GilbertSchools.Info website tech support and site manager Shane Stapley recently received a legal complaint regarding a past article posted on the site. The article: “Did the 2007 Voter Approved Override Buy what GPS Promised?” was the substance of the complaint issued by Barb VeNard’s (GPS Assistant-Superintendent) legal representatives. The complaint claims that the article contains false and defamatory information with a “cease and desist” demand. Click: VeNard-SLAPP to see the complaint letter received from Mrs. VeNard’s attorney.
So what about the article that caused all the Hub-Bub?? Every reader that reads “Did the 2007 Voter Approved Override Buy what GPS Promised?” will realize that it consists primarily of content found in several other articles and ties together several pieces into a more complete picture like that of a jigsaw puzzle. The article’s author takes references from several of those done by The Arizona Republic. GPS officials allegedly sought to have the original articles retracted by The AZ Republic, but the Republic refused. “Did the 2007 Voter Approved Override Buy what GPS Promised?” brings to readers a laser-like focus the shenannigans of district officials and is so titled for that reason.
As for Mrs. VeNard’s SLAPP to Mr. Stapley? A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. (more info)
The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat. The difficulty, of course, is that plaintiffs do not present themselves to the Court admitting that their intent is to censor, intimidate or silence their critics.
There have been several people blogging about a variety of topics related to Gilbert Public Schools. Most noteably may be the upcoming override on the heels of a 30% increase in property taxes authorized by majority vote of the current school board this year (not to take affect ’til next year). It is not uncommon for a wealthy individual or entity with deep pockets and legal resources to threaten a citizen with libel or slander in an attempt to censure their free speech and many people who do not know the laws or their rights could easily be deterred by such threats. We believe such frivilous threats are an abomination of the United States Constitution and stand in direct opposition to everything our great Nation and government should stand for; freedom, democracy, right to petition, free speech, and with reference to this specific situation TRANSPARENCY and DISCLOSURE.
Arizona has enacted anti-SLAPP legislation, that can be used to immediately dismiss these frivilous complaints and fine the complainant for your time, attorney fees and possibly punitative damages. Do not be deterred by abusive or frivilous claims no matter how wealthy or large the legal resources of a complainant appear to be. Many citizens have been able to successfully overcome these lawsuits.
Inspiring examples of citizens who have overcome these tactics: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/03/billionaires-bogus-legal-threats-against-bloggers-threaten-free-speech and http://www.rcfp.org/slapp-stick-fighting-frivolous-lawsuits-against-journalists/slapped-bloggers-push-reform-maryland
GilbertSchool.Info supporters will NOT be bullied, intimidated, coerced, or censored by Barb VeNard or any other district administrators who may have used these tactics in the past. A few GS.Info article authors have wished to remain anonymous due to the very tactics disclosed herein in addition to other nefarious devices. Stay tuned… more to come on how abusive bureacracies such as GPS district administration will stop at nothing to get their way…
What has this got to do with anything??? In what will likely become several articles featured on this site, we hope to reveal to readers some startling facts for consideration and let you be the judge. You can subscribe to the RSS Feed via the link on the website for regular updates and new article alerts.