Thursday, October 12, 2006

Free Speech vs Slander (and blaming it all on a Mexican???)

From the Union Tribune:

Houlihan sues, says neighbor defamed her with big sign

By Angela Lau

October 12, 2006

– Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan filed a lawsuit yesterday against a neighbor, alleging he defamed her by using a vulgar term to describe her on a large sign he put up in view of traffic on Interstate 5.

Houlihan is seeking unspecified damages against Russell Bowman, owner of American Landscape and Tree Services Inc., located across the street from Houlihan's home on Union Street. The lawsuit asks the court to stop Bowman from erecting defamatory signs.

“It was not a statement related to a matter of public interest,” said Ken Cariffe, one of Houlihan's attorneys. “This is libel.”

I'm not a lawyer but I think Bowman crosses the line from free speech and making a political statement to slander but attempting to state "Houlihan is a whore" because he can't prove this statement. It's, like his opinion man. Are opinions protected under free speech? Yes, so it's a sticky one. Can he prove Houlihan is a whore? Is there a legal defination of the word whore?

He was referring to the latest and most controversial of a series of anti-Houlihan signs put up since last year on Bowman's 5-acre property, which faces the freeway.

The latest sign, about 72 square feet, called Houlihan a “whore.” It was removed Tuesday after being displayed for 10 days.

If I'm not mistaken Houlihan is married right? I don't think I would have the self discipline to keep myself from beating the living shit out of Bowman if I were Maggie's husband. I know Bowman is a crackpot who has lots of guns and that Houlihan is a public figure so you gotta handle this the right way...but sheesh.

The size of that sign and others on the property violated city codes, and code enforcement officials cited Bowman in August and again last week. The municipal code limits personal outdoor signs to 16 square feet and business advertisements to 32 square feet.

The city also issued three citations between February and August for grading violations that Bowman has not corrected.

Instead of erecting the signs Bowman should have contacted Barratt American CEO and North County Times columnist Michael D. Pattinson so he could have been written up as a hero just like Rosa Parks. link

The City Council met in closed session yesterday to discuss the violations. Afterward, the city attorney announced that the council had authorized the staff “to move forward to full compliance, including but not limited to filing a lawsuit if necessary.” Houlihan did not participate in the meeting, he said.

The large signs on Bowman's property in recent months included several that read “Vote No Houlihan.” Those remained in place yesterday. Three large crosses, which fell under regulations for “structures,” had been removed.

Jesus H. Christ on a stick, this is some serious drama. He should have left the Jesus up there, I kinda liked him.

In an e-mail and subsequent phone interview this week, Bowman said Houlihan used her position to prevent him from developing or rezoning his property to build low-income housing.

He also said he never painted or erected the anti-Houlihan signs and that they were put up by Latinos offended by remarks she had made toward them.

Okay, maybe he paid some "latinos" to erect the signs but comon' dude, you can't weasel out of this now. This is so lame is just sad. Normally when a douche bag in the news puts one on a tee for me to knock out of the park I get giddy but this time it's just too pathetic to bother with.

He claimed the councilwoman had uttered racial slurs at his family and threatened to use eminent domain to turn his property into a bird sanctuary.

Uh yeah, I really see the council given that one a majority vote.

Houlihan said Bowman's charges are “100 percent untrue.”

“My neighbor is Mexican-American,” she said. “I love my street. The proof is in the ethnic mix on this street.”

Some of my best friends are black people. Really, Houlihan shouldn't even have addressed this.

She said she has recused herself from deliberations related to Bowman, who has addressed the City Council more than once in the past year.

This is the most important part of the story. Bowman is so dense he can't figure out that A. the rest of the city council doesn't like or listen to Houlihan anyway and B. SHE DIDN'T FREAKING VOTE ON HIS ISSUE.

In February, the council agreed to his request to overturn an earlier city decision, made in response to neighborhood complaints, revoking his right to operate a landscaping and greenhouse business in a residential neighborhood.

In September, the council denied his request to almost triple the permissible building density on his property.

