News

Assault-on-an-officer charges dismissed in Palo Alto 'Taser case'

Judge sharply criticizes 'tainted' police actions in tricking Joseph Anthony Ciampi to exit his van, leading to a fight and double Taser incident

A judge ruled Wednesday morning that Palo Alto police officers acted illegally when they used a ruse to convince Joseph Anthony Ciampi, 41, to come out of his parked van March 15 — triggering a fight with three officers, a double Taser incident, and the man's arrest for assaulting an officer.

Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett dismissed the assault charges against Ciampi because he said everything that followed the police ruse was illegal. One of the officers had pretended to radio for a tow truck.

"This particular ruse, in this particular instance, was unlawful, and everything that follows was illegal," Barrett said. He cited a court decision that "law officials should not trample upon Constitutional Rights" of people, saying that the conduct of the Palo Alto officers was "tainted."

"The complaint is dismissed, and Mr. Ciampi, you are discharged," Judge Barrett said.

"I am relieved," Ciampi said moments later outside the Palo Alto courtroom. He said he will pursue legal action against the city over what happened.

"I want the truth to come out," he said.

Police were called by resident Ken Alsman on the morning of March 15 with a complaint that a man had for some weeks been sleeping in his van near Ramona Street and Lincoln Avenue just south of downtown Palo Alto.

A tape of the 911 call by Alsman was played in court early in December, in which Alsman complained because he said the man looked at his wife and made her uncomfortable.

The three officers who responded to the call — Manuel Temores, Kelly Burger and Agent April Wagner — were unable to convince Ciampi to come out his van to talk with them until Temores pretended to make a radio call for a tow truck.

Ciampi then burst out of his van and yelled at the officers, then went back inside and slammed the sliding side door shut, Temores and Burger testified.

Wagner then opened the door, and Burger said he grabbed Ciampi's arm and pulled him out of his van. Burger testified that he feared for his safety and the safety of his fellow officers because he thought Ciampi might have gone back inside to arm himself.

Temores testified that he thought Ciampi was a drug user and might be under the influence of drugs because he had pock marks on his bare arms. But medical records Ciampi showed to the Weekly indicate that Ciampi has been treated for the last six years by the Palo Alto Veteran Affairs Health Care System for a skin condition that leaves marks on his arms.

When Ciampi was pulled from his van, a melee ensued in which Temores and Burger testified that Ciampi struck both of them and Wagner. Temores said he used his Taser on Ciampi twice to subdue him, and Ciampi was then arrested on the assault charge.

Barrett said the police accused Ciampi of "violating a non-existent law" by sleeping in his van. There is no law in Palo Alto against sleeping in a parked car or truck.

There is a city law against not moving a parked vehicle within 72 hours, but Barrett noted that "there is no evidence that the 72-hour law was in violation."

"A ruse was used to get him out of his car," Barrett said. Ruses are often part of police work, "but there are limits to ruses used by police," he said.

Related stories:

'Officers believed tow-truck ruse was legal'

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Like this comment
Posted by By the rules or not at all
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Consensual contact should be just that -- talking to those who are willing. I appreciate Judge Barrett's decision that the use of this kind of nasty and provocative ruse is inappropriate in a consensual contact situation, no matter how low the social standing of the person dealing with the police.

I somewhat regret the fact that in doing so, he avoided the need to rule on whether the PAPD had tampered with evidence. This means that we still need an independent investigation to confirm or refute the statement by Ciampi's expert witness.


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Back on November 26, I speculated that this might be the real reason behind Chief Johnson's retirement.


Like this comment
Posted by My Two Cents
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Many years ago, someone of Japanese descent robbed a bank in the East Bay. The robber was driving a car similar to a person I know, also of Japanese descent. So my friend was pulled over & guns were even drawn on him, until his drivers license was called in, and he was cleared and let go. He cooperated the whole time, and to this day, he understands that they were just doing their job.

Do we need rules for everything, like a RULE than no one can sleep in a parked car in Palo Alto? Would it not have been better for Mr. Ciampi to have moved his van, cooperating with police, to another neighborhood, that may have been more welcoming to him?

By being defiant, he may have won the battle, but when city council changes the rules for everyone about sleeping in vans, he will have lost the war. The police are there to keep order. I'm a bit tired of "consent" being a requirement for a police officer to investigate someone, if they have a reason to.


Like this comment
Posted by can we
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2008 at 5:57 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]im a supporter of this guys case ,but how about justice for a black or latino who feels they must protect themselves from assault by racists or any harasser? thats hy you have reports of robberies ,people are rustrated and wantto pay ypou back.it isnt just about money.its frustration ,like seeing even poor whites not do time.justice for all,may we all feel relieved as mr. ciampi!


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Re: "Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, 5 hours ago

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] "

I read the post before it was censored. It was sarcasm, and actually quite humorous. It went after both sides of the issue. No offensive language at all.

Has the Weekly become so PC that it can't tolerate sarcastic humor, even when vented against both sides of an issue?




Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Thank God for rules or we would be back to the times when minorities were beaten or killed for looking at White women. Bush ignored rules for 8 years


Like this comment
Posted by By the rules or not at all
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 18, 2008 at 6:57 am

While we've got folks complaining about the Weekly's moderation, its worth noting that we've got a group of neo-nazis trying to stir up racism and contempt for the poor.

It is my sincere hope that the Weekly manages to convince them to abandon the attempt.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 7:27 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

This is an open invitation to cops just to phone it in. Concerned, you are a half century late with that comment. Racism is not a good career movement in law enforcement today, and adequate provisions for redress for misbehavior are available. Forget about reporting suspicious lurkers in residential neighborhoods, at the very least. The next time you get a ticket for a Hollywood Stop or for parking in the wrong direction, don't dare ask why the cop isn't catching the real crooks instead.


