Torres untruthful in slander case documents, new court filings say

August 19, 2013
Dee Torres asks the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve more aggressive treatment of the homeless who do not enter case management.

Dee Torres asks the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve more aggressive treatment of the homeless who do not participate in CAPSLO programs.

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The slander suit filed by CAPSLO’s Homeless Services Director Dee Torres took a new turn when defendant Mike Brennler submitted a case document on Friday saying that Torres was not truthful in her sworn statement to the court.

Ralph Almirol, an ex-boyfriend of Torres who claims she has pilfered from the homeless, also swore that Torres’ own declaration included false statements.

Torres filed a slander suit against Brennler in March alleging that he slandered her in a telephone conversation with her former husband, Charles Barber. Brennler, a private investigator, was working with CalCoastNews as it investigated the treatment of the homeless in San Luis Obispo County.

In its series, “Keeping Them Homeless,” CalCoastNews has reported on ways in which homeless persons in the county have been victimized by the agencies that are supposed to serve them.

Torres has asserted in her suit that she is a “private person.” In libel and slander law, “private persons” have a much easier standard of proof to meet when suing. All libel and slander plaintiffs must prove that the defendant was at fault, that is to say the defendant was legally responsible for the harm they caused.

“Private persons” need only prove that the defendant was negligent in libeling or slandering them. “Public figures,” persons who have pervasive fame or notoriety or who are public officials, must meet a tougher standard of responsibility. A “public figure” must prove that the defendant libeled or slandered them either knowing that what they said was false or making the false statement with the knowledge that it probably was false.

It is difficult to prove actual knowledge of falsity or probable falsity in such cases. In her court filings, Torres said that she was not a public figure, either as a public official or because she is widely known.

In a declaration, which Torres signed on July 15, she states that she did not seek a position on the San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services Oversight Council.

“Exhibit 104 shows that I was appointed by the County to the Homeless Service Oversight Council,” Torres states in her declaration. “I did not campaign for or seek that position, and was required as part of my job to accept the appointment.”

Brennler responded with a declaration filed on Friday that states Torres “controverts” her own words by claiming she did not “campaign or seek” to be a member of HSOC.

“Exhibit A-1 is the publicly available copy of Dee Torres’s three-page application she used to apply for the Homeless Service Oversight Committee,” Brennler states in his filing. “I contend that it shows plaintiff did campaign and seek this public office.”

On December 8, 2012, Torres filed an application with the county for appointment to the Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC). The application is available on the county website as an attachment to a staff report for the January 29 SLO Board of Supervisors meeting in which Torres received her appointment to HSOC.

In the application, Torres stated that, if necessary, she would file a statement of disclosure as a public official.

“Should you be appointed, are you willing, if necessary for that particular body, to file a statement of disclosure as a public official under the standards set forth by the Fair Political Practice Commission,” the application asked.

Torres checked the “Yes” box following the question and was appointed.

A second way Torres runs the risk of being designated as a “public figure” is through fame or notoriety, especially in relation to her involvement with homeless issues.

Also as part of her application, Torres submitted a four-paragraph explanation of her qualifications for the position.

“I believe that my passion, knowledge and direct experience working with this population can provide a voice which is unique and beneficial to the Council,” Torres wrote in requesting the appointment to HSOC.

Torres also contends that she is not a public figure even though she is the media spokesperson for CAPSLO’s homeless services. About eight years ago, Torres ordered homeless services’ staffers to no longer speak with the media. Instead, all questions are to go through Torres.

“Although I do get inquiries from the media a few times a year, I do not have regular and ready access to the media,” Torres writes in her declaration.

However, Torres regularly appears on local news shows, radio stations and is often quoted in newspaper articles. Over the past year and a half, Torres has appeared on or has been quoted in at least 22 stories appearing in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, KCOY and KSBY. She also has appeared a number of times in stories published by CalCoastNews.

Torres’ status as either a “private person” or “public figure” is a matter to be decided by the judge.

