consultants are sandburs

Thursday, January 31, 2013

LATEST MINNESOTA CASE ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH ON THE WEB. PLUS SOME UPDATING. ABOUT A WEBSITE CREATOR, KYZYLYCZYN. ALSO PLEASE NOTE "FURTHER UPDATES."

Abby Simons, who covered the Moore v. Hoff case earlier, reports for Strib of the recent unanimous opinion by the Minnesota Supreme Court, authored by Justice Page, which reversed a Court of Appeals decision about online publishing and defamation.

This screen capture presents the opening part of the complete item Simons authored:

Click image to enlarge and read.
Complete STRIB report, here.

That opening explanation gives enough detail to allow Crabgrass readers to read the remainder of the complete report by Simons, which is recommended, or to read and understand the two conflicting court opinions, the unpublished Court of Appeals opinion, here, and the very recent reversal by the Minnesota Supreme Court, here. This is one of those most helpful situations, where the two opinions conflict so that each side of the argument is represented in a "winning" posture, while readers can discern what factors were influential with the lower appellate court, vs what was determinative to the ultimate decision on review.

Such situations are most instructive and helpful to those publishing online - where there are disagreeing viewpoints of what the law should be, and with one view dominating by virtue of being from the higher court.

An entirely separate issue would concern forms of regulated commercial speech, for instance a mere website, which while publishing opinion and reports could represent itself as "a newspaper" despite it not publishing and printing at all via paper and ink with a distribution network to shops and coffee houses making publicly available copies for sale or for free, on a regular basis. Indeed such a mere website could call itself "a propaganda organ" as well; but a question is whether there is any justification or credibility were it to try to make money off of selling legal notice publishing, a regulated activity where there are some reasonable impositions of law hinging upon the concept of providing generally true and sensible notice to the public within involved communities.

Somebody's mere website is not the same as a true printed community newspaper, in that sense. Although pretenses can be made, there also is dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" in the spirit of and according to the letter of governing law.

Detail about that question is a matter, probably, for a future Crabgrass post, while this post only focuses upon the lattitude of and limits upon what can be published, without defamation liability to others, over the content of the published commentary.

That question is complicated by the always present fact that any deep pocket feeling aggrieved (or simply honked off like a spoiled brat) and able to pay the lawyer and the filing fee can cause grief to another, even when nothing but pure truth and reasonable conclusory opinion is at issue.

Practically, anyone publishing on the web should look at this MD, deep pocket, having dragged the citizen over the rocks in this affair, because he could afford to and wanted to.

One year elapsed between the Court of Appeals issuing an unpublished opinion, and the reversal. Guess at the cost to the party that lost in the lower appellate court, the target of the suit by the target of published criticism.

This is a telling paragraph of Simons' report:

It's a frustrating end for McKee, 51, who said he's spent at least $50,000 in legal fees and another $11,000 to clear his name online after the story went viral, resulting in hundreds more negative postings about him -- likely from people who never met him. He hasn't ruled out a second lawsuit stemming from those posts.

If you are going to be an ass and sue over being publicly criticized, you have to take the ultimate yin with the yang. While that will not stop some having a more obstreperous nature (and having enough discretionary cash for the lawyer and filing fees without having to resort to eating cat food and living in a cold house); others, hopefully, will be deterred.

When you read what the doctor says he paid in fees, to put it in context consider that you likely could buy an election or two, for less.

___________UPDATE___________
As a thought experiment, readers are urged to consider whether The Anoka County Watchdog is a mere website, a newspaper, or a propaganda organ. Opinions can vary, and probably the one you should value most is your own.

Then as a further thought experiment, the word itself, "watchdog," decide for yourself whether Harold Hamilton's use of it per his "Anoka County Watchdog" website, is comparable to or different from use of the "watchdog" word, in this Strib report, which begins:

Minn. watchdog panel wants to see campaign financing overhaul
Article by: RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER , Star Tribune - Updated: December 12, 2012 - 9:10 PM

Proposals to the Legislature advocate a heftier budget, approval of higher donation limits and more disclosure.

The Minnesota agency charged with overseeing campaign finances is pushing the Legislature for a larger budget that would give it more investigative capacity, raise donation limits for candidates and require stricter disclosure from interest groups.

