Editorial: First Amendment protects even unpopular speech Posted: September 18, 2013 – 7:53pm

By The Capital-Journal
The First Amendment to the Constitution gets cited frequently, usually when someone is championing his or her right to free speech or freedom of religion. Freedom of the press, also guaranteed by the First Amendment, gets plenty of attention and frequent mention, too.

The right to peaceably assemble and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances also are tucked neatly into the amendment, although it’s likely that some people probably couldn’t get past speech, religion and press if asked to list those rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The impetus for this basic primer on the First Amendment is a story published Wednesday in The Topeka Capital-Journal about a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Chuck Tobin, and his talk Tuesday to students at The University of Kansas’ law school.

The story and Tobin’s talk, delivered on Constitution Day, served as a reminder that if we want to continue enjoying those rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, we must defend them vigorously even when we disagree with what others say, what they print, broadcast or publish on the Internet, or how they exercise their religious freedom.

If those rights can be denied to anyone, they can be denied to all. That is something we must remember when others, under rights granted by the Constitution, are engaged in speech or behavior that we abhor. Such events as Tobin’s visit to KU are valuable in that they serve to drive home that message. It is one that can’t be repeated too often.

Most of us hear on a regular basis people championing causes, positions or opinions that we simply cannot support. But we must support the right of the person to deliver the message, regardless of how ridiculous or hurtful we many think it is.

Religious tolerance has long been a given in this country, but since Sept. 11, 2001, there are those among us who have little tolerance for a specific religion and would have no qualms about limiting its practice, and its right to peaceable assembly for that matter, in the United States. But, again, if the First Amendment doesn’t protect religious freedom for everyone, it protects it for no one.

This is basic stuff, to be sure, but some people think their freedom of speech or religion trumps that of others. It isn’t so.

Tobin had it right when he said: “We need the First Amendment to protect the people we don’t like. That’s its core value.”

Popular Ideas vs. the First Amendment…

Unpopular ideas are especially protected by the First Amendment because popular ideas already have support among the people.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “freedom for the thought that we hate” is important to the discovery of truth, because sometimes viewpoints change. According to Holmes, the way to oppose thoughts with which we disagree is not to ban them, but to speak up for what we believe. In this way, truth has an opportunity to compete in the “marketplace of ideas.”

FIRST AMENDMENT TO U.S. CONSTITUTION

First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]”
― Harry S. Truman

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
― Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood, The Busy-Body, and Early Writings

“It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or sold, or bought, or read.”
― Philip Pullman

“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.”
― Aung San Suu Kyi, Letters from Burma

“If you’re not going to use your free speech to criticize your own government, then what the hell is the point of having it?”
― Michel Templet

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

[The One Un-American Act, Speech to the Author's Guild Council in New York, on receiving the 1951 Lauterbach Award (December 3, 1952)]”
― William O. Douglas

“1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the things they read (or watch, or listen to, or taste, or whatever). They’re also entitled to express them online.

2. Sometimes those opinions will be ones you don’t like.

3. Sometimes those opinions won’t be very nice.

4. The people expressing those may be (but are not always) assholes.

5. However, if your solution to this “problem” is to vex, annoy, threaten or harrass them, you are almost certainly a bigger asshole.

6. You may also be twelve.

7. You are not responsible for anyone else’s actions or karma, but you are responsible for your own.

8. So leave them alone and go about your own life.”
[Bad Reviews: I Can Handle Them, and So Should You (Blog post, July 17, 2012)]”
― John Scalzi

“There might, Gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice, in this Address to you, of an anonymous production, but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army, the effect it was intended to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my observations on the tendency of that Writing. With respect to the advice given by the Author, to suspect the Man, who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance, I spurn it, as every Man, who regards liberty, and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”
― George Washington

MAYOR MILLER RECEIVES AWARDS FOR HER WORK IN THE FLC

 

Mayor Helen Miller was presented with the 2014 Home Rule Hero Award from Florida League of Cities Legislative Advocate Ryan Matthews at a meeting of the White Springs Town Council.  This award was created to recognize city officials who went above and beyond to advocate the FLC legislative agenda during the past legislative session.   

Miller and representatives of 28 other North Florida counties and 70 cities and towns are asking the Florida Legislature to mandate a more comprehensive mining of the data regarding Florida’s aquifers.   On April 21, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed regulations to revise the definitions of “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS under the Clean Water Act.  The EPA indicated that the purpose of the proposed rule is to clarify what waters are and what they are not as covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA).  It does not change what the States currently consider WOTUS.

