Claremont Insider: Claremont English (or The Ol' Misdirection)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Claremont English (or The Ol' Misdirection)

The Daily Bulletin reports today that at Tuesday night's Claremont City Council meeting Claremont City Attorney Sonia Carvalho clarified the intent of her September 7th letter to Google in which she insisted that Google "...terminate the hosting service for this blog [The Claremont Insider]..."

In her letter, Carvalho went on to demand:

If the blog is not taken off line by 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time today [September 7, 2007] we will seek an injunction in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, September 10, 2007 to compel the removal of the confidential personnel information from the blog and any other website hosted or controlled by Google.
Seems pretty clear, no? Terminate, take off line, doesn't that sound like Carvalho ordering Google to kill the Insider?

Here's the letter itself for you to see:

Click on Image to Enlarge

Apparently, though, you and we were wrong about what we read. Claremont English turns out to be a different language from standard American English. The two sound similar, but have entirely different meanings, with the primary difference being that Claremont English means whatever the speaker wants it to mean (up is down, left is right, white is black).

In American English, saying something that is not true is called lying. In Claremont English, it is called "clarification."

Today's Bulletin article by Will Bigham reports that at Tuesday's City Council meeting Carvalho "delivered an emotional statement":

"I have to tell you in hindsight I can see how the structure of the letter, the raised statement in the letter, and the demand itself might appear offensive to those who abhor the idea of prior restraint," Carvalho said.

The intent of the letter was not to demand that the blog be shut down completely, Carvalho said, but that Google "honor its privacy policies in the event that further breaches of employee privacy occurred."
According to the article, Carvalho now says that at the time she wrote the letter, she had "incomplete information on what the blog possessed."


Then shouldn't the first act of a responsible, competent attorney be to gather as many facts as possible before placing false accusations and false claims in a letter? How hard is it to send an email to the Insider's email address asking for the source of the information? To date, no one from the city, including Carvalho, has contacted us.

Carvalho's actions betray a trait all too common among Claremont's representatives: a troubling tendency to stand up a city meetings and deliver incomplete, incorrect, or even false information with the voice of authority. Because these confident, smiling figures (Sonia Carvalho, City Manager Jeff Parker, City Human Services Director Jeff Porter, other senior staff, as well as our esteemed Councilmembers) deliver these dubious statements with such certitude, they are accepted as fact.

This happens at every City Council meeting on virtually any topic. To prove our point, we will review Tuesday's meeting after it is broadcast on cable TV next Monday and will provide some clips to back up our claims.

The Insider hereby proposes a $100 fine for every fib a councilmember or a city staffer tells at a public meeting. The money can be put back into the city's General Fund. We just might have found a way to pay for that $12 million Padua Park!

Stay tuned.

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Will Bigham's article also noted that Citizen Michael Keenan got up at public comment and used his four minutes to read employee names and salaries into the record. You go, Michael!

According to Bigham, Active Claremont president Dean McHenry also got up and said, "I think that's the first time since this city was founded 100 years ago that you've gone to the extent of demanding the shutdown of a news source."

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We'll be back tomorrow with a trip to the mailbag. A couple readers have chimed in with thoughts about the Claremont school board race.

Real letters! Real English!