Freedom is often not free

Most of us went to High School or some similar institution. Here is an article about Tim Crews, sent to me by Mike Vandeman. I am pleased to say that I went to high school with both of them and a few hundred other wonderful people. As you will see, Tim is a journalist trying to root out bad people that are doing bad things. They don’t want to be discovered and they fight back. Feel free to spread the word if you agree.

I have been the victim of a very expensive frivolous lawsuit, so I know that they happen. That is one of many reasons that we need HONEST and WISE judges. Sadly, not all are. It appears that one of them is featured in the following story. All I know about this particular situation is what I read here, but I side with Tim based on what I see here.

Janet & I have lived in several countries. In some, laws are just a suggestion and powerful people are not expensive to buy. I imagine that all of us are old enough to have seen some stupid laws. Perhaps taking away your tweezers when you get on an airplane? And when that occurs, it seems advantageous to be able to ignore them. But, in my opinion, we need a balance.

Many years ago, under various circumstances, I met a couple of different people that were proud to tell me that they were anarchists. I am pretty sure I don’t have any idea what they meant by that. I am watching to see if I meet anymore, and I will ask them to please explain. I think we need a framework of intelligent laws, fairly enforced.

While living in Reno, I saw a lot of people run red lights. In buying products, especially products made in China, I have discovered that truth in labeling is not strongly enforced. Whether it is a package of large eggs, that measure the low end of medium-size, or discovering that none of the USB cables in the computer store will work, or hearing about a friend buying integrated circuits that were either empty or at least clearly not what they were labeled to be, I consider things like this to be serious problems. Being able to trust, is a valuable commodity.

To me the word anarchy means doing whatever you want to do when you want to do it. Like running red lights, or lying about the labeling on a package. To me that is chaos. Chaos makes life a lot more complicated. There are lots of rules that I don’t enjoy following, but the vast majority of them are clearly in our best interest to follow. Americans like to believe that our laws are intelligently designed for the most part, and that in a democracy we are able to adjust the ones that seem to be broken. We all know that that is not a perfect system, but I hope that all of us realize, and agree, that it is a goal to work towards.

Personally, I absolutely hate blinds dogma. I assume that is what the anarchists are trying to say. But, if every time you bought gasoline for your car, you had no idea how much the pump put in the tank, or even if it is gasoline that you are buying, life would be harder than it is. If every time you bought a USB cable, you had to test it thoroughly, under all possible situations, before you could be sure that it would work for your purposes. If every time you came to an intersection, you had no idea if anyone else was going to stop. Life would get hopelessly complicated.

So, I don’t think it’s a novel or new idea, but I vote for a minimum number of intelligent laws. For an efficient, but small, government, that does what needs to be done, but is not bloatware. Was it Goldilocks and the Three Bears for the porridge that was not too hot, not too cold, just right? Obviously, just right, is always going to be a somewhat gray area. So, we will always need some good judges. Wise, intelligent, well-educated, rational people, who will not always be right, but will always try to do right. In the following article, it certainly appears that one of the judges has not read that job description.

I ask that if you can think of anything you can do to help humanity keep the chaos under control. Whether it is putting the recycle in the correct container, or working to help your local government, please do. I’m not saying that you need to run for the Senate. But, I suggest that if you pay attention, there are many things that can be done that are often actually kind of fun and self rewarding.

For example, as I walk around whatever town I’m in, I frequently pick up litter. I learned early on, to not do that, unless I know where I can get rid of it. I once had to carry some about 10 blocks. Which was more work than I really had planned put into the job. I began to see why someone it just started on the street. There was no other easy way to get rid of it.

But, I find that with a little planning, it is often quite easy to help the neighborhood by picking up trash as I go. You obviously need to be careful of germs, to not get run over as you reach down in the street to pick up something, and so on. I’m just saying that I tried to think about the world, and see where I can make a difference, without a prohibitive cost to me, of time or money or frustration. I find it very often these random acts of kindness, make me feel really good. Think of it is sudoku or doing crossword puzzles. Just a fun hobby. Watch for opportunities. It is surprising how often they present themselves. It may be holding a door open for someone. Or helping someone solve a problem. But, if you can’t be bothered. Or, feel that it’s not your job. Then you won’t have the, often, very pleasant feeling that comes with winning one.

But, I should let you read about Tim Crews. (And I’m quite aware that there are often more sides to the story, than there are people involved in it. But at this moment I still vote for Tim.)


