After finally being sent the staff social media policies for the Ocean View School District (by a staffer I reached out to separately – my requests to superintendent Carol Hansen were completely ignored), I felt compelled to revisit and report on an incident that took place in the summer of 2015. It’s an event that illustrates, in my opinion, not just an egregious abuse of these policies, but more importantly perhaps, a firsthand view of the tactics being employed by OVSD Trustee President Gina Clayton Tarvin. I’ve previously documented
her efforts as she attempts to intimidate, harass and silence members
of the community, but I’m not sure anything better illustrates just what she will do to snuff out opposing voices than this incident.
This is the story.
I was sitting at dinner with my husband, At Red Table in Huntington Harbour. Then all of a sudden my phone started blowing up with Facebook messages. I had no clue what was going on. It was kind of shocking to read what my friends were sending to me. ‘You have to see this.’ ‘Look what she’s doing to you.’ ‘Who is she?’ ‘WTF?!’
Then I saw.
“Shipley Mar–” as she went by on Facebook last year (employing a partial alias as a safety measure due to personal safety reasons – today “Shipley Marmz”) had never met or spoken to Gina Clayton Tarvin in May of 2015. She didn’t even know who she was. And she was unaware of the newly raging controversy between the district, Rainbow/Republic disposal, the lawsuits, the attacks and the heated online debates.
Shipley, like many other people during that time (myself included,) took a tour of the Rainbow facility to form her own opinion about how they worked and managed. But unlike most of us, she took the tour not connected to any issue with the school district, but because a friend of hers that was involved in helping mitigate the effects of Styrofoam on the environment, invited her along. “I was curious if the idea of banning Styrofoam was a good one,” she told me. “I wanted to see how they dealt with it.”
Well, Shipley was impressed by how the handled Styrofoam. In fact, she was also taken with, in her opinion, how well managed the place was. And it made her focus more on what was being said in public forums. “Right after the tour, that day, I paid closer attention to the discussion on Facebook about Rainbow. It seemed like a lot of people had very strong opinions and even agendas in regards to Rainbow. All I did was comment in a forum called The Voice that I thought people should do their own research and not get led along by others. That was it. I didn’t smell anything there, I thought it was clean, given what they do, and I expressed that. I didn’t address anyone specifically, let alone Gina Clayton Tarvin. Again I had no clue who she even was. That’s why I was so shocked in the restaurant by the attack.”
This was the comment posted by Trustee President Gina Clayton Tarvin:
Shipley was shocked to read these details/accusations, posed as questions. First, by Clayton Tarvin exposing Shipley’s her real name (which I have blocked for privacy reasons), Shipley believed she was placed in danger (again, due to a personal reason). How did Clayton Tarvin even get that information? Second, how did Clayton Tarvin know where Shipley had worked (26 years earlier)? (company name also masked for privacy reasons) Third, why on earth would ANYONE (let alone an elected official) be so grossly irresponsible and reckless as to deliberately share in public such personal information, while also attempting to create false motive for why Shipley posted in the first place? (Clayton Tarvin’s original comment would eventually be deleted by forum administrators, due to the fact that personal information was being shared without permission).
And it got worse. According to Shipley, in other (now deleted) comments, Clayton Tarvin actually threatened to report Shipley to Facebook for using a fake name and also accused her of being a fake account altogether.
Clayton Tarvin then rejoined the discussion Shipley was having with a gentleman (name masked for privacy) to issue her version of an “apology.” Note, she has just clearly shared private personal information in a vicious and strangely accusatory way, but does not want Shipley to feel as if she has been “treated unjustly.” (In my opinion, this “explanation” borders on the delusional.)
Shipley strongly challenged what Clayton Tarvin had done to her, and challenged the ‘non apology” – which Clayton Tarvin repeated, bizarrely, saying had meant no harm. (And I will agree with Shipley’s observation that the “excuse” feels like it was directed by a lawyer.)
I interviewed Shipley about this clearly unsettling and disturbing attack. Here is our discussion.
Shipley, you knew nothing about the OVSD situation with Rainbow when this took place?
