Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Xebec Threatens Local Activist with Litigation

A local environmental activist, Lori McDonald, has been targeted by Ronny Guerrero and Xebec for litigation if she does not "cease and desist" participating in public debate about the project. Click Here to Read the Cease and Desist Letter.

Evidently, the folks at Xebec (a California Corporation) didn't take too kindly to being denied their requested "voluntary annexation" on 95+ acres just West of town off Belt Line Road. A typical "cease and desist" letter was delivered today to Ms. McDonald's residence, indicating that she must stop making comments about the project or face litigation.

Readers may remember that this publication was recently threatened with litigation by a public official over this same developer. Our research indicates that this practice is referred to as "SLAPP" or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and is quite prevalent when "big business" and "public interests" conflict in the public forum. The intent of these lawsuits is to financially harm the targets of the litigation with burdensome legal fees.

As a California Corporation, Xebec should be well aware of these practices as relates to the California court system. California has one of the strongest "anti-SLAPP" statutes in the country and exacts stiff penalties for companies engaging in this type of litigation. Texas on the other hand has failed to pass any such statutes at least three times in the past decade.

While we would not care to comment on the relative merits of the Xebec action, WPC strongly supports the First Amendment rights of individuals participating in public debate.

(ED NOTE: We're expecting a similar letter from Xebec any day now.)


lurker said...

everyone agrees that free speech is a basic tenet of our country. there is a difference between free speech where you are giving your opionion and speech where you are slandering and threatening. if the accusations are correct, then ms. mcdonald does indeed need to cease with false statements and the threatening of individuals jobs. a person should be able to disagree and give valid facts and statements about why they disagree without using threats and untruths.

Wisdoms Pearl said...

I have a question. I just got off DCAD. The owner of the 95+ acre parcel that just got annexed seems to live overseas. Then, is Xebec a realtor/developer or developer/realtor or realtor or developer? Somebody please set us straight on their position.

Editor Publisher said...

We passed Mr. Guerrero a note at the last city council meeting asking for his documentation of "status" to request volutary annexation, which by state law includes only an owwer of the property. We were referred to his attorney who was also in attendance, but have yet to follow up. Legal counsel advises us that a power of attorney granting the owner's permission must exist for anyone other than the owner to represent the property for annexation purposes.

Wisdoms Pearl said...
Under the Open Meetings Act and Closed Meetings where property is discussed, the realtor must recluse him/herself/firm from a closed meeting and negotiations for a property has to be between the owner and the government entity. The Realtor cannot represent both his and the owners interests in negotiations. I may be wrong but I have read this section over and over and still have not changed my mind.

Editor Publisher said...

in response to Wisdoms Pearl 9/25/08 -
Thank you for the update - my understanding of the statute concurs with yours. I don't know if Xebec is a "Realtor" in this sense, but I was informed that an owner can designate a representative to negotiate on his behalf via power of attorney. Still, the whole affair seems "statutorily non-compliant" in my view.