Torres faces a significant hurdle in her slander suit later this week. Defense attorney Stew Jenkins filed an anti-SLAPP which will be heard by the judge on Thursday.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. It is the label applied to lawsuits filed against critics or opponents to prevent them from being involved in controversies. California, as well as many other states, have laws that allow the people being sued to go to court to have the SLAPP suit dismissed.

Brennler said at the time that Torres filed her suit, that it was an attempt to stop inquiries into practices being carried out by homeless service providers. In addition to the slander suit against Brennler, CAPSLO threatened to sue more than a dozen persons who provided CalCoastNews with information about wrongdoing at the nonprofit.

On Friday, CalCoastNews reported that Torres’s fiancé, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, has tried to convince a key witness, Ralph Almirol, in the case to change his story about Torres’ use of gift cards donated for homeless.

Almirol also challenged the truthfulness of Torres’ statement in her slander suit.

“Her statement that ‘I have never taken a gift card donated to the CAPSLO (or any of its programs including the shelter) or any gift card intended for a homeless client’ is untrue,” Almirol wrote in his sworn statement.

 


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Cindy

You’re reply is in the wrong place and is confusing – perhaps the moderator will move it for us.


Dee Torres admitted that she had a rule that the homeless couldn’t ride their bicycles on Prado between certain hours and if they were caught, they would be denied services. So CCN did have the story confirmed and didn’t need to look into what Randal had to say, Randal was just the source that lead CCN to the story about the rules that Torres had implemented. Torres herself was the confirmation.


When a news agency interviews a person and the person mentions their profession etc, there is no need to vet the citizens background unless the back ground had something to do with the facts of the story. For instance, if a person claims to be an attorney and comments on a legal issue, then it’s important to confirm that the person is an attorney but when a person say’s I served time in the U.S. service and it has nothing to do with a story, then there is no reason to check. Like I said, CCN said that Randal claimed to be a vet, CCN didn’t say Randal was in fact a vet.


unlisted

Sorry, Cindy. If a person lies about being a veteran and a purple heart recipient, that person’s credibility is totally ruined.


Cindy

His credibility had nothing to do with the story. Torres confirmed that she was denying the homeless their right to ride their bicycles on Prado road under threat of being denied services. THAT WAS THE STORY. If you don’t understand that, then I can’t help you any further, think as you like.


unlisted

No, Cindy, the story is entitled “Local man barred from homeless services.” That local man is Randall Reed – HE IS THE STORY.


The story’s not about the practice of denying services, but was originally about the poor vet with a purple heart being denied services. Neither Dee nor anyone at Prado confirmed that Reed was in fact barred from the center nor did Dee or anyone else confirm that Reed’s bike was too close to the center. That information came exclusively from Reed, a confessed liar. (Or embellisher, if you wish. But we all know that an embellishment is just a euphemism for a lie.)


Yes, Cindy, his credibility DOES matter.


zaphod

the story is about POLICY not personalities, though a person was involved the insignia and initials associated with this person has nothing to do with the CAPSLO policy, capiche? policy and persons are separate things


1inthemiddle

When the author of the story uses the discredited person as the source of an alleged policy and personal impact, then yes, the credibility is the issue.


Word

When the author of the story uses a person as the source of an alleged policy and personal impact, then yes, the credibility is the issue the defenders will use in a attempt to control the issue.


“discredited person ” Who determened this? You?


Stop spinning, it will only make you confused.


From Disneyland

See you’ll Thursday, 8/22/13 at court: Torres vs. Brennler!!!!


MarkJames

9:AM I’ll be there too.


abigchocoholic

9:AM I’ll be there too.

———————-


Not me. I couldn’t care any less.


And I suggest that if you care, you need to get a life.


Word

abigchocoholic says: “Not me. I couldn’t care any less.”


If that was true your comment would not be there.


Prove you don’t care,.