The Florida League of Cities believes the proposed rule lacks clarity. The League has expressed concerns as to what the consequences of the proposed rule will be on municipal stormwater and wastewater utilities and the significant potential costs for Florida’s municipalities.

The Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078), sponsored by Representative Steve Southerland (FL-2), would halt enforcement of the proposed rule among other things. The League supports language in the bill that would require the EPA to consult with state and local officials to formulate recommendations for a consensus regulatory proposal that would more clearly identify the scope of waters to be covered under the CWA.

 

I support the Florida League of Cities organization and what they are trying to do.  But now you can see that your Mayor is trying to work upward on her career with the legislature. White Springs was just a stepping stone. 

You will recall, the Mayor used Town Funds to support Florida Leaders Organized for Water F.L.O.W. as well as using part of a PCS check intended for the H.O.P.E. program to send her husband to a legislative conference.    It may interest you that F.L.O.W, like the Mayor’s many projects has ceased to exist for a number of reasons including a need to restructure and allow a more flexible organization.  A new group has been formed, as yet unnamed, with the primary goal of protecting North Florida’s water supply.

It is obvious that some of the reckless spending of our town money was at your expense to further her career.  If that type of effort would have been spent on White Springs and the needs of its citizens, we gladly would have awarded her for her efforts as well.  But alas, we are not the legislature and a thanks from her citizens would not mean anything.

The League of Cities also requested Congress to consider local government priorities relative to providing local governments with long term funding for the next surface transportation bill.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is the federal surface transportation program that is set to expire in May.  Gas Tax receipts deposited in the Highway Trust Fund is not sustainable.

 

Mayor Helen Miller of White Springs had previously received the 2012 Suwannee River League of Cities (SRLC) Municipal Official of the Year award. The award recipient was nominated for her tireless effort on projects for leadership and exceptional civic commitment and public outreach and service to her community.

IEMOs provide elected municipal officials with an intensive and proven academic program that will assist them in effectively meeting the requirements of their elected role. The program offers a comprehensive overview of Florida municipal government, presented by a faculty of top professionals in the field.

The Mission

  • Representing and communicating the interests and issues of SRLC municipalities before the Florida Legislature, the Executive Office of the Governor and Cabinet, state agencies, and the Florida League of Cities;
  • Facilitating communication and information sharing among municipalities, their communities and elected leadership, and private and public sector partners;
  • Fostering cooperative partnerships with state agencies, peer municipalities, and the private sector in meeting the current and emerging needs across the Suwannee River region;
  • Facilitating and providing input on needed training and technical assistance for municipal government across the region; and, promoting effective municipal governance throughout the region.

I am uncertain how it was that the Mayor represented and communicated the interests and issues of our municipality before the Florida Legislature, the Governor, etal when she does not listen to the Citizens of White Springs or adhere to allowing individuals their civil rights after an extensive study of Florida Municipal government.   The citizens of White Springs have been ignored and if one complains, one is threatened with arrests, intimidation or any other malicious vengeance. Special People have benefits while others are ignored.

 I do appreciate, however, that the HOPE program is ongoing for the children of our community to which the Mayor is responsible.  However, the Mayor and council persons allowed SHE to deteriorate and the Charter School was a missed promise because the paperwork was not done correctly.  And even though the Charter School was not to have been paid for by the town, we do know of one check for attorney’s fees for the Charter School which was taken from the PCS HOPE PROGRAM check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • HOPE Helps, Inc’s mission is to prevent and reduce homelessness in Central Florida by equipping individuals and families to become self-sufficient through Housing, Outreach, Prevention, and Education.

 

HOPE focuses on assisting families in crisis by first providing basic necessities such as food, as well as identifying their needs and providing intensive case management and resources to guide them to self-sufficiency. Families in need receive food from HOPE’ s pantry for as long as they are in crisis, and is a model of a choice pantry that allows their families choices in shopping, as opposed to pre-packaged food. HOPE assists families through other programs including the thrift store, (HENS) HOPE’s Emergency Network System which provides delivery of food and services to home-bound and elderly. HOPE’ s Kids of HOPE Enrichment Program provides healthy lunches to children during all school breaks who typically receive free or reduced while in school.because we work to prevent families from further crisis, so they don’t become homeless. www.HopeHelps.org. bout Us

E

 

I WROTE SOME MONTHS AGO…

That we, my bride and I were starting to fight back.

