It’s been a busy several weeks for my business, my son’s pending graduation from Northwood High School and a combination of professional and personal commitments making it hard to post as often asÂ I do. So I’m grateful to the team here for keeping new content up on the site to cover my slacking.
With our friends at the Orange Juice blog content to make stuff up, I’m again compelled to set some facts straight.Â Blogger Sean Mill, easily our most loyal reader, sent an email recently to the County Board of Supervisors complaining about Chris Prevatt “blogging” during the business day on county time while Chris is working for the County’s Health Department.Â I obtained a copy of Sean’s email; Sean wonders how Prevatt can post blog topics while he’s a work.Â That’s actually easy to explain as WordPress allows us to schedule posts.
Now while Sean isn’t a government worker, he certainly appears to spend a lot of workday hours posting on OJ or posting comments on the Fullerton’s Lowest Common Denominator blog, and sometimes these comments have a date/time stamp.Â
While Sean isn’t a county worker, he does work for a local Title Company.Â And at times, Sean posts and comments include information that would require access to public records, which, based on the location of Sean’s workplace and the county clerk recorders office would make it difficult at best for Sean to show up personally to obtain the public record in that case.Â One could surmise that Sean is using the access to public records that his employer pays for to track down bankruptcy filings and property deeds of those people Sean considers a political enemy.Â For example, Sean provided links to Claudio Gallegos bankruptcy filings and then had a post where he commented on how Harry Sidhu’s name “Harish” appears on deeds in Sidhu’s name.Â
Accordingto sources in the Clerk Recorder’s office,Â ”the ability to access title records online is something that companies may purchase access to. There are no privacy restrictions on the Clerk’s end because it is all public record. The accessing of this information by employees of companies purchasing such access would be subject to the privacy and personnel policies of those companies.Â Should the fact that an employee of a title company accessed such information and used it for political retribution be revealed publicly, it could be damaging to the public reputation of that company since such actions clearly violate their corporate privacy pledge on their website.”
In an email exchange with Sean, I asked him directlyÂ if he used his company’s resources to track down information that shows up in his posts.
My email to Sean in April:
we’ve received a tip that you are using your title company’s resources to check into deed information of candidates for the 4th district supervisor’s race.Â I have a call into the county to see if this tip is accurate and if you’ve made a public records request for this information but a preliminary pass hasn’t shown you made a public records request; you had a comment on one of your posts referencing deeds for Harry Sidhu’s properties are all register to “Harish” Sidhu which is of course his birth name.Â Â Â
“Since you seem intent on placing inquiries into bloggers places of employment, you are not immune from similar inquiries on your own workplace.”
First, I am not a public employee, so big difference.
Second, I don’t have to reveal my source, but if Matt tells us where he got the unredacted deposition I will tell you my source.
Â Lastly, you can access the information online here:Â http://cr.ocgov.com/grantorgrantee2/welcome.asp
Â You don’t have to work for a title company to get the info, it is available to the public online.”
My response followed:
Your reply confirms you did not make a public records request and they you got the information from someone.Â Telling me the public can access this information is not the same as you saying you used this information to track down the deeds.Â Iâ€™ve spent a few minutes on it and canâ€™t locate any information on Harish Sidhu so you have to have some parameters of what to look for.Â Since you wonâ€™t share the source (and thatâ€™s completely understandable) I have to assume my tip is legitimate and will contact your employerâ€™s PR staff about policy about your alleged use of their system to access deed information of candidates you consider political enemies.Â
Youâ€™re right, youâ€™re not a public employee so a call to your employer asking them to audit your computer for a possible abuse of their access rights that they pay for would place you in a very awkward position.Â Mattâ€™s not a public employee either. Nor am I.Â So if youâ€™re interested in being more specific about where your information came from (and you donâ€™t have to name a name), Iâ€™m happy to run your denial that youâ€™re not using work resources to access financial data of perceived political enemies but will ask your employer for a comment on the allegation.Â Again, if you did in fact make a public records require in the past 60 days, a specific date can help the county track down this information and I can tell my source the information didnâ€™t check out.”