Like this comment
Posted by Two Thumbs
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:09 pm

'I'm a bit tired of "consent" being a requirement for a police officer to investigate someone, if they have a reason to.'

The PAPD have gotten away with too much for too long, and we all know it. Are they really concerned with the increase in robberies of late?


Like this comment
Posted by BP Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Mr. Ciampi's blue van can be found every night in the parking lot of the downtown library. When parking regulations require he moves to another neighborhood for the day until he can return to the library.

Those of you who don't mind suspicious vans parked in front of your house should leave your address so he can make you a part of his circuit. And please don't do anything to trample his rights like ask him what he's doing.

Palo Alto cops are just trying to do their job.




Like this comment
Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I am glad to see that we will not condone NYPD/Guiliani-type gestapo tactics by the PA police.
It is heartening to hear that the judge ruled the actions of the police as out of bounds. Unfortunately, in these kind of cases the police protect their own and it looks like these miscreants on the force will not be disciplined because "they thought they were doing the right thing" (as did the NYPD when they shot Amadou Diallo).


Like this comment
Posted by lol
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm

I have recently discovered that Palo Alto on line is conducting and presenting itself under a very small town mentality. Recently under another subject, I deliberately posted a modified from original comment on a New York Times comment blog that was posted, and deleted, on here. The vitriolic rants on NY Times blog (it was about Bush, what else) made Noun Eats Mooses rants look like the postings of a giddy school girl. Now don't misunderstand, there are strict guidelines on and rules there too, and no comment is posted until approved by moderator. That being said, I discovered the Times understands sarcasm, and it understands banter. It understands adult give and take. As long as the commentary doesn't degrade into something that sounds like a David Duke seminar exhorting people to commit hate crimes or a childish expression of profanity, they allow Freedom of Speech.

Palo Alto On Line caters to...hmmm, I'm not so sure anymore. Difficult to get a read. NY Times is about as liberal as one can get. It does have moderator approved posting but does give great latitude. Yanno, Freedom of Speech within a wide margin of reason. Weeks ago I would have said that PAonline was similar, but not only have they added their little tattle Tos link, but it appears that some moderator with Disgruntled High School Teacher Red Pen Slasher Madness has gotten a bit out of control in their little cubicle downtown. The deletions follow no rhyme or reason. No particular path we good little Sheeple are supposed to follow. Someone wrote a funny piece of conjecture about Moose, it was deleted, allowing the posters name to stand with the announcement that the comment was deleted due to blah, blah, blah. I figure that's so the miscreant poster can slink away in shame to think about their misdeeds. Then, on the other hand, they allow postings by Moose to stay comparing American Christians to Al Quada to stand. I am agnostic, but still find that highly offensive. I tried the tattle tale button to no avail. I wanted to see how it is applied. As with any group, most Christians I know are lovely people. I envy their ability to have faith. So, all things being equal, if I have to accept that an offensive yet not profane comment like that can remain, then so should a satirical profiling of the person who wrote something so nuts. Supposedly, under Freedom of Speech, we should be allowed to express our thoughts. The give and take may get petty at times, but it's not slander, as the majority of the posters use something other than actual names, it's not hate speech with intent to incite, and it's not some fifth grader practicing newly learned 'cuss' words...such as the George Carlin 7! I disagree with 3/4 of what people around here say about some issues, but I defend their right to say it. I also defend my right to state my opinion. I may want to smack Moose most of the time, but as long as his comments are not horrific, allow them to stay. Likewise, allow response. If you don't allow one, you cannot allow the other. You also then go against the intended purpose of blogging. As long as it continues to be commentary and not hate speech or juvenile unrelenting harassment, why the hell won't you let us have our say? It can be thought provoking, humorous, silly, intelligent, insulting, complimentary or just factual, and it's always a reason to choose YOUR publication say, over Topix etc. Better bottom line for advertisers too. Use your brains PA Online. You are becoming a bit too judgmental and despotic.


Like this comment
Posted by Friend of Tony
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm

The PAPD got off easy on this one. And yet there again, since the whole legal system is in bed with one another here, they had to figure out how to put all this to rest. After all, the part of the video that got scrubbed was of the officer shooting a Taser bullet at Tony's face which Tony somehow blocked with his forearm.

Chief Johnson knew, a lot of the cops on the street know, the crime labs know, the DA knows and probably the judge, as well, had been tipped off to this horrific crime committed by our own cops. I say the onus should be on the local "protectors of the peace" to prove to us that they are not the guilty ones here and that what they had extricated from the Taser video was not Tony getting shot IN THE FACE!!

An indictment on the whole PAPD and the laser gun in general, this needs to be ratcheted up to another level. Well beyond the safe confines of the Santa Clara County legal system. To the federal level. Perhaps the FBI can unmask this video.....

Tony is a good guy with a big community of fans here in Palo Alto. He has, for example, organized and held our local touch football league together for maybe a decade now.....


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

There are public health reasons as well as safety reasons to prohibit sleeping in cars on public streets, the lack of minimum sanitary facilities in autos. Friend of Tony, I suggest you invite Tony to park in your driveway unmolested. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Walter--how rude of you. Since PA does not have a law prohibiting him from sleeping in his vehicle, he was doing nothing illegal. Tony has a life and he does contribute to society. And anyway, who are you to judge others and tell them to leave our community.
Tony did nothing to violate the law when he was assaulted by members of the PAPD.
Instead of spending your time condemning those that you know nothing about, why don't you work with the city to pass a law,if you consider sleeping in a vehicle so offensive and problematic
Shame on you for your tactless and thoughtless comments.


