City Attorney to probe
City Attorney Isabelle Lopez was directed Monday to study and report back to commissioners case law and standards after Commissioner Todd Neville accused Historic City News Editor Michael Gold of defaming him in an article.
"It went beyond criticism of me, this commission and our city," Neville told fellow commissioners at the end of Monday's commission meeting. "It's an attack on our process. We need to protect the integrity of the process."
Neville sought a lawsuit for defamation of character, but Lopez said he would have to bring it before the commission.
The article noted that Dow Museum of Houses Developer David Corneal contributed to Neville's election campaign and Neville later voted in favor of controversial planned unit development zoning on his property.
At Neville's request, Lopez had sent a letter to Gold seeking a retraction.
Gold refused the retraction, and yesterday wrote, "The idea that a dysfunctional city commission could instruct the city attorney to retaliate against the press for exposing political campaign financial donations taken by an elected public official from principles in a controversial rezoning application is anathema to a free press."
Mayor Nancy Shaver responded to Neville Monday, "My first reaction is this is a lot to absorb. There are many issues in terms of legality, freedom of the press ... I'd certainly like to hear from the city attorney.
"On a personal note," said the mayor smiling, "I'm just running through my head all the slings and arrows that have appeared in the press and elsewhere, and now that I know (City Attorney) Isabelle can be brought into play, it's an interesting moment for me."