Sunday, June 11, 2006

Grapski Defense Update

Originally posted in the comments at Blog for America

We still need to raise another $2,500 minimum by tomorrow AM to pay for the current legal expenses to date.

We raised about that much between Friday evening and Saturday morning. I have to give the defense lawyers another $5,000 Monday morning before they will take any further actions - to cover existing expenses.

As for those who come here claiming that they have seen "no proof" of anything - its funny how much that mirrors the official line of the Alachua County Republican Party. But who lays out their strategy to the opposition BEFORE the game? Its like giving the opponents your game plan in advance. Not exactly the wisest move.

As for the allegations of wrongdoing in the election - we have filed a legal action (this with another lawyer who is doing this pro bono - Joe Little, a law professor who I have worked with on cases in the past - he is amazing and a true local hero in Alachua County - the only thing we have to come up with on this front is the costs of pursuing the litigation (filing fees, deposition costs, etc.)).

We have a formal complaint filed with the Courts. It lays out certain allegations as we are required to do by law. It does not lay out ALL of our evidence yet - as this is not the forum for that - the trial and discovery phase will be for that.

However, as soon as Tuesday, we will be filing an AMENDED complaint - alleging far more detail (again not every detail - but more allegations of serious wrongdoing) of what took place. I'll post it once it is filed.

All I can say is that I have evidence that this election was:

1) Improperly conducted in such a way as to call into question the validity of the election.

At minimum - the City officials did not follow any of the laws they are required to follow - and thus compromised the election (even if you allege no intentional wrongdoing - there is ample evidence of misfeasance).

Indeed the SECRECY of the ballot was denied to all who cast "absentee" ballots. And this election was decided by absentee ballots.

But that is not all we are alleging:

2) City Officials CONNECTED WITH the campaign of the commissioner "elected" by absentee ballots to his 40th consecutive year - improperly influenced residents to cast absentee ballots specifically FOR this candidate.

The City officials committed numerous acts which constitute criminal actions - including numerous felony acts and certainly the violation of civil/voting rights.

The simple question should be - IF I had no case - WHY would there be such an OVER-reaction by these officials.

As for the alleged crime I am being charged with - this is absurd. I did not "secretly" record anyone. Everything I did was in plain sight. Indeed the officials openly acknowledged I was recording - and continued to talk on record. Plus in Florida these are PUBLIC officials - and under Florida's law - they are required to act SOLELY as PUBLIC officials when in that capacity. The public has a RIGHT TO KNOW what they do as public officials.

And here is a good example of how absurd this is:

Michael Canney, who is now the co-chair of the Florida Green party, is also being threatened to be arrested. Michael is a good friend and an Alachua resident who has long been fighting the corruption in Alachua.

For what? Well - he videotaped me engaged in discussions with the public officials. OK - this was while I was openly recording them and they chose to speak on record.

But what else is missing from this story? Well - the local ABC affiliate, TV20, was there as well at the same time. What were they doing? They were videotaping the very same thing!

Indeed when I contacted them Friday night - and they put the story out - they used THAT footage!

So, if what I did was a felony in audio taping that conversation (openly) and what Michael did in videotaping that conversation (openly - kind of hard to "miss" the fact that someone is three feet from you with a video camera rolling) is a felony - then why is what the TV station did not a felony?

They have not had any action filed against them? Why not?

By the way - if you want to know one "good" reason why the establishment here is so concerned about this case - beyond merely the Alachua officials and their election wrongdoing - think about it this way.

Florida has VERY open government laws (its called the Sunshine Law - composed of FLorida's Ethics Law (112), Public Records Law (119), and Open Meetings Law (286) - you can follow links to these statutes to read them for yourself at the Alachua Project site (freealachua.org).
The legislature and courts, however, have been ERODING these laws rapidly in the past few years. Very consciously. But the laws are still there - they are Constitutionally enacted by the people (in the 1970s) - but those in public office do not like them. They are the tools (indeed weapons) that the people have to hold their public officials to account. And those public officials, by and large, see this as harassment - and don't think they should be as such.

But if my case were deemed to be a felony - it would mean that if a citizen saw Rodney King being beaten by cops in Florida and videotaped it:

1) The Citizen could be arrested for a felony (incentive to NOT tape such activities);
2) The Video could not be used against the police in a Court of Law (good incentive for the authorities to take this position).

The same goes for corrupt politicians - and Florida is notorious for this - who have been caught by investigative journalists taking MONEY while being secretly videotaped.

Now those who EXPOSE public corruption - have the tables turned on them by the officials - who can then criminalize the activities of the citizens who merely CATCH the public officials in wrongdoing.

That is a truly frightening prospect.

Charlie

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