The proposals approved Wednesday by members of the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board are the latest indication that the state's laws are struggling to keep pace with the modern era of supersized fundraising.

"If they adopt all this, I think it will be pretty significant," said board member Deanna Wiener, a former state senator.

Already legislators from both parties who survived an election season of record spending on all fronts are clamoring for changes. Asked this week what one issue had received too little attention, Gov. Mark Dayton responded with just three words: "Campaign finance reform."

Along with legal changes, the board is seeking a $1 million budget in each of the next four years. That's up from the $689,000 it received for this year -- the lowest level it has received since 2003.

With the current budget levels, "we have been able to carry on, but never to excel or improve," said Gary Goldsmith, the board's executive director. The board had considered asking for less money from the state and charging lobbyists and candidates registration fees, as do some other states, but abandoned that idea.

The increased funding is expected to allow the agency to do more investigations and to improve its website.

[...]

[read more, again here]

What that suggests is perhaps a public spirited "watchdog" motive for the CFB to put spurs on when facing lobbying PAC-like organizations such as Taxpayer League, which, for example, has litigated to keep an Iron Curtain between itself and public disclosure of money flows it manages. Hiding information, rather than disclosing it in a way many believe reasonable and beneficial.

Added new text, as italicized: In the sense of sunshine vs the Iron Curtain favored by Taxpayer League, presumably via its Chairman Hamilton and revolving door lobbyist Krinkie authorizing litigation against giving disclosure, Stassen-Berger wrote:


The board also proposed requiring groups that spend on elections but do not currently disclose their spending to begin public reporting.

Board members did not make a recommendation on stricter lobbyist registrations or more disclosure of economic interests by lawmakers, although some think both are needed.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said legislators should have to disclose their sources of income.

"I think that's desperately needed in Minnesota," said Winkler, who noted that under current law, a legislator could work as a consultant for a lobbying group and no one would ever know.

Most states require far more income disclosure from elected officials than Minnesota does. A few years ago, the state received a failing grade for its disclosure laws.

On that Winkler observation re possibly hiding questionable consultancies under a hat, spend time

googling = two putt tommy boys tyler hann gottwalt



Continuing the thought experiment, ask yourself the same question set about Harold Hamilton's other currently active website, The Minnesota Watchdog, making two published websites of this Micro Control Company owner directly under his name.

Of interest, while websites are incorporeal, those two watchdog sites are at least "tangible" in the sense you can access something on the web - they are not ghosts nor mere glimmers in somebody's eye, as appears the case with the tantalizing ghost-site, The Washington County Watchdog:


I defy any reader to find that reserved name in use, on the web. I could not find it.

This K-Solutions - Kysylyczyn operation out of Roseville, besides being responsible for the uber-right-wing Republican Watchdog trifecta, (see the footers of the two dawgs now tangibly on the web as well as the above Washington County woof-to-be), this former mayor ("time to buy a vowel," maybe?) Republican inner-party operative, Kysylyczyn, is noted with 29 registered websites to his credit, with this rap-sheet giving creation dates:



The details, names of sites, is behind a paywall. What is public is that the batch of 29 includes at least these (i.e., two GOP legislative candidate sites used last election, plus Harold's "subscribe to my anti-Dan Erhart emailings" woofer-screed site).

Some do not like Kysylyczyn and/or have questioned his gravitas, including another uber-Republican website publisher (like Kysylyczyn), Mitch Berg (and John Gilmore). See, e.g., Berg here, and here; Gilmore here.

If you look at that PiPress report cited above, online still, here; one sentence stands out for me between the dash marks, "Kysylyczyn -- a newspaper owner, paid political consultant and day-care provider -- said he was elected chair of the group in April in an election involving more than 200 delegates, most of them having gained their role in precinct caucuses and local Senate and House district political conventions." I freely give the guy two out of three, day care and political operative, with one I disbelieve and would dispute.

More, later.

Probably via a follow-up post rather than a further UPDATE here.

______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
I am reminded of the snafu Mike Hatch stepped into in Duluth the last time he ran, did he say, "Republican whore" or "Republican hack"?