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:08 pm

A benign ruse is preferable any day to the actual Gestapo tactics that are used in other Countries. Tony should have been a grown up and gotten his butt out of that van and talked to the cops. If he didn't wish to do this, he had the right to call the PD himself or had the officers call for a Superior. No political animal (brass) wants to be caught in a tussle with a van dweller. Why is the expectation of reasonable, personal responsibility so maligned on here? It's ALWAYS big bad cops against some hapless goody two shoes. Even in the reporting.

Does Tony have NO personal responsibility? He was frightening a home owner. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] If he did that in front of my house I would suddenly discover a love for ear splitting heavy metal and gansta rap, played loudly 24/7 from my newly acquired lawn rock speakers. If the feeling is the law should allow for someone to persecute another with no consequence, then hey, again, it should go both ways!

"Barrett said the police accused Ciampi of "violating a non-existent law" by sleeping in his van. There is no law in Palo Alto against sleeping in a parked car or truck."


Oh I would LOVE to see the postings on here if it were a giant RV instead of a van parked in front of any of your homes! Maybe a family of five with two dogs 'sleeping' in there. You people would be squealing like stuck pigs! There would be ordinance adjusting like no tomorrow!


If Tony is the great guy everyone claims, then why the hell didn't he just move in the first place? He actually had offers from people who didn't care if he stayed in front of their homes. Now he can add to that list his defense attorney and the judge.


[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Antney
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Homeowners can't pick up and move their homes.

Tony, can.

Tony is invading their territory. It may be a City owned street but it's still imposing Tonys way of life directly on, and causing harm to, another. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:09 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm

TwoSides--perhaps you should go back and re-read my comments to Walter (and if you noticed the editors deleted some of Walter's comments, so clearly they were out of line)--anyway it was okay for Walter to tell Tony what to do, but wrong for me to make suggestions for what Walter should do?
I suggested that he should work to pass a law outlawing sleeping in cars in PA. This will then make Tony's actions illegal and I will not have a problem with the issue.
Also, please, do not put words in my mouth with regard to finding fault with the police and your analysis of my screen name is amusing, I will say that (not taking my comments seriously willnot cause me to lose any sleep). And yes, there are two sides to every story and the judge in this case ruled that the police story was wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by JDHammer
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Setting the record straight.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" Declaration of Independence

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
U.S. Constitution

These rights belong to Tony just as much as anyone else.

Tony grew up in Menlo Park and has lived in Palo Alto for the last 15 consecutive years.
I have known Tony for over 12 years.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I find it hypocritical for people, especially people from my own neighborhood, who provide food and clothing to the poor and homeless of the world, ("Whole Foods' feed the 100 bag campaign"), so that they can feel good about themselves and give themselves kudos for doing so, especially during this time of year, and then without so much as batting an eye vilify, condemn and outlaw those same people when they happen to exist in the same town, the same State, and the same Country.

Who knows you may be next to end up on the street.

Web Link

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by JDHammer
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Just THE FACTS PLEASE

Tony has kept me updated with a play-by-play account of everything that has happened to him since the day when Palo Alto Police Officer Kelly Burger shot Tony in the face with his Taser gun because Tony was trying to call someone to prevent his van from being towed.

According to Judge Thang Barrett the police were going to tow Tony's vehicle solely because "Palo Alto Police Officer April Wagner asserted to Tony over and over that he was violating a NON-EXISTENT 'Sleeping Ordinance.'"

Why did not any of the newspapers report this fact?

FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THE REPORTERS WILL NOT TELL YOU.

Fact 1) Contrary to what Mr. Kazak states in his article, the call for service does not state that Ciampi was looking at or watching anybody, as I have both heard the call and read the transcript, apparently something that Kazak failed to do.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Judge Thang Barret emphasized all of these points in his decision to drop the charges against Tony, stating that, "the officers were sent out on a service call to check on a man who was sleeping in his vehicle, not on a man who was watching anyone."

As from the way I read the transcript, the officers had no information about a woman and daughter prior to making contact with Tony but only sometime later after the incident was already over.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You may have your own prejudices against Tony, but journalists who have integrity will not allow their personal biases or prejudices to effect the FACTS of a story, which Thorwaldson, Kazak and Oremus have not done.

PLEASE JUST PRINT THE TRUTH.

I find it interesting that DA Javier Alcala showed one of the video tapes to a newspaper reporter, Will Oremus of the Palo Alto Daily News, but did not show it to the judge during the Pre-Trial Hearing.

Several hundred-thousand dollars of Tax payers' dollars wasted on cameras because the police refuse to hold themselves accountable for their unconscionable actions.

JDB


Like this comment
Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I find it interesting that these glowing supportive testimonials of Tony are allowed to remain posted while Antneys post was not. We have no proof that Antney is his acquaintance, but on here, we have no proof that any of you supporting Tony are either. People see different sides of people. What I AM seeing proof of is PA on Line's bias. That, or simple inability to fairly moderate.


Like this comment
Posted by nomorebsplease
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm

no more bickering! just stick to the facts! The man did not want to cooperate with the cops, and with good reason as the judge dismissed the case against him. THATS IT! Opinions are like....


Like this comment
Posted by Bernie
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Someone above said they were glad that you weren't condoning NYPD/Giuliani tactics in Palo Alto. It's too bad, because such tactics saved NYC from the anarchy that was rampant in the Dinkins era and Bernie Goetz vigilantism before that.
Like it or not, the police are the line of defense between us and the Hobbesian State of Nature.
Of course, pre-Giuliani in NYC, such an annoying car parker like this guy would've had the air taken out of his tires (or worse) until he got the message and left town. Maybe that's your play in the future. Dealing with undersirables in those days meant they worried more about their safety than their rights.