Rambunctious

Why would Bigchoc have to prove anything to anyone…If Bigchoc claims not to care so be it…just sayin


Word

If there was no care there would be no comment and no need to defend said comment.


abigchocoholic

If that was true your comment would not be there.

——————–

I like to read the news. That’s a given. And I like to throw in my 2 cents same as many others.


And IMO this one is seedy. I just can’t imagine why anyone not personally involved in this filth would have any interest, let alone would want to take time out of their day to show up in court to watch. This is junior high level behavior being acted out by mature adults. It’s pathetic any way you look at it.


Cindy

Mike Brennler is a well loved member of our community and cared enough about my city to run for mayor and was liked and respected enough to be elected. He put up with a lot of crap from the nay-sayers of this community and I for one appreciate him and support him. Therefore, I will also be attending the hearing on Thursday morning. ;)


taxpayer

Perhaps the homeless should be attending this courtroom hearing. They certainly have an interest in whether or not the accusations of theft are true or not.


From Disneyland

They will come!!


jrstone

What interest? No, really!!! What interest could we possibly have in this “he said she said” crap?!!! She wasn’t stealing from us. No, she was stealing from all of you if this proves out to be true.


Once you get that, once you stop accepting the notion that once something leaves your hands and is entrusted to others to get it to YOUR intended recipient and it does not, and, that actually constitutes theft from YOU, then maybe you all will take it more seriously!


For the most part whether a houseless or needy individual gets what you donate or not just ain’t relevant. It’s all in the giving, right? “I gave. Not my fault they didn’t get it!” Instead of getting upset and doing something meaningfull most say, “Well, that’s the last time I’m gonna give anything to that orginization!” Which does what? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! No one is held accountable, no one takes it seriously and the only thing that changes is less resources are available for those who need them.


I was just wondering though: If there was any substance to these alligations of theft why wasn’t it turned over to law enforcement? Why? If it was a houseless individual who was suspected of this, local law enforcement would have been involved in a heart beat! You Betcha! But Dee Torres, with her deep “roots” in the political and business community here in SLO, just gets a pass? She isn’t subjected to a real and relevant investigation for the crime of theft, a crime that has, from what I’ve read, numerious first hand witnesses? What’s up with that?


I’ve asked about twenty individuals in and around the shelter and Prado, ones that have utilized services ranging from weeks to years, if they’ve ever seen one of these gift cards you all are speaking of and without exception not one of them has ever seen one. I’ve never seen one. Not that I’ve asked for one, or one has been offered, I just haven’t seen one, in anyones hand!


This has become the SLO “Peyton Place” being played out in the media, a “Peyton Place” that the houseless have no voice in.


So, go figure out for yourselves who it is that’s stealing from you as the houseless DO NOT have a meaningful, relevant voice in this community, period. It is not Mr. Hill, it defenitaly is not Dee Torres, it is not CAPSLO, and for the most part the community is a non factor because of the apathetic loudness of some that drowns out those of you who do care.


One suggestion; if you have a gift card to give? Pick a houseless or needy individual out and hand it directly to them. No middle man to bungle things up, right?


karma2come

We all have an interest in if the accusations are true! Especially those of us who have donated! My donations were never intended for any one except people who were homeless! When you trust an organization and drop off movie passes to Prado that are intended to go to families for relaxation and getting out of the rain, cold, or heat, YES, it infuriates me to think a saff member took their kids out on my money!!!!!


ShootTheMessenger

Bigchocoholic…. If you could care less then STFUP… What this county needs is less apathy and more action!


MaryMalone

ITA.


In addition, for the claims that the controversy over Torres pilfering gift cards meant for CAPSLO’s homeless clients is “sordid,” and not really stealing from the homeless…that is also a strange way to look at theft and fraud from homeless-services funding.


I know, at least for the time being, many homeless have to stay on Torres’ good side to ensure they have a place to sleep at night, but to claim theft and fraud is not harming the homeless? That is going waaaay beyond reason.


