OT? Do you live in LA? Then SHUT UP!

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Define "freedom of the press".

-- Ron Schwarz (rs@clubvb.com.delete.this), January 12, 2000


Sounds like your politicians know our politicians: Following is copy of item I received.

Copy: " Subj: FYI Date: 01/11/2000 11:26:32 PM Central Standard Time From: HOUSNITCH To: HOUSNITCH

The following is being forwarded with permission of Ed Wendt. We MUST as a city DEMAND our rights. Too many in positions of power in HOUSTON, are trying to deny them. They break the city ordinances DAILY..and the Mayor has NEVER even pretended to observe policy. Watch out council members...that NON-Profit the Mayor wants for overseeing the Hotel...that's just a way to get around the bid process........so he can hand out the contracts to Gilbane, PGAL, & Ratanala & Bahl......Whatever the outcome of Mr. Wendt's suit ...HOUSNITCH hopes he pravails in his fight for his life.



Award-winning Houston journalist Ed Wendt has filed suit in state district court over his arrest while at City Hall in 1997 taking photographs and investigating a payment from a city bond Pac to a company owned by Mayor Pro Tem Jew Don Boney.

Wendt was cleared by a jury on January 14, 1999 of a criminal trespass charged filed by Mayor Lee Brown's HPD bodyguard. He says he filed the suit "as a principle to send a message that the First Amendment cannot be abused by any politician or governmental body."

He is news editor of The Houston Forward Times.

The suit accuses Boney and Brown of conspiring to have Wendt arrested because of negative reports he published about the two.

Wendt won the Houston Press Club's1998 Print Journalist of the Year for an investigative series he did on the city's affirmative program. The series documented insider dealings in the program and contracts given to firms owned by elected officials and politically connected individuals.

City Attorney Anthony Hall says the city will pay for legal costs to defend the defendants.

The suit also named Brown's bodyguard and another Houston police officer as co-defendants.

Wendt's attorney is Houston lawyer Jared Woodfill.

"I look forward to proving my case," says Wendt.

"I think that the depositions of parties involved in my arrest, as well as from others, will show that my investigative reporting was getting too close for comfort," he charged. "I think when certain parties are under oath, and must swear to tell the truth about the facts surrounding the corruption that I was investigating, the public will know just why they wanted me silenced at City Hall."

"They couldn't silence Forward Times and didn't expect I would challenge my arrest. They were wrong, wrong, wrong."

"The presses of Forward Times continue to roll and the First Amendment, while wounded, is alive and well in Houston, Texas as we move into the millennium," said Wendt

"What happened to me was something one would expect in Nazi Germany and the former USSR. That kind of behavior cannot be tolerated in our democracy."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages for false arrest. It also is seeking damages for assault and battery because the police allegedly threw Wendt against a wall, in view of a security camera, during the incident. It additionally is asking for damages for malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unreasonable search and seizure.

The journalist's tape recorder and notes were confiscated during his arrest. The tape was erased.

Woodfill says the arrest "was a payback by Mayor Brown and Councilman Boney against Mr. Wendt for the articles he wrote.

"When a reporter is arrested for the content of his speech, it shows First Amendment rights are not being protected," said Woodfill, a prominent Houston civil attorney.

Boney told The Houston Chronicle that he "had nothing to do with the arrest." He labeled allegations in the lawsuit as being "frivolous and completely unjustified."

Woodfill says he will build a strong circumstantial case that Boney and Brown played a role in the arrest.

Wendt, at the time of his arrest, was suffering from hepatitis C. He claims jail officials denied him of medical care during the 13 hours he spent in jail and purposely delayed his release.

The hepatitis C has developed into liver cancer and Wendt is at the top of the list for a transplant. He says he stopped taking his chemotherapy during the trial "so I could be alert enough to testify in my own defense."

A county criminal court jury took only 40 minutes to find Wendt "not guilty" of criminal trespass. Wendt was hospitalized shortly after the trial over complications from the liver cancer.

"I filed this lawsuit to make sure that in future the First Amendment is not violated in Houston," Wendt stated. "I look forward to a full recovery from liver cancer when I get the transplant and will dedicate my life to reporting about the killer virus and our country's medical crisis."

"I know, first hand, how the uninsured and poor are given substandard health care in the United States and that should be a top priority for our country, as it is for other civilized nations in the world."

"Hepatitis C is a crisis that newspapers and broadcasters must make a priority, and our elected officials need to address the crisis now."

"Instead of arresting reporters investigating political corruption," Wendt concluded, "I pray our city officials will open up government and address the real problems affecting the city." -30-

EDITOR'S NOTE: Attorney Jared Woodfill can be reached at 713-973- 1414. " end

-- mike in houston (mmorris67@hotmail.com), January 12, 2000.

It'd be almost funny, if you didn't consider that nutty ideas often originate in California (no offense) and then spread across the country. (And for you people in that area, before you hit "Reply", please deposit 25 cents in that little slot on the side of your PC. Thank you.)

-- 'Cause I'm The Taxman (And You're Working For No One@But.Me), January 12, 2000.

Ouchie. "We say you're a journalist, so pay us money and let us search your home pretty much at will, until you can come up with the money to win a court case and prove that you're not a journalist."

Niiiice precedent.

-- Servant (public_service@yahoo.com), January 12, 2000.

There is a simple solution to this: DON'T APPLY FOR THE LICENSE! If they do decide to enforce it you will have your day in court to challenge the statutes constitutionality. They cannot enter your home without a warrent and they cannot require you to waive that right in order to earn a living. Period.

I think the reason the judges ruled the way they did was that, to date, no one has been 'damaged' by it. It's not uncommon for judges to 'wait and see' how a law is applied before striking it down or not. Licensing is legal only because it provides a degree of protection to the consumer when dealing with people who could place them in danger (ie. a doctor, a lawyer, a contractor). It is a guarantee of sorts that the person is qualified to do the work you intend to hire them for. A writer could not reasonably be found to place the consumer in any type of danger beyond a paper cut (and that would be the publishers fault not the writers). You wait. The first time they actually try and enforce this law it will be struck down. Mark my words...


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), January 12, 2000.

And a new excuse to the teacher for Junior not having his homework is born: "The taxman confiscated it."


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), January 12, 2000.

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