Answering Questions and Debunking Rumors
By Robert Haugh
In case you missed it, SanJoseInside.com wrote about Miles Barber’s frivolous lawsuit against me yesterday. Word is getting around about his bullying tactics.
I’ve been answering a lot of questions lately. So I decided it might be easier just to answer them for everyone in this column. I hope this explains what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
Are you a disgruntled former employee just trying to get back at the Weekly?
Absolutely not. I enjoyed most of my time at the Weekly. I was there for 10 years and made some good friends. I was let go within a year after my daughter was born – her first several months were marred with severe medical issues. That was a really tough time for me. Even after my time at the Weekly, I continued to share story ideas with some of their staff members.
Did you get a nice severance or settlement?
Absolutely not. I heard this false rumor circulate recently. I was dismissed fairly suddenly on a Wednesday with a paycheck that paid me through that day. That’s it. I applied for unemployment insurance. The Weekly fought my claim. But I finally won. Then, I worked a contract position for an environmental testing lab in South San Francisco doing marketing work. Then, I moved back to Santa Clara and started Santa Clara News Online.
Why did you start Santa Clara News Online?
Lots of people told me that the quality of the Weekly had really deteriorated and that it had become really biased. I decided to start this website to provide good journalism and try to give the community a different perspective – and an unbiased one.
How are you unbiased?
Everyone has some bias. But I don’t have advertisers. I don’t rely on City Hall for funding. This allows me to be free from pressure. I’m doing this because I love Santa Clara and I love reporting and writing. This is not really a job for me. It’s a labor of love and a passion.
But aren’t you raising money for your legal defense and won’t that make you biased?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to fight a frivolous lawsuit. But I’m trying to limit the influence of contributors. So I won’t take more than $2,000 from a single source for my legal defense. So far it’s working. I have $6,530 from 58 contributors. That’s about a $112 average contribution.
I’ve been offered some contributions in excess of that limit. But I’ve declined them. I’ve also been asked by developers who have projects in Santa Clara if they can give anonymously. I’ve said that I would have to disclose their contributions if I write about their projects.
I’m thankful that Stand Up for Santa Clara has sent out a request for contributions to their membership. Two other local organizations have offered to do the same. To me, that means a lot.
Will you be able to hire a good attorney?
If the fundraising continues to go well, I’m confident I’ll have excellent representation. I’ve spoken to half a dozen highly-regarded First Amendment attorneys. All think I have a strong anti-SLAPP case. SLAPP is Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Anti-SLAPP laws protect people from being bullied and intimidated both legally and financially by those who don’t like legitimate criticism. California has the oldest and best statute. I’m fortunate for that.