|Hobbies: Incredulous glares, the First Amendment.|
Chaz Stevens isn't shy about stirring up trouble. His most recent target has been the wild financial mismanagement of the City of Lauderdale Lakes, which in recent days has been revealed to have used all kinds of crazy, stupid accounting techniques to balance a budget that was, in reality, about as balanced as Lindsay Lohan.
Stevens has been requesting (and analyzing) public documents from the city for months -- in his own spastic way, he's called the city out on his MAOS blog numerous times for busted budget numbers
, sloppy spreadsheets
, and failing to fulfill records requests
. He then released a draft of a report from the Broward inspector general that outlines findings that make the Lauderdale Lakes financial situation look even worse than Stevens' posts did.
And now the city manager has had his lawyer (and father) send a cease-and-desist letter to the blogger.
In a letter dated February 23, Fort Lauderdale lawyer W. George Allen says he is taking action on behalf of Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen "for civil damages growing out of your collective repeated false allegations, threats, attempted extortion, slander, libel, defamation, and invasion of privacy."
The letter demands that both Stevens and former Lauderdale Lakes Finance Director Larry Tibbs "must cease, desist, and stop your collective efforts, or face suit for damages individually and collectively."
It concludes with "PLEASE GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY," which looks less like a legal notice and more like what would happen if old people learned how to use internet comment sections.
Stevens and Tibbs are lumped together because city commissioners believe that the two have been working together on Stevens' blog posts; the posts have been based on public records, but it's not clear how Stevens got hold of things like that OIG report, which the inspector general's office said isn't technically a public record that can be requested until the parties named have a chance to respond.
But while Stevens has been blogging away, city commissioners said Tibbs has been text-messaging them asking for money he's owed and threatening to leak information to Stevens.
At a City Commission meeting February 14, Lauderdale Lakes City Commissioner Eric Haynes classified the maneuvers as "treasonous-type activity," which he said he hates because of his two-year stint in the military and which he is completely wrong about. Treason, as defined in the bestseller commonly referred to as the U.S. Constitution, is defined pretty clearly:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
"I mean when you go against your country," Haynes said. "And this regards, I mean going against your city with the intent to intentionally hurt and harm. And I believe some of that's happening around here."