Standing Up to That Old Time Political Bullying
Justin’s post announcing Arruda and Durfee’s despicable lawsuit against Dave Nelson here.
The following press release from the defendant was in my in-box this morning. Note well the second paragraph describing a demand that Dave rat out his fellow concerned citizens, apparently for the crime of behaving like … concerned citizens.
A principle of democracy is public participation in local government. The right of such participation is found in the First Amendment, which includes the right of free speech. These fundamental rights are at the core of our political system and permeate our society. It seems that not everyone likes this-please read on.
About two months ago, and only 3 days before Tiverton’s second FTM, I received a letter threatening legal action from Councilors Louise Durfee and Joanne Arruda’s private attorney. This letter included a demand that I hand over names of people who received a letter to the editor from Tiverton Citizens for Change which highlighted tactics used by Tiverton’s Town Council to request a 9% tax increase in the weeks before Tiverton’s 2010 FTM. TCC views this as an attempt to intimidate, to silence the voice of dissent, stifle public debate and transform Tiverton’s public debate into a lawsuit.
Durfee and Arruda filed this politically motivated civil suit, also known as a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, against me and Tiverton Citizens for Change in apparent retaliation to the April letter to the Editor which described ‘false’ documents filed with the State Department of Municipal Finance. The suit seems to be part of a larger strategy to intimidate and silence critics of Durfee and Arruda, and chill public debate.
The issue originates from Tiverton’s Town Council’s efforts to obtain an ‘advisory’ opinion from Rhode Island’s Division of Municipal Finance by filing a Notice of Proposed Tax Rate Change which was not approved by the Town Council or Budget Committee. I, along with other TCC members spoke against this effort during an April 26 town Council Meeting. See our website
TivertonCC.com for the video of this meeting. The request was subsequently denied by Susanne Greschner, Chief of Division of Municipal Finance.
Our bedrock constitutional rights allow us to express disagreement with elected officials and report on matters of public concern. l will not cower from this attempt to intimidate my public participation in local budget and taxation issues. I am vigorously fighting this blatant attempt to intimidate TCC and have filed a countersuit under the State’s anti-SLAPP law protections.
President of Tiverton Citizens for Change