CalCoastNews turns to GoFundMe for legal defense fund

July 14, 2016

GoFundMeAs some of our loyal readers know, CalCoastNews and its founders have been fighting a lawsuit since publication of a 2012 article about a San Luis Obispo County public agency, the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) and one of its contractors.

It is the fight of our life.

CalCoastNews has been fortunate to this point during this drawn-out lawsuit to be represented by a group of concerned and dedicated attorneys working either pro bono or for pocket money.

The lengthy litigation has now entered the discovery stage, however, and CalCoastNews needs to take testimony from a number of people — seven to 10 — whose testimony is vital to our defense. Their testimony will take the form of depositions, sworn testimony before trial that the parties use to help determine the facts in the case.

Depositions cost money. They require the services of court reporters. The record of the testimony in the deposition also has to be paid for before we can get a copy.

To that end, we are seeking to raise $25,000 for CalCoastNews’ deposition expenses through the fundraising site GoFundMe, in order to successfully combat what appears to be a lawsuit that is driven by politics.

IWMA’s board chairman is county supervisor Adam Hill. Hill has boasted in writing that he is pushing the lawsuit against CalCoastNews in an undisguised effort to destroy the eight-year-old online news agency.

As part of that effort, the supervisor has repeatedly harassed and threatened CalCoastNews’ advertisers, which has impacted the news site’s revenues as well as its ability to provide important community news often ignored by other local media.

Adam Hill, photo by Daniel Blackburn

Adam Hill, photo by Daniel Blackburn

CalCoastNews’ value to the Central California region has been demonstrated in numerous instances:

CalCoastNews unveiled the criminal activities of former “Citizen of the Year” Kelly Gearhart, the once publicly lauded developer who swindled millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors before being unmasked by a series of CalCoastNews articles. Gearhart now is serving a 14-year federal prison sentence.

An associate of Gearhart’s, James Miller of Hurst Financial, also fell in the midst of CalCoastNews’ investigations, and was sentenced to a seven-year federal prison term.

Another subject of a CalCoastNews exclusive series, Karen Guth and her son Joshua Yaguda both spent time in state prison after CalCoastNews exposed their financial misdeeds. Again, only CalCoastNews reported on the mother-son team’s fleecing of trusting investors  – – until after their eventual arrest in October 2008, when other local media discovered the story.

And CalCoastNews was the first to report — in 2013 — on the arrival in San Luis Obispo County of Beverly Hills billionaire businessman Stewart Resnick, his checkbook, his huge above-ground reservoirs, his deep straws into the water basin, and his frenzied clear-cutting and planting of thousands of acres of new vineyards.

Our coverage of a scandal in the Five Cities helped generate attention and help a write-in candidate win a seat on city council, a thing unprecedented on the Central Coast.

We have covered the stories that no one else in the county is willing or able to cover. If we don’t win this lawsuit, San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast will be left with local news sources that do more to maintain the status quo — rather than doing the job of looking out for the public by being a watchdog for government and businesses.

Our attorneys are Berndt Ingo Brauer of San Jose, and local attorneys James Duenow and David S. Vogel.

We need your help to defend against this lawsuit. Please share the link to our GoFundMe page on Facebook.

Please note, your contribution can remain private.