“Call whomever you’d like. Everything I wrote about is a matter of public record and accessible online.
My bosses will eagerly await your call. I have worked with them for over 15 years and they take me with them when they change companies.
I will let them know to expect your call should you figure out where I work.”
Since Sean dared me to call.Â So I did.Â And I did after getting a copy of an email Sean sent to the Board of Supervisors asking to have Chris Prevatt’s computer checked for blogging activity on county time.Â Chris doesn’t, but it’s never stopped Art Pedroza and company from saying he does.Â But I wonder if Sean would be so kind as to offer to reimburse taxpayersÂ the $1,000 or so it would cost to run a scan on Prevatt’s machine and come back clean, if such a scan would occur?Â I am guessing, no.
I then contacted the PR firm that represents Sean’s employer, presented copies of posts and comments (some of which with date/time stamps) asking if Sean had used company resources to access these public records.Â The agency was prompt, courteous and professional.Â
I then received a response from the company’s CEO and I’ve excepted portions of it here and redacted the name of the company:
“Thank you for the information regarding our employee Sean Mills. As we all know, Sean’s life outside of work is dedicated to being a public servant and political activist with a strong conviction and passion for these endeavors. Although Sean’s views and political affiliations are not necessarily those of NAME OF COMPANY, we do recognize his right to Freedom of Speech.
Mr. Chmielewski, I would like to let you know that both his supervisor and I have counseled Sean on this matter and have addressed the use of company time for his political blogging. I assure you that this is outside of company policy and he has, in turn, assured us that he will cease these actions on company time.
Looking at the information provided, it is clear that Sean was using public information readily available on the County of Orange website and other public information systems. The title industry is merely a compiler of public information that is readily available to consumers. Dan, I am having our chief legal counsel address the Â questions that you posed below and we will both be available, following your receipt of that response, to answer any questions you may have in regards to NAME OF COMPANY.”
The point here is that private company’s have restrictions on Internet resources.Â Just about every company denies access to gambling and porn sites, some deny access to peer-to-peer music sites, so just being an employee for a private company doesn’t give someone license to misuse Internet access when they are working for their private employers.Â
Now Sean and Art Pedroza have taken to calling me a stalker who harrasses them at work (Art works?).Â Frankly, I’m just following the example set by my friend Sean.Â
Art continues to post comments that I have been served a cease-and-desist letterÂ by Sean’s employer’s corporate counsel.Â This is completely inaccurate.Â I have received no such leter, but did alert Sean’s employer’s PR firm to Art’s comment posted on Fullerton’s Lowest Common Denominator blog:
Â #2 by Art Pedroza on May 11, 2010
It is true. They installed malware to track who is reading their site. Backfired and now their readership is tanking.
And they harassed the company where my co-blogger Sean Mill works so much that their company lawyer had to send Dan a cease and desist letter.
What kind of PR pro stalks people at work? If you know anyone that uses Danâ€™s company, Madison Alexander, be sure to warn them!
So I asked about the letter, because I’d hate to miss something like that.Â She wrote back: “It’s unfortunate, to say the least, that the post below was blogged.Â On a personal note, you’ve been polite and professional and simply have made inquiries to me so what has been posted is complete exageration.”
So while I remain unconvinced Sean didn’t use company resources to gain access to this information, I’m also a little put off that our friends at the OJ continue to criticize us for things they do regularly.Â So if Sean wants to complain about contacts made to his employer, perhaps he could halt his own practice of going after the jobs of others.
Now we’ve been spending quiteÂ a bit of time at the clerk recorder’s office lately, getting copies of lawsuits for credit card fraud and house foreclosure documents filed against the most successful Latino blogger ever.Â These records establish a clear financial motive for Art Pedroza’s acquisition of domain names related to this blog, my business and individual bloggers here.Â Art’s purchase of these domains and pressure to buy them from him was not about political free speech at all — it was about paying off his massive personal debt.
Art was outed as “Zorro” recently. And isn’t it cute when he refers to himself in the third person; something he’s often criticized Matt Cunningham for doing when Matt used to refer to posts by Jubal.