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Tuesday, 09 February 2016 06:56

ATWATER MAYOR JIM PRICE PUBLICLY SLANDERS MERCED SUNSTAR AND MERCED COUNTY NETWORK?

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ATWATER MAYOR JIM PRICE PUBLICLY SLANDERS MERCED SUNSTAR AND MERCED COUNTY NETWORK?

ATWATER, CA - During Tuesday's Atwater City Council meeting Mayor Jim Price decided to ""take my PC hat off and let you have it" as he began to slander the Merced Sunstar and Merced County News in a public forum for what he calls irresponsible journalism. He was upset at MCNTV News for showing a 4-year-old publicly posted video of Atwater gang members dancing and rapping with weapons in their hands. Some of the gang members are said to be connected with the recent stabbing death of Sergio Avelar.

The Atwater mayor then went on to express his support for only one publication, which only posts positive stories, which hos kept the actual crime and violence that has escalated out-of-control, away from law-abiding citizens eyes and ears. The very voters who could have been aware of the problems and could have held those accountable for not taking care of it in the first place.

In his public defamation, Mayor Price claimed that his chosen media publication is the only one that covers Atwater City Council meetings and the city accurately and that "they are the only ones that will print anything that is good in this city," he stated during his closing statement at the Tuesday evening meeting which is completely false and is also a slam on the many positive stories we've written about Atwater and its good people.

He then went on to describe how he saw our report on the gangs in Atwater and that the gangs members video is no longer relevant and that the city has already dealt with that. So why is the video still on an open public forum still showing off their weapons and the worst that Atwater has to offer? And just yesterday another man was shot for simply wearing a red shirt in a Sureno neighborhood which is represented by the color blue so one could say it is indeed quite relevant.

So we took off our PC hat and called the mayor after the city council meeting to explain to him that we in fact do watch city council meetings since they are broadcast live on YouTube and to find out just why he chose to attack us and the Sunstar rather than to hold his own officers accountable for not conducting themselves as professionals, especially the dispatchers who are known to Atwater resident to be rude and condescending at times. And for not holding a"newspaper" like the one he praised accountable for hiding the violence from the public and not reporting the real story.

"I was talking about the four-year old video that was posted on your website that was made by those gang members," he said when asked why he would make such public and slanderous remarks. "That's already been taken care of."

But when we asked if he meant the gang was taken care of he said, "No that's not what I mean, don't misquote me. What I'm saying is if you have something like that you should call Frank Pietro or Lt. Sam Joseph."

We then explained that we have called both of them many times, but they never answer or return our calls for statements. We then explained that the mayor is violating both the Merced Sunstar and Merced County News's first amendment rights to report the news and that set Mayor Price off as he began yelling over me.

"How's that? How's that!" He began yelling as I was explaining it to him.

"If you would stop yelling at me, sir I would appreciate it," I said. "I would not yell at you."

"No because you made an accusation and I want you to explain it," Mayor Price said, "how am I infringing on YOUR first amendment rights."

So I briefly explained it to him. The First Amendment generally guards against “[o]fficial reprisal” given that retaliation for exercising one’s right to protected speech “threatens to inhibit [the] exercise of the protected right.”  Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 916 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted).  In order to show a First Amendment violation, a plaintiff must present evidence demonstrating that the defendant, by its actions, “deterred or chilled” the plaintiff’s “political speech and such deterrence was a substantial motivating factor in [the defendant’s] conduct.”

Also, giving preferential treatment to certain news organizations is a clear violation of the First AmendmentSee, e.g., Telemundo of Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, 283 F. Supp. 2d 1095, 1102-03 (C.D. Cal. 2003) (“Several courts have determined that discriminatory access to public forums or information is generally violative of the First Amendment.”).  And in any event, under the Public Records Act, we should be given basic information regarding arrests and requests for assistance by the police, as required under Government Code section 6254(f(1) and (2)).

"So let's get down to the meat and potatoes of it Jim," I said. "You've got a serious gang problem there in Atwater and it's just getting worse."

"Well I know that gang problem a lot better than you do," Mayor Price said. "Every Tuesday I walk that gang neighborhood at night-time. And I haven't seen you out there walking along with us."

"Let me tell you, Jim," I began. "I have walked it and I have seen it long before you realized there was a problem." I said. "I used to live right there on Swaps Street because I couldn't afford to live anywhere else and I saw it daily. I have been to many crime scenes in Atwater and watched helplessly as victims bleed. And you know what Jim, I never saw you there either." And then the phone went dead as he abruptly hung-up.

The facts are the facts, the entire county of Merced has a gang problem and if the mayor wants us to hide the crime and violence from the good law-abiding people of Atwater, one should ask why? Why does he want the media to lie to his constituents? Does he want us to lie and cover-up the truth as well? If the mayor put as much time and expenditure as he did in erecting a God sign into fighting the gang problem then maybe the gang problem could be dealt with making Atwater a safer place for all to live and raise families.

Mr. Price also stated at the council meeting that we never post anything good about Atwater because no one posted about a $15,000 donation a friend of his made, so we have included some links from just the past two months of a few positive stories from Atwater that we covered. If the mayor wanted us to write a story about the donation, why not just send us an email or Facebook message like many of our viewers do telling us what's going on like many other Merced County residents do.And maybe Mr. Price should also read MCNTV News a little more, too, then he wont look lost when people explain the fear they are living in day and night in Atwater.

Here are just a few positive and public info stories regarding Atwater.

ATWATER MEXICAN CATERING & TAQUERIA CELEBRATES ITS 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH $1.00 TACOS NOW TILL 8 PM TODAY ONLY

LOCAL ATWATER SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS COMPANIES TEAM UP TO DO BATTLE AT VALLEY HACKATHON

MIRANDA’S THRIFT HANDS OUT 300 FREE GIFTS TO LOCAL CHILDREN

GROUP OF TURLOCK COMPANY EMPLOYEES DESCEND UPON ATWATER AND MERCED BRINGING CHRISTMAS CHEER!

5:17 AM POWER OUTAGE IN ATWATER PG AND E WORKING TO FIX

ATWATER RETAIL STORE ASSOCIATES AND MANAGEMENT EXPLAIN THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS THROUGH GIVING

SANTA ARRIVES EARLY AT BLOSS HOUSE IN ATWATER THANKS TO SOME HELP FROM ELKS?

BUHACH COLONY CHEER REACHES NATIONAL STAGE, GOING TO DISNEYLAND!

ATWATER-MCSWAIN GIRLS SOCCER TEAM WINS STATE CUP!!!

BUHACH COLONY GRAD HELPS STANFORD WIN PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP, ROSE BOWL BERTH

We will request a retraction from Mr. Price as well as a formal apology in order to avoid any legal action.

 

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