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St. Augustine Internet War - Gold, Slavin and Shoar
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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 12:40 pm    Post subject: St. Augustine Internet War - Gold, Slavin and Shoar  Reply with quote

Blog Wars - The Sad State of New Media in the Nation's Oldest City

Plenty of battles have taken place in the nation's oldest city, and a new one has erupted. This time its not on the streets but on the Internet.

Filling a void

St. Augustine is served by one major daily paper, The St. Augustine Record. On any given day, pull up the Record's website and look at any story, it won't be long before you come across comments attacking the papers reporting. It not a problem unique to The Record, all newspapers have critics and fans - but in the nation's oldest city - the critics are often more outspoken than the fans.

Feeling underserved by the citys' only major source of news, many have taken to the internet to present their own version of the news in the form of blogs.

Blogging 101

Merriam-Webster defines a blog as "a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also: the contents of such a site."

Two of the more prominent bloggers that have emerged in St. Augustine are Michael Gold and Ed Slavin.

Both frequently take very different sides on the issues and both are frequently at war with each other on the internet.

Historic City News

Gold is perhaps best known for the website Historic City News. Most of the site's content consists of press releases and Gold's opinions.
Gold, communications director for the local Republican Party, likes to present himself as a journalist. Many of his stories begin, "local reporters with Historic City news:". But he makes little effort to avoid conflicts of interest and apparently even less effort to be sure what he's publishing is the truth.

Historic City New's own terms of service make clear the information there may not be reliable: "HistoricCity.com does not verify, endorse, or take responsibility for the accuracy, currency, completeness or quality of the content contained in this site," the terms state. "The information contained in this website is taken from sources deemed reliable; the accuracy and completeness of which Historic City News does not control and can not guarantee."

The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, which is embraced by thousands of journalists worldwide, suggests a little different approach to reporting the news:
"Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error," the code begins. "Deliberate distortion is never permissible."

Ed Slavin

Ed Slavin, a community activist in St. Augustine is a frequent critic of Gold and is the target of criticism himself.
Slavin runs his own blog, cleanupcityofstaugustine.blogspot.com

On his website, Slavin has accused Gold of operating shamefulpeople.com and plazabum.com - sites which he calls "hate sites."  He has also published photos of Gold overlaid with an image of men in white hoods - presumably KKK members.

Slavin has also accused St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar of helping facilitate "hate sites," and in a series of scores of emails beginning last fall he demanded Shoar ask Gold to remove content critical of a local attorney from his sites. In some of those emails Shoar indicated he would see what he could do.

Public vs. Private

The Society of Professional Journalists urges reporters to "Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention," the code states.
"Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy."

The line between public and private is often blurry, but Michael Gold seems to apply a different standard to himself and the people he writes about.
"I'm not a public figure," said Gold. "Im not surrendering my private [business.] -
"I don't want you publishing personal details of my life."

But Gold, a former candidate for the St. Augustine City Commission and the current communications chairman of the Republican Club of Greater St. Augustine, has not hesitated to attack others who have a greater right to privacy than he does.

In a Jan. 12 Historic City story, Gold reported not on the St. Augustine City Commission meeting, but on a private citizen who spoke during the public comment segment of the meeting.
Maureen Ortagus, a local activist, had questioned the financial credibility of Donald Wallis, chairman of the First America foundation.
Gold's story focused on Ortagus. In a total non-sequiter, he published that she had previously filed for bankruptcy.

Kelly McBride, senior faculty for ethics, reporting and writing at the Poynter Institute said Gold has a right to publish whatever he wants but there could be consequences.
"Free speech allows him to say whatever he wants to say, but he is civilly liable for everything he publishes," McBride said.
You can libel private citizens even if what you say is true, she said.

Gold was defeated in his run for the St. Augustine City Commission by Bill Leary. The seat was non-partisian but at a Republican Club of Greater St. Augustine meeting before the election, Gold emphasized that he was a Republican.
He used HistoricCity.com to host campaign advertisements for himself and others, and at one point wrote an "editorial" critical of his opponent on the site.

McBride said Gold can do whatever he wants with his website, and while it may not be illegal, it was unethical.
"He's not embracing mainstream industry standards."
Since his defeat, Gold no longer has campaign ads of himself on his site. Instead the website is sponsored by The St. Augustine Tea Party.

Shameful People and Plaza Bums

Gold denied running two other sites - shamefulpeople.com and plazabum.com - but said that his company, Historic City Companies, hosts those sites. He has no idea who runs either of them, he said.

Shamefulpeople.com is registered through a proxy service, in order to grant anonymity to the owner. A news feed from HistoricCity.com is prominently featured at the bottom of each page at Shamefulpeople.com

The site is a place for attacking the private lives of people that speak during public comment.