Left out of this story is that Bowman falsified documents and that councilman Dalagher admitted to knowing this at a council meeting (that was a classic surreal Danny moment).

Yesterday, Bowman's attorney, Larry Marshall, said his client has offered to stop putting up large signs and to post a $50,000 bond while he corrects the grading violations within one year.

I was thinking somebody should hire some of those lame housing development sign twirlers to stand at the end of Union St in color coordinated outfits and signs that read BOWMAN IS A DOUCHE BAG.


  1. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

  2. Is the "word" being used in the political sense to describe a politician?

  3. Big mistake by Houlihan to file. From a public relations point of view it makes Houlihan look.

    She has been getting sympathy, but watch that evaporate as this gets complicated. Now Bowman has evidence that Houlihan is on the offense, even if she isn't.

  4. Best thing she could have done. If the city (other council members) don't want to do anything then she has to act on her own.

    Don't know this guy but he must be mentally unbalanced to do the things he has done. The city should have filed against him and I am not a hoolihan supporter. I feel she is a terrible city councilperson.

    But, enough is enough. We shouldn't be dissing her but supporting her against this person that appears to be on the fringe of rationality.

    Dalger shouldn't be returned to the council. He should be thrown out for many things. Admitting he knew evidence was falsified and supporting it anyway is reason enough to not vote for him again.


  6. What kind of loser is Bowman anyways? What is scary is I think he believes himself. It is sad that the city didn't or wouldn't do something sooner.
    When I first moved here 5 years ago his company was recommended to me -- glad I went with the guys on the corner versus him -- much safer!!

  7. Left out of this story is that Bowman falsified documents and that councilman Dalagher admitted to knowing this at a council meeting (that was a classic surreal Danny moment).

    How many surreal moments do we need before the public realizes Danny has got to go.

    My favorite is when he says something that gives a great soundbite but acts in totally opposite manner. Like when he said, "I am not a credit card kind of guy," and then went on to push through a $20 million dollar "lease revenue" borrowing scam. How in the hell does he get away with that without getting laughs?

  8. The problem was created by the other four council people voting to approve the man's business in disregard to the information available to them. If they had said no, maybe that would have been the end of it.

    The planning department has approved other landscaping/businesses in other residential zoned areas.

  9. Not as a comment rationalizing the actions of Houlihan's neighbor, but in other parts of the city, Houlihan doesn't respect certain personal property rights.

  10. magpie in the skyOctober 12, 2006 9:42 PM

    Best wishes to Maggie to get well. One does wonder about the upzoning of the property just north of Bowman's landscape biz, why that was allowed, but it stops, right on Maggie's street. There's a wall, then new build, stacked close. We saw Maggie on the news, Channel 8, thanks to JP. She looked good, I thought.

    I don't think she should sue Bowman for anything but to take down the signs, which he has. She could get a restraining order. She probably wouldn't get actual monetary damages, because she can't show how it has hurt her reputation, and she is a public figure, so a higher standard. They are doing overkill now, which is vindictive, as usual. It's all for publicity. For the first time, Glenn Sabine had "reportable action."

    We don't get the grading violations on the Bowman's, for mulching, when the City did tremendous environmental damage, releasing toxins, by grading toxic ground, sending dust flying, at the Hall Property claiming they were only removing retain walls, piping, etc. There was a mountain of poisonus wood chips, too, that they created, blowing in the wind. Maggie is lucky she doesn't live there. If Council lived on that block, things would have gone far differently.

    Also, crosses aren't structures, Code Enforcement. Maybe that's why the Latinos are mad.

  11. Maybe Houlihan remembers that old sign of don't be a mean queen.

  12. I don't like the word "whore," either, but it might apply to most politicians.

    The Bowman landscaping business was same or similar use, as long as they didn't increase traffic more than it had been in the last five years, in my opinion.

    I agree, the crosses are not structures, and should be protected on private property as flag poles are.

  13. Ironically, Maggie got a lot of good publicity about the Clown deal after the disaster at the Hondo races. People felt badly for her, and still do.

