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May 13, 2007

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:

Calling it a fight with Goliath, the Foothill Cities blog has removed controversial postings about Pomona City Manager Doug Dunlap after it received a cease- and-desist letter from the city attorney.

In an e-mail sent Thursday, City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman called the Web postings "lies and falsehoods" and demanded the content be removed.

The city attorney threatened legal action if Foothill Cities, which is written by an anonymous blogger, failed to comply.

On Friday, Alvarez-Glasman said the removal of the postings was "a move in the right direction."

Even assuming Alvarez-Glasman has a legal leg to stand on here -- which is far from clear -- why is the City Attorney making legal threats on behalf of a private interest? Because the city has no interest in not being libeled, and the City Manager's interest is a personal one. Does the City Attorney routinely do personal legal work for city officials?

Eugene Volokh has other thoughts. And if you've got a noncommercial blog (no ads, etc.) you may have libel coverage via your homeowner's insurance without knowing it.

They told me that if George W. Bush were reelected, people who dared criticize the government would find themselves roughly silenced. And they were right!