Like this comment
Posted by CRESCENTPARKJORDANPALYGIRL
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:19 pm

When did the conversation turn to race?

Prohibiting sleeping in a car on the street is the best method for dealing with this issue that I've heard yet.

Palo Alto really gets a small amount of this type of occurence. These are hard times for some people. There are a lot of peole who don't feel safe in shelters, especially those who may be out of their homes and new to indigent life.

In SF there's a trained street team to approach those vehicles and get them moved and/or to services. I think that most people would feel better about calling a helpline of that sort rather than getting car campers arrested.

Remember - arrest record, no job, in some cases.

Mr. Ciampi's arrest is just a symptom of a greater ailment. PAPD could partner with homeless groups to provide direct services. Then someone may notice his health condition that he says led to his outdoor sleeping. It would be less expensive than arrests and court hearings.

I'm grateful that I'm able to go inside to a warm house. Now that supposedly reputable (former SEC) investment gurus are running pyramid schemes, even the most careful of us seem vulnerable.

Some people are only three missing paychecks away from homelessness?

I'm a Human Resource professional. I see what's happening.


Like this comment
Posted by Right On Bernie
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Right on Bernie! Anyone that lived in that cesspool, now called New York City, before Giuliani, and then during his administration "gets it". Some of the tactics were a little over the top, but then again, so were the shenanigans that were occurring in that city. If PA residents want a cesspool then they can cater, have concern, and placate those that either break the law, or are indignant with our police force. For God's sake, all they did was ask a question! They have every right to "police" our neighborhoods, that's what they're there for, and they have done a great job of it too! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Carole
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The defendant was within his constitutional rights to sleep in his van.We've already had some liberties taken away by the Bush administration. Don't people understand that this is what a major problem is?

Where is the compassion for someone who can't afford a place to live. He's fortunate to have a van.



Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I believe we had some 'rights' removed, if that's how you choose to see it (I choose to see them as adjusted to reflect the times) from us by a group of terrorists on, when was that? Oh yes, 9-11.


Like this comment
Posted by danny the homeless guy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm

CRESCENTPARKJORDANPALYGIRL writes:

> Prohibiting sleeping in a car on the street is the best method for
> dealing with this issue that I've heard yet.

One of Palo Alto's regular vehicular homeless guys told me today he wouldn't mind if charges were re-filed against Ciampi. He said to me, "Who the H--- does Ciampi think he is that he can live out of his van wherever he wants?" The police sometimes get complaints in a way they feel they have to "move" a vehicle sleeper/camper. Vehicle campers regularly move when this happens.

I'll stand by my previous postings here in which I suggested that it sounds like Ciampi was creating a nuisance in the way he was living out of his van. Alsman's complaint was reasonable, and the police have authority to abate a public nuisance.

The Daily Post today suggested that charges could be re-filed against Ciampi. Ciampi can be re-charged under 372 P.C., I think. Something like this might be better than watching Ciampi run away with a large monetary judgment while the remaining vehicle homeless have to pay the price by becoming outlawed under city ordinance because of silence or misunderstanding over the preemptive effect of this state law.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Rogelio
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Wait, Carole,
I thought the whole point was that the dude wasn't homeless, rather he had an apartment, but couldn't deal with the "recycled air" I think there's a difference between being homeless and being a nuisance, no?
I don't think this is a question of compassion, rather, I think it's a question of someone being an obstinate nuisance.
Maybe bernie was right, someone should let the air out of this guy's tires. He'll get the message.


Like this comment
Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I think there is more to it than 'recycled' air. Windows can be opened. It said he lived in a garage converted to a studio. I don't know how much was done to it, but a garage, is a garage. Do you know how many allergens are in a garage? Including detritus from vermin, like rats. Lots of things can make you more sick in a garage than in a house with the windows open.

And they weren't making a huge issue of how he 'looked' at anyone. That was mentioned in an earlier story, and disputed by Tony's friend on these blogs. I don't CARE if the woman or her daughter were home or not, it is simply very disconcerting to have someone living in a van just a few feet from your front door. Again, if some of you don't find this a problem, then post your addresses on here, (and I hope you have patient neighbors) or go put them on his windshield. The rest of us prefer a little privacy, as so little is accorded to us to begin with when it comes to City (even small) living.

Why is it because some of us are lucky enough to live in a fixed structure, that many of us work very hard to be able to call home, we have to have compassion for Tony, but he, who has had several offers of accommodation, needs have no compassion or consideration for anyone else?


Like this comment
Posted by Bye Bye Tony
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Ciampi has just ruined it for himself, and many others who share his lifestyle (sleeping in vans) in Palo Alto. He sounds like a real piece of work. From now on, when Ciampi attempts to park his van, he will be immediately suspect as someone who defies police, has a hot temper, has intimidated citizens, etc. He will be watched like a hawk. Ciampi may have gotten off, but he will be moving on, or risk being a pariah, or worse. Palo Alto citizens are fed up with this behavior, and it's going to stop, one way or another. And City Council, how about that law? Change it! If people want to sleep in vans, rlelgate them to one place in the city, and don't make it residential.


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm

City council? Huh? What are they going to do? Change the law? Dream on. Not unless Tony winds up in front of one of THEIR homes. Until that happens, the Mayor and Council will explore what options they have to portray themselves in the most flattering PC 'We are so enlightened aren't we amazing?' light. They will target more brass at the PD as an excuse to bring in a politically correct most likely token minority outsider as Chief (a total insult to the position, the candidate and the City), and will wait until they personally become negatively affected by the Tony's of this world then will do something quietly and below the radar it to change the law. Ultimately, benefitting themselves.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2008 at 3:00 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2008 at 3:54 am

Not a PAPD fan, if you were a Online fan you would know that I have long advocated a caravansary facility, kinda like a budget or free KOA, with minimal sanitary facilities and security.
When property is subdivided the law usually requires that access e dedicated. This does not allow the government to make use of the dedicated land without further negotiation. A street is not a residence facility. Try pitching a tent in the middle of 101. Or perhaps try parking in Tony's garage apartment without his permission. There must be an expectation of reasonableness in everyday affairs or we have a society where anything not forbidden is mandatory. "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes..."