Let’s review the bidding, shall we.

Town’s favor: I am still accused of FIVE Felony counts of uttering a forged instrument for documents that my wife put into my employment application for me to become town manager.

My response: The Assistant State’s Attorney who brought the charges has been “moved” from her position. I believe we have a strong case for a Dismissal of all Charges because the state law doesn’t allow the falsification of an employment application to be “Uttering a Forged Instrument”

Our Favor:

Federal Civil Rights suit discussed at length in preceding posts.

Citizen’s Complaint form for Mayor for violating my and my bride’s Civil Rights.

Criminal Complaint filed with HCSO and the State’s Attorney for felony Harassment.

On-going FDLE Investigation into Voter Fraud.

Summary: Who do you think is in the lead? The town with Miller, Tomlinson, Rivers and Rodreguenz sued for “Punitive Damages”, meaning money out of their individual pockets OR the Griffin’s, who it is believed, will finally be able to redress their government for grievances and get unfettered access to public records PLUS get the four public officials listed above for Slander and Defamation of Character. This goes especially true for Chief of Police Rodrequenz who used her official position to slander and defame me and my wife. A discussion with FDLE says that she might lose her law enforcement and correctional officer certifications for such behavior, if it is found true. That’s what happened to Joe Subic when he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

I ask the simple question. Who is on the offense and who is playing defense?

THE FACTS AND ONLY THE FACTS.

FACTS

21. Plaintiff JOE GRIFFIN is an outspoken political activist who has run for local political office and who maintains a political blog concentrating on the government and officials of White Springs and Hamilton County. Plaintiffs has been extremely critical of local officials, including MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS.
22. Plaintiff JOE GRIFFIN has repeatedly sued the TOWN OF WHITE SPRINGS on a variety of state law claims generally associated with Plaintiffs’ view that they have been treated in a discriminatory fashion or that Town practices have been illegal in some respect.
23. Earlier in 2014, Plaintiff JOE GRIFFIN ran (unsuccessfully) as a candidate for Town Council. The election was a close and contentious one.
24. Plaintiffs’ blog is known as the “White Springs Journal” which is available on-line at http://whitespringsnews.com/. That blog has been published continuously from March 31, 2012 to the current date. The blog is not “broadcast” to third parties or thrust

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upon persons who do not want to hear the message, but rather must be specifically sought out by persons wishing to read the contents of the blog.1
25. KARIN GRIFFIN is the editor of the blog. JOE GRIFFIN is the primary contributor of content for the blog, while KARIN GRIFFIN provides occasional commentary and illustrations (political cartoons and drawings).
26. Plaintiffs’ postings on the White Springs Journal blog concentrate on the unreasonably high sewer and water rates in White Springs as well as various shortcomings of the Town’s officials, including MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS. Plaintiffs have also criticized the Town’s funding of the Fire Department.
27. MILLER and TOMLINSON have complained publicly at Town meetings about Plaintiffs’ blog posts and the particular criticisms directed towards them and the quality of their service to the TOWN.
28. More recently, many of Plaintiffs’ blog posts have focused on the Town’s failures to comply with Florida’s public records laws. In this respect, TOMLINSON has been the frequent focus of criticism as she is Town Clerk and the official charged with responding to Chapter 119 requests.
29. Plaintiffs’ blog posts are protected under the First Amendment as core political speech. Plaintiffs have the right to freely express their opinions concerning the governance of the TOWN and of those elected and appointed officials who run the local government.

1 As with other websites, a viewer must make the intentional decision to access the site by typing in the URL and pushing the “enter” button. Viewers could not accidentally view the content against their will.

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29. The law is well-established that Plaintiffs have a right to freely express their political opinions through the medium of an Internet blog without interference or censorship by government or government officials.
30. Plaintiffs frequently submit public records requests to the Defendants pursuant to Article 1, §24 of the Florida Constitution and Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes. Those requests cover the entire spectrum of Plaintiffs’ political interests and the responses to those inquiries are frequently used as source material for Plaintiffs’ blog posts.
31. Florida recognizes an overwhelming public policy interest in favor of ready access to all manner of public records. The Florida Constitution includes the following express guarantee of access:
(a) Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf

Art. 1, §24, FLA.CONST. The reasons for seeking access to the records are irrelevant as a matter of law – even access for “bad reasons” is free and unfettered. See, e.g., Barfield v.
Sch. Bd. of Manatee County, 135 So. 3d 560, 562 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014) (“[T]he public

records law ‘is to be construed liberally in favor of openness, and all exemptions from disclosure are to be construed narrowly and limited to their designated purpose.’ … ‘[W]hen in doubt the courts should find in favor of disclosure rather than secrecy.’ … An individual’s reason for requesting a public record is irrelevant.” (internal citations omitted).
32. Timely access to public records is the cornerstone of a citizen’s ability to become informed of government actions and to petition government for the redress of his grievances: if one cannot learn about government actions, there is precious little ability to challenge those actions.