In a 2009 someone posted a story attacking local attorney Jamin Rubenstein after he spoke at a City of St. Augustine meeting in favor of Ed Slavin's project staugustgreen.com
Instead of talking about the project or the meeting, the author of the post focused entirely on Rubenstein's previous arrest for a DUI.

Enter the Sheriff

Gold worked on St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar's campaign team when he ran for office in 2004.
Shoar told the Underground Gold was just one of hundreds of volunteers that helped him on his campaign.
"I met Michael a month before I ran for office," said Shoar. "I don't know Mike that well."

Shoar said he doesn't know who owns shamefulpeople.com or plazabums.com and said he's never read them.

But Slavin is unconvinced.

In a lengthy March 28 e-mail to government officials and members of the media, Slavin accused the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office of " a significant encouragement of local hate websites  operated by Michael Gold."

Slavin's email barrage - which included several repeated public records requests - continued until March 30, when less than an hour after sending another email to the Sheriff, Slavin was arrested.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said the Sheriff's Office was conducting an investigation with regard to cyber stalking when investigtors came upon an active warrant for Slavin.

Citing an open investigation, Mulligan refused to say whether the Sheriff was the victim of the cyber stalking or to provided more details about the investigation.
"We were looking into a preliminary cyber stalking case which led us to the warrant," said Mulligan. "We activated the warrant - it was a national pick up warrant - and the marshall service served the warrant."

Mulligan said Slavin was held at the St. Johns County jail in a holding cell and during that time a Supreme Court justice from Tennessee - where the warrant allegedly originated - contacted St. Johns County.
"She wanted to hold a special session and asked that he be released," Mulligan told The Underground in April.

Mulligan went on to say the justice was planning on having a special session of the court to discuss Slavin's arrest and possible extradition.

According to David Stewart, Slavin's attorney, Tennessee had no warrant of any kind that was outstanding for Slavin.

Slavin has a history with the state - he practiced law in Tennessee until he was disbarred in 2007.
According to a June 2007 issue of Washington Lawyer The Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred Slavin for engaging in misrepresentation and deceit to the courts and his clients; failing to preserve client property; charging excessive fees; violating court orders; demonstrating incompetence and lack of diligence; and abusing the legal process by habitually violating the Tennessee rules of professional conduct with regard to harassment and intimidation of officers of the court and opposing counsel and the filing of abusive, insulting, untrue, and unprofessional statements regarding judges, litigants, and opposing counsel."
"Its chilling and out of the ordinary that they would do this to him," Stewart said, of the arrest in St. Augustine.

Laura Click, public information officer for the Tennessee Supreme Court, said none of what was told to The St. Augustine Underground about Slavin was true.
"The supreme court did not issue a warrant," she said. "If there was one [for Slavin] it wasn't from us."

Click said the Supreme Court has not taken any action and at this time had no plans to regarding Slavin.

Sheriff's Office General Counsel Matthew Cline disputed Click's account and said the Sheriff's Office had seen the warrant. Deputy Chief U.S. Marshall Pete Cajigal said the Marshall Service performed its "due diligence" before arresting Slavin at the Sheriff's Office's request, but that the Marshalls had simply delivered Slavin to county custody at the Sheriff's Office's request.

It seems doubtful Slavin will ever have his day in court, and his emails to the Sheriff have resumed, as have Gold's online attacks on Slavin.

So the war continues!

---
By Shane Griffis
mail@staugustineunderground.net
James Alexander Bonus, Adam Hunt and Sara Kaufman contributed to this report.
---
Source:
http://staugustineunderground.net...-in-the-nations-oldest-city/1908/

====

Too often -- in my experience with sheriffs, community activists, politicians, members of the media, and the articles they publish -- personal animosities and friendships determine whose "side" one aligns with; with minimal if any attention paid to the truth of statements and allegations.  

"Ad hominems" against the messengers is always an easy - and often entertaining - game to play.  
But after the game, Sunday morning quarterbacking has its important place also.
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Guido Sarducci



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let the war continue elsewhere.  I do not want it fought here.
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puc reducks



Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 1250

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amen, Padre.  A-m-e-n.
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jasmine



Joined: 06 May 2011
Posts: 479
Location: St. Augustine

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guido Sarducci wrote:
Let the war continue elsewhere.  I do not want it fought here.


