City official's e-mail sparks libel c...

City official's e-mail sparks libel claim

There are 2 comments on the Redwood City Daily News story from May 30, 2008, titled City official's e-mail sparks libel claim. In it, Redwood City Daily News reports that:

Contending he was libeled in an e-mail by Menlo Park Council Member Kelly Fergusson, a business owner has filed a claim for more than $10,000 against her and the city.
Contending he was libeled in an e-mail by Menlo Park Council Member Kelly Fergusson, a business owner has filed a claim for more than $10,000 against her and the city. <br/> <br/>Jim Lewis, who declined to disclose the name of his Menlo Park business, filed the claim March 7 over a September e-mail Fergusson sent to him when she was mayor. According to his claim, the e-mail, which became a public record because it was sent from a city address, suggested he misrepresented himself as a council member and misrepresented city council agendas. <br/> <br/>In the e-mail, Fergusson explained why she would have felt uncomfortable sitting at the head table with Lewis at a welcome breakfast he organized last year for incoming City Manager Glen Rojas. <br/> <br/>Fergusson wrote that she was concerned "such misrepresentations undermine the ability of the staff and council to work in the best interest of the residents and businesses of Menlo Park. <br/> <br/>"In potentially accepting your head-table invitation, I am concerned that the city council, myself as the council's representative and possibly even the city manager, will be subject to awkward misrepresentations." <br/> <br/>Lewis and Fergusson, however, wouldn't disclose any details Thursday about the alleged misrepresentations. Lewis and his attorney Carleton Briggs state in the claim that the e-mail implies he impersonated a council member and spoke with official authority on council agenda items. The message was made "much more public" because it was sent from Fergusson's city address. <br/> <br/>The claim states that Fergusson's e-mail is "libelous on its face" and that it "clearly exposes claimant (Lewis) to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy." <br/> <br/>On Thursday, Lewis said the e-mail eventually reached the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce and other high-level officials in the city, damaging his reputation. <br/> <br/>"I'm active in the town, and this is a small community," he said. "I've been told by some decision makers that, as a result of this, they're not so sure about me. If we cannot work things out on an amicable basis, I reserve the right to go to court." <br/> <br/>Technically, the claim was considered rejected by default after 45 days, said City Attorney Bill McClure, and Lewis now has the right to file a lawsuit. McClure added that the city can still act on the claim at any time. <br/> <br/>Lewis said he has been speaking with the city about a settlement. He wants compensation in excess of $10,000 as well as a formal, written apology. <br/> <br/>Fergusson declined to comment on the e-mail and said only that she is happy Lewis has taken a strong civic interest in Menlo Park. <br/> <br/>"Lewis has done a number of positive things for the city," she said. "It's really unfortunate that he's filed the claim against the city. It's certainly his right." <br/> <br/> <br/>E-mail Banks Albach at [email protected]
MP citizen

San Francisco, CA

#1 Jun 1, 2008
If this article is at all correct, and the implication from the response of the City Attorney indicating that the City might pay Lewis in order to avoid a lawsuit, I find totally offensive.

This issue should be immediately brought out into the open; no settlement should be made without public oversight.
Athena

San Mateo, CA

#2 Jun 2, 2008
This is the first evidence of sound judgement I've even seen from Mayor Kelly. She got it right this time, Jim Lewis does act like a psuedo-council member. And why won't he say what his business is? It's so weird.

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