justin speersMy name is Justin Speers. My wife April has to be at work or she’d be with me right now. Both of us volunteer for the Lincoln City Warming Shelter but we speak only for ourselves.

The community around the Warming Shelter is amazing. It is inspiring to work alongside people with such big hearts, some of whom devote nearly all of their time to serving the most vulnerable members of our community. Hypothermia can set in at fifty degrees fahrenheit in wet and windy conditions – such conditions are typical here on the coast. The Shelter not only protects people from the elements, it also serves as a resource center aimed at helping people get their lives back on track.

I’m not here to comment on the validity of any accusations against the Mayor. That’s up to all of you.

But I will say this:

The Warming Shelter spent months trying to rent a building. The Taft Firehouse was not their first option. “Not in my Backyard” is a serious hurdle to overcome when implementing any kind of program aimed at helping stigmatized members of our community. At least the Mayor stepped up and offered a wonderful space to rent when no one else would. I’m thankful for this temporary arrangement and look forward to seeing the Warming Shelter accomplish their goal of building a permanent location.

I know several councilors have publicly assured the community that they support the Warming Shelter and are only questioning the Mayor’s integrity. So it’s been disappointing to see attacks shift from the Mayor to the Shelter itself.

Signs have been torn down. Volunteers and members of the board have been viciously smeared with homophobic and misogynistic insults on social media. The News Guard started out posing questions about a potential conflict of interest involving the Mayor – fair enough. But now they are now making baseless allegations against the Warming Shelter itself. These accusations are worded as passive aggressive, rhetorical questions.

For example: “Do they have to also have food handlers cards?”

The answer to that is: YES. I know this because April volunteers in the kitchen and all of them were required to obtain food handler cards before working there.

Here’s another direct quote: “falsehoods seem to be spreading that they don’t need any permitting, however they are operating a kitchen and laundry facilities and those are things that are permitted and inspected.”

Well, I haven’t heard anyone claim the Shelter is exempt from permits or inspections. This is a dishonest and lazy attempt to discredit a non-profit that is doing good work in the community. Anyone with honest questions seeking honest answers can contact the Board of Directors. I’m sure they’d welcome the opportunity to clear up any confusion directly.

But here’s the truth: I know some of the people involved in this smear campaign more than I’d like to. They are not legitimately concerned about zoning, permits, or the homeless. They claim to be progressive activists fighting for social justice. But that is a ruse. They are showing their true colors by attacking the most vulnerable members of our society. All they care about is taking down the Mayor, and they don’t care who they have to hurt to do that. And at least one of them sits on the City Council.

I met with Councilor Riley Hoagland in the middle of September to ask some questions about the city. When I told him my wife was excited about volunteering for the Warming Shelter, he immediately and aggressively pursued a friendship with us. We met with him several times publicly and privately over the course of October and November.

Councilor Hoagland made no secret of his hatred for Mayor Williams. He once led me to the Mayor’s house and pointed out a pattern that resembled a Celtic Cross. He said this was a symbol used by hate groups and was proof that the Mayor was a White Supremacist. I was not convinced. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center say such symbols are almost always benign by themselves, and typically associated with Christianity or Irish Heritage. The strangest part about this claim is that Hoagland himself has a Celtic Cross tattoo.

As he got to know us better, Councilor Hoagland increasingly pressured us for “inside information” regarding the Warming Shelter. When he asked us how much the Mayor was charging in rent, we said that we had heard it was somewhere around $1,700/month but had no direct knowledge. He became very excited when he heard this number. He said it was “double what the Mayor is claiming”. He then pulled out his phone and told us he was texting the information to a journalist at the News Guard.

Then, on November 11th, Hoagland requested that April meet with him in person. When she arrived, he asked her to be his “mole” inside the Warming Shelter.

Last Thursday Councilor Hoagland ordered us to never contact him again. This came out of the blue and he refused to provide an explanation. Both my wife and I believe that Councilor Hoagland initiated a friendship under false pretenses. He wanted information about the Warming Shelter he could use against the Mayor. We did not give him what he wanted. When the stories came out, he was done with us, just as we are now done with him, permanently.

Too many good people are bullied into abstaining from politics or volunteering because of people like Riley Hoagland, Laura Joki, Mac Smith, and Bob Rowe. Their goal is to create chaos. Mission accomplished. Great work, just don’t call yourselves progressives. Thanks.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you SO much for stepping up with this information. As a citizen I have been mystified about what is going on, and this certainly fits with my own past experiences with some of those listed. I wish you and your wife well, and am so thankful for your service to the community.

  2. Its always easy to tell a one sided story! This all sounds very impressive unless you know the other side of the story! Justin thinks he has become the face of the Lincoln City Warming Shelter! Im really wondering how Patrick Alexander is feeling about that? When in reality he is just a lost soul with nothing better to do than tell stories with no basic facts. Thats pretty easy to do when you are unemployed with a lot of free time on your hands.

    • My Wife and I speak only for ourselves, as stated in the opening paragraph. Both of us work for a living. Take it or leave it but I’d appreciate it if you could keep it honest.

      • I’m grateful to have read your letter. People like Riley Hoagland are deceitful and dangerous. I’ve had similar odd experiences with him that you described with the Celtic cross conspiracy and friendship under pretense to use your good nature so I believe you based on my family’s interaction with the man.

  3. Thank you for an honest and insightful article. Hoagland is just the tip of the iceberg. Hinton has been attacking the mayor long before she was on the council. Lies, innuendos etc. Kip Ward is right in there with them. People have no idea how underhanded and deceitful this group is. Disgusting all of them! How did this group spend $120,000 of taxpayer money on a witch hunt of the mayor with no explanation prior, during or after? Worse than that the taxpayers say nothing!

  4. I’ll confirm Mr. Hoagland’s erratic and paranoid behavior. I dated him back in 2016 and was treated similarly to how Speers and his wife were treated in regards to Hoagland’s odd behavior, irrational paranoia, and need to create chaos and confusion where it wasn’t needed. Even though my experience was personal and not professional it shows the character of a man our community voted into council. False charm, deceit and friendship based upon false pretenses. I had felt a lot of guilt and focused a lot of the blame upon myself in my feelings regarding how I was treated by Mr.Hoagland in our romantic relationship and short lived friendship so it’s good to see others speak up. It shows me that the man has issues and no place in professional politics. At one point he had gone so far as helping me get my current apartment then accusing me of stalking him for moving in and expecting me to not be angry about the accusations! If you want to be charmed, used, then thrown under the bus then Hoagland is your go to for sure. I have autism spectrum disorder and had to constantly explain things that were assumed and taken out of context due to Hoagland’s paranoia and odd behaviors. I was not surprised when reading the part of this letter that said Hoagland made up a conspiracy theory about the Celtic cross because the same man publicly humiliated me by calling me a satanist due to my lack of religious affiliation.

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