Claremont Insider: Ready, Fire, Aim: Transcript of Claremont City Attorney Remarks

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ready, Fire, Aim: Transcript of Claremont City Attorney Remarks

We notice that the article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin originally reporting the Claremont City Attorney's "my bad" now contains a transcript of her remarks. We urge you to follow this link to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin site and read them there in full, in context, and standing alone.

The transcript of her statement follows, with our inevitable comments in red:

I would like to add a few comments of my own, and respond to the editorial that appeared in the Daily Bulletin today.

I know it has been alleged that I used my position as city attorney to exercise prior restraint against the Claremont [Insider] blog and those that host it, administer it, and use it to express their point of view.

I want you to know, mayor and City Council members, as my employer and as the person you hold and trust to advise you on legal issues, it was never my intent to pursue legal action to permanently take the blog and its content entirely off-line.

My intent was to make sure that the city carried out its duty to its employees to protect their privacy information. The letter I sent to Google was a very quick reaction to a very serious problem that I was informed of at about noon or 12:30 that Friday [September 7, 2006].

I responded with the information I had at hand that day. I was hundreds of miles away from City Hall and from my office [in Sacramento, at a League of Cities conference attended also by most of the city council], and the information I had at that time was that there was a serious and extensive breach of employee privacy, and as posted on the blog itself, all other sorts of official city business [All sorts of official city business? We could only hope...]. The post suggested that further information would be posted upon request of people who were reading the blog.

At that time I had absolutely no idea what might appear next on the blog. I knew, based on reading that blog, [Oh, so she read it. She knew there was nothing private posted, nor social security numbers, nor anything else from her little shop of private horrors.] that perhaps the information had been placed in a trash can outside of City Hall. I didn't know the extent as to how that information got there. But I had to react and protect the city's interest in terms of protecting the employee privacy issues immediately, without the benefit of an extra few days.

Seriously, I did not know whether social security numbers, direct bank deposit account information, home addresses and phone numbers, were also out - were placed in those trash cans or were somehow available through our portal on the Web site [So, to cut to the chase, she was demanding prior restraint with respect to other pieces of information that had not been posted, that she imagined might be in our hands, but that she had no rational basis for believing anyone even had.] And therefore, I sent the letter demanding that Google honor its own privacy policies, which state that Google reserves the right to remove a post or the entire blog.

It was sort of in the spirit of Google's own privacy policies that I parroted their information. [Yeah, City Attorneys do a lot of parroting, usually in incomprehensible legalese, usually to intimidate.] And you know what, 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.

I can see how the very thought of using government resources to silent those who wish to comment on their government absolutely would not be tolerated in this community, the city of Claremont, that I've worked with and worked for for over 15 years now. [ we here at BBK are going to write off this month's bill to the City.]

I want you to be assured that it was not my intent to interfere with the First Amendment rights of the bloggers. It was my intent to see whether Google would honor its privacy policies in the event that further breaches of employee privacy occurred. Google acted in accord with its blog-hosting policies, and I'm confident that they'll do that again, and that's the reason I've not taken any further action.

I've given a lot of thought on a personal and professional level as to whether you respond to information that's placed on the blog, or how do you respond to a newspaper like the Daily Bulletin when they accuse you of doing something improper, and accuse your client of doing something like violating the Brown Act.

You know, I have to tell you that I have a very deep respect for the First Amendment, and I wasn't going to say this tonight, but I think in the spirit of Corey, council member Calaycay, I'm going to say this. Like all of you, I've taken an oath to uphold the United States and California constitutions. As a member of the state bar I take that oath very seriously.

And you know what, I've been personally attacked by the blogs, and I have to admit to you it doesn't feel good. And if the aim of those bloggers were to make me suffer personal pain, then they've succeeded [Not our intent. Ms Carvalho, as City Attorney, not as a private person, has a tremendous amount of power, power that she chooses when and how to wield.]. But what they won't succeed at doing is making me give you, the city of Claremont, any less effort in being your city attorney and serving the interests of the city of Claremont.

Kudos to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and to reporter Will Bigham for their detailed and comprehensive work on this story. It was reporter Bigham who got the copies of Carvalho's letter to Google, and who, we presume, caused the transcript quoted above to be made.