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2008 at 5:02 am

Walter you must be hitting a nerve because palo alto online has been on overdrive today deleting and modifying any commentary illustrating perhaps some not so positive aspects of Tony's personality and behavior while leaving the attributes in place. As either characterization can be called into question for veracity, one must ask why is palo alto on line being so blatantly subjective in this particular case? The bias is jumping off the page...


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Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2008 at 5:53 am

Walter--In Palo Alto a street is a residence facility--you are allowed to sleep in a parked car. Comparing that with pitching a tent on 101 is ridiculous.
Have the law changed--that will solve the problem


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Posted by Marco Polo
a resident of University South
on Dec 19, 2008 at 6:54 am

YouShouldKnow said:

"Homeowners can't pick up and move their homes.

Tony, can."

Excellent point. So many people here strum the "compassion strings". It's really easy to be compassionate about a bum parked in front of *someone else's* house, staring at *someone else's* wife. Is there any reason to doubt the initial complaint? Anyone - any tax paying, law abiding resident, that is - would be uncomfortable with someone camping out in front of their house, staring at their wife as she's leaving and returning to her home, going about her business as a productive citizen. How about some compassion for the people who were being made uncomfortable in their own home!!?? Every person here advocating for Tony's rights would have reacted the exact same way to his behavior in front of their own house - by calling the police, and rightfully so.


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Posted by Marco Polo
a resident of University South
on Dec 19, 2008 at 7:12 am

More about "Tony" as he is mysteriously known, instead of by his real name, Joseph Ciampi: Some people here claim to have personal knowledge of Tony, being tasered in the face, etc. I also happen to have personal knowledge of Tony and have heard a very specific account of the incident related from him to a friend of his and then from that friend directly to me. The first time around, Tony was tasered on his body, not on his face. The story is taking on a life of its own, accelerating in its departure from the truth.

Here's another little tidbit for the Tony lovers: Tony stole some items from my house!! Call it my "opinion" since I can't prove it. I only know for a fact that he was in my house while I was gone, being admitted by the person who was supposed to be in my house and who invited Tony, and that items were missing from my house after Tony was there. It's not like I lose things all the time. I have a very well organized house with a minimal style, and minimal possessions - nothing piled up in closets or under the bed for example. I don't have a lot of stuff and this is the only time *anything* has *ever* gone missing, and it was a number of items. Suffice to say that I don't have a lot of "compassion" for the likes of Tony. If this incident gets him to move out of Palo Alto, then some good has come of it. Good riddance. If there was ever a time for someone to "move on"...


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Posted by Bernie
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2008 at 9:16 am

By the way, it's ridiculous how "compassion" becomes an issue in these discussions. It's more properly an assessment of asymmetric risk. People who live in vans aren't stakeholders in a physical community. Sure, they may have ties to a community, but they are free to leave at a moment's notice. When someone doesn't have ties, they can simply snatch (people, property?) and go (like the drifter that kidnapped the girl in Utah or Idaho, Elizabeth Smart?) Then, the cost of failure is much higher than the benefit of "tolerance" or "compassion."
Maybe if this guy was camping out by the Mayor's on Seale Av, we might have a law by now . . .


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Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2008 at 9:24 am

Bernie---what about that couple in Stockton that held that boy captive for a year and were torturing him until he escaped--they were homeowners, with ties to the community and they did not snatch and go--they snatched and kept him in their home.


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Posted by Bernie
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2008 at 9:47 am

@ Not a PAPD Fan:
there are 70M households in the US of A. There are somewhat fewer drifters. As a percentage of total, drifters trump homeowners in anti-social behavior, property crime, crime against people, etc . . .
By the way, I've had several encounters with the PAPD (and MPPD and CHP and so on . . .) as a result of my predilection for aggressive driving and have found the five-oh out here to be far more professional than in my previous haunts, which include Chicago, Boston, NYC, and Charlotte. You all don't know how good you have it here. These guys are solid.


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Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2008 at 9:54 am

Bernie--please provide statistics or studies to back up your claim about drifters vs homeowners.
Just thinking about some recent major crimes--VA Tech massacre, Columbine, Oklahoma City Bombing, Stockton incident, the little boy from San Jose that was taken to Arizona and murdered by his stepfather, as examples of anti-social and crime against people issues--I think all of the perps were not drifters


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Posted by Bernie
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:10 am

@ Not a fan,
Funny that you invoke VA tech and Columbine (both perpitrated by kids, so neither stakeholders nor drifters) and OKC (McVeigh was a "transient" - see the wikipedia article) . . . I could spend time looking up the stats, but you've provided the poster child (McVeigh) for the anti-drifter argument. Also, these are big crimes, which have an element of randomness. People who study crime will tell you that it's not the murder rate, for example, that makes a place unsafe (so many murders are between people who know each other), rather, it's the rise and fall of "smaller" crimes like robbery and assault that have a randomness to them that makes people uneasy.


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Posted by John
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2008 at 11:15 am

*blink* what's in the water over at Stanford? We go from home owners feeling uncomfortable with someone squatting in their van 20 feet from their front door to the home owners are now holding captive a teenage sex slave? Where did anyone say that all drifters are deviants or homicidal maniacs? Or homeowners for that matter? What a flight of fancy! The point was originally made that someone living in a van tends to be transient and can easily disappear after perpetrating a crime if so desired. The lifestyle is not the norm to most of us with more solid ties to the community, so it's not so surprising that it causes some concern. When you consider one very basic fact beyond the actual police contact; the guy apparently has issues because he would not respect the wishes of the home owner and simply move on. He didn't merely go there once, he parked and stayed there several days. HE HAD OFFERS MADE BY OTHERS TO CAMP IN FRONT OF THEIR HOMES. Most people in his position would be grateful for such an offer. Tony apparently was not, instead chose to stay where he made people uncomfortable. This stubborn resistance would cause anyone to question Tonys motives and perhaps, state of mind.


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Posted by John
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

Not a fan -

I'm not hear to argue with you. I want people to understand. I have 2 young girls. We walk them to school everyday. It's unfortunate in today's times, but we do have to watch out for suspecious people. It's human nature to protect my own. When I see any van looking like Tony's, I am very suspecious. As for the police, they get calls everyday for strange people in cars. If those people have nothing to hide, they talk with the police and let them know what they are doing. When someone is immediatly defensive, well...............they get tased. I cannot say that Tony deserved to get tased, none of us do. We weren't there. I do know if he had just answered a couple of questions, we wouldn't be wasting our time in this forum.


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Posted by Not a PAPD fan
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 19, 2008 at 11:45 am

You should know:

"We go from home owners feeling uncomfortable with someone squatting in their van 20 feet from their front door to the home owners are now holding captive a teenage sex slave?"

Bernie stated "When someone doesn't have ties, they can simply snatch (people, property?) and go (like the drifter that kidnapped the girl in Utah or Idaho, Elizabeth Smart?)"
I simple replied with the incident at Stockton.

and John stated "It's what you call a "child molester van""

People are generalizing about the victim and making invalid comparisons.


John

"If those people have nothing to hide, they talk with the police and let them know what they are doing. When someone is immediately defensive, well...............they get tased."

But they have the right to refuse to talk with the police also and just because they become defensive (when the police are about to perform an illegal act) does not mean they should be tased. Perhaps the police should not have lied about the non-existent sleeping in vehicles ban.
Anyway, the judge ruled that the police were wrong--this is not a dictatorship and the PAPD are not the gestapo or any other "the rules do not apply to us" police organization.
It is really sad that you believe that everyone has to automatically obey a police officer and answer any of his questions, even though a person has the right, under certain circumstances to refuse, or else be tased or beaten.


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Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 19, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Where was all of your hatred when Samuel Yates, the artist who completed the "Color of Palo Alto" when he was living out of his car in front of your homes not making enough money from the work he was doing for the City of Palo Alto to rent an apartment.

Palo Alto Weekly August 8, 2008

"Mayor Larry Klein and Arts &
Sciences Director Linda Craighead
deemed Yates a “genius,” thanking
him for sharing his talents with the
community. 'Simply put, Sam, this exceeded
all of everyone’s expectations on
the Art Commission,' said former
Commissioner David Negrin, who
had invited Yates to apply for the assignment.
"Along the way, Yates became a
vegan, slashing his cholesterol and
ensuring the project — and its creator

— did as little harm to the environment as possible.

For much of the time, Yates lived
in his car or with host families, only
occasionally visiting his wife in southern California.
Web Link


National Statistics of Sex Offenders

Adult Victims:
Statistics indicate that the majority of women who have been raped know their assailant. A 1998 NationalViolence Against Women Survey revealed that among those women who reported being raped, 76% were victimized by a current or former husband, live-in partner, or date (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998). Also, a Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that nearly 9 out of 10 rape or sexual assault victimizations involved a single offender with whom the victim had a prior relationship as a family member, intimate, or acquaintance

(Greenfeld, 1997).

Child Victims:
Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child's family (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). Relatives, friends, baby-sitters, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to
commit a sexual assault.

The list of sex offenders in order from most likely to least likely offend:

1) family members
2) priests and clergy
3) teachers/school counselors
4) scout leaders
5) co-workers
6) strangers

Web Link





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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2008 at 12:17 pm

You people are so extreme. Hatred. Teenage sex slaves. Homicide. I never saw that artist dude. Besides, he had a purpose, perhaps a permit. He was known to the City. There isn't a valid comparison here.

Where is simple logic and reason? "Dude, you are making us uncomfortable here, can you please move on?". Tony: "oh, sure man, it's cool"...he then starts the van and relocates to another location where he already know he's welcome!

THAT'S IT!


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Posted by Stanley
a resident of University South
on Dec 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Can anyone describe the van in more detail, or where Tony has moved it to? Ramona and Lincoln is right near my residence on Kingsley, disconcertingly, and I never noticed the van. This Tony character doesn't seem very trustworthy from what I've been hearing in this forum.


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Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Everybody says to pass a law against the homeless to get rid of them from town, just like all the other towns.

If every town has a law against being homeless, where are the homeless going to end up? In Jail, where we will have to pay the cost at about 20,000 to 30,000 dollars a year.

I don't know Ciampi, but it appears he is not costing us, the taxpayers much money at this time.

Why should we have to pay for his clothes, food and housing?

I saw on the news a couple of weeks ago how 5 or 6 homeless people living in an encampment down in L.A. were murdered in their sleep.

Perhaps those of you who dislike the homeless so much and would like for them to disappear off the face of the earth, wouldn't mind if the perpatrators of the above crime decended upon Palo Alto for a couple of weeks to rid the city of its homeless population.

Afterall, homeless people really aren't people at all, are they?

It is this same mentality that passes laws that only effect the homeless and no one else.

