In Huntington Beach, all city or elected officials, employees and members of boards, commissions, committees and task forces are required to take the following pledge:
The red arrows I have added indicate the parts of the pledge that I believe Wintersburg Task Force Chair Mary Urashima violated by apparently targeting work relationships of mine via an attack she made on Twitter.
Some background: For a number of years, I (along with many others in the community) have grown suspicious of Urashima’s actions as task force chair. She stopped calling meetings more than one and a half years ago, she blocks and bans many community members from even engaging with the Wintersburg Facebook page and she will occasionally attack members of the community for daring to question or criticize her over her tactics in attempting to “acquire” a privately owned piece of property (the former Furuta family farm located at Warner and Nichols, purchased from the family by Republic Services). Many people, myself included, have questioned why the city ever created a task force to help negotiate/navigate a private land matter, and we have stated as such.
In the last week or so, the city appears to have re-evaluated its relationship with Urashima and the project because the task force has all but disappeared from the official city web site, and a source within city hall has confirmed to me that the task force has in fact been dissolved.
But that does not absolve Urashima of the egregious attack made upon myself and my livelihood in early March of this year, while she was still very much the Chair of the Wintersburg Task Force. Writing under her Twitter account “Surf City Writer” (which I am blocked from even seeing), Urashima posted the following, tagging the REELZ TV channel which air a TV show I co-host and executive produce, “It Happened Here” –
For the record, I have NEVER “incited disruption” at one of Urashima’s (or anyone’s) events in my life. That is an absolute lie. I have also not “targeted a Japanese American historic preservation project for five years with online harassment.” That is absurd. I have simply called out the behavior of Urashima, who in this very tweet of hers validates essentially what I and many others have accused her of: lying, attacking and worst of all, using race as a leverage to support her false claims. What’s most telling is the “evidence” that Urashima includes in her attack to support her wild claims. It is a statement of mine simply commenting on the fact that she has not had a task force meeting in more than one and a half years. What does it say about a person that uses something so innocuous to support her lies, all while targeting a company I do business with? Despite my numerous disagreements with Urashima, I would never even think of contacting established business relationships of hers to drag them into this mess. I don’t even know what she does for a living, nor is it any of my business. Yet for some reason she felt comfortable doing this. And she didn’t stop there.
I reached out to Urashima privately to ask her to explain why she did this, and was ignored.
The First Amendment is, without doubt, one of our most cherished institutions. But even the First Amendment has limits, and Urashima’s false statements about me cross the line. This is especially true with respect to the statements intended to interfere with my business relationships with Reelz, and others. Merely because she disagrees with me on political matters, she has set a course intended to completely disrupt my livelihood by preventing me from making a living. The First Amendment does not protect this conduct.
By willfully and deliberately posting false information about me, and directly contacting a company that I am involved with, I think her intent was clear. I believe that the Respondeat Superior legal doctrine can be invoked in this situation. This doctrine holds an employer or principal is legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent, if such acts occur within the scope of the employment or agency. And I think that holds up here. All that said, these are legal matters that will be left to the experts to sort out and make decisions against.
For now however, I think it is crystal clear that Urashima violated all of the points highlighted above and even if the task force is now disbanded, I still think the city has an obligation to admonish Urashima for her willful and destructive actions. And example needs to be set so that all future representatives understand how serious the code of conduct pledge is. She was a city representative when these actions occurred, and I am calling on city council to take a stand against this behavior.