I am considering this a harassment letter and I have already contacted the city attorney's office by email asking for their help.
I will include everything in this post that is involved with this notification. This post will consist of 3 main items:
First, I will let you see the letter, then I will comment on the contents, then I will include the email I sent to the city attorney's office.
1) Paul E. Fisher's letter to me
Law Office of
Paul E. Fisher
A Professional Corporation
Paul E. Fisher
1000 Bristol St. No., #17-106
Newport Beach, California 92660
Tel (949) 675-5619
Fax (949) 675-5641
February 17, 2009
VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
David Allan a/k/a David Allan Overstein
10801 National Blvd., Suite 580
Los Angeles, CA 90064
RE: 10801 National Blvd.
Dear Mr. Allan,
This office represents World Wide Rush, LLC in regard to this matter. My client currently operate a supergraphic signs at 10801 National Blvd. pursuant to a permanent injunction issued by a federal district court judge. The injunction prohibits the City of Los Angeles from, among other things, interfering with the signs’ operation or issuing citations to it because the City refuses to process any permit applications or conduct any inspections of the signs.
My client has alerted us to a website which you have apparently created seeking to have the sign removed. We have represented outdoor advertising companies in First Amendment matters for almost 20 years and vigorously support the concept of freedom of expression. However, I must advise you that the purpose of your website appears to be to damage my client’s business relations both with the owner of this property and with its advertising clientele.
While you are certainly entitled to communicate truthful information to whomever you choose, please be aware that you are publicizing false and misleading information. For example, you have repeatedly referred to our client’s sign as “illegal.” As indicated above, the signs are not illegal in any way and have not been so adjudicated in any court. Furthermore, you have recently posted comments on your website which call for violence. While not a complete list, you have suggested that Dr. Phil be wrapped in the supergraphic sign and be “toss[ed]…off the pier.” You have also suggested that someone should take a gun and shoot out the lighting fixtures illuminating the signs. You have also called for “revenge” and suggested that it would be appropriate for individuals to apply the principle of “an eye for an eye.”
The types of signs currently displayed at the above referenced property are lawful and comply with all safety requirements of the Uniform Building Code as well as state and local fire codes. Any suggestion that the signs represent any type of safety hazard is completely false. We demand that you immediately retract all false, misleading and dangerous statements and issue an apology. If you do not do so by Friday, February 20, 2009, we will take all appropriate legal steps to protect our client’s legal interests.
Very truly yours,
PAUL E. FISHER
2) Comments and response to the letter
Mr. Fisher, overall I view your letter as a form of harassment and an infringement of my first amendment rights. I view this as a very serious matter and don't take what you say lightly.
First a little housekeeping issues: You misspelled my name and also addressed me as Mr. Allan. From now on it's Dr. Allan to you. Thank you.
I would first like to respond as best I can to your allegations. My responses will be preceded by "DA:". Whatever is not said, I refer you to the email I just sent to the City Attorney's office. That will be in section 3 of this post.
In paragraph 2, "My client has alerted us to a website which you have apparently created..."
DA: Let's be honest with the viewers. Your client didn't alert you to anything. We meet when the second sign went up on Feb. 12, 2009 -- and you told me you were familiar with the blog. Frankly, I liked you. You were very professional and I thought we had a very mature, relaxed conversation. I even told you I sympathized with World Wide Rush (WWR) regarding the lawsuit, but that did not have anything to do with the issue at hand -- the fact that your sign company was putting up a second sign -- the same sign that was deemed to be a fire hazard and a danger to the entire building.
In paragraph 2, "the purpose of your website appears to be to damage my client's business relations both with the owner of this property and with its advertising clientele"
DA: The purpose of my blog is to provide information, both facts and commentary as a way to alert the public. I enjoy writing and like to have some fun when I can. It so happens that a lot of the information that has revolved around your client is negative. I don't have anything personal against World Wide Rush, I just want WWR to obey the law and don't endanger lives with their advertising.
There may be things looked at as personal attacks, and if that's the case I definitely don't endorse that and I apologise for any personal attacks on character. My upset with this issue may have triggered a few comments here and there that were a little harsh. For this I am sorry. I promise that from this point forward to make sure that the focus is more issue based. I did purposely name names for the sake of shaming them -- I want to believe that this will make a difference and prevent others from doing the same.
In paragraph 3, "...false and misleading information."
DA: My statements were based on the public information I heard with my own 2 ears. The term "illegal" is used at Jack Weiss's press conference -- see letter in next section.
In paragraph 3, "...on your website which calls for violence."
DA: I never called for violence. those quotes you reference were other comments from another article. Take a look at a few of these comments:
Comment #19, left at 02/13/09 03:21 PM
These quotes and other similar ones can be found here.
You neglected this quote in the blog that I actually stated: statement dated February 17, 2009 7:16 PM: And I want to state publicly that I always seek lawful, non-violent ways to handle disputes. I intend to continue to stand up for what is right with this blog and will intensify actions legally and non-violently until justice is served.
And if that doesn't tell you enough, then I will make a formal statement here and now: I want to make it really clear... I am a non-violent type of person, I'm quiet and to myself, I'm a musician, father, and doctor. I help folks with their health everyday. My main job is to help people live a healthier life -- to live longer, feel better and look younger. I'm a doc that works with kids and families. I've never been a vocal activist regarding any cause. This is the first time I am just standing up for myself against what I believe to be a major injustice against me and the tenants of 10801 and many folks in our beautiful city. I seek non-violent means to bring my point across. If you look here at this post, I give the readers the true power and it's everything but violent -- WRITE, VOTE, TAKE LEGAL ACTION, SPREAD THE WORD. Don't take a few sentences out of context and tell me I'm promoting violence!