    Maggie, please just drop the lawsuit if he takes down his signs. You will be sorry to get involved in a public spectacle, which you will become, in Court, in my opinion. Court kills. Nobody wins, but the lawyers. Even they may get shellshock after enough years, like Mr. Marvin?

    To some of these greenhouse guys, so angry with Maggie, and some workers, Bowman says, it may seem like favoritism, nobody can stop development, but Council members on the block.

    You can't fight City Hall; there's a reason for that old saying. Maggie, you can afford to be brave and vote no on more issues. Vote your conscience, and just say two terms are enough. You will get your pension, and your raise, too, for two more years.

    Term limits!

  14. The Air Quality Control Board should be notified about the hugh pile of dirt at the empty public lot on Santa Fe just before the freeway. The wind or something else was blowing up a dust storm from the uncovered dirt. Phil Cotton do your job and order that dirt wet down and covered.

  15. Did Houlihan ever picket a gay rodeo? Is that first amendment rights?

  16. Speaking of development, the word is out that Dan Dalager will get 10 units on his property, as he knows that accessory units are allowed by right. We thought this started out as four homes? Now it's up to ten.

    Dalager didn't need a raise, and those guys, gals, are not putting in 40 hours a week, guaranteed.

  17. Is the city, the taxpayers, paying for Houlihan's lawyer? No way, no how should the taxpayers pay for her attorney.

  18. Maggie rules. The other suck.... NCT. wont run the following blog about the relationship between the fire chief Muir and Guerin, stock and bonds,and Dalager. NCT is in the bag. They suck

  19. I demand a telivised debate Houlihan + Bowman with Heull Howser as mediator

  20. Logan Jenkins column today in the UT is about the Houlihan libel lawsuit.

    Jenkins mentions the word as understood in relation to politicians. He explains the phrase "quote whore" in regards to politicians.

  21. maggie sues the pants off her neighborOctober 14, 2006 1:22 PM

    Maggie Houlihan vs. Russell Bowman, filed 10/11/06, for Libel, in North County.


    The city hired a Mexican worker to go in and paint out the remaining signs that said "Vote No on Maggie." So all the signs, and the crosses are now gone.

    One of the workers said that Maggie Houlihan is going to try to claim damages of $5.00 for every car that went by on the freeway while the "whore" sign was visable.

    This is overkill on Maggie's part. She could have gotten a restraining order, but now doesn't need to. She already has sympathy. She should drop this lawsuit, in my opinion, as it makes her look aggressive and vindictive.

    She knows that the Mexican workers and Bowman don't think that spreading mulch constitutes a grading violation. She knows they think they are being singled out because she lives across the street from this former greenhouse property. They wanted to develop as many others have, including just North of Bowman's property. Council plays favorites, pure and simple. Crosses should not be "declared" illegal structures, either.

    The City government should not get caught up in these personal feuds.

  22. You know what is weird? I didn't realize before but after watching the KFMB story I recognized that house. My friend used to rent the house Bowman now lives during the late 80's, early 90's. I've been to a million raging parties there.

    There is a really trippy thing on that property. There is a secret basement that is covered with a heavy sheet of metal. We found it by accident. My friend tripped over this big stone by the patio, revealing a large hole. We got a flashlight and peered in. We were shocked to find a room down there. It's real Silence of the Lambs stuff. If Maggie dissapears I recommend looking down there.

  23. Used to use holes like that in the old days to store weed in until it could get picked up. Cross twenty bricks a day and stash them until you had enough to run up to the Haight. Pretty cool, keep the safe house safe and move 'charcoal' in for the barbie and large bags of 'trash' out every now and then to run north.

  24. Bowman is nut case. Somebody should do a story on why this guy has over 30 law suits filed in the County of San Diego and what the connection is to Blaming the signs on the illegal Mexican's that work for him, now that is weak. We should be thankful that we have a city council member like Houlihan who is looking after our best interest, unlike Dalagher who voted to allow this crazy idiot a zoning variance when he was presented false documents. It makes you wonder what Dalagher got out of the deal??????


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