It’s Not Just Crazy. It’s Morro Bay Crazy

Here’s this story coming out of Morro Bay that is extremely unusual. The story goes something like this: local business owners are stepping forward with allegations that the City is preventing them from competing with businesses owned by City Council members. I’m quite familiar with these allegations because the two sources behind them — Jim Davis and Rick Holliday — reached out to me to look into them. Ultimately, nothing came to fruition because these individuals dropped out of contact and gave me information that was unsubstantiated hearsay. The communication took place while I attended some of their events at what Davis called “The Speak-Easy,” located in the Sun Bulletin building in Morro Bay.

Continue reading It’s Not Just Crazy. It’s Morro Bay Crazy

The Insanity of CalCoastNews

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This is a screenshot taken from the Facebook page “Team Adam Hill Watch,” which was created by the Knights Templar. Remember those guys? You know, the guys that just so happen to exclusively share CalCoastNews coverage and uploaded a video that was produced and shared by the son of the site’s co-founder? They’re back, and they’ve expanded their guerilla, quasi-anonymous social media marketing campaign. Suffice to say, it’s quite disturbing. Continue reading The Insanity of CalCoastNews

The Templar Complex

We thought we’ve seen everything. Since my latest article came out on Friday, a conversation has taken place about journalism ethics. The conversation came after people experienced the initial shock of seeing this video by the so-called Knights Templar — otherwise known as Citizens Protecting Children, Longarm Productions, Robert Bacon etc. It looks as though the son of CalCoastNews’ co-founder Daniel Blackburn either produced the video or was a collaborator. Either way, it’s not good.

CalCoastNews has not responded to the article. It appears that they have taken the approach that the problem will eventually disappear. I mean, who reads us anyway? Nothing a good, dismissive shrug can’t fix, right? But there are way too many problems here. We’ve been covering their exploits for the past couple of years, but that video — and the way it was produced and promoted — shows a serious, serious problem. We’re talking about uploading copyrighted images from blogs, businesses and news organizations without their permission. We’re talking about identity theft. We’re talking about the fact that a news site would push their work through several layers of anonymity while pretending to be part of the seething, foam-producing mob.

On Jan. 19, a Razor reader posted on the Citizens Protecting Children Facebook page the following message:

“My first question is who are the citizens behind your mission of protecting children? Besides Karen Velie’s kids what other children are you trying to protect? Can you point out any other cases of “child kidnapping” that has you concerned? Any comment on the photographs that were apparently copied and pasted from the world wide web? You do know that using others images is an ethical if not legal trespass and something no ethical journalist would do without giving attribution? Looking at this page I would have to say that this is a thinly “Vieled” page to push one agenda and it ain’t for protecting children.

Any comments at all?

And Alan Blackburn Robert Bacon’s response? “You are an enemy to the people.”

Bacon also posted the man’s Facebook profile photo on their page, writing, “You have identified yourself as a supporter of filth.”

Questions answered. See, wasn’t that easy? You cannot make this stuff up. I cannot wait until Mr. Bacon goes into Photoshop and puts a Hitler mustache on my face.

Obviously there will be more to come about CalCoastNews. There are a lot of things happening from their co-publisher being unceremoniously booted from 92.0 KVEC as a guest to pursuing San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson for allegedly changing details about a drug raid that happened on Dec. 4 last year. They sure know how to make friends.

Just ask Citizens for Protecting Children, who wrote on Dec. 28, “Thank you Dave Congalton and Dan Blackburn for bringing this to our attention.”

No, thank YOU!

An Open Letter to CalCoastNews’ Dan Blackburn

Dear Mr. Blackburn,

It’s almost been a year since you called us, rambled angrily about our coverage of your website, and called us “a couple of assholes who run a website.” In that odd conversation, you said you needed someone to read the articles to you. You were incensed because we had the chutzpah to be critical of CalCoastNews, a website that many in San Luis Obispo County now realize is a loosely constructed false narrative — that corrupts the news to expose corruption — masquerading as “on-line independent news source producing in-depth investigative news in the public interest.” Continue reading An Open Letter to CalCoastNews’ Dan Blackburn

CalCoastNews and The Exploitation of Children

UPDATE (December 16): CalCoastNews uploaded a video of the Dec. 10 rally, which included photos of the grandchildren.

Publisher Karen Velie has waged a very public war against the SLO County government, SLO County Police Department, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO)  — anyone who, she claims, is part of a vast conspiracy against her grandchildren being placed into foster care. Continue reading CalCoastNews and The Exploitation of Children

CalCoastNews and The Sobering Truth

UPDATE (August 27): The New Times has published Velie’s police report. Their staff writes, “There are a lot of opening lines in this story” in their article. That’s an understatement.

UPDATE (August 25): The New Times published a memo to the San Luis Obispo City Council by SLO Police Chief Steve Gesell, who reiterated information presented in this article. Dated August 23, 2013, the memo states, “[Statements made by Velie claiming she was targeted due to her position as a reporter for the Cal Coast News] are false and the Police Department is releasing the following information in order to provide accurate factual background as to the events leading to Ms. Velie’s arrest.”

On August 13, CalCoastNews (CCN) Publisher Karen Velie was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.  The timing was impeccable. Around that time, Velie and CCN posted a flurry of blog articles micro-scoping District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill and his fiance, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo Homeless Services Director Dee Torres. Then, news broke. According to a tentative ruling issued by SLO County Superior Court judge Barry LaBarbara, CCN private investigator Mike Brennler‘s comments to Torres’ ex-husband — about her allegedly stealing gift cards donated to CAPSLO — was constitutionally protected.

