Paso city computer pressed into service to slam citizen
October 7, 2008
By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE
At least one Paso Robles city computer was used to post on this Web site’s blog dozens of derogatory, revealing remarks and private information about a citizen in the aftermath of a recent CalCoastNews commentary on Paso Robles police practices.
For five days over many hours, a blogger posting under the pseudonym “NoMoreLies” used the tax-supported computer to write critical observations while identifying a local businessman, the subject of a Sept. 24 commentary entitled, “Under Paso Robles’ Wild‘n’Crazy ‘Big Tint.’” The comments also were directed at CalCoastNews reporters.
Information was provided to CalCoastNews by sources connected to law enforcement that “NoMoreLies” was exploiting city time and resources to create postings targeting the citizen.
Following a subsequent complaint by CalCoastNews to Paso Robles City Attorney Iris Yang, the blog posts from “NoMoreLies” abruptly ceased. Sources told a reporter that an e-mail was sent by officials to all Paso Robles city employees last week warning them against unauthorized use of city computers.
A city council member, Fred Strong, promised to look into the matter.
“I do see that whomever it is has spent a lot of time doing this and it still shouldn’t be done from a city site,” wrote Strong in an e-mail to a reporter. “I was surprised at the detailed knowledge and information provided. I am inclined to think that the person’s emotions overrode judgment and common sense.”
The original CalCoastNews commentary did not identify the local businessman because, he said, “The police already know who I am, but I do business with other city departments.” The commentary related how the man was issued a “fix-it” citation for having tinted windows on his work van, and his annoyance that many local police officers’ private vehicles had similarly tinted windows in violation of state traffic codes.
The first post from the yet-unidentified individual using the city computer appeared the day after the commentary’s publication and noted, “This article is full of inaccurate ‘reporting,’ one-sided, slanted opinions and chalked (sic) full of lies…. The Paso Robles Police Chief and her officers have more integrity in their little fingers than any one of these tabloid reporters. Stop creating news… and maybe you will gain some credibility.”
Later that same day, “NoMoreLies” identified the businessman even though the citation issue remained unsettled:
“So, you guys want facts…here are the facts: 1. The person who got the ticket is Mike Hove, a local Paso Robles auto detailer. 2. Do some investigative reporting on Hove’s credibility. 3. Hove wasn’t contacting the Chief of Police when he was approached by the cops on Wednesday. He was visiting Mason’s auto-detailing across the street. He was parked eastbound in the westbound lanes of traffic with the rear of his car one fourth of the way into the street partially obstructing traffic. Apparently Mr. Hove feels if he cries loud enough he can continue to violate the law with a free pass. 4. Veile knows who the mysterious female officer originally talking to Hove is. She and Hove baited the Officer into a confrontation under the guise of having his ticket signed off. Veile and Hove showed utter disrespect to her and her boss… she defended her boss. Veile twists the words and puts them in print. The facts are this [sic]… citizen gets ticket… gets mad… accuses the cops of wrongdoing in an attempt to get out of trouble. Local tabloid runs with a story without collecting the facts. The police don’t like talking to local tabloid because they lie and twist the truth – no win situation. Limited information is given to the tabloid. The tabloid fills in the blanks and attempts to discredit honest people in an attempt to sell advertising space.”
The reporter did not, in fact, know the officer or speak during the coincidental incident.
“NoMoreLies” elaborated in a Sept. 27 comment:
“Until [CalCoastNews] releases an audio tape of the conversation you can’t assume the officer wasn’t professional. She can defend her boss and herself and still be professional. Many of us were raised with the expectation that we call someone Mr. or Mrs. or Sir or whatever. The police service is a paramilitary organization. Titles are a big thing. However, if someone starts referring to another party by their first name… while having a formal ‘professional’ contact, I personally think it is okay to ask if they know that person. After all, Hove was referring to the Chief by her first name…. The bad thing about this whole scenario is the story and the way the writer has chosen words that paints a picture in the reader’s mind. I’ll tell you right now – unequivocally – that this female officer is nothing but respectful and professional.”
Then, “NoMoreLies” outlined a few suggestions:
“Folks, question everything about any police department…it’s healthy and you have a right to know. However, hold these journalists to a high standard. Make them prove they don’t have an agenda. Report the information and let the reader decide (without the editorials and inflammatory language). Make them show you some video or audio. Make them produce some reliable witnesses. If you can’t see they enjoy painting these slanted pictures regularly, I’m sorry for that. Lastly, I encourage you to talk to a police officer from any city. Walk up and say ‘hi.’ Ask them some questions. I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.”