City attorney instructed to distance City Hall from letter Mayor sent to 5 residents
Loveland, Ohio – Concern about the ethical behavior of Mark Fitzgerald and his fitness to continue serving on Council escalated at the March 28 council meeting. On March 23, the Mayor, through his private attorney, sent a letter to five residents demanding they preserve phone and computer records, email, voicemail, and, “All Internet and Web-browser-generated history files, caches and ‘cookies’ files generated at your workstation.”
[quote_left]Mr. Mayor, I will not allow myself to be intimated by you, or by members of this council that aligns themselves with you.[/quote_left]Ellen Mershon was first to the open forum microphone to express her outrage over the tone and specific language of the letter she received. It was sent to her on behalf of Fitzgerald in his, “Capacity as the Mayor of Loveland, Ohio.” The letter (below) contained 5-pages of demands. It said the recipients may be the subject of a defamation lawsuit and their personal files may be used as evidence. She refuted the allegation that she has defamed the Mayor. “There is nothing personally that I have stated that is not a matter of public record or available for a quick internet search. Mr. Mayor, I will not allow myself to be intimated by you, or by members of this council that aligns themselves with you.”
[quote_right]We will rise by continuing to make our community a better place.[/quote_right]Mershon’s voice rose over the Mayor’s objection to her talking about the letter, saying above the sound of the Mayor’s gavel, “People face everything together and rise. I thank you for strengthening my resolve in that regard. I will rise as others will. We will not be deterred because I am now more determined than ever that our community needs a change. We will rise by continuing to make our community a better place. We will rise during the upcoming election, educating our community and supporting candidates who have a positive vision for our entire community.”
[quote_left]The demand letter’s broad brush seems to included all users of the resident’s personal devices. It also demands the preservation of passwords, network access codes, ID names, and business records.[/quote_left] The letter said, “In the event of action for defamation or any other cause of action is commenced against you, we expect to obtain from you, personally and through discovery, a number of documents and tangible things including (without limitation) files stored on your computer(s) an all other electronic storage media.”
The demand letter’s broad brush seems to included all users of the resident’s personal devices. It also demands the preservation of passwords, network access codes, ID names, and business records. It tells the residents, “Pursuant to this Notice” they must immediately make a copy of all Data on the storage device of their personal computers, and any external storage devices must immediately be put into storage.
It goes on to say that Fitzgerald anticipates possibly filing a motion in court requesting the preservation of the documents, “Notwithstanding, this notice obligates each of you to preserve Data and any other documents independently of any Order on such Motion” by a judge. The request applies to any handwritten notes on any requested documents that may have been printed as a hard copy.
Fitzgerald is looking for any comments the five may have made about him concerning his tenure as City Administrator of North College Hill. It warns the residents that destruction or failure to preserve files, “Can result in sanctions being imposed upon you by a Court of competent jurisdiction for spoliation of evidence or potential evidence.” (For background about Fitzgerald’s tenure as Administrator for North College Hill, read: Here’s what Vice-Mayor Settle didn’t want you to know)
Neil Oury also received the letter and spoke about it. However, he had an additional beef. He said that the Mayor personally contacted his employer to inquirer if he knew what Oury said about him at a previous [quote_right]Oury concluded by saying, “Your mischievous tactics, shaky shenanigans won’t shut me up[/quote_right]council meeting. Oury believes that was a further act of intimidation. He said, “Typical behaviors of bullying and turmoil by intimidation. My employer doesn’t tell me what to say – how to act. My employer has nothing to do with my views or my opinion on politics. Texting him was simply an attempt to intimidate – to pressure him, to shut me up.”
Oury concluded by saying, “Your mischievous tactics, shaky shenanigans won’t shut me up. Mark, we’ve had enough of your lies. We’re fed up with your bullying, and we have no hope in you. We feel you can’t be trusted anymore. We don’t want you as our mayor anymore. In fact, we don’t want you on our council anymore. So, I’m here to publicly ask you to resign from our council immediately.”