I should kneel and kiss the ring or sleep with the fishes Wink
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scrutney
Site Admin


Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 1536

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guido Sarducci wrote:
Let the war continue elsewhere.  I do not want it fought here.


nor do i.

but the sad fact is that although we occupy a quiet little corner of cyberspce here, there are too many bum refugees here for one of the parties mentioned in the above article to ignore us.

we're all the enemy as far as he's concerned and i'm sure that we're being "monitored."

that's not paranoia talking...this is a man that has carried on an on-line smear campaign against anyone who gets in his way...posting people's names, addresses and phone numbers on his blog...all for the sin of posting anonymously on various message boards and being critical of him.

hell, he doesn't even know for sure that the people he accuses of being certain posters, are those posters.

and this man doesn't know how to take no for an answer. he'll work this angle like a dog working a bone.

the article you read above is just round one in the st. augustine internet war.

and it's going to get nasty.

on the up side...we really are a pretty civil crew with no axes to grind.
life is good.
enjoy it.
let the big boys have their war.
and keep a sense of humor...it'll get worse before it gets better.

edited to add:
kudos to coebul and his internet pal guido...you two really do one hell of a job keeping things civil around here...of course you have a better class of poster to work with.

all in all, i'm quite impressed with the things you've accomplished since we started this thing 6+ months ago.

you guys are great.

and edited, yet again:

Quote:
In a Jan. 12 Historic City story, Gold reported not on the St. Augustine City Commission meeting, but on a private citizen who spoke during the public comment segment of the meeting.
Maureen Ortagus, a local activist, had questioned the financial credibility of Donald Wallis, chairman of the First America foundation.
Gold's story focused on Ortagus. In a total non-sequiter, he published that she had previously filed for bankruptcy.


and this is a non-sequiter why?

someone that casts aspersions on someone else's financial credibilty better be willing to have a jaundiced eye cast on there own fiscal responsibility.

i've read this article probably 4 times now...and i can't shake the feeling that it's a hatchet job on mike and sheriff shoar.

i'm cool with that...if the record won't report the news, someone needs to.
and...it's a story that needs to be told.

st. augustine underground should keep up the good work and keep in mind that...there's more than one energumen in this wood pile.


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jasmine



Joined: 06 May 2011
Posts: 479
Location: St. Augustine

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="scrutney:3927"

all in all, i'm quite impressed with the things you've accomplished since we started this thing 6+ months ago.

you guys are great.

[/quote]

Ditto
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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scrutney wrote:
Quote:
In a Jan. 12 Historic City story, Gold reported not on the St. Augustine City Commission meeting, but on a private citizen who spoke during the public comment segment of the meeting.

Maureen Ortagus, a local activist, had questioned the financial credibility of Donald Wallis, chairman of the First America foundation.

Gold's story focused on Ortagus.
In a total non-sequiter, he published that she had previously filed for bankruptcy.


and this is a non-sequiter why?

someone that casts aspersions on someone else's financial credibilty better be willing to have a jaundiced eye cast on there own fiscal responsibility.


The January 12 Historic City article was posted by "Mike" here at bumrejects, with subsequent comments and links posted in response.

See:
http://bumrejects.myfreeforum.org/about72.html

I agree with Griffis that the Historic City's article, including reference to Ortagus' bankruptcy, was misleading and a non sequitur.

Ortagus brought Wallis' guilty plea federal court documents regarding his defrauding the U.S. taxpayers to the Commissioners' attention; along with her contention that the financial crime should affect his being associated with the spending of the $275,000 grant (if you follow the link, above, you'll see that I disagreed with Ortagus).  

Filing for bankruptcy is a far cry from a crime, and was irrelevant to the issue raised by Ortagus.

PS: While I don't see an "hatchet job" on Gold or Shoar by Griffis in the lead article of this thread, I do see a definite spin and bias against them, and for Slavin.  Maybe it is simply a matter of definition of "hatchet job."
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scrutney
Site Admin


Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 1536

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Filing for bankruptcy is a far cry from a crime, and was irrelevant to the issue raised by Ortagus.

PS: While I don't see an "hatchet job" on Gold or Shoar by Griffis in the lead article of this thread, I do see a definite spin and bias against them, and for Slavin.  Maybe it is simply a matter of definition of "hatchet job."


okay, maybe my use of hatchet job was imprudent.
but the article was slanted pro slavin.
i can live with that.
this is a good story and it's refreshing to see that someone is covering it.

as for mike questioning old whatshername's financial credibilty?

it's all grist for the mill.

jeez it's tough having an npr mentality in a foxnews world.

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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scrutney wrote:
jeez it's tough having an npr mentality in a foxnews world.


Heh, heh, heh.

Or in my childhood, having a Scientific American mentality in a Readers Digest world.

They were the "must reads" of my youth and I loved them both - but it was years later when I was researching historical documents and teaching Propaganda 101 at a Navy Intelligence School that I realized the biased content spread by the Digest's brainwashing.
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 3285
Location: Northwest USA

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Watch it pal my mother was published in RD!!!


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