GalaxyTraveler

Hmm. So we have sworn statements from both sides. If you automatically accept that the Almirol and Brennler statements are the “whole truth”, then you are clearly biased. They have an axe to grind in this matter and are not impartial observers.


And I still want to know why Brennler spent so much time on all this and was feeding CCN with information. All for free? I don’t believe that.


Word

GalaxyTraveler

“then you are clearly biased”

“They have an axe to grind in this matter and are not impartial observers. ”


Talking about yourself again.

Go away Troll


MaryMalone

Torres claim that she is not a public person is not correct. Her own behaviors and claims prove it to be not correct. It isn’t a case of “he-said/she-said.”


MaryMalone

Say, about the gift-card theft….did Brennler ever get ahold of any interesting CCTV footage?


karma2come

Could it be because he cares and because he has the knowledge and ability to do the foot work? Just because you wouldn’t take the time to seek the truth doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t!!!!


Cindy

Dee Torres is clearly a public figure. She regularly shows up at BOS and CC meetings as the manager and spokes person of the homeless shelter. I even saw a live video where Hill and Torres discouraged public comment stating that the homeless situation was too complicated for the public to understand and Hill held out Torres as the expert.


As for the slapp suit, I have no doubt that Torres filed it simply as a means of public denial that she could ask the Tribune to print. Roy Ogden is a smart attorney and he is a good guy in my opinion as I’ve had experience with him. He simply filed the suit as he was asked to do although I have no doubt that he informed Torres that it wouldn’t stand up, in my opinion. Torres can’t prevail and the truth will be exposed if this suit goes to court and she is counting on the suit being dismissed, a trial is the last thing that she wants. This is nothing but a media ploy on her part and CAPSLO’s.


MarkJames

Yeah blah blah blah and when the case is dismissed and she has to pay Stews attorney fees on behalf of Brennler, it’s CAPSLO that will pay the fees for Dee. What do you want to bet that public funding will pay for this stunt? I’m already spitting bullets and plan to make sure that Torres pays the fees herself or there will be a public media blitz that will rival CAPSLO’s worst nightmare.


See you all at the trial on Thursday. I’ve had it with these dirt bags.


From Disneyland

I’m with you MarkJames, there will be picking in front of (EOC)-(CAPSLO) for her departure!!!!


MaryMalone

I think Torres also filed the SLAPP lawsuit because she wanted more time to destroy evidence.


1inthemiddle

Strange article. The headline suggests one thing but instead it’s an article about whether she fits one vstandardv or another for slander. The truth of the statements by the PI or Ex nor the motivation behind them is even presented as an issue. The only question is if she has the right to fight back against the possible slanderous attack based on her public or private standing as a citizen.

I am repeatedly concerned about CCNs position that it is ok to present anything it chooses in an effort to further the agenda for the day without any true vetting, fact checking, or regard for accuracy. Perhaps because I keep thinking this is intended as a journalistic site and not something less respectable.


Cindy

There has been ‘true vetting’ on this series. Many people interviewed with CCN before they decided to print this series and Torres did steal those gift cards in my opinion. CCN often works on investigations for years before they decide that they have enough proof to go to print. The fact is that if they aren’t convinced, they don’t print it. They have been in the media business since early 2007 and apart from very small details that didn’t effect the truth behind a story, they have never been wrong. That hasn’t happened by accident.


1inthemiddle

Well I have seen many instances of hearsay, innuendo, and distortions presented as fact in CCN articles. CCN being convinced that something is worth printing based on their own values and motivations does not equate to generally accepted practices of fact checking.


kayaknut

You have, your proof is??????? At least you would be an expert on hearsay then.


Word

Well I have seen many instances of hearsay, innuendo, and distortions presented as fact in your comments 1inthemiddle.