Hence, at the outset, I eschew either term and even the opinionated term hactivist, and only characterize Kysylyczyn as a "clearly-dedicated activist Republican operative," and indeed one who appears possibly too extreme and/or misoriented for other clearly-activist Republican operatives, i.e., Berg and Gilmore.

Other Republican operatives such as Harold Hamilton, Bob Zick, and Peggy Scott either like Kysylyczyn or they are at least amenable to transacting Republican candidacy and advocacy business with him.

FURTHER UPDATE: I would not call the gentleman "a real tool" although it would pass Supreme Court muster if I did. I do have my opinion. Form your opinion. That "Washington County Watchdog" screenshot has contact information, so you can phone and speak with Kysylyczyn, or exchange emails if that's how you'd want to spend any of your time.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE______________
It appears in today's "everyone's a critic" GOP there is yet another telling of the story of the dedicated Republican's CD4 unchairing, a Joseph Schultz, posting:

Therein lies the real story. Liberty movement delegates in CD4 got the Chair elected and got the Chair removed. Liberty movement delegates supporting removal came disproportionately from those new to the movement that have taken active roles in CD4 as elected members of the CD4 Executive and Full Committees. Those opposing removal predominately came from established members of the liberty movement. There are some noted exceptions, but taken as a whole it is a fair characterization.

The real question for CD4’s GOP is what to do next. Those favoring removal – fair disclosure I was among them – are now making a concerted effort to assemble a strategic plan for CD4 and a leadership team to execute on said, and as yet unfinished, plan. This initiative is a joint effort by Republicans of all stripes interested in promoting the principles of liberty and opportunity. With any luck this whole removal episode can serve as a new beginning.

Given the friction demonstrated within the liberty movement, there is some question as to what role the movement will play going forward. Liberty advocates who favored removal are already working hard to integrate the ideals of liberty into the strategic plan. These leaders will undoubtedly have significant influence on the composition of the team that will be asking for the trust of CD4 to implement the plan. Ideally this effort would include all those involved in the liberty movement. Unfortunately efforts thusfar to reach out to established liberty leaders have mostly been rebuffed.

There seems a dimension of the little boys fighting over who gets to hold the shiny airplane toy, and as best as I can understand a self-branding, "liberty movement" must be a pro-choice thing since if you have no liberty to make your family decisions then you have no liberty. I expect there is less thinking that way than fighting over the shiny toy, with Kysylyczyn's fingerprints on it from the past, Pat Anderson's fresher.

The man would be of little to no interest to me, presumably to most others, were it not for his insurgency against a status quo, which he, (and/or others which is a hard thing to pin down because a key person among others does not respond), perpetrate in the county where I live. I care to get sound and unbiased news, something I regard the one true local newspaper I know of, Anoka County Union (not Record), as providing. Then there is what Republican inner-party activist Kysylyczyn is doing under the rubric of his latest website toy, registered in Roseville, which he calls, "Anoka County Record."

In Roseville, per this whois downloaded yesterday evening, Feb.1, 2013 - something he registered first, days before first registering the mischief with the Minnesota Secretary of State (and there claiming something other than and beyond Roseville as a full and total locale for the website's activities). Compare:



[click those images to enlarge and read, which is worth doing because Roseville is in Hennepin County, while, surprisingly, a most interesting Anoka County address shows up, for some reason, 7956 Main St. NE, with Kysylyczyn's SoS filing]

All this being something I take time to consider, because "Anoka County Record," while being beyond question a website, is being posed to the public in ways I dispute, as if it were to be regarded by the general public as a "newspaper."

For now, you decide in your mind what a newspaper really is, especially in terms of tangibility, and in terms of giving the reading public suitable, real, actual, broadly distributed printed notice of events and things, and whether in your view, (stretched to its reasonable limits but not beyond), a website is in any true sense a "newspaper." More on that question, in subsequent posting.

For now, I end with the simple but telling observation, you cannot put a website down on your carpet to protect it if your Watchdog has "problems."

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Regardless of how the website's registration with GoDaddy may be amended after Crabgrass publishing the now current whois, above, the key part of the whois, in context, is the tangible street address of, "registrant," namely this:


i.e., this location:


and not this one:


Next an actual experiment rather than a thought experiment, go by that 7956 Main St NE, Fridley address and look for the sign indicating a "newspaper" housed there; AND, note what sign if any you do see at that address (hint, check out Google's above sidebar info returned when web-searching the Fridley address on Google Maps).