Crimianalizing the homeless costs money to feed, clothe and house them in jail, its much cheaper to dig hole in the ground isn't it?

It appears Ciampi is supporting himself and isn't that what the crux is with everybody.

If Ciampi was driving a BMW and renting an apartment, we would all view him differently.

The main thing that effects our perception of him, is that he does not own an apartment, like Albert Hopkins did, and he drives a van.


Like this comment
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 19, 2008 at 3:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

NOTHING, BUT NOTHING SAID GET RID OF THE HOMELESS. People have said pass laws to prevent them from camping out in front of your residence. People have suggested areas be designated for the van dwelling population. People have suggested aternative solutions. There are inherent dangers and problems within the transient population. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The police DID try to figure out what was going on. They talked to Alsman and then TRIED to talk to Tony and when they asked him to come out of the van; he didn't act like a rational man, he acted a fool and from there....it's all up to different points of view with the truth probably somewhere in the middle.

From everything I have read, Tony acted like a jerk and brought this upon himself. The postings since this story first broke have shown time and again how many people have offered Tony shelter or simply a place to park his van. He has turned down these kind offers. Instead he has foisted himself upon others whom he made uncomfortable. I would not be comfortable with some guy living in a van right outside my home. It's creepy. I question Tony's mental ability because he was obstinate and out of line staying where he was not wanted when there were so many other places (which he already knew about) he could park without question.

It's just so easy to be all pro the 'underdog' when the underdog is not squatting in a van outside YOUR home.


Like this comment
Posted by danny the homeless guy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Stanley, a resident of the University South neighborhood, writes:

> This Tony character doesn't seem very trustworthy from what I've been
> hearing in this forum

He has been an acquaintance of mine for over 10 years. While most of the "homeless" you hear about have a history of substance abuse like drugs, alcohol, or smoking, Tony seems very clean. I've never even seen him eat junk food. I find his personality somewhat bland and humorless but he is generally friendly, is willing to help people, and he seems very honest. He isn't a nut case. He's been very much focused on his personal health and on his case against the cops over fabricating evidence against him.


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Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2008 at 1:28 am

It is one thing when a strange car is parked outside your home, it is entirely another if it is a van that is known to have someone LIVING inside. People have the right to know if someone is camped within a few yards of their residences. Especially if there has been a question about this person's state of mind. The cops can't be all wrong, and Tony all right. Somewhere in the middle there is the true story. I believe it begins when Tony refuses to come out and act like a grown up. Take it from there... If you want to play Free Bird or some Jack Kerouac free man gambit, then hit the road. Maybe Tony will give you a ride...we are in Palo Alto...City Living.


Like this comment
Posted by danny the homeless guy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2008 at 2:31 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by A Wharf Rat
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 20, 2008 at 9:31 am

At this point PAPD and the city leaders need to cut their loses and get on with things. Offer Ciampi a settlement and (re)educate the cops on what is legal in terms of parking and what kind of tactics are they are allowed to us. Discipling the cops involved would also be a good thing, but I won't get my hopes up.

If not, some enterprising and underemployed lawyer will take Clampi's case and then the costs will skyrocket in a time of dramaticially dropping revenue for the city.

Regardless the only real action that will be taken is to ban sleeping in cars in PA.


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Posted by TwoSides
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Walter. I too have been monitoring these postings, cutting and pasting in my email to refer back to when I see portions or entire comments removed. Some of the postings are moved without evidence they were ever there in the first place! I have gone back and checked, 99% don't violate the papers own stated TOS standards.

I also checked other papers that welcome commentary, and sent up a few test balloons, making the topic fit but using similar commentary to what was deleted from here, and all have posted and been left to stand. Including those that had to be approved first by moderators.

It's ironic that since they put in the tattletale link, instead of the paper allowing more latitude for us to moderate ourselves, they have instead gone completely overboard. This kind of ridiculous censorship is not really a very bright thing to do with a highly educated populace. People here are more inclined to debate than in some other areas. I read the comments on a few East Coast papers, and found myself GRATEFUL for the kind of postings I read on here. Most of them show a degree of intelligence that is reassuring.

Eventually this will affect the papers bottom line. Advertisors pay big bucks to place their ads, and the moe exposure they get, the better the payoff. If people start working their way toward other places to discuss Palo Alto issues, that revenue will be lost.

Good luck with that Weekly.

1......2......3.....4.....5 (counting down the minutes until the Slasher hits this comment)


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Posted by danny the homeless guy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Walter writes:

> The level of moderation here is ridiculous. A new, unmoderated
> group has been created for the discussion of Palo Alto current
> events.

Well, I think I previously commented that this paloaltoonline.com website is proprietary and the owners have the right to moderate the discussions by excluding postings, or whatever.

When I created the Usenet newsgroup alt.society.homeless I made it completely unmoderated because of similar issues. The closest Usenet newsgroup to Palo Alto is ba.general, or maybe sbay.general which nobody goes to.

But again I'll stand by my postings here including the recent one above that has been excluded.


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Posted by Walter
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 20, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Posted by danny the homeless guy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 13 minutes ago

> Walter,

> You might want to adjust the settings so membership is not required to post.

Ok done. Thanks for the tip.

> I personally doubt the group will displace this paloaltoonline.com forum but in your group introduction you might want to specifically indicate the group was created so people who have had their postings axed will have another place to post them.

The intention is not to displace this paloaltoonline.com forum but rather to complement it. Comments you make here you can copy to the new forum as a hedge against moderation. And opinions that you know for a fact won't last for 5 minutes here, post them in the new forum.

> btw, I've been advised that Tony did not steal anything from that guy's house above.

Ok, no problem.