You get to have your own opinion, not your own facts. Can you tell the differance?


unlisted

One example of CalCoastNews’ excellent investigative reporting and vetting, is two articles on poor homeless veteran Randal Reed. CalCoastNews claimed he was a Navy Seal who had been awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart.


It was all a lie, but they printed it twice without checking it out. Reed isn’t even a veteran.


BTW the stories that lied about Reed were part of the ongoing vendetta against CAPSOL and Torres.


Cindy

This example is one of the ONLY examples that has ever been made a big deal about by CAPSLO proponents however it is the exact example that I was thinking of when I mentioned that small errors that have never played a role in the TRUTH behind a story.


It didn’t matter if Randal was a vet or not. That story had nothing to do with vets, it was about the treatment of the homeless by Dee Torres and her rules that violate the very rights of the homeless, rights that are afforded all citizens.


Also, CCN did not say that Randal was a vet, they said that Randal said he was a vet. There was no need to vet his past, the story had nothing to do with his past but rather it had to do with his having a right to ride his bicycle on Prado road just like any other citizen has a right to do. If that’s the best you have, then you’re batting zip, zero, 0


1inthemiddle

Well you are right that is an easy one but a fine example. It is not something like the eco solutions lawsuit or the Torres slander suit that needs the court to resolve. The case with the navy seal claim is easily verifiable. In fact it would be the most fundamental story verifications to make sure the person you are building a story around is who he claims to be.. So now we are expected to say “oh that’s one one small error” but this guy for sure is not lying about anything else and even though CCN dropped the ball on this simplest of fact checking they have certainly rigorously verified all the other comments of the story and the ongoing vendetta. This is why no other news organization pic

Is up there stuff,


Word

So you are the guy spouting all that on the internet? Vendetta indeed.


What a hatefull troll.


Also :CORRECTION: Randall Reed said he was not a veteran or a recipient of several medals. He apologized for trying to embellish his past and asked that the story be corrected.


unlisted

So, apologizing after getting caught in a lie makes it all better? Just like it never happened, right?


Then I guess Adam never spoofed Waage because he apologized???


Word

I never said, it never happened or made it all better.


Now you’re just making stuff up.


OnTheOtherHand

Another example is the implication that CAPSLO is primarily or exclusively about the Homeless Programs. And the use of the $60M+ annual budget in a way that implied it was all available for Homeless Services when no more than 5% of it is. Months later, some people posting here still seem to accept that “reporting” as accurate.


This doesn’t mean the claims CCN made about specific issues are wrong (or right), but it does go to point out a tendency towards sensationalism which makes some of us wonder if they were being deceptive on other matters too.


SLOBIRD

“The only question I think is do we want someone who so easily lies under penalty of perjury running a publically funded non-profit.” Good lord, most non-profits with government ties would fold if they were honest and trustful about their operations. The democrats are still funding ACORN and Ottoman Empire although they no longer exist nd have not for several years. These government non-profits are so full of corruption with taxpayer money that we could solve our national debt if we dumped them all.


Slowerfaster

Ottoman Empire ?


My, the paranoid, conspiratorial, reactionary mind is truly a wonder !

This could make for a very compelling case study.


Word

SLOBIRD says: “The democrats are still funding ACORN ”


No, not true, and besides they no longer exist so can’t be funded.


What if we told you people will lie to get there way?


Word

1inthemiddle says: “I am repeatedly concerned about CCNs position ”


No you are not, you are here to cast aspersions.

Another Troll in the flesh.


MaryMalone

The nice thing about trolls is that they clearly broadcast what the opposing side is currently afraid of being more widely known.


MaryMalone

QUOTING 1INTHEMIDDLE: “CCNs position that it is ok to present anything it chooses in an effort to further the agenda for the day without any true vetting, fact checking, or regard for accuracy.”


Your statements of “CCN’s position” are unfounded, as are your statements about a lack of “true vetting,” etc.


Perhaps you would like to comment on the topic of the article?