Subject: Tim Crews update
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2013 17:04:35 -0700

Peers salute Mirror Publisher and CalAware’s VP Tim Crews as FOI Champion
By Terry Francke,
General Counsel
Californians Aware
Los Angeles ­ Tim Crews was presented with the Freedom of Information Award for 2013 of the California Newspaper Publishers Association at its annual convention in Universal City.
Before a packed luncheon audience at the Sheraton Universal, Karlene Goller, vice president for legal affairs of the Los Angeles Times, had this to say in introducing Mr. Crews to his fellow professionals.
“This year’s recipient may be the most experienced freedom of information litigant. You could call him Mr. Sunshine.
“Just looking at the past five years, he has filed more than two dozen cases seeking government records under the California Public Records Act or pursuing violations of the Brown Act.
“He won most of the cases, setting public access standards in all of them. You’d think bureaucratic obstructors would know: Don’t mess with Tim Crews and the Sacramento Valley Mirror.
“Nearing 70, he served five days in the Tehama County jail for contempt because he refused to name sources of published information subpoenaed in connection with a criminal prosecution. “I had given my word,” he said.
“He was so immersed in the contempt battle that he hadn’t paid attention to the fact that, if he went to jail, because it was essentially a one-man operation, the paper’s sterling record of continuous publication could be broken and his government foes would have won a significant victory.
“As Crews likes to say, ‘Journalism in small towns and tiny counties is different from the big city. I see the people we write about at the gas station, in our one independent grocery, in Walmart, on the street. And that’s every day. All day.’
“Tim Crews has had his office burgled, his building set afire, his car’s brakes and wheels weakened to the point of failure and his dog poisoned and killed.
“Crews’ current CPRA case seeks records held by the local school district. He was looking for evidence that the district might have spent public money to influence the outcome of a local election.
“He asked for records.
“The district stalled.
“He sued.
“During the time it took the judge to hear the case, the district dribbled out some records. Finally the judge reviewed thousands more district documents in chambers. He spent 45 minutes reviewing them, then he decided, without explanation, not to release any – not one document.
“Jim Newton, editor at large of the Los Angeles Times, who we just heard from, wrote a column about Tim: He said,
“ ‘Up to that point, the case was fairly unremarkable, one of thousands of disputed but ultimately resolved Public Record Act requests that wind their way through public agencies and courts every year.
“ ‘But then the judge in Crews’ case, Peter Twede, did something extraordinary: He concluded that Crews’ request had been frivolous and he ordered Crews to pay not only his own legal bills but those of the school district.
“ ‘For the privilege of obtaining the documents that were his legal right to have, Crews was ordered to pay more than $100,000, an amount later reduced to $56,000.’
“Crews said this would wipe him and his paper out. Newton added that, if upheld by the appellate courts, the judgment would ‘radically alter the contours of the CPRA in California.’
“Appellate arguments are scheduled for next month. CNPA and California newspapers, including The Times, are supporting him in the appeal as amici curiae.
As a footnote, I want you to know who that judge was ruling against. Remember Tim’s comment about being a journalist, running a paper in a small town and tiny counties? “Pete Twede is the judge Tim sued a few years ago to get receipts for renovations and expansion of his chambers, in a courthouse slated to be demolished. Tim won.
“In recognition of his courageous and committed advocacy for open government in the state despite personal risk and discomfort, the recipient of CNPA’s 2013 Freedom of Information Award is Tim Crews, Mr. Sunshine.”
Crews is a founding director of Californians Aware and was recently elected its vice president. Among the non-media figures supporting him in his current fight against crippling attorney’s fees for “frivolous” litigation are Senator Leland Yee and former Assemblyman Bill Bagley, father of the California Public Records Act.
A number of large newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times have joined as friends of the court on behalf of the Sacramento Valley Mirror.

Pg 13 cut:

Los Angeles ­ Karlene Goller, vice president for legal affairs of the Los Angeles Times, presents Tim Crews with the 2013 California Newspaper Publishers’ Association Freedom of Information award at noon here Saturday. Photo by Scott Smeltzer.

Pg1 cut
Willows ­Sacramento Valley Mirror Publisher Tim Crews poses in the newspaper’s morgue ­ repository of more than 20 years of back issues ­ holding the treasured California Newspaper Publishers’ Freedom of Information plaque, a single award given annually, the top honor. Valley Mirror photo by Sharon Barker.


See also


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s