An old adage in the media business is never pick a conflict with someone who buys ink by the barrel. This memo is not intended to do so. However almost all newspaper editors and owners really want to know when something is very wrong with information they have printed, or that someone has provided to them. It is in this spirit this memo is being written.
It may be helpful for you to know that I was requested by the outside Parkville city legal counsel to provide clipping of your articles direct to them because of the timeliness involved and need to be aware of content. Doing so saved the cost of a paralegal at city expense running across town, finding a paper, and then getting it back to their downtown office as required. I accommodated that request. However they were all sent only to the attorney(s), and never by me to the city aldermen, staff, nor the mayor. Nor were they posted around City Hall, at least by this writer nor by anyone to my knowledge.
This is not a ‘he said, she said’ situation. The communications were all clearly marked “Attorney Client Privilege,” and most said “Not sent to others” .. and many said “Attorney Work Product.” There are also the header codes and recipient addresses on the communication to confirm where they were and were not sent. They absolutely do on my copies. After a recent settlement was obtained with an individual on a legal action, I then on July 30, 2021 sent a follow up e-mail to the outside city attorneys asking if they wished me to continue sending Landmark articles to them, to which they responded in writing to the affirmative.
Thus your conclusion that I was costing the city a lot of money, and all the other negative thoughts in your editorial, is simply not based in fact. I was working at the request of the legal people defending our city, and responding to their needs. In my opinion it is important to note that both owner Ivan Foley and reporter Debbie-Coleman Topi were designated in legal documents by the individual filing the legal action against the city as witnesses – which is very different from a newspaper just striving to report a story. Witnesses are subject to deposition and cross examination as you know – and I certainly can understand the attorneys wanting to know what you were saying and writing about – and preparing for that possibility.
Yesterday (Friday 11-19-21) I followed up with our legal counsel about the allegations in your editorial, and learned that in some cases the outside legal counsel may have forwarded your clippings to one of the individuals repeatedly mentioned in your articles as part of their representation to the city. However again, this is not a ‘he said-she said’ issue. The headings of the e-mails you indicate you have or have seen should have confirmed this. If they don’t, then they have been altered, and you might wish to ask yourself why.
Simply put, I did not cost the city extra dollars, have not attempted to analyze most of your writings, but assisted the legal staff in their requested needs on a timely basis. The attorneys analyze your writings, not this writer.
Of obvious concern is no one at The Landmark made any effort to contact me for comment or input prior to writing this editorial. My phone numbers, e-mail address, et al are all well know (sic) to you all. I respectfully suggest that some communication with me might have significantly alleviated your concerns. Unfortunately that was not an option The Landmark exercised.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: So Dave Rittman in effect claims he is clipping and sharing Landmark articles as a self-described de facto paralegal for the city’s outside law firm. His above letter is discussed further in Between the Lines ).