So what’s the takeaway from all these developments? According to Velie, Adam Hill and CAPSLO masterminded her arrest.  Continue reading CalCoastNews and The Sobering Truth

CalCoastNews and the Civility Police

UPDATE (Sept. 28): Kevin Rice spoke to Razor Online and provided more insight into the allegations made against him and elaborated on incidents that we covered. See below.

On June 12, KVEC 92.0 Hometown Radio host Dave Congalton invited former San Luis Obispo City Council candidate and trusted CalCoastNews contributor Kevin Rice, along with Publisher Karen Velie, to discuss the importance of civility in public affairs. In reality, the focus was on District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill and his opinions about civility.

Hill sent an e-mail to elected officials about the 2011 United States Conference of Mayors Civility Accord, which was a response to the 2011 Tuscon shooting. Shortly after the e-mail was sent, Velie published an article about it on CalCoastNews. From there, ironically, “civility” was used as a weapon by people criticizing the supervisor. This is irony at its worst.

Continue reading CalCoastNews and the Civility Police

CalCoastNews and the Wounds That Never Heal

UPDATE (August 18): CalCoastNews published a new article that revisited the subject with Almirol. We’ve compiled a list of updates that we believe our readers should know about:

  • There is no state or federal investigation into Family Ties or CAPSLO. Shortly after this article was published, we spoke to a representative of the Office of the Inspector General. An agency CalCoastNews once claimed was looking into the allegations. “There’s no merit to the allegations,” said the representative in June. Since then, there’s been no attempt to re-open the investigation
  • In their recent article, CalCoastNews, once again, refused to disclose Almirol’s criminal record. We personally forwarded the article to Karen Velie, Dan Blackburn, Josh Friedman and Dave Congalton. We didn’t receive any response back, but Velie later stated on Congalton’s radio show that Almirol had a criminal record. She subsequently dismissed our article on Almirol as a “rant.” Given Velie’s apparent admission of reading our article, it’s probable that the non-disclosure was intentional
  • Sources close to Almirol stated that he spoke to CalCoastNews exclusively because he felt Torres was responsible for his inability to visit China. CalCoastNews was made aware of Almirol’s motives prior to the article being published, but they failed to disclose them. For example, Almirol posted this on his publicly accessible Facebook profile on March 20 (as of August 18, the post is still available):almirol
  • CalCoastNews has refused to redact the names of minors involved in a domestic dispute. In their recent article, Velie has refused to redact the names of Ms. Torres’ children. It is common practice for journalism sources to redact the names of minors involved in criminal and civil proceedings. Readers have e-mailed CalCoastNews with requests to redact the names, but they refused to oblige. Previously, Editor Bill Loving told Congalton that Torres’ children could be subpoenaed to testify because of gift card theft accusations made against them. CalCoastNews has repeatedly exposed children to ridicule, contempt and threats made by their readers

UPDATE (March 23): On the March 22 broadcast of The Dave Congalton Show, Karen Velie dismissed our reporting and subsequent reported opinions as “diatribes” and accused us of being hired by Supervisor Adam Hill. The statements made by Velie are resoundingly false and indicative of her reporting ability, which we’ve covered on The ROCK previously. The podcast featuring Velie’s accusations is available for download here.

UPDATE (March 22): CalCoastNews is now officially soliciting donations for their CAPSLO articles under the allegations . In their March 22 article (“Support CalCoastNews”), they write, “Whether it’s a non-profit misappropriating donations [our emphasis], a developer misusing investor funds, or a chief of police abusing her men, CalCoastNews is watching out for you. Support CalCoastNews by advertising, supporting our advertisers, or through your donations.” It’s worth noting that CalCoastNews has not confirmed any of these instances through supporting evidence, only allegations.

On March 3, we released our findings on CalCoastNews’ ongoing “investigation” into CAPSLO, Family Ties and SLO County Homeless Services. Despite coming to a rather subjective conclusion, the analysis we conducted was objective. The more we found out about this site, the more it concerned us. Since we published our article, we’ve received a lot of feedback from people who were targeted by this website. Most of the feedback was positive and some of it, of course, was negative — and understandably so. For a little over four years, CalCoastNews has appealed to a loud bastion of readers who are clamoring for hard justice in the name of “investigative journalism.” It appeared that suddenly there is another local website that investigated their reporting — ours — and we determined their reporting to be fraudulent and deceptive. We questioned something that their readers believe to be a wholly altruistic pursuit for truth. On March 18, CalCoastNews, once again, reaffirmed their conclusions — with a very dark, sadistic twist.

Continue reading CalCoastNews and the Wounds That Never Heal

CalCoastNews’ Fraudulent Reporting on SLO Homeless Services

CalCoastNews is a local website that people in San Luis Obispo County are talking about for different reasons. People associate CalCoastNews with investigative journalism. Some believe that they are doing something good by uncovering corruption in a community where there are often a lot of unanswered questions. Readers who support CalCoastNews are satisfied to have their questions answered by a site that rarely goes beyond presenting allegations and anecdotes. When we reported about them, we received an incoherent phone call from the site’s co-founder — who only heard of the articles but didn’t actually read them — and a lengthy, emotional rant from a local radio host who refused to utter our name in a vain attempt to skirt his “equal time” pledge. Why are they so afraid?

Continue reading CalCoastNews’ Fraudulent Reporting on SLO Homeless Services