No. Some friends of mine had created something called the “Styrofoam Challenge” and I tagged along with them on a tour of Rainbow to see how they deal with Styrofoam. I knew nothing about all of the school fighting. I didn’t know anything about lawsuits at first. This was my first contact ever with Gina Clayton Tarvin. It was like walking down the street and having a stranger come up and punch you in the face. That’s how I felt the night at the restaurant when I read what she did. I literally had read one thread about this issue and from that it seemed clear to me that yes, some people had an agenda. It was the idea of the lawsuits that made me think that. It just seemed weird. And then all I was trying to do was give another perspective of someone that had actually been to Rainbow. I have a very sensitive sense of smell and I was just being honest. I didn’t smell anything there. I never expected anyone to flip out or come after me just for stating my opinion.
What was your initial reaction to her comments?
I was in shock. I mean, where did she get this information? I did change my name, but nobody that knows my current name would know where I worked back then. I was furious. A lot of other people were too and started calling her out for obviously having done a background check on me or something. She eventually answered that someone who “knows” me had told her all of this information. But that makes no sense. Nobody that knows my current name would ever know where I worked in 1988. So I simply do not believe her. My opinion is that somehow she got a hold of my social security number to find out where I had worked and god knows what else. And why would she just launch into an attack like with hearsay from someone? Her explanation makes no sense. And none of this situation had any affect on me at all since I don’t live anywhere near the site. With no dog in the fight, I was an absolutely objective observer with no bias.
Well she implies in her comment that you’ve got a conflict of interest due to a company you either work for now or once worked for. Is there any basis at all for that charge?
It’s preposterous. The company I worked for is a distributor of vacuum pumps and compressors. I handled a lot of accounts there back then but I have absolutely no idea if Rainbow ever had an account there. If they did in 1988, I have zero idea. No clue. I know I didn’t work on anything for them there. Think about this. This is more than 25 YEARS AGO. I literally had not worked there since the 1980s yet here is this woman asking if I worked there now. Also, did she dig to find out what vendors Rainbow was using back then? How far did she go with this? It was just so shocking, all of it. Also, I had a stalker in my past, it’s why I don’t use my name on Facebook and here is this woman, an elected official by the way, not just revealing my name but also threatening to report me to Facebook for not even being a real person. It was crazy. Also, when we were at Rainbow, the only bird I saw was the hawk, but she and others were saying the dump was a bird fest. Also that it smelled terrible. That was not my experience and I said so. I didn’t call anyone a liar; I just said my experience was different. And then the attack came.
Did you consider suing her?
I had friends that wanted me to. But I just figured it would be hard to prove damages. I mean, if the stalker had come after me then for sure there would’ve been damages. But in the end, I think her tactics did more damage to her then anything that I could do. It’s why I think it’s important to remind people of this.
Did Gina Clayton Tarvin ever reach out to you privately to explain of truly apologize for what she did to you? Not in a public forum but offline?
No. Never. There was never a private word from her.
Clayton Tarvin is up for re-election this year in November. Do you think she deserves to be re-elected?
I don’t think she’s fit to serve the public. I mean, someone didn’t agree with her and she went after them in this really vicious, suspicious and aggressive way. If she is going to use those thug tactics in public, then what is she doing in private? Who is she blackmailing and who is she threatening? Whose job is she trying to get taken away? I don’t know, but I think the kids and parents and staff in the school district deserve better. I’m a voter, I may not have kids in the OVSD, but I do not think she should be an elected official in the city. Just think about what she did here.
Do you consider these to have been intimidation tactics designed to make you shut up and go away?
Absolutely. For sure. I firmly believe that was her intent. And I think that’s why she did it publicly. It was her way of saying “See what happens when you disagree with me? See what happens when you dare do your own research and form your own opinion that goes against mine?” Its’s like the person that walks into a bar and punches someone hard in the face to make everyone scared of them. To send a message. A warning. I think she swung at the first person that made her mad to say to everyone, “See what I can do? Anyone else have anything that they don’t want made public? Then go ahead and disagree with me and see what happens.”
In Part II of this piece I will look at the new levels these tactics have been taken to, thanks in large part to close friend and confidante of the Trustee President, a blogger whose threats and intimidation regarding any comments relating to Gina Clayton Tarvin have now become part of the attack.
POST SCRIPT: These are the social media guidelines for staffers in the OVSD. In my opinion, Clayton Tarvin has clearly violated a number of these rules and should be held accountable for her attack on this private citizen, through a formal complaint both to the OVSD and the district where she teaches.