New Palo Alto discussion forum - unmoderated:
Web Link

-Walter


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Posted by danny the homeless guy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2008 at 8:46 am

Here we go.

This morning's Daily News page 3 reports a man killed by a police taser in Campbell. Domestic disturbance.

I bet that dead guy sure wishes Ciampi had been parked on the block.


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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2008 at 1:44 pm

The 'owners' of this publication having proprietary rights over commentary is a double edged sword. The paper has diverted from its earlier format. It used to do more feature stories on art, culture, people and events around town. Now that it has become a daily read, it has started reporting more news. Similar to the Palo Alto Daily. It now writes exposes and criticisms of local governing or service agencies. It feels quite free to call for the job of a police chief. To go 'in depth' about such things as the possible malfeasance at the Childrens Theater.

When they go after these stories, you bet they are going after, and printing information that can sometimes be inflammatory, and being Palo Altans, most of the time impacts our lives here in some way. If denied access to the information, they froth at the mouth and pull out all stops including pitbull like attacks against those whom are deemed 'uncooperative' by the editor on his blog.

This is where the hypocrisy begins. This publication takes very slanted stances on certain issues. Issues that interest more people than the presenting of this years Debutants. These issues combined with whatever point of view is expressed by the paper will create debate. The paper opened its door to the people to express their views when it opened a commentary section. Is the purpose of this comment blog actually to get a 3/4 majority backing of the papers point of view, with the other 1/4 slashed just enough to stand as a token opposition merely to appease people who think differently? That way the paper doesn't appear to be using bully tactics while establishing a majority group think to match the papers political leanings and biases.

The paper has a right and perhaps a duty to delete comments that can be considered downright vulgar or as I have stated before comments containing hate speech with an intent to incite violence, but outside of those instances I believe they should leave us free to comment and debate just as they (within the legal parameters of their profession) are free to write about what they wish. Papers, the media in general scream about protecting Freedom of Speech and here they are confining and denying the hell out of ours!


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Posted by The.Good.The.Bad.The.PAPD.UGLY
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2008 at 5:27 pm

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)


The general proposition that freedom of expression upon public questions is secured by the First Amendment has long been settled by our decisions. The constitutional safeguard, we have said, "was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people." Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484 . "The maintenance of the opportunity for free political discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes may be obtained by lawful means, an opportunity essential to the security of the Republic, is a fundamental principle of our constitutional system." Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359, 369 . "[I]t is a prized American privilege to speak one's mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public institutions," Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252, 270 , and this opportunity is to be afforded for "vigorous advocacy" no less than "abstract discussion." N. A. A. C. P. v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 429 . [376 U.S. 254, 270] The First Amendment, said Judge Learned Hand, "presupposes that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. To many this is, and always will be, folly; but we have staked upon it our all." United States v. Associated Press, 52 F. Supp. 362, 372 (D.C. S. D. N. Y. 1943). Mr. Justice Brandeis, in his concurring opinion in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375 -376, gave the principle its classic formulation:
"Those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law - the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed."
Thus we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. See Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4 ; De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353 , [376 U.S. 254, 271] 365. The present advertisement, as an expression of grievance and protest on one of the major public issues of our time, would seem clearly to qualify for the constitutional protection. The question is whether it forfeits that protection by the falsity of some of its factual statements and by its alleged defamation of respondent.
Authoritative interpretations of the First Amendment guarantees have consistently refused to recognize an exception for any test of truth - whether administered by judges, juries, or administrative officials - and especially one that puts the burden of proving truth on the speaker. Cf. Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525 -526. The constitutional protection does not turn upon "the truth, popularity, or social utility of the ideas and beliefs which are offered." N. A. A. C. P. v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 445 . As Madison said, "Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of every thing; and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press." 4 Elliot's Debates on the Federal Constitution (1876), p. 571. In Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 310 , the Court declared:
"In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy."
That erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and that it must be protected if the freedoms of expression [376 U.S. 254, 272] are to have the "breathing space" that they "need . . . to survive," N. A. A. C. P. v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 433 , was also recognized by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Sweeney v. Patterson, 76 U.S. App. D.C. 23, 24, 128 F.2d 457, 458 (1942), cert. denied, 317 U.S. 678 . Judge Edgerton spoke for a unanimous court which affirmed the dismissal of a Congressman's libel suit based upon a newspaper article charging him with anti-Semitism in opposing a judicial appointment. He said:
"Cases which impose liability for erroneous reports of the political conduct of officials reflect the obsolete doctrine that the governed must not criticize their governors. . . . The interest of the public here outweighs the interest of appellant or any other individual. The protection of the public requires not merely discussion, but information. Political conduct and views which some respectable people approve, and others condemn, are constantly imputed to Congressmen. Errors of fact, particularly in regard to a man's mental states and processes, are inevitable. . . . Whatever is added to the field of libel is taken from the field of free debate." 13
Injury to official reputation affords no more warrant


Like this comment
Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Those cites are very interesting. Apparently you ran out of room on your post. Your summation please?


Like this comment
Posted by The.Good.The.Bad.The.PAPD.UGLY
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Hayden C. Covington (January 19, 1911 - November 19, 1978) was legal counsel for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society during one of its most difficult periods in the mid-20th century. Hayden Covington also holds the record for the most Supreme Court victories in the United States. Thurgood Marshall, former Justice of the Supreme Court, had a record of litigating 23 favorable case but this record falls far short of Hayden C. Covington's record of 37 victories in the United States Supreme Court. A brilliant Constitutional lawyer, he argued numerous cases before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Jehovah's Witnesses in defense of their religious freedoms, winning most of them, and thus indirectly, advancing the cause of civil liberties on behalf of all American citizens. In 1967, he famously defended then world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in his legal battle against the draft during the Viet Nam War.


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