In your last paragraph, I find what you say here is appalling: "The types of signs currently displayed at the above referenced property are lawful and comply with all safety requirements of the Uniform Building Code as well as state and local fire codes. Any suggestion that the signs represent any type of safety hazard is completely false."
DA: I'm not familiar with the Uniform Building Code. All I know is what my city officials told me and it's the exact opposite to what you are saying -- see letter.
In closing, I feel your way off base here in your letter and I view this as a form of harassment. I would just like you to leave me alone. I don't want to get tangled up in any legal battle. If you continue to push the issue, I'll have no choice but to find some high powered city official to support my position -- Exercising my first amendment right. The right to freedom of speech -- the right you told me you believe in.
3) Email to City Attorney's Office (City Attorney to remain anonymous for now):
Dear L.A. City Attorney:
I just received this disturbing letter from Paul E. Fisher, who is the attorney representing World Wide Rush, LLC. (see attached pdf file). He is accusing me of false statements on my blog that will adversely affect his client's reputation with the building owner at 10801 and with other advertising accounts.
He wants me to retract statements that he believes to be false and told me that if I don't retract these statements he will pursue all appropriate legal steps to protect his client's legal interests (please see letter). Isn't it ironic that the very attorney that has represented freedom of speech and the first amendment for the last 20 years, is trying to suppress an American citizen from having that same freedom. I'm asking for help from the city attorney's office, because almost all the information I've been posting in my blog has come from information disseminated from government employees. I view his letter as harassment and I want Paul E. Fisher to leave me alone. FYI: Since I've shared everything to this point with my blog readers and followers, I have also posted this email.
I placed his letter on my blog and responded to his concerns as best I could, but most of his comments contradict statements I've heard from city and fire department personnel (please review that information at www.10801takesigndown.
Many statements I made were tongue and cheek comments that would offer the readers a little fun. I also included some posts just for fun to add a little entertainment value to a very serious message.
Mr. Fisher insinuated that my blog had violent overtones and I was promoting violence. That's the farthest from the truth. The violence he referred to were other comments from readers and not my own thoughts or recommendations. He neglected to include this statement dated February 17, 2009 7:16 PM: And I want to state publicly that I always seek lawful, non-violent ways to handle disputes. I intend to continue to stand up for what is right with this blog and will intensify actions legally and non-violently until justice is served.
I did purposely list names of folks that are involved with this issue, because I felt that some public shame would stop them from their negligent deeds and unfortunately that proved not to be the case. Those involved may not have liked their names put on the public airwaves, but that did not stop them from continuing to endanger the public. I believe all those public statements are within my first amendment rights.
According to my video files from the Jack Weiss press conference, documentation from the LAFD and numerous conversations I've had with Capt. McCarthy, Capt. Fasmer and Chief Fry of the LAFD all point to the information I put out on the public airwaves.
These are quotes verbatim from Council member Jack Weiss's press conference:
Council member Jack Weiss: "Not only is this sign illegal because it was put up after the city banned new signs, but it is clearly a danger to the lives of the people working inside this building. LAFD came out to inspect this building and issued a notice to comply. This notice to comply is based on the fact that the fire department thinks this is dangerous and a hazard to public health. The fire department has asked that this sign be taken down, and was it taken down?"
Jack Weiss demanded that the owner of this building should "HAVE THE BOOK THROWN AT THEM"!
Los Angeles Fire Chief Fry: "Supergraphic signs (referring to the sign that was put up by World Wide Rush) trap people inside the buildings preventing firefighters from getting in and getting people out. LAFD has no idea how this product will react if exposed to any fire. This could become almost like a gasoline type of material to where a small fire can become a tremendous catastrophe for the people inside. So we have a huge concern. Because WORLD WIDE RUSH IS NOT COMPLYING WITH THE LAFD, THEY ARE MORE INTERESTED IN PROFITS RATHER THAN SAFETY."
Barbara Brodie (from the Coalition to Ban Blight): "This sign is a fire hazard for the tenants in the building and the firefighters. Also, these signs are designed to distract so this endangers drivers and pedestrians across the city."
So this is where I've received my information from and I'm informing the public and expressing my first amendment rights. It appears that Mr. Fisher has much different views than our city leaders. I see Paul Fisher has a role -- and that is to protect World Wide Rush's interests. I see our city leaders have a role to protect the City of Los Angeles Citizens and to stand up against companies that break the law. That's why I choose to believe in our city leaders and if Paul Fisher wants to take legal action at what I've said, then he must also take legal action against all of our city leaders that have spoken on this issue.
I'm asking for your help. Please have the city shield me from Paul E. Fisher and World Wide Rush and help protect my first amendment rights.
Dr. David Allan
Dr. David Allan, D.C., C.C.F.C.
The Coalition for 10801 Tenant Safety & Justice
10801 National Blvd Suite 580
Los Angeles, CA 90064
cc: "Rocky Delgadillo LA City Attorney" <Rocky.Delgadillo@lacity.org>, "Jack Weiss LA City Council" <Councilmember.Weiss@lacity.