By Doug Porter
Not even George Orwell could have predicted this; an anti-abortion group is challenging Ohio’s law making it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates.
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the case involves billboard ads funded by the Susan B. Anthony List accusing an Ohio congressman of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions based on his support of the Affordable Care Act. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Concerns about any Supreme Court ruling in this case stem from a ruling (made on the same day the court upheld most sections of Obamacare) overturning the conviction of Xavier Alvarez for violating the 2006 Stolen Valor Act making it a crime for a person to falsely claim, orally or in writing, “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” The 6-3 decision asserted the act was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
From the LA Times article:
The justices are not expected to rule on the 1st Amendment issue at this time. Instead, justices are being asked to decide whether these laws can be challenged as unconstitutional even if no one is successfully prosecuted.
The case has prompted a lively debate over whether the law can separate truth from lies in election campaigns.
Washington attorney Michael Carvin, representing the antiabortion group, said the 1st Amendment protects broad free speech during political campaigns and frowns on interference from the government. He calls the Ohio measure a “speech suppressive” law that “inserts state bureaucrats and judges into political debates and charges them with separating truth from oft-alleged ‘lies.'”
You can be sure that San Diego’s Lincoln Club, along with the Chamber of Commerce, who’ve funded or enabled numerous campaigns hewing ever closer to the line between hyperbole and fiction in recent years, will be watching this case closely.
Local Court Scam Expands to Include eMails
Last Friday at 4:45pm I received a phone from a man purporting to be with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department demanding to know why I hadn’t appeared in response to a jury summons.
He started out confirming my mailing address, then citing a date in mid-March when a summons was mailed and told me I was in trouble for failing to appear on March 27th.
Two things happened that threw him off his spiel. First, I am barely intelligible over a phone connection owing to the loss of my vocal chords from cancer (I use a prosthetic device, and I’ve observed that it makes people uncomfortable). And second, I responded to his stern sounding claim by expressing my disappointment at missing an opportunity to do my civic duty. “I love jury duty,” I said. ( I think I would, if I wasn’t booted from ever panel I’ve been considered for)
He mumbled something about getting back to me after he “checked his paperwork” and hung up. Sensing something fishy, I decided to crowd source the question and asked my followers on Twitter if this sounded kosher. It turns out UT crime reporter Debbi Baker had written about the scam while I was on vacation, and she sent along a link to the article.
Yesterday NBC7 ran with a story saying the scammers have now graduated to contacting people via unsolicited emails purporting to be from the San Diego Superior Court.
One person, who has an issue before the court, received an attachment with the email. That person opened the attachment and soon discovered it contained a virus.
Several concerned citizens have reported this scam to the court. Officials advise citizens not to open any attachment of link included in unsolicited emails.
“It’s important to reiterate to the public that we do not communicate with those with issues before the court via unsolicited email or telephone. If anyone tries to contact you regarding “missed jury duty” or cases of which you are unaware, you should delete the email or disregard the phone call,” said Michael Roddy, Executive Officer of the San Diego Superior Court….
…In March, the San Diego Superior Court received complaints about people trying to defraud citizens via telephone. Posing as court officers or officials, the scammers would call people and demand money. In one case, a scam artist told a victim they had missed jury duty and owed the court nearly $800.
The Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung. Yet.
The San Diego Opera continues to generate headlines.
At inewsource/KPBS they’ve posted a story saying the board of directors may not have to power to pull the plug as planned on April 29th. They’ve consulted legal experts who say the entire membership of the organization may have to approved of any closure.
KPBS consulted three lawyers, including one who headed the nonprofit division of the IRS for 10 years, for opinions on the process required by the opera’s bylaws and state law for dissolving the company. None have connections to the opera.
According to the California Corporations Code, which regulates corporations, including nonprofits, the board can sell off the company’s assets without an approval vote of the association members if “the transaction is in the usual and regular course of its activities.”
[Paul] Dostart [a San Diego lawyer specializing in nonprofits] said selling the assets to close the opera is not in the regular course of business.
CBS8 News reports that singers employed by the San Diego Opera have filed a complaint in U.S. District Court seeking arbitration.
More than 30 vocalists who belong to the American Guild of Musical Artists have a clause in their contracts that compels arbitration in case of disputes, Los Angeles-based lawyer Hope Singer told City News Service.
She said the opera, which cited an untenable financial condition for its plan to fold, has refused arbitration.
“The language is so clear — we will win (in court),” Singer said.
The contracts, which are good for two more years, require the singers to be paid whether or not they perform, according to the federal complaint.
Voice of San Diego has posted a letter from opera fan Eduard Schmiege seeking to expose “5 Myths About the Opera” that have appeared regularly in media accounts, starting with the claim saying the San Diego company is “World Class.”
Say What? A New Daily?
The city of Los Angeles awoke this morning to a new daily newspaper. The LA Register is the brain child of the Orange County Register’s publishers Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz.
From media website Poynter.org:
The paper promises heavy local coverage and opinion columnists who “will bring a right-of-center perspective and engage in civil debate,” as well as “more than a dozen new community editions,” the release says. Some of the staff moving north from the Register’s homebase in Orange County, where Kushner publishes the Orange County Register, include sports columnist T.J. Simers; food writers Brad A. Johnson, Nancy Luna and Cathy Thomas; and film critic Michael Sragow.
The paper will “include 50-60 pages during the week and 80-90 on Sunday,” the release says.
Writing in the Los Angeles Register — whose website still sports the OC Register’s browser icon — Mary Ann Milbourn says home delivery will begin in May. Ron Sylvester, the L.A. Register’s editor, tells Milbourn, “Local coverage is the heart of what we do at the Register.”
Milbourn writes about some of the skepticism greeting the launch; Kushner tells her: “Only in the newspaper business would someone criticize a business for opening in a market of 10 million people with a great quality product.”
By way of reference, today’s UT-San Diego is 40 pages, excluding advertising inserts.
Here’s a quote from the Reuters coverage:
“We have a very simple business model,” Kushner said. “Invest in staff and the paper and cover things locally readers are most passionate about.”
Indeed, when Kushner bought Freedom in 2012 he doubled the size of the newsroom in Orange County. But he soon faced the challenges hitting other publishers. The paper cut 32 jobs at the beginning of the year. It now has about 370 staffers, some of which are going to the new paper in Los Angeles.
Love Your Librarian!?
So I will be returning those almost overdue books. Today. I promise.
There’s a fact-filled post by Matthew Yglesias on Vox.com with “Everything you need to know about librarians,.” including a handy-dandy map showing us that the “southwest hates librarians and the northeast loves them.”
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