OnTheOtherHand

Other issues aside, you need to get your facts straight if you want informed people to view you credibly when you comment. CAPSLO has an annual budget of over $60M per year but at most 5% of that goes to the Homeless Programs which Torres oversees. The most of the rest is for the vastly larger HeadStart programs they run. Torres does not run CAPSLO. Also, Adam HIll is no longer on the CAPSLO Board of Directors. The current BoS rep there is Debbie Arnold.


BeenThereDoneThat

Really Dee??? You are the spokesperson but NO, NO, NO, I’m not a public figure. PLEASE. You are taking Gov. money, in large quantities might I add, so as far as I’m concerned YOU ARE a public person.


He is not slandering you about you private life, he is talking about a PUBLIC type job you have, that we the people you are taking money from, have the right to know.


ironyman2000

This woman is so completely messed-up it’s difficult to come up with an adequate pithy comment.


Scarlet

And it’s not just the fact that she’s messed up her own life. She is hurting so many members of our community who are down and out. I still do not understand why her board of directors tolerates this lying and thievery. Are they in on this too? Do they truly believe that she has done no harm? Even if 1/4 of the allegations are true, she should serve time.


MaryMalone

Perhaps they tolerate it because they are complicit in it? I can’t think of another reason why they would keep such a trashy loser and unfit administrator as coordinator of homeless services.


From Disneyland

Legend in her own mind!!!!


MaryMalone

LOL. I hate it when that happens.


Mr. Holly

HSOC’s inital chair was held by who else, yes it is, Adam Hill. Now I wonder if anyone is still wondering what the connection might be there. Is it public or private or both.

Like CAPSLO the Homeless Services Oversight Committee is dysfunctional. CalCoastNews should check into the amount of money that has been directed towards this committee and try to figure out what they have done-nothing to date.


Reality Check

The HSOC’s lack of progress since its 2008 goal of ending homelessness confirms Mr. Holly’s comment. The report was item 16 on last week’s Board of Supervisors agenda. No real progress. Most funds NOT going toward helping the homeless. (Anyone surprised????)


Another confirmation of my opinion that CAPSLO is so poorly managed as to be useless and needs to have all the County’s funding to it rescinded.


MaryMalone

It’s not just that CAPSLO is so poorly managed as to be useless. With Torres as the coordinator, homeless services as currently administered are actually harmful to the homeless clients they are supposed to be serving.


Homer

You guys are realllllllly reaching. Let’s see, I apply for a job and list my qualifications and why I think I should be hired. All of a sudden, I’m campaigning. Wow.


1inthemiddle

Well then I will take a shot. “dozens”? I don’t think so.. The accusations are not even perceived as news worthy by most.

Homer is right, it is another case of taking a basic form and repackaging the information to fit the CCN narrative.

So it is reasonable for tabloid journalism to question the itegrityb of an individual but it is not ok to question the conduct and quality of the tabloid. Take off the blinders.

Also, it is now perfectly acceptable to hire a PI who apparently used questionable tactics at best and possibly slanderous, I have no idea. But the harassed people are the ones who initiated the behavior. An odd perspective to be sure.


Word

1inthemiddle says: “Also, it is now perfectly acceptable to hire a PI who apparently used questionable tactics at best and possibly slanderous, I have no idea. But the harassed people are the ones who initiated the behavior. An odd perspective to be sure.”


1inthemiddle says: “I have no idea” This is correct, please stop repeating the talking points email that went out.


Now you are just flailing about, beclouding the issue.


1inthemiddle

Word, you are way more inside on this stuff than I am. I have no knowledge of any “talking point” email. Is this an attempt to sideline my comments as part of a larger imagined conspiracy? It certain seems out of place with no basis in truth.


Sorry if I was unclear. “I don’t know” was referring to what degree the PI crossed the line, if at all. That will be for a court to decide.


The point was that based on the court filing, Torres is the victim, and the PI the harasser. The poster I was responding to presented the PI as being harassed. I was noting the inconsistent double standard.


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