CCN set to battle pernicious lawsuit

October 25, 2016

silenceBy CalCoastNews staff

CalCoastNews is preparing to defend itself against a claim of libel in a trial now set for next month in a San Luis Obispo County courtroom. A Northern California journalist predicts the outcome “may determine the fate of CalCoastNews’ eight-year-long experiment to offer local news coverage amid a trend of shrinking news staff among traditional media outlets.”

Veteran investigative journalist and former UCLA and Cornell faculty member Lewis Perdue wrote last month on CCN’s GoFundMe site that “after reviewing CCN’s articles and other documents, including many from the court case, this libel action appears to be designed to silence CCN.”

CalCoastNews has raised nearly half of a $25,000 goal for legal cost assistance through a GoFundMe appeal. Now, CalCoastNews needs help to pay for witness fees and other discovery expenses.

The lawsuit has been brought by Charles K. Tenborg, whose company, Eco Solutions, contracted with the county’s Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) to oversee the local household hazardous waste facilities.

In 2012, CalCoastNews published an article focusing on the alleged illegal transportation of hazardous waste by Tenborg’s company. The article was the first in a planned series; further reporting was silenced by the lawsuit.

The article was based, in part, on interviews with state investigators and employees at both the Cold Canyon landfill, and at the county’s household hazardous waste facility.

Problems were reported on state registrations, transporters driver’s licenses, and Eco Solutions transportation of PG&E transformer vault waste and other waste from other producers. Those wastes were transported in unlabeled barrels, then dumped over a hillside in an area of seasonal storm runoff, several sources said.

Aaron Wynn, a worker for Tenborg, said he had concerns for the health and welfare of those living near the IWMA facility because of the dumping of waste in fields, rather than at the dump or at a hazardous waste facility. Wynn later videotaped and then reported the dumping of PG&E transformer vault debris to the operator of the Cold Canyon Landfill.

Tenborg was then ordered to remediate the PG&E waste. Transformer vault waste must be tested and then either transported to a hazardous waste facility, or to a specially-lined portion of a landfill, according to a Regional Water Quality Control Board staffer.

Following is one of multiple videos Wynn shot while working at the IWMA’s household hazardous waste facility. This video was posted on YouTube shortly after Wynn died from a gun shot wound, determined to be a suicide.

Tenborg claims the CalCoastNews article damaged his reputation. However, following the article, Tenborg sold his client list, including his contracts with the IWMA and PG&E, and his company’s goodwill, for $1.3 million.

With a vigorous defense, it is likely CalCoastNews will prevail in this case.

IWMA’s former board president and SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill and several online commenters who he promotes have repeatedly harassed and threatened CalCoastNews’ advertisers, which has impacted the news site’s ability to fight the lawsuit in what appears to be an undisguised effort to destroy the eight-year-old online news agency.

After CCN launched its GoFundMe drive earlier this year, Hill and several of the online posters he promotes asked people not to donate to the effort. One of those posters, Bill Leys, donated $5 to the CCN legal defense fund, thereby allowing him to post his comment, reprinted here verbatim:

“I put in five (dollars) since that’s the minimum amount,” Leys wrote. “Definitely worth it for this chance! Here’s my 2 cents (which is all I wanted to chip in.) Put your daughter to work on BackPage. That should bring in $50 a night from ten Mexicans. Beg for forgiveness or just suck his dick… . If all else fails, shoot yourself and use the insurance money.”


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Otis

A serious and profound threat in the legal system in the United States where a wealthy suitor can use pernicious lawsuits to overwhelm a financially deprived innocent party.


Readers certainly understand the value and importance of CCN’s outstanding journalistic contribution in its pursuit of the facts and the truth regarding issues that violate the public trust.


The irony of the CCN business model is the freedom of its pursuit of facts and the truth are not sustained by its small revenue base. For its readers obtain its services and may comment on matters free.


With exception of closely edited letters policies, one must be subscribers to most major news papers such as the LA Times, Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. But even in those august news papers the local isolation of issues are not addressed. Nor are they addressed by the local media in SLO County by the Tribune or New Times, They are via the Internet interactively at CCN!


For this reason I join the appeal for donations – for if this voice is silenced – because of the financially inequality — it will be a deep tragedy legally contradicting the Constitutional provision for free speech.


Please consider a donation and additional ones if you have contributed in the past.


rickholliday

My name is Rick Holliday and I support CalCoastNews and ask that all of my friends and family give a donation to support FREE SPEACH and REAL NEWS!


San Luis Obispo County is plagued with corruption of our elected and hired officials and it’s time for some MIDDLE CLASS REPAIR around here!


I personally know what it is like to have “city officials” selectively enforce the laws, make false arrests, lie on affidavits and so much more!


CalCosatNews did a fantastic job exposing the city of Morro Bay’s corrupt code enforcement and the illegal actions of the Morro Bay police department against myself and then business partner, Jim Davis.


I am currently suing the City of Atascadero for crimes committed by police commander Joe Allen IV and city officials Dave Muehlhausen, Alfredo Castillo, Tom Peterson and city manager, Rachelle Rickard. Please visit my YouTube channel at; http://www.youtube.com/atascaderocorruption


If you have any evidence against the city of Atascadero, Atascadero police department or Atascadero city officials or know of someone who does? Please email;

ricker22@sbcglobal.net.


FIGHT BACK AGAINST CORRUPTION! FIGHT BACK AGAINST CORRUPTION!


SUPPORT REAL NEWS! SUPPORT REAL NEWS! SUPPORT REAL NEWS!


Citizen

Bill Leys sounds like an ex-con. This is the way a lot of the convicts talk in prison.


jonhartz

The ugly (physically and mentally) Bill Leys is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WMLeys and Twitter at https://twitter.com/DecoConcreteXpt. Visit him and say hello.


Noodly Appendages

Fork over some dough to the Gofundme site regular readers. If this site is silenced we will effectively lose our voice and have only a puppet media circus left in the area. I’m in for a Franklin!


Scarlet

What are you saying here: “dumped over a hillside in an area of seasonal storm runoff”?


Isn’t vault waste considered hazardous???? Are people living nearby these hillside dumpsites? Are wells located nearby?


CCN: please tell me the proper authorities have been notified and are responding.


OldNed

Defamation suits against media sources rarely reach the trial phase if they have absolutely no merit.


kettle

Depends on the lawyers and quality of representation.


OldNed

And don’t CCN and Velie have top-notch attorneys? I believe James Duenow, David Vogel, and Ingo Brauer are all on the defense team or at least have been. Tenborg’s case survived an early special motion to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). In other words, the court determined that CCN did not meet its burden of establishing that the lawsuit was intended to silence CCN in its efforts to report on a matter of public importance. CCN appealed that ruling to the court of appeal and it was upheld. A case without merit against the press is generally bounced early on an anti-SLAPP motion if the case lacks merit. Do you have any concerns about the lawyers or quality of representation provided CCN in this case or is this just a general statement of the obvious?


what the

Bill Leys is a mere minion of Adam Hill.


isoslo

Bill Leys, what a slime ball POS


shishkabob141

Bill Leys…now there’s a class act.


kettle

Perhaps replace “class” with “misogynistic” and you will have something.


Perhaps it’s the fumes.


Josey Wales

Folks,


Good luck to Karen as she fights this nonsense.


Please give generously and let’s keep a free and vibrant press as a check and balance on our local politicians.


This is just another reason why Adam Hill & Co. must go!


On election Day, November 8th, Do NOT vote Adam Hill, Caren Ray, or Kristien Barneich.


Thanks everyone,


Josey