Compare what you'd see in Roseville and/or Fridley to the headquarters of a real Anoka County newspaper's publishing headquarters site, i.e, this. Or this. Or this, (indicating ECM, primarily a publisher of tangible printed-paper newspapers, also maintains websites ancillary to its primary business of printing and distributing newspapers to shops and other outlet sites within Anoka County). You can even go to the newspapers part of the county libraries, certainly the Rum River branch, grab a current or back issue, and take it to sit where most comfortable in a nicely upholstered easy chair next to a window (as I have done), and read news without having to log onto a library web-linked workstation and sit at a screen.

Surely that Fridley site has attracted a more auspicious guest than the BizTech ACADEMY student group pictured outside ECM Publishing headquarters, but that auspicious Republican luminary's visit was back in 2003, years before Kysylyczyn's website in Roseville was even conceived, much less registered with GoDaddy. Also, note the presidential visit reporting squares with signage at that Fridley site (drive by there and check it out). And if you miss seeing any sign, for that site there is this showing decades of existance:


......................


Last, in your mind's eye, can you picture Harry Truman grinning and holding aloft for reporters and photographers, a website?








__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
All credible evidence suggests Kysylyczyn spends his days operating a day-care business from his home at the Roseville address, 3083 Victoria St. N., i.e, the most recent web-chat entry I could find, here; his "K Care, LLC" SoS filing, here; his Linkedin page, here; and a Switchboard reverse look-up of his declared business phone number, (651) 484-1384, here. It appears the Fridley presence may be a fiction, one maintained with the Minnesota Secretary of State, and on his "Anoka County Record" detail line on his publicly viewable Linkedin page, here; while in truth he may sit his bottom at a work station at the Roseville home working on that "newspaper" when not wiping baby bottoms, per the K Care, LLC, business model -- or we may think it that, absent the primary 7956 Main St. NE, Fridley, occupant saying definitively on the record, "No, Kysylyczyn sits his butt here in Fridley day-in, day-out, I see him doing such, since I am here all the days too."

So far, no such statement has emerged despite email requests for such an affirmation.

I did send a registered letter to Kysylyczyn at that Fridley address, but the thing was not signed for by him. The return receipt was signed somebody named, as best as I can read the signature, Diane Butler. A request to identify this "Butler" person at the Fridley address has also gone unanwered by Harold Hamilton, CEO and owner, Micro Control Company, the lead and possibly only true occupant at that site and address.

Kysylyczyn uses his home address and that one single phone number for his political consultancy, which is how he becomes campaign website registrant for Republican politicians such as Zick and Scott; this screen capture:


The Roseville online chatline for which he is a regular posting person, on the latest I could find of his many items there, in relevant part states all things he does are glommed together, per that Roseville address/phone:

Date: Nov 26 [2012] 17:11 UTC

Got my proposed tax bill. 9% increase. Almost all of it attributed to
Roseville City Hall.

I guess we have the "Port Authority" to thank for a portion of that.

John M. Kysylyczyn
K Solutions LLC, owner
Anoka County Record LLC, owner
K Care LLC, owner
3083 Victoria Street
Roseville, MN 55113
email:
home office: (651) 484-1384

http://www.ksolutionsllc.com/
http://www.anokacountyrecord.com/
Mayor of Roseville, MN 2000-2004

Kysylyczyn so far declines to post a meaningful website for the K Care, LLC, thing; only this, per the link; http://kcarellc.com/

HOWEVER -- It's him, that same Roseville address, per his SoS filing, here, and a whois of that GoDaddy reserved site URL; same address, same phone number:


Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: KCARELLC.COM
Created on: 31-Oct-08
Expires on: 31-Oct-13
Last Updated on: 27-Oct-12

Registrant:
K Care LLC

3083 North Victoria Street
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
United States

Administrative Contact:
Kysylyczyn, John M. john@ksolutionsllc.com
K Care LLC
3083 North Victoria Street
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
United States
+1.6514841384

Technical Contact:
Kysylyczyn, John M. john@ksolutionsllc.com
K Care LLC
3083 North Victoria Street
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
United States
+1.6514841384

More, subsequently about this Roseville resident doing his business in Roseville, Hennepin County, Minnesota ...