[quote_left]And, quite frankly sir, this letter right here is obviously an intent to silence and threaten us. It cannot stand.[/quote_left]Halie Rebbeccaschild received the letter and asked the other council members if they were OK that the letter was sent with language saying it came from Fitzgerald in his capacity as Mayor of Loveland. Fitzgerald interrupted saying she could not talk about the letter because it did not relate to matters of City business. However, Rebbeccaschild persisted, “And, quite frankly sir, this letter right here is obviously an intent to silence and threaten us. It cannot stand.” She asked the other council members if it was acceptable that the mayor of the City is a harasser. “And, I also question how each of you are implicated by this letter. Do you want to associate yourself with that come election time?”
Several times throughout the meeting Fitzgerald reprimanded people for clapping and shouting from the audience. He threatened to remove one person from the room.
When Councilmember Rob Weisgerber tried to discuss the letter he was ruled out of order by Fitzgerald. He appealed to council to overrule the Mayor. His motion failed with a tie vote and he could not continue. Fitzgerald, Angie Settell, and Pam Gross voted not to allow Weisgerber to speak. Kathy Bailey and Ted Phelps voted to allow the discussion.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Bailey made a motion for the City Solicitor to send a letter to Fitzgerald’s attorney instructing him to not represent that he serves as attorney for the City or its elected officials, and to correct the misstatement where he said he was representing Fitzgerald in his capacity as mayor of Loveland. She said she made the motion, “To protect the City.”
City Solicitor Joe Brawn said, “I saw this for the first time tonight. I had no role in this.” He said he would prefer that the letter did not state, “In his capacity as Mayor of Loveland, Ohio.” He said he could easily send the letter, however, Fitzgerald could also tell his attorney, “Don’t repeat that statement in the future.”
Both Angie Settell and Pam Gross said they had no knowledge of the letter, and abstained from voting. Fitzgerald voted, “No.” The vote on Bailey’s motion passed 3-1, with Weisgerber and Ted Phelps voting, “Yes”. Council member Stephen Zamagias was absent.
You can read the letter the five residents received: Spoliation Warning – Possible Defamation of Mayor Mark Fitzgerald
Resources for protecting your own personal Data from lawyers, the government, and people who wish you harm
by Elise Hendrick
For most of it I’m more of a compiler than a source, and whilst I probably know a lot more about this stuff than most people, I’m far from an expert on the subject (I mostly just know people). I guess you could just put me down as ‘writer and translator’ or something like that.
The basic takeaway from the ‘Vault 7’ release from Wikileaks is that encryption works. In fact, it works so well that the CIA is having to go through all sorts of difficulties in order to target and hack individual devices because they can only actually look at people’s traffic BEFORE it’s encrypted.
Panopticlick is a tool provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that assesses how vulnerable your browser is to tracking. Apart from the things people know about, there are all sorts of random settings that can be used to deanonymise web traffic, and this lets you know how well you’re doing at it.
Privacy Badger – Chrome extension that blocks various types of trackers.
Ricochet – Tor-based desktop chat proggram that anonymises users by assigning everyone random user IDs. No logs are kept anywhere, so the chat itself erases the minute you close the session
TrueCrypt is basically the gold standard of full-disk encryption. It allows you to encrypt and hide files on your hard drive. The project ended abruptly a couple of years ago, and the original developers (who emained anonymous to make themselves less vulnerable to state pressure) released a version 7.2 that is basically useless. This link has version 7.1, the latest good version of TrueCrypt. It’s actually passed an extensive security audit. The cool thing about this is that it can actually take your encrypted files and render them totally invisible so that even if someone were to require you to let them look at your computer or your external drives, they wouldn’t even see the files in the first place, so they’d never demand the password for them.
(BitLocker, Microsoft’s disk encryption utility, is useless, because it’s known that the NSA has a backdoor)