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29. Plaintiffs’ right to request public records from government is fully protected under the First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances as well as under Florida law.
33. Plaintiffs’ right to request public documents under the First Amendment without retaliation by government or its officials is well-established.
34. The TOWN, through its employees, MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS have repeatedly thwarted, delayed and interfered with Plaintiffs’ ability to obtain public records. Plaintiffs allege the following particulars:
A. Defendants claim to have “misplaced” Plaintiffs’ public records requests as an excuse to delay a response.
B. Defendants almost never respond to a request unless Plaintiffs makes multiple demands for compliance.
C. TOMLINSON will often reply that no document exists when there is open and obvious evidence that the document in fact exists. When attention is called to the fact that the requested document has been referenced in other documents by name or cited by public officials, TOMLINSON will eventually comply with the request and produce the “missing” document.
D. MILLER and TOMLINSON have complained publicly at Town meetings that Plaintiffs are “abusing the privilege” by making repeated requests for public records and asking whether “something can be done” to curtail Plaintiffs’ efforts to obtain public records.

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35. It is fair to characterize Plaintiffs as polarizing and controversial figures in the local community. They have earned their fair share of political enemies, including MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS.
36. Defendants MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS bear personal animosity towards Plaintiffs on account of their activism and their criticism of the officials’ actions and failures to act.
37. The TOWN’s councilmen have stated at public meetings that they believe that MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS should not be subject to “political attacks” by the Plaintiffs and that Plaintiffs were abusing their rights under Chapter 119 by submitting multiple public records request. A majority of the TOWN councilmen stated that they would undertake efforts to support MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS against the Plaintiffs.
38. On January 19, 2014, MILLER, acting in her official capacity as Mayor of WHITE SPRINGS, filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office against Plaintiffs on behalf of the TOWN OF WHITE SPRINGS. A copy of that document entitled “Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Witness Statement” is attached as Exhibit “A” to this Complaint.
39. MILLER stated in the Witness Statement that “Mr. Griffin continues to disrupt the operations & business of the town of White Springs”. There are three factual allegations in support of that statement:
A. “Mr. & Mrs. Joe Griffin continue to blog misrepresentations about me in my conduct as mayor of White Springs.”

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B. “They continue to harass town employees with frivilous (sic) 119 requests

– requesting the same information multiple times and blogging misinformation about employees.”
C. “Mr. Griffin has contact candidates for the open town manager position – some multiple times. … It is my understanding that he has stated to candidates that they will get to known him very well if they are offered and accept the position”.
40. MILLER’s witness statement was submitted on behalf of the TOWN in her capacity as Mayor and represents the official and authorized action of the TOWN.
41. On January 19, 2014, TOMLINSON, acting in her official capacity as Finance Director and Clerk of WHITE SPRINGS, filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office against Plaintiffs on behalf of the TOWN OF WHITE SPRINGS. A copy of that document entitled “Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Witness Statement” is attached as Exhibit “B” to this Complaint.
42. TOMLINSON stated in the Witness Statement that Plaintiffs were abusing their rights by making Chapter 119 requests to the Town and that JOE GRIFFIN suggested that candidates for city manager review his blog. The particular accusations are as follows:
A. “As the Town Clerk & Finance Mr. Griffin emails almost every day 119 requests to my email account, cityhall@windstream.net. Many of his request are petty or negative statement (sic) about departments or town business.”
B. “He has requested copies of every resume we have received for the town manager position”.
C. “Some of the applicants have informed me by phone conversation that Mr. Griffin has contacted them…. That they need to check out his blog to see what is going on

