Friday, June 16, 2006

Alachua Amended Lawsuit Filed

News Flash: Alachua County, Florida

At around 1 pm EST today an amended complaint was filed at the Alachua County Courthouse in the lawsuit contesting the April 11th election in the City of Alachua.

A copy of the amended lawsuit is available at the Alachua Project website.

The lawsuit, brought by Charlie Grapski, State House Candidate (running in the Democratic primary), and other concerned citizens alleges serious and significant wrongdoing by the City’s officials in conducting the election.

The City, which conducted its own elections, failed to follow Florida laws in the conduct of the election. Named in the lawsuit as defendants are City officials including the City’s Mayor, Jean Calderwood, who despite being actively involved in supporting candidate James Lewis (elected to his 40th consecutive year on the City Commission), retained her position as one of the three member Canvassing Board. Calderwood’s husband, Hugh, was furthermore the official Treasurer of the Lewis campaign and served effectively in the management of that campaign. Clovis Watson, who had Grapski arrested while inspecting the absentee ballots, also served on that board with Calderwood. Watson, along with Deputy Clerk Alan Henderson (who performed the functions of Supervisor of Elections), are futhermore alleged to have unduly influenced voters to cast ballots for James Lewis at City Hall while performing their duties as election and public officials.

The secrecy of the ballot, it is alleged, was denied to the voters. Numerous improprieties in the conduct of the election are spelled out. The implications of this for those City officials is immense - as many of these actions are declared to be felony offenses according to Chapter 104 of Florida Statutes.

Grapski, joined by Michael Canney and other concerned Alachua residents, held a press conference outside of City Hall today at 2 pm. Grapski stated:

There have been attempts to distract from the central issue here - and that is the serious improprieties by Alachua City officials in the conduct of the election. Improprieties that: Denied the secrecy of the ballot; violated the civil rights of citizens; denied the right to vote; and undermined the confidence of citizens in the legitimacy of their government.

Canney, on behalf of the Green Party, called upon the State Attorney’s office “to drop all charges against Mr. Grapski and Mr. Canney, and to open an investigation into the allegations of misconduct by Alachua city officials, not only in the April 11 election, but also in the subsequent abuse of police powers as a means of intimidation and harassment against law abiding citizens attempting to exercise their inalienable rights under the Constitution.”

This sentiment was echoed by Grapski who declared: “This is not an issue attacking one political party. This is not a racial issue. This is not an issue about recording public officials. It is an issue of the fairness of the election process and teh sanctity of the right to vote.”

“All Americans, All Floridians, and All in Alachua County,” Grapski stated, “should be extremely concerned by the allegations contained in this lawsuit.”

They should demand that those in law enforcement, “starting with teh State Attorney’s office and going up from there,” should “take this matter seriously, investigate these allegations, and prosecute all public officials involved in these activities to the fullest extent of the law.”

The press conference was held at 2 pm at City Hall because the Alachua County Republican Party, in conjunction with an unidentified member of the Democratic Black Caucus, announced they would have a rally to support the officials and polices of the City of Alachua.

In an email by former Republican Executive Committee (REC) chairperson, Mildred Russell, to “Fellow Conservative Volunteers,” it was stated: “We have an opportunity to show our support as well and stand with the citizens of this forward moving community, and against the tactics of the left who want to send it backwards.”

News of this “event” was obtained, along with this email, by the Alachua Project. They publicly posted the email on their website . This set off a flurry of accusations and activities at the Republican party. Included in the REC’s email, which current Chairman Stafford Jones said he instructed to be sent out, is a statement that the “NAACP … are going to speak up in support of the city of Alachua.” This was news to the NAACP which had its monthly meeting yesterday evening. The NAACP passed a motion that they would have no involvement in this affair until more information was forthcoming. The chairman of the NAACP stated that he was asked to speak, by an unnamed member of the Democratic Black Caucus, on behalf of Bonnie Burgess (Alachua City Commissioner who is running in the same race as Grapski) and Clovis Watson. The details of the allegations against Watson and the other City officials (Burgess is not claimed to have had any role in the election improprieties) had not been presented to them at that time. The NAACP has taken actions to clarify the record that they had no involvement with any of the actions proposed to support the City of Alachua.

After the scheduled “event” was revealed, along with the Republican party email, the press conference originally set for 1 pm was moved to 2 pm. The “event,” however, never materialized. You can view the Republican party memorandum at the Alachua Project site as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Republicans On The Warpath

Hi everyone,

Just checking in (still free!) - but things are really starting to heat up in Alachua.

The Republican Executive Committee has been engaged in (its a national strategy) trying to bring the African American community into their fold. This is a key reason for the Gay Marriage issue by the way. And also for their Wal-Mart support (low wage jobs).

The other night I was informed that the Republican Executive Committee was “out to get me” - and indeed a friend came to me to tell me he had been approached by an REC member - seeking for him to assist getting “compromising information” on me.

Then yesterday the REC (the Chairman states publicly he instructed the former Chairwoman to do this) sent out an email to “all conservative volunteers” (you can see it on the Alachua Project site - click above - go to the blog there).

They want to have an “event” to stand behind the Republican Mayor of Alachua (once appointed to the commission directly by Jeb!). And they claim - but this was news to these two organizations - that they will be joining forces with the NAACP and the Democratic Black Caucus - to support the Republican Mayor and Clovis Watson - and to oppose my efforts.

I got a hold of a copy of that email (as there are many angry Republicans - and now angry Democrats - discovering that some among the leadership of their organizations are “behind” what is going on in Alachua). It was released publicly today. And all you know what has broken loose.

NEWS ALERT: Tomorrow at noon we will be filing our first AMENDED complaint on the lