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Once More Into The Breach - UPDATED

By Greg L | 18 February 2007 | Rack & Roll Scandal, Blogs | 45 Comments

I received a letter from the attorney representing the City of Manassas Park, Police Chief John Evans, and several officers of the Manassas Park Police Department. It’s essentially a ‘cease and desist’ letter that asks me to put them in touch with my attorney, and it claims a lot of my posts on the Rack & Roll scandal are “false and defamatory”.

I’m actually somewhat surprised by this, as everything I’ve said is true is backed up by video, audio, transcripts of testimony under oath, sworn statements, and/or multiple sources. Everything I’ve said on this matter is not only true to the best of my knowledge, but the evidence that supports this perspective on Manassas Park’s current regime is truly massive. If the City of Manassas Park decided to pursue a defamation case against me and put themselves in the position of being subjected to the degree of discovery a case like this would likely permit, it would give me all of the evidence now held by the city which has so far been denied David Ruttenberg, and would allow him to conclusively prevail in his five million dollar lawsuit against the city and many of it’s officers. That would be a positive outcome for justice, which has been denied for far too long.

A lawsuit like this would also give trememdous visibility to this scandal. I’ve become a somewhat notable website for local politics, but my readership is nothing close to the daily circulation of the media outlets which cover the area and I harbor no illusions about my significance outside of the political junkies and the occasionally curious. Having a locality file a lawsuit against a political blogger would probably be a pretty significant story and splash the Rack & Roll Scandal into the public consciousness in a way that I could never do. That would be a positive outcome for the citizens of Manassas Park, who deserve better government which such publicity might help to cause.

This scandal, as I understand it, covers more individuals than I have mentioned thus far. In the time I have available to pursue this only some of the scope of this story has been published. With the opportunity for a full-blown trial, other figures will inevitably be called to answer who have similarly failed to discharge the duties their positions of public trust require, as coverups cannot long withstand close and dedicated public scrutiny. To have a full public airing of the actions of all of these officials — some of which hold positions of much higher stature than mere officials of the unremarkable Manassas Park, would permit a thorough housecleaning of some of the worst public scourges we have ever seen in Northern Virginia. That would be a positive outcome for the quality of government extending well beyond this small locality.

The downside is that once again I will be the one to take the heat, but it’s probably the right thing to do. When I can discuss this with my attorney, I’ll get a chance to figure out how precisely to address this. So far, short and snarky retorts aren’t being considered, as appealing as they may be.

And yes, I’m still accepting contributions to the BVBL Legal Defense Fund.

UPDATE: Radley Balko of The Agitator has some commentary up on this, and I’ve fixed the broken link on the Legal Defense Fund page for donations which a commentor has noticed.

UPDATE 2: A reader asked which posts the City of Manassas Park claimed were “false and defamatory”, so here are the posts where they claim I have provided false & defamatory statements:

They also complain that I have republished the false and defamatory statements of others. They are:

If you want to see all of the posts about the Rack & Roll scandal, click here.

UPDATE 3:  For those curious about the letter,  here’s page one and page two.



The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.

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45 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on 18 Feb 2007 at 12:59 am:
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    Please, please — let them do it. I’ll reveal my identity (if it comes to it) and make sure the money flows to your defense. Also, I will work tirelessly to “unleash” the Federal dogs on these guys and they might wish they had never threatened such a thing. May I say…they are bluffing…if they aren’t they’re bigger fools than I thought they were to this point. A civil lawsuit in Virginia has the most broad powers of discovery of any legal proceeding in the US. Let the games begin…I PROMISE you will not be left holding the bag on this one — we’ll raise money nationally in the name of stamping out corrupt government. There are already so many people across the Commonwealth ready to jump in to help in some way, but don’t know how until directed. This is the long-awaited prayer answered that everyone has waited for (somebody involved that is actually dumb enough to bring a court action). This just might be the way the dam finally breaks. WHAT A GREAT DAY!!!!

  2. Anonymous said on 18 Feb 2007 at 4:13 am:
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    Here’s one thing I forgot to mention — look up the firm that represents the City of Manassas Park — then look back all through the history of firms that have represented Colonial Downs. Bingo — huge conflict !! See the connection?? They are disqualified under Va. State Bar rules in this action (if they’re dumb enough to pursue it). Here’s a whole new interesting fact that hasn’t been discussed yet. Like I said before…what a GREAT DAY!!!!

  3. Loudoun Insider said on 18 Feb 2007 at 8:28 am:
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    Unbelievable. I’ll be sending another contribution.

  4. park'd said on 18 Feb 2007 at 10:33 am:
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    Greg, I tried to click the online contributions link but it doesn’t work. I will be contributing to your defense as I think these guys are some of the most corrupt, inept ‘politicians’ I have ever seen. Just the fact that they have allowed the city to degrade into an illegal alien Mecca is reason enough for them to be tossed out into the street and nearly reason enough for them to be tried for gross incompetence and treason. I hope they really are stupid enough to proceed and the facts of this case come to light since they will no doubt be caught cold on this one. This will be a great day for the park. Please send me a working link and I will contribute. Greg for mayor!

  5. Batson D. Belfrey said on 18 Feb 2007 at 12:20 pm:
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    Press on, regardless! Who Dares, Wins! Tell the City of Manassas Park that Greg L. is coming, and he’s bringing Hell with him!

  6. el Zorro said on 18 Feb 2007 at 12:49 pm:
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    Senor Greg,

    Z… Has always to fight against corrupt LAS AUTORIDADES. In my old country, all autoridades are corrupt, ESPECIALLY THE POLICIA. Here in my new country, not so many. Be careful who you call names. Z… likes you. You don’t need muchos problemas. Z…sees many things in the bright moon light. What is Ruttenberg’s mental state? Could be mucho problema? Please stay safe.

    Beware When The Moon Shines Bright!!!

    Z

  7. Loyal Patron said on 18 Feb 2007 at 1:57 pm:
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    I can’t believe that Manassas Park has the balls to even bring up the idea to take you to court. They cannot stop the freedom of speech!!!

  8. Had to Say said on 18 Feb 2007 at 9:19 pm:
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    Greg.

    Have you filed any FOIA requests to MP regarding his stuff? I would be very curious on how they would respond to such a request.

  9. charles said on 18 Feb 2007 at 10:55 pm:
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    At least you already had an attorney’s name to give them.

    I hope you have all the proof you say you do this time.

  10. anon said on 18 Feb 2007 at 11:27 pm:
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    Charles, you say that as if he didn’t have all the proof he said he did regarding Chapman.

    Unless you are spying on his house, how do you know that he doesn’t have that proof?

    Just because you disagree with him doesn’t mean he can’t back up his statements.

  11. Greg L said on 18 Feb 2007 at 11:56 pm:
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    Regarding a FOIA request: there’s an exception to the statute for information related to ongoing litigation or legal strategy which would certainly be invoked, and has been invoked when David Ruttenberg made a request, so it’s pretty much pointless to ask. I’ve filed requests with Manassas Park before, and they’ve tried to wriggle out of complying before on other matters. Sometime I’ll file (or get someone else to file) a request they wouldn’t want to fulfill and do a story on their behavior, but I haven’t had the time lately for that.

    Regarding David Ruttenberg: for a guy who has been through as much as he has, and suffered so, he’s incredibly resilient. I think his dedication to greater principles here has carried him through all of this thus far, and he really is a pretty inspiring case of someone who keeps faith through adversity. I’m not worried at all.

    Regarding evidence: have you been reading, Charles??? What part of video, audio, transcripts, sworn statements and multiple sources do you not understand? It’s largely all there for you to see in every post.

  12. charles said on 19 Feb 2007 at 12:30 am:
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    Nothing is ever as clear as it seems. I’ve read everything, and am eagerly awaiting the news story that will make this all “public”, but that doesn’t mean that every last thing that has been said has been backed up with proof.

    I think you have covered yourself well with the appropriate weasel words and direct citation of sources when needed without giving your own factual approval to what they said, but I’m not a lawyer and don’t know if legally you are covered or not.

    I was nervous for you with the story of the guy “jumping out of the bushes”, for example, even though it was if I remember you quoting another source.

    And you thinking you had proof didn’t save you from months of litigation expense in the Chapman case (which is what I meant, for the poster who wondered).

  13. Greg L said on 19 Feb 2007 at 12:56 am:
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    When politicians out of weakness grasp for the straw of compelling compliance under legal threat, the strength of the arguments I doubt is given a lot of consideration. It only takes a plausible theory to prompt a lawsuit, especially when the representation is pro-bono (as it is for Chapman) or financed through tax dollars as it is in this case. Most of us who pay our own bills are reticent to play this sort of game, but when the actual economic costs to plaintiffs is reduced to zero, abuse is invited.

    I’m very confident about the source material for these posts, especially in that a fair amount of it has already been accepted as evidence in a courtroom before. And there’s so much I haven’t posted yet. I hope for a day when everything will come out and get a fair hearing, and we may finally get to the bottom of all of this and have a chance to rebuild this locality so it can live up to the promise so hoped for when it was established not so long ago. Until the full truth is known, I doubt that can happen.

  14. AWCheney said on 19 Feb 2007 at 7:23 am:
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    Charles, you have truly become an incredibly pompous ass! When faced with empirical evidence, you can STILL shrug it off if it involves someone who, in your eyes, has become one of the bad guys. GREG IS DEFINITELY NOT one of those bad guys. He is strongly advocating for one of the good guys, bringing his story to the light of day despite typical intimidation attempts from those most corrupt and inept people! Jimmy Young’s disease is actually contagious, given enough time. Obviously you have grown unable to recognize people of honor who have the courage to fight for justice regardless of the enormous odds against them. It is because of people like you with attitudes like yours that David Ruttenberg has lost everything, short of his life so far.

    Let me tell you of the generous nature of David Ruttenberg, allowing the City of Manassas Park to get off with as little as $5 Million in his lawsuit. Over the course of the past 18 years that this has played out, David had become quite financially successful, not merely through the Rack N’ Roll. He was building up a sizable income during that time with his other occupation…as a day trader. Apparently he was very good at it (David, along with the rest of his family, is highly educated…his is in business and finance). He had two very nice houses in MD (valued in excess of $500,000), various property here, a business that he was building into a very profitable model of safe evening entertainment, a fiancé, and a life. HE HAS LOST EVERYTHING fighting this injustice and trying to regain his family name. If you wanted to start combining loss of assets, income, savings, legal fees, other expenses during the course of time that he has been selectively abused by a public authority, PARTICULARLY THE POLICE, it well exceeds that $5 Million. I had tried to convince him to settle for no less than $15 Million (with punitive damages). This man of honor tells me that “he doesn’t want to hurt the people of Manassas Park and only wants enough back so that he can start over somewhere else and get away from this totally corrupt area, and state, forever.” I don’t blame him…but that is NOT the Virginia I have loved throughout my life. Then again, maybe that’s what it’s become. I see what people like you have to say Charles, and I can see why.

  15. AWCheney said on 19 Feb 2007 at 7:33 am:
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    Greg, it’s time we help start a Recall movement against these expletives…I’ve got the information we need to get started. Any residents of Manassas Park who feel the same way, please email Greg.

  16. Radley Balko said on 19 Feb 2007 at 7:52 am:
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    Charles:

    I’m the one who posted the story about the mayor jumping out of the bushes. Greg only linked to it.

    I’m not sure how it could be libelous. David told me the story, and the Fox reporter who saw the whole thing confirmed David’s version of events when I called him.

    http://www.theagitator.com/archives/027352.php

  17. Roger T. Thomas said on 19 Feb 2007 at 9:01 am:
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    Let’s hope the town officers don’t attempt to have his letters seen as
    a “hate crime” which they could then use to turn him into a terrorist
    under the bizarre new laws of the patriot act.

  18. Batson D. Belfrey said on 19 Feb 2007 at 9:05 am:
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    Charles,

    You never cease to amaze me. Really. This blog is just as diligent, if not more so, about citing sources, than any blog out there. Even in the Chapman case, to which you so frequently refer, provided sources, links, etc. for the reader to go an evaluate on their own. In the Rack and Roll case, Greg has gone way above the level of responsibility to provide proof of what is going on. Yet you choose to remain the skeptic. I say you have no credibility. You are going to wait for the “news story”? When has the MJM ever done a solid job of reporting on anything. They do fluff pieces and hunman interest stories. Thier actual “investigative” stories are about as complete as a third-grader’s book report. When have you ever checked anything out for yourself? Weasel words? You posts are replete with them. Furthermore, you are an employee of the PN/MJM. Before you deny this, I say that you are an employee because you perform a task or service for the MJM, and receive compensation for it.

    This is a case where the new media once again is at the forefront of the news. This is a case where the legacy media has failed to do their jobs. This is a case where it appears that a local governement is corrupt, and is trying to use its taxpayer-funded resources to silence those who are illuminating their wrong-doing. Yet all you have to say Charles is “I hope you have your proof”. Way to take a stand Mr. Op-Ed columnist! Why don’t you write a colum about it? Oh, that’s right, you only comment on issues, and abuse of power by a local government isn’t an issue, as far as you are concerned.

    Do me a favor. Go play with your trains, and get your Christmas lights ready for next year, because you bring no value to this discussion.

  19. el Zorro said on 19 Feb 2007 at 9:40 am:
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    Senor Greg,

    MALDIGA…Looks like you have plenty loquacious amigos. Poor Z…can’t compete with them. Just stay safe. VIA CON DIOS.

    Beware When The Moon Shines Bright!!!

    Z

  20. Two--Four said on 19 Feb 2007 at 9:48 am:
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    […] is the principal mental fact of every bureaubot at all times, anyway. Now, they don’t have to be that stupid. Somebody might yet come to their senses — which would be too damned bad — but never […]

  21. Robert S said on 19 Feb 2007 at 11:33 am:
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    I’m wondering, did they specify which of your posts were false and defamatory? If so, could you let us know?

    Thanks!
    -Robert S

  22. Dave said on 19 Feb 2007 at 11:39 am:
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    “It’s essentially a ‘cease and desist’ letter that asks me to put them in touch with my attorney…”

    I would bill them for your time for that task, sir… say, $200.00 per minute.

  23. Greg L said on 19 Feb 2007 at 12:11 pm:
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    Robert, that’s a great question, so I updated the post with links to the specific articles they’re complaining about. I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list from their perspective.

  24. David Mastio said on 19 Feb 2007 at 1:29 pm:
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    If they actually file a suit, we’ll put your fundraising link on BNN/Virginia and put in the first $100.

    Best,
    Dave

  25. Anonymous said on 19 Feb 2007 at 3:02 pm:
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    Do you have a scanned version of the C&D letter on the website?

    Thanks,

    John

  26. charles said on 19 Feb 2007 at 3:19 pm:
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    Hey guys, I’m not the one filing a lawsuit.

    Nor am I saying Greg should lose a lawsuit.

    I’m just reminding Greg that while a lot of people will post here their support for them, if he loses a $200,000 judgment, most of the people here aren’t going to line up with sacks of cash to help him pay for his losses.

    It’s easy to encourage someone else to stand up, when you’ve got nothing of your own to lose. I still hope the Chapman case goes away, and I hope the city comes to it’s senses or else Greg wins a lawsuit and gets attorney fees.

    But it is just as likely that he will lose, or go broke winning. All the “diligence” in the world hasn’t kept him from having to hire a lawyer.

    In the Chapman case, there are documents that are completely unavailable that were the “basis” for charges. Some were never available so far as I can tell, others deleted long ago not to be seen again in public.

    Greg should have them all in his possession. But if you look at the charges, something seems to be amiss. How hard can it be to prove you weren’t lying when you claim Steve didn’t graduate high school, and didn’t have a contract to clean headstones? Did he graduate high school? Did he have a contract?

    Anyway, I’m not arguing that Greg lied about anything in this case — I’m simply noting that he can’t be cavalier about this, and his supporters should realise the terrible burden Greg and his family could be under should the lawsuits have merit — and none of us know if they do or not.

  27. Anonymous said on 19 Feb 2007 at 3:46 pm:
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    Yes, I would also like to see the legal wizardry that our tax dollars are paying for, Greg. Post up the threatening letter in its entirety for us to pick apart.

  28. Greg L said on 19 Feb 2007 at 3:56 pm:
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    I’ll see if I can get the letter scanned and posted this evening. I’m just trying to keep my server from melting under the load of all the page requests I’ve been getting today — this post is setting records every hour for page views, and my hits are off the charts today — sometimes exceeding over 1,000 page views an hour. The server that hosts this almost certainly has less horsepower behind it than any desktop being used to visit and is really getting a solid workout.

  29. Anonymous said on 19 Feb 2007 at 4:00 pm:
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    Oh yea,

    Greg - your “unprecedented spike” corresponded to Instapundit linking to you just about that time! You got famous!

    I think the additional publicity you have instantly received will work well for you.

    Good luck,

    John

  30. red river said on 19 Feb 2007 at 4:04 pm:
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    Mayor can be reached here:

    http://www.cityofmanassaspark.us/Public_Documents/ManassasParkVA_CouncilCorner/jones

  31. Batson D. Belfrey said on 19 Feb 2007 at 4:09 pm:
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    “In the Chapman case, there are documents that are completely unavailable that were the “basis” for charges. Some were never available so far as I can tell, others deleted long ago not to be seen again in public.”

    All it would take is for some one to do a FIOA request, just like the original documents were obtained, if memory serves. Also, I believe that there were many accusations leveled at Chapman. I recall links to state websites, court case docket numbers, etc.

    “How hard can it be to prove you weren’t lying when you claim Steve didn’t graduate high school, and didn’t have a contract to clean headstones? Did he graduate high school? Did he have a contract?”

    Then why has Chapman never provided refuting documents. How hard would that be?

    “But it is just as likely that he will lose, or go broke winning. All the “diligence” in the world hasn’t kept him from having to hire a lawyer.”

    But back to the case at hand. What the City of Manassas Park has demonstrated throughout this affair is that intimidation is their fall back weapon. It also makes me believe that Greg and others are on the right track.

    The only thing needed in the world for evil to exist, is for good men to do nothing. I am glad that we have a good man, Greg, taking up this fight.

  32. John B. Jenkins said on 19 Feb 2007 at 5:09 pm:
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    There is so little chance of this ever coming to trial it makes me laugh. The city and its officers/agents, because they are public officials in a matter of public concern would have to satisfy the standard in New York Times v. Sullivan of actual malice, otherwise the content is protected by the First Amendment. Whoever drafted a cease and desist letter on the part of a public official for criticisims of his official acts should have to go back to law school and take a First Amendment course

  33. Anonymous said on 19 Feb 2007 at 6:32 pm:
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    “Whoever drafted a cease and desist letter on the part of a public official for criticisims of his official acts should have to go back to law school and take a First Amendment course”

    I’ll bet whoever sent this knows EXACTLY what they doing, and is counting on the fact that most people don’t know (or follow) law.

  34. Had to Say said on 19 Feb 2007 at 8:56 pm:
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    I would bet it was the MP City Attorney.

  35. Had to Say said on 19 Feb 2007 at 8:58 pm:
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    And if it wasn’t the City Attorney, why not? He is suppose to handle anything of a legal nature for the City of MP.

  36. Virginian said on 20 Feb 2007 at 8:58 am:
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    Believe me, the attorney who wrote that letter, Tom Spahn, knows exactly what he’s doing. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Tom, he is one of the most well thought of successful lawyers in Virginia. Heck, he literally has written the book on the Attorney-client privilege/Work Product in Virginia. Now, all that said, he and his law firm were recently kicked off a multi-billion dollar suit pending in far southwest for their unethical conduct. Nonetheless, Tom is a serious guy who wouldn’t walk into a fight without a little ammunition.

  37. AWCheney said on 20 Feb 2007 at 10:05 am:
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    I have felt, for quite some time, that the corruption and coverups extend far beyond Manassas Park, which is why David Ruttenberg has presented such an enormous problem…an honest man who will not back off. I can easily see where a house of cards that has been built carefully over many decades could easily come tumbling down if only one card becomes exposed. Machine politics is not dead in Virginia…it has just become economically driven. Exposing the corruption in Manassas Park endangers everyone up the food chain, so they are closing ranks. It is time for the citizens of Virginia to demand accountability and then, perhaps, the low end of the food chain (MP officials) might find the value in providing State’s evidence to save their own ***es before they find out just how expendable they are.

  38. carpundit said on 20 Feb 2007 at 10:43 am:
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    Being told by a lawyer to shut up or get sued is one thing.

    But being told by a *City’s* lawyer to shut up or get sued is another.

    Take a good look at First Amendment law, and see if they’ve transgressed. I’m no expert, but there’s an issue there.

  39. Batson D. Belfrey said on 20 Feb 2007 at 4:21 pm:
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    In a strange twist, Steve Chapman figures in this case, and this time, for doing something right. If what was driving this was indeed those who stood to gain from OTB (as opposed to LEO’s with a personal score to settle), then we should all thank Chapman for his efforts to defeat OTB. As much as it pains me to do so, I have to give credit, where it is due and it is due in this case. Could you imagine if OTB had come into the Park? How much more corruption (or the temptation of) would we be dealing with, had OTB not been defeated at the polls.

  40. Greg L said on 20 Feb 2007 at 4:46 pm:
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    Although he might not have been the best candidate, Chapman was right on the money in opposing the OTB referendum in Manassas Park. If I haven’t mentioned that before, I definitely am long overdue in giving credit where it’s well deserved. The efforts of folks like him made a big difference and saved Manassas Park from what we now can see would have been a complete disaster for the city.

  41. Alton said on 20 Feb 2007 at 6:20 pm:
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    Come on Greg, just once more for old time’s sake, say “bite me!”

  42. Greg L said on 20 Feb 2007 at 6:27 pm:
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    Not until I have a pro-bono attorney lined up who will guarantee that a defamation suit doesn’t stand a chance in heck of being won, and will stake his reputation on it.

    I’m not entirely sure yet how representation on this will sort out, but I’m encouraged that the cyber-law group at Harvard University is interested in lining up a team on this. So maybe I’m getting a little closer, but I’m not at all entirely at that point. Yet.

    Believe me, the urge is almost undeniable.

  43. Anonymous said on 21 Mar 2007 at 1:49 am:
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    Any updates?

  44. Greg L said on 21 Mar 2007 at 8:07 am:
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    I’m hoping to have something more on this soon.

  45. Peedy WL said on 25 Jul 2007 at 10:03 pm:
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    This is a silly sounding C&D letter, but it doesn’t surprise me from a manassas attorney, a city/county with a notorious, old boy network legal system, as evidenced by the repeated requests in the letter for you to refer this matter to an attorney, which is the last thing you should do. I’m not sure where this matter stands, but I would just ignore it. If this letter is the best they can do, I wouldn’t even use a lawyer if it went that far…just go “in propria persona”. Once you get a lawyer, you start incurring legal fees, which is exactly what they want…the more you incur, the more likely you’ll give in. Defamation is very hard to prove in Virginia. They are only trying to intimidate and bully you. I would have liked to seen the look on their faces when the realized you published their letter. Until you actually recive notice of a filed motion (suit), just ignore these turkeys.

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