/2010/12/mission-accomplished.html?cid=6a00d83451db8169e20148c6b7b322970c#comment-6a00d83451db8169e20148c6b7b322970c - Cited by Laurie Roberts on http://www.azcentral.com/story/laurie-roberts/2014/06/24/john-huppenthal-anonymous-blog-posts-latino-comments/11312133/)
By the way, at present, around 30 percent of Arizona's population is Hispanic. Including my bi-lingual wife, a work-around-the-clock business owner, employer, college grad and former welfare recipient.
For good measure, Superintendent Huppenthal also blamed the only president of the United States ever elected to four terms of office for some of the worst events in the 20th century (when quite clearly the president's contemporaries did not!):
"We now know that FDR was almost completely responsible for the great depression."Worse yet, Roosevelt’s disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank."
The Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction needs a refresher in world history and American civics, not to mention intellectual honesty. I suggest he dip into the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
C. On November 12, 2013, the Public Advocacy and Civil Rights Division of the Office of the Arizona Attorney General responded to my consumer complaint about a Camelback Consign & Design business by reporting: "We are in the process of contacting the company to request a response. When we receive the response, we will send a copy of it to you."
Five months later, the Consumer Information and Complaints Manager for the AG's office responded to a follow up inquiry by writing: The Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section of our office has reviewed your complaint and is attempting to make contact with the business.
As I read it, the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section was in fact very busy not trying to make contact with the business in question: Camelback Consign & Design.
Bottom line: It does not take five months to obtain a response from a firm that has an email address, website, public phone number, is open from 10 AM to 6 PM daily and is located under six miles from the front door of the AG's offices at 1275 W. Washington Street.
The failure of this particular Section to acknowledge its unwillingness - or inability - to deliver on its promise was almost certainly abetted by the knowledge that it does not answer to citizens for what it does or does not do. In short, "I can get away with it."
Not a single elected official I contacted with concerns about the performance of the AG's office in this instance was willing to respond. I presume that it is very unpleasant for elected officials to acknowledge their inability to make a difference (aka irrelevance) with regard to management of the AG's office. So they haven't.
Today, eight months later, I have not received a copy of the promised response, despite the fact that the principal of Camelback Consign & Design was subpoenaed to testify by the AG's office, as reported in the Arizona Republic on June 8, 2014. I have received no formal notification of any type regarding the AG's investigation of Camelback Consign & Design.
2. Scamalot breeds predatory businesses like Camelback Consign & Scam. They flourish where there is little oversight and consequences, if any, are slight. Scamalot fosters institutional failure, as at the Veterans Administration. It damages the very fabric of the culture: faith in our institutions and trust in our neighbors. All too often, I hear that smart, caring individuals are left poisoned with toxic "cynicism."
Think of Scamalot as a sort of petri dish. "I can get away with it" is the medium that nurtures the noxious behaviors in question. The end result, in the case of Camelback Consign & Scam was a "Little Shop of Horrors." The VA situation, on the other hand, can only be characterized as a Huge Shop of Horrors.
You can be certain that other versions of Camelback Consign & Scam are, even as you read this, developing on Arizona soil. Like all living organisms, the most successful predators evolve to take maximum advantage of their (changing) circumstances. The fact that you haven't been harmed yet doesn't mean you - or those you care about - won't be harmed in the future.
3. SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
Let's flush the "I can get away with it mentality" out of our local and national culture. Here are a few of my suggestions about how that could be accomplished:
A. Require that the Arizona Attorney General's office provide more information about what it is doing or not doing. Generally speaking, investigations needn't be shrouded in mystery. Those being investigated typically hear about sooner or later. The information and facts sought by investigators are tough to hide. By the time investigators begin their work, the "facts" are old news embedded in the amber of memory and the myriad forms of documentation that investigators have access to. Statistical reporting on the number of victims or complaints received regarding any one entity or issue could help clarify what the issues are that citizens want help dealing with. Victims need to be informed of the status of cases that the AG's office decides to pursue... not left in the dark.
B. Let's encourage our Chambers of Commerce, the BBB, and other business associations to demonstrate more pro-active support for honesty and integrity in business. Maybe we (they?) could help support the development of a new type of consultant - Business Integrity Counselors. It would be their job to help guide businesses big and small through the tricky currents of legal and ethical responsibility and ethical resolution, sparing consumers and the court system much unnecessary conflict and the associated costs.
C. How about we cut people and businesses a little slack when they come forward, more or less voluntarily, and acknowledge poor judgment and other errors? I would welcome a process akin to the concept of the S. African Truth and Reconciliation Commission - applied to business and institutions. I suspect that each of us has made a mistake we deeply regret. In too many cases, the inability to safely and honorably acknowledge such errors leads to more of them and high emotional costs for all concerned. The ability to acknowledge errors might help reduce the number of lawsuits, lower incarceration rates, reduce calls for costly investigations and help generate a more honest, ethical culture.