Monday, April 21, 2008

Calm Shattered in Santa Clara

Santa Clara, CA - This quiet community has joined the ever growing list of cities in, not just the nation, but the world, plagued by seemingly random acts of violence, known as drive-by's. Although all the facts aren't available, what is known is rival groups have attacked and counter-attacked each other with so far, one fatality.

Drive-By Webbings
Drive-by Webbings are the latest example of the potential violence of the internet. Post a blog and feel free to say anything about anyone you want with no practically little to no accountability. While most web postings can be downright funny - such as the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. PROJECT (, others can incite nonsensical responses.

The First Shot
This series of Drive-By Webbings started when a group dedicated to keeping Dominic Caserta from winning in his bid for the Assembly posted a website, "". I'll skip repeating here what they've said - you can read it on your own at your leisure.

Taking even a brief gander at the site, it's obvious the folks behind it are pretty steamed about Caserta's record during the previous election cycle concerning the BAREC property (

The Response
The Caserta camp appears to have tried to distance themselves by not actually responding themselves, but instead leaving that to Caserta's Campaign Consultant, James Rowen. As of today, Rowen has received $1,850 for his services.

Their Money's Worth?
Rowen would never be described as a slouch. To date, Rowen has produced fourteen (14) posts on his blog, with "NotCaserta" (more or less as the subject). More or less because at least two (2) of the posts have Caserta's name spelled incorrectly - as "Casera" or "Casrrta".

Sleeping Dogs
Maybe it'd have been best to let a sleeping dog lie. It's difficult to say how much publicity the website was getting before - after all, I didn't know about it - but now, it's getting a lot more attention. Not because there are any fascinating, stellar, must-read arguments there, but because Mr. Rowen did his job as Campaign Consultant, perhaps a little too well. Already steamed with Caserta's history, the NotCaserta folks became even more rankled when the first website they ran, "" was shutdown through Mr. Rowen's actions.

Freedom of Speech Issue?
The camp claims their rights to Freedom of Speech were trampled directly by Rowen and indirectly by Caserta who hired him in the first place.

There's really two issues here. Freedom of Speech and Legal Intimidation.

First, the Freedom of Speech issue. I ran the facts past a few lawyers along with the questions, "Is it a violation of their 1st Amendment rights to have their website - that they're paying for - closed by threatening emails?" The lawyer's response, "Quick answer, no. The First Amendment restricts only governental actions ('Congress shall make no law . . . ') That's why private businesses like shopping malls can bar protests [and] rallies on their property."

So, the claim of having their First Amendment Rights violated doesn't seem to hold much water.

Second, the threats of legal action. Rowen has several posts on his blog - - along with what's available on - that show the arguments made. From, we have two (2) parts of emails from Rowen - "Dominic - It is a federal crime... I am advising the authorities in the USA." and "....Get a lawyer..... Who are the people that registered this website with you."

Both pretty impressive looking emails, but both pretty laughable. Unfortunately, the website was shutdown because the web hosting company was intimidated - at least that's what says.

Racheting It Up
Having had their first website shut down, the people behind the NotCaserta effort opened a new website hosted by a different company and was born. Not having seen the content of, I can only conjecture that the content was much the same, minus of course, the news about the first website being shutdown.

I can also assume similar threats have either been made or will be made, but presumably, the new hosting company either has not or will not be intimidated - unless I assume, they're accompanied by "I've got a Court Order" - something I doubt will happen.

Up next: Strange Bedfellows, Love/Hate Relationships and Endorsements.


  1. "One would think that these types of personal comments etc would allow for a site like that to be shut down too."

    There's just a small problem with the First Amendment. Even if it were pursued as libel, that would give the site even higher visibility.

    how is it the Santa Clara Weekly doesn't write reports on these two??
    The Weekly's resources are finite and investigative reporting is very time- and effort-intensive. So the paper tries to stay focused on Santa Clara stories and issues that won't be covered by the Mercury -- for example, the details about the proposed downtown redevelopment project.

    The mission of a community paper is arguably different from those of regional dailies like the Mercury or "muckraking" papers like the Bay Guardian.

    I would argue that one job of a community paper is laying a foundation for intelligent citizen participation in local governance. For example, you can't ferret out wasteful spending without first understanding how the city's budget is developed, what the expenses are and how they're budgeted for, etc -- at least, not if you don't want to look like a fool.

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