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in White Springs. This blog is written by Joe and Karin Griffin. Most of all, it represents Joe’s writing”.
43. TOMLINSON’s witness statement was submitted on behalf of the TOWN in her capacity as Finance Director and Clerk and represents the official and authorized action of the TOWN.
44. On January 19, 2014, RIVERS, acting in her official capacity as Administrative Assistant of WHITE SPRINGS, filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office against Plaintiffs on behalf of the TOWN OF WHITE SPRINGS. A copy of that document entitled “Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Witness Statement” is attached as Exhibit “C” to this Complaint.
45. RIVERS stated in the Witness Statement that Plaintiffs had unfairly criticized her performance as Administrative Assistant as well as the actions of unnamed council members on his blog. The particular accusations are as follows:
A. “I applied for the position of Administrative Assistant which is the job I currently have with the Town of White Springs. He [Griffin] has referred to me as “not the brightest or the best for my position. He has drawn pictures of me stuffing money into a purse.”
B. “They have pictures on their blog of council members (current/past) making statements to discredit them”.
46. RIVERS’ witness statement was submitted on behalf of the TOWN in her capacity as Administrative Assistant and represents the official and authorized action of the TOWN.

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47. MILLER, TOMLINSON and RIVERS signed their witness statement with the specific intent of using them to secure the investigation and prosecution of the Plaintiffs by law enforcement officers. Defendants urged the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to investigate Plaintiffs and charge them with a “crime” for posting comments on their blog and for making Chapter 119 public records requests.
48. Under pressure from the TOWN and from the individual Defendants, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation of the Plaintiffs.
49. Deputy Pearsall Fouraker conducted the investigation on behalf of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. As part of that investigation Deputy Fouraker spoke to the individual Defendants and the Chief of Police for WHITE SPRINGS. Deputy Fouraker also sought an interview with the Plaintiffs, but the Plaintiffs asserted their constitutional right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney.
50. Defendants participated in an investigation by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in which the individual Defendants repeated the comments made in their written witness statements.
51. In addition to the actions taken by the individual Defendants, TRACY RODRIQUENZ, the Police Chief for WHITE SPRINGS, personally lobbied the Sheriff’s Office to bring charges against the Plaintiffs. According to the Offense Report discussed below “Chief Rodriquenz requests warrants for Joe and Karin Griffin on the above charge”.
52. In pressing for Plaintiffs’ arrest for making blog posts and Chapter 119 public requests, RODRIQUENZ was acting in her official capacity as Chief of Police. Her actions represent the official and authorized action of the TOWN.

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53. Deputy Fouraker authored an “Offense Report” dated June 18, 2014, which documented the complaints made by the Defendants against the Plaintiffs. A copy of the June 18, 2014 Offense Report is attached as Exhibit “D” to this Complaint.
54. The Offense Report lists the victim as “WHITE SPRINGS, TOWN OF”.

55. The Offense Report also includes a narrative summarizing the results of the Deputy’s investigation and documenting the particular complaints lodged by the Defendants. The key features of that narrative are the following:
I was contacted by White Springs Police Chief, Tracey Rodriquenz in reference to the harassment of the Town of White Springs by Joe and Karin Griffin via their blog, Whitespringsjournal.com…. Witnesses state that the Griffin’s (sic) include on the blog what appears to be hand drawn likenesses of city employees involved in activities that are inappropriate or illegal and statements calling employees crooks, liars, and using untrue quotes. It is stated that Mr. Griffin emails and sends 119 requests almost daily that include petty or negative statements.
….

“Chief Rodriquenz requests warrants for Joe and Karin Griffin on the above charge”.

56. At the time they submitted the “Witness Statements” described above and urged that Plaintiffs be prosecuted, Defendants knew that Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to criticize government and government officials on their Internet blog. Defendants further knew that Plaintiffs had a right to access public records and to petition government for the redress of their grievances.
57. Defendants submitted the “Witness Statements” described above and urged that Plaintiffs be prosecuted with the specific intent and purpose of censoring Plaintiffs’ political speech on their blog and to dissuade Plaintiffs from submitting further public records requests.

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58. Defendants’ actions in submitting the “Witness Statements and urging Plaintiffs’ prosecution were intentional and malicious and done with full knowledge that such actions violated Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights and the equivalent protections of the Florida Constitution. Defendants fully intended to violate Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights and they, unfortunately, succeeded in doing so.
59. The investigation of the Plaintiffs at the Defendants’ urging was nothing short of a tyrannical campaign to punish Plaintiffs for their political activities.
60. The investigation of the Plaintiffs at the Defendants’ urging was based on the content of Plaintiffs’ political speech. Defendants objected to the unflattering comments made about the TOWN and its officials and sought to punish Plaintiffs solely on the basis of that political speech.
61. The actions of Defendants, acting under color of state law, violated Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to engage in political speech over the Internet in the form of blog postings and to seek information from government guaranteed to Plaintiffs under Florida law, and interfered with their ability to petition the government for redress of grievances.
62. Defendants’ actions constitute a prior restraint on speech as they made use of the police power to directly censor Plaintiffs’ speech on the basis of content without the approval of a Judge, following an evidentiary hearing, during which the status quo was maintained.
63. As a result of the Defendants’ charges and the police investigation, Plaintiffs have curtailed their Chapter 119 public records requests and have “toned down” their blog posts in an effort to avoid prosecution or further police action.

