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Mailbag: People need to get their facts straight

August 02, 2010

I continue to be surprised how people will play fast-and-loose with the facts, especially when those facts are on videotape.

Larry Nemecek ("Free speech no excuse for lack of civility," July 30) is either grossly misinformed or he is part of the apologists for Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who would like to smear me instead of dealing with reality. Nemecek was "unnerved" recently when I showed up on the sidewalk at a public park club picnic to ask Gatto to clarify his unclear position on the legalization of marijuana.

What probably "unnerved" Nemecek were members of the Burbank Democratic Club aggressively and physically coming after me. And, as always, my camera was rolling, and those out-of-control individuals made themselves look foolish. There was no "clever editing" involved. One crazed man even threw water on me and my camera.

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How can a law-abiding citizen justify such an act in civil society, let alone with a camera rolling?

And, regarding the widely publicized Gatto town hall meeting at the Glendale Public Library ("Library boots videographer, July 28), Nemecek wrote that he did not attend. He should talk to the Glendale police officers who were there from the start, and who observed me quietly setting up my camera in the back of the auditorium. They also saw me verbally accosted by Gatto organizers. With the camera rolling and the red light flashing, I just don't know what motivated those people.

I was there to tape the new assemblyman at a public event. But they wanted me removed before the event even started. First, Gatto staffers said, "No press." Then, realizing how ridiculous that was, demanded to see my "credentials." The police officers did not budge.

But then, in desperation, as a last resort, someone discovered a loophole in the library policy, and I was removed. They delayed the event to figure out a way to prevent Gatto's words from being recorded. Curious indeed.

The facts are a difficult thing to handle sometimes, when political hacks and hangers-on want to engage in character assassination in an attempt at marginalization. I will continue to report on Gatto "without fear or favor." Yes, I am just an independent, citizen journalist, against whom intimidation could be effective. But I will not succumb to powerful, taxpayer-funded bullies.

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