Mayor Ellen O. believe she did nothing wrong in awarding no-bid contracts to friends and supporters, but she has angrily told two aldermen that bloggers with whom they spoke about it are only trying to defame her. CP has been given a memo that the mayor sent to Aldermen Israel and Arnett that is typical of her, yet also disturbing at the same time. As readers know, CP and Arundel Muckraker recently broke a story about city procurement contracts, detailing how the mayor hires consultants, including her friends, to carry out her political goals without subjecting them to any form of competitive bidding or any kind of standard recruitment process, as one would normally do with an employee. Of course while CP and Muckraker were reviewing contracts, calls to the mayor from Muckraker went unanswered and now she is upset. Muckraker did get comments from Israel and Arnett for the original story.
Here is the mayor's February 25th memo to the two aldermen:
"If you really believe our personnel employee contract process is flawed, then I would have thought you would have been courteous enough to talk with me. Bloggers are not held accountable for the truth or misinformation, and elected people have no standing to sue for defamation. Capital Projects are bid-employees are not. Steve Carr has worked for the City for 17 years, under 3 Mayors. What exactly is your objection to him?I I find it hard to understand the blogger's objections since 3 contracts of those cited are not supporters or friends. The objections of these 2 bloggers seem to have one goal to discredit me and damage the Moyer name personally. You are both quoted as sharing the muckraker's allegations against me."
To see the memo, click Ellen "O" Is Pissed! (Thanks to Muckraker for supplying this link)
As I see it, there are many serious problems with this memo:
- The mayor is insistent that she did not do anything wrong, yet she admits that some of the contractors are her friends and supporters
- Not only is she clean and without blame, but irresponsible bloggers trying to defame "the Moyer name" are really the culprits
- She denies that the "personnel employee contract is flawed" but the big issue is that we don't even have a procurement code
- Why did she not say anything about Don Lamb Minor, whose troubling contract simply tasks him with providing oversight" for six projects?
- Where is the "misinformation" or lack of truth? Spell it out. Show the "misinformation" of which she speaks
- What makes her think that blogger journalists are not accountable or somehow less accountable than newspaper journalists? Both Muckraker and CP are trained professional journalists
- Contrary to Ellen O's claim, elected people do have standing to sue for defamation, but the libel standard is higher for public figures (see the landmark decision in New York Times versus Sullivan, 1964) specifically to guard freedom of the press...it's just that some elected officials such as Ellen do not like that and truth is always an absolute defense in libel
- Again, where is the problem with "truth or misinformation"?
- Our goal is neither to discredit or damage the mayor or "the Moyer name personally". She does a good job of that on her own. If she always handled her job properly and appropriately, we would not be writing about her.
- Were there allegations made against her? Well, yes. It appears that she violated city rules for procurement and yes, she did give jobs to friends and supporters--as she admitted. But she thinks she is clean and it is only because we bloggers are trying to damage her that we have written anything. We documented everything we claimed.
- CP and Muckraker are doing this on our own as public servants--and at risk of being sued by her or anyone for libel. On the other hand, she is paid by us and given our trust. If we were not looking out for the public, who would?
- Finally, I her letter as threatening, and as producing what the courts refer to in such cases as having a "chilling effect" on the free press. Perhaps it is she who should be more careful when it comes to "truth and misinformation". She has already made her antipathy and perhaps malice toward CP and Muckraker well known in a public manner, including in her state of the city speech (see previous post below).
- Perhaps she should be consulting with "Acting" City Attorney Steve Kling about such matters. Of course she is probably still angry with CP for breaking the story about how he had been effectively disbarred for two years when she chose him (also a friend and supporter) to serve as our city attorney. When that happened, she angrily accused CP of doing that only for publicity. Now she writes this angry and disturbing memo which again, only brings her more publicity. See the pattern?
Please send comments, subscribe, share with your friends, and support our sponsors. Join us at Ahh Coffee! in Eastport almost every Thursday from 8-9 am.