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64. Plaintiffs’ speech has been chilled as they have a reasonable fear that they will be investigated further and will ultimately be prosecuted for engaging in political speech over the Internet and by seeking information from government in the form of public records requests.
65. This fear is based on the fact that there has actually been a police investigation of their political activities coupled with the near certainty that Plaintiffs’ political activities will again bring them into conflict with Defendants.
66. Plaintiffs have also suffered grave emotional harm as a result of the police investigation and the prospect that they will be prosecuted for their First Amendment- protected activities.
67. Plaintiffs are suffering irreparable injury and are threatened with irreparable injury in the future by reason of the Defendants’ actions to censor Plaintiffs’ speech and political rights. Plaintiffs have no plain, adequate, nor complete remedy to protect their constitutional rights and to redress the wrongs and illegal acts complained of, other than immediate and continuing injunctive relief.
68. Plaintiffs will suffer a continuing violation of their civil rights and liberties as a result of the Defendants’ actions should an injunction not issue.
69. A permanent injunction will preserve Plaintiffs’ civil rights and reduce the need to compensate Plaintiffs with money damages for further violations of their rights.
70. The harm which would be suffered by the Plaintiffs without an injunction

— the loss of their constitutional rights — exceeds any conceivable harm the Defendants would suffer if they are prohibited from pursuing actions which clearly violate the most cherished principles of the First Amendment.

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71. A permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from engaging in such unconstitutional actions in the future would not be contrary to the public interest.

COUNT ONE OF LAWSUIT

COUNT I
FIRST AMENDMENT SPEECH RIGHTS

72. Plaintiffs reallege the facts set forth in Paragraphs 1 through 71 of this Complaint and incorporate those facts into this Count by reference.
73. This is an action for declaratory relief pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, §2201.
74. Plaintiffs assert that their position set forth in this Complaint is legally sound and supported by fact and law. Defendants’ actions however have created a bona fide controversy between the parties, and Plaintiffs are in doubt as to their rights, privileges and immunities with respect to the enforcement of the legislation at issue herein. Plaintiffs therefore require a declaratory judgment declaring their rights, privileges and immunities. There is a clear, present, actual, substantial, and bona fide justiciable controversy between the parties.
75. Plaintiffs are entitled to a declaration of their rights.

76. The actions of the Defendants, as above-described, were taken because Defendants object to the content of the Plaintiffs’ political speech.
77. The actions of the Defendants, as above-described, are intended to and have the actual effect of censoring Plaintiffs’ speech and deterring them from criticizing the TOWN and local officials on their blog.
78. The First Amendment does not tolerate such content-based censorship or the use of the police power to coerce citizens into giving up their speech rights.

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79. The violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment speech rights was intentional, malicious and carried out with complete disregard for the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
80. Plaintiffs have suffered damages as a result of the violation of their constitutional rights.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for the following relief:

A. That the Court take jurisdiction over the parties and this cause;

B. That the Court declare that the Defendants actions in filing police complaints and pursuing the investigation and prosecution of the Plaintiffs for engaging in on-line political speech violated Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right of free expression;
C. That the Court enter a permanent injunction forever enjoining Defendants and their various agents and employees, from taking action to censor or curtail Plaintiffs’ speech rights, including, specifically, the use of police complaints and investigations.
D. That the Court enter a judgment against all of the Defendants, and in favor of Plaintiffs, for compensatory damages to compensate Plaintiffs for their losses.
E. That the Court enter a judgment for punitive damages against the individual Defendants HELEN B. MILLER, PAM TOMLINSON, ANITA T. RIVERS and TRACY RODRIQUENZ, and in favor of Plaintiffs, to compensate Plaintiffs for the losses occasioned by Defendants’ unlawful and malicious acts;
F. That the Court grant supplemental relief including, but not limited to an award of Plaintiffs’ costs and attorney’s fees.