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________
One loose end tied up sufficiently. This is like peeling the layers of an onion, except that's worth the time, but once I get into finding out about the gravitas and basic legitimacy of this Anoka County Record thing, it's like a watchdog sinking in his teeth, not letting go.

Speaking about Watchdogs, I tracked down the individual at that Fridley address who signed for the registered letter I sent to Kysylyczyn (at that address). Dianna M. Butler, a 14 year employee of Harold Hamilton's Micro Control Company, presently having the title there, "Executive Administrative Assistant." She is a notary employed by Harold Hamilton [his firm, he owns it] and she notarizes Kysylyczyn's stuff, e.g., here. Same signature as on the letter return receipt. This Anoka County Record thing looks after each rock is lifted to have more and more Watchdog paw prints all over it. But, again, there will be another post, another time ...

In closing, I hate the guy's name. I have to keep cutting and pasting. But perseverance is its own reward.

Also, the guy's registered another interesting website name, one giving a 404 message now,

philkrinkie.org

Somehow I tie that name to Watchdoging - oh yes, Taxpayer League, that nexus.

And, another right wing Republican politician using [cut/paste] Kysylyczyn,

Mandy Benz

Also

dakotacountywatchdog.com

A frigging kennel -- have you seen that film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Big pod like websites reserved for what mischief? Fate will tell.

More later. The onion layers are making my eyes tear.

In fairness, not necessarily an uber-right wing Taxpayer League site registration, here.

These folks - a local LWV chapter. I wonder if the Republicans stand-up their candidate forums, in Roseville, Maplewood, Falcon Heights. [Update: At least advance notice with a reason stated, this link. Also, Kysylyczyn dips his oar in commentary. The Republican candidate declined to participate, with a letter notice sent in advance, not a simple rude no-show hike.]

So, balance that one statistical outlier, a LWV chapter, against this yet-another Republican operative, now appearing to be soliciting around as a PR/flack/lobbyist - fellow, get a better looking website. It reminds me too much of the decor at the Black Forest Restaurant.

Mr. [cut/paste] did his web registration too.

____________LAST UPDATE_____________
Anything else WILL be a NEW post.

In fairness to Kysylyczyn posing Mitch Berg as his critic is not necessarily seeking out the best hand on the pulse of the nation. However, my gut instinct tells me the Kysylyczyn-Watchdog-Krinkie trifecta loved the Paul Ryan choice as much as Berg, with only the electorate disagreeing.

Kysylyczyn was selected Republican CD4 head in an April 2012 district convention if my memory is correct, and lasted less than a year in that role. See this link for minutes online of the removal meeting, where Mitch Berg was a present critic favoring removal. Make of it what you will.

Much of that background is offered mainly to show the question of what influence Taxpayer League's chairman has on this man's website posed as a newspaper, where ink is not bought by the drum load as with ABC Newspapers, or the rail car as with Strib, but if used at all it's via an ink jet or laserjet printer, copy by copy printed for who knows what purpose. So: IS THAT A NEWSPAPER IN ANY REAL SENSE OF THE WORD AS COMMONLY UNDERSTOOD?

Next, with the public web persona of a rabid GOP sycophant, would anyone expect the objectivity of true newspaper reporting from that venue? Whether it be Kysylyczyn alone, or Kysylyczyn together with Taxpayer League muck-a-mucks driving the car, will it not be a car not tracking the lane well, but steering perpetually to the right?

That is another factor in saying whether or not this Anoka County Record website is anything even approaching a printed and distributed newspaper. Again, for now this is the last update. Look for a new but continuing post later. As in, for instance, what does the statute say and what does it mean? What did the legislature intend? And does the Kysylyczyn website meet any such standard? Think it over in your own mind, before I bias you mind with my own opinion and argument. But it is a real question because this dude is posturing as a paper to sell legal notices, as a cash flow plan, and the essence of "notice" - what it is and why it is important - are dimensions at play, in the man's selling effort. It is serious stuff. He's out to make money, that way. Is it justified? Is he overstepping realities, in this quest to sell? And how best can we see hints of and then guess at the scope of Watchdog paw prints all over this entire thing? Knowing the players in the play is not inconsequential.

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