City of Coral Springs threatens with Legal Action: Change your article or else!

July 7: First Draft
July 8 : 2nd Draft, corrected grammar, punctuation.

The City of Coral Springs has elected to fight us rather than debate us.

Our article entitled Coral Springs City Centre: White Elephant, and City Short Changed (exhibit “A” click here to view) obviously  struck a nerve with someone high up in the City government. Instructions were given to  Sam Goren, of Josias, Goren, Cherof, Doody and Ezrol, P.A. the City Attorneys to send a letter and threaten us with legal action. This two page document, which we place here as exhibit “B” (click here to view),  says that  two statements  we made were false, and  these statements are so damaging to the City that to quote the letter :

“it deters third persons from dealing with the city , assail the City’s management, impugn the City’s methods of doing business, and misinterprets the City’s Financial Statement” .

Boy, are we in trouble now!

After we stopped laughing, we carefully examined this letter and decided what really is at the core of this whole discussion seems to be the right of free press , the right of any citizen to speak their mind and state their opinions  without government threatening them.

Just to set the record straight: The interpretations we derived came from information that the City provided us as per our specific request to the City Clerk’s office (exhibit “C” click here).  After we received the lawyer’s letter we spoke to Michael Levenson, the City Manager, and Kevin Knutson, the Budget Officer. It turns out that there are other details that were not given to us, even though they were compelled by the Florida State Statute Article 119.07 (exhibit “D” click here) to provide them. Furthermore, with the information at hand, we believe our articles to be substantially correct and that any discrepancies are minor. The fact of the matter remains:

1) The City Centre is a ” White Elephant”
2) Both the management company(PFM)  and the city consider the subsidy of $595,000 as revenue,
3) PFM is getting $250K+/-  to run the place at a deficit.
4) The citizens of this city are getting short changed.
5) We still do not have all the facts and figures

We gave their threat some thought and felt that a legal battle between the City and us would in fact do us some good. The publicity involved would certainly keep the hit count turning. The civil liberty groups would come on down,  along with the Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Channel 6 &7 news…come to think of it, perhaps even Peter Jennings of ABC would host his news cast here…Live at the City Centre of Coral Springs! The publicity would be marvelous!!

We spoke to our attorneys about the threat of legal action. They assured us that  the City cannot dictate what we can or cannot write on our website. Something about the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and Speech, and the right to open government.  You know, the stuff that the person who told the City Attorneys to write this letter, doesn’t believe in. They also pointed to the fact that the ‘City’ is not an individual or a corporation for that matter, and cannot claim damages due to loss of reputation.  Anyone can state their opinion about the government, at least in this country.  You can even insult the President of the United States. It’s your right.

It does seem that here in Coral Springs our local government really does not want active discussion on decisions that they make, and certainly do not want to hear of any opposition. Are city commission meetings  no longer open forums for debate and discussions but rather all a big show?  When there is any opposition to any of the city’s decisions, what happens next is not active discussion and debate but a lawyer’s letter is sent  with the hope that the opposition will be squashed. This doesn’t sound kosher, does it?.  It really is our own fault since the current slate of commissioners were elected by default since there was no opposition to run against them. You sort of get used to being king.

One thing is certain. No matter what the issues are we will make our best effort to present to you the facts as we see them, and sometimes give you our opinions as we see fit. We will oppose any decision made by the city commissioners if we want to.

So does our article deter, assail, impugn…the city from doing its business?  We  will let you know once we figure out what these words really mean………


Author: HelpMeHoward