Thursday, December 09, 2004

Joe gets the letter to quiet up and tells em to go swim wit d fishes

Michael: All levels of government seek to hide information when called totask. The CZ Master Association which is the closest thing to governmentthat we have in Coto is no exception. However, the internet makescontrolling the news impossible which is the reason that dictatorshipsand/or corrupt governments can no longer prevail. In reviewing CZFinancials for the last few years, I can say without any doubt that the $10dues increase we will experience in January is the result of fiscalmismanagement. I will give more details in an audit report. It would bebetter if the Association answers my questions to prevent assumptions; buteither way the numbers are there and what is not there can be assumed. i.e.It is probable that CotoCAN is getting somewhere between $100,000 and$200,000 a year from revenues coming from renting the Sports Park,advertisements in CotoVoice and on the maps etc. etc. As far as I amconcerned this money belongs to all CZ Members since we are the basis forthis revenue generation. The dues increase will raise about $450,000. Ijust found a chunk of that money with more to come in the audit report Iwill produce in January. Clearly, the current CZ Board in addition tofailing to properly manage expenses has given away revenues sources whichhas made a dues increase necessary. It really is pretty simple. More tocome in the near future. Regards, Joe MorabitoP.S. The very idea that any public official would threaten to sue some onebecause he/she has been criticized specific to the job being done in thepublic capacity would never stand up in court. And, be assured, I do havethe means to defend myself if ever necessary. If litigation was every filedagainst me or any one else in Coto for criticizing a CZ Board, a recalleffort would be organized immediately for misuse of CZ funds which ismalfeasance in office. -----Original Message-----From: Mike Channing [mailto:mchanning@saddleback.edu]Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 2:33 PMTo: CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.comSubject: [COTO] Re: "Lawyer letter" sent to Joe MorabitoFolks, let's get real. The "lawyer letter" sent to Joe Morabito was of course intended to create a discussion chill. I have not seen the letter, but knowing something as I do about these kinds of letters (more in a second about that), and reading Joe Morabito's paraphrase of the contents of the letter in a recent, detailed e-mail, I know, and I'm sure many of you do too, that this is the kind of form letter sent, upon request, by lawyers for the purposes of "clarification," but at the same time making vague, oblique references by strategic word choice to possible negative repercussions if the contents of the letter are disregarded. These kinds of letters walk a fine line between being informative and neutral and in fact putting forth "subliminal" threats to chill activity or discussion. Joe Morabito's situation reminds me of a very similar occurance at the South Orange County Community College District a couple of years ago, when a controversial administrator and the Board of Trustees of the District were the object of an on-going newsletter which strongly (and I mean strongly) criticized their decisions and procedures. The administrator and the District sued to enforce a "cease and desist" order, but the editor of the newsletter was defended in Superior Court by the ACLU. The court determined that the administrator was a "public figure" in the community and that the editor and the newsletter had First Amendment rights of free speech and could not be silenced. The District appealed, but they lost at the higher level for the same reason.The basic facts here, at both ends of the sprctrum are simple: it's predictable that the legal representatives of the CDC governing board will send these kinds of "lawyer letters," in the hope that the recipient at the other end will get cold feet and disappear; and at the other end it's clear, at least to me,that the explicit and implicit threats expressed in such letters would fail of enforcement if it came to a court hearing, based on the First Amendment. It's a standoff, waiting for who is going to blink first. I believe---I am not a lawyer!!---that Joe Morabito would prevail in court, but it would be an expense. From his communications and from what I know, he probably has the resources to go the distance, and he certainly has the emotional stamina. I suppose that a peace-making attitude would be to recommend that people pull back for awhile during the upcoming season and think about getting back into discussion early next year when we approach the governing board elections. As a relatively new resident of Coto who, as I've said over and over, loves the place it's disheartening to witness so much hard feeling, even when it's concerning importrant issues. I'd hate to see happen here at Coto what happened at our local commu nity colleges, Saddleback and Irvine Valley, both of which were torn apart from within by internecine fighting betwen saff, administration, and Board of Trustees, which went on for years, and is still lingering. In any case Joe Morabito has been raising some important subjects and asking important questions, all of which seem to me to be non-libelous and might in fact prove healthy for the long-range interests of Coto de Caza and its residents. He might get under the skin of some people, but that's life, and if he is proven wrong after discussion, then that will be that; and if he is right, then he will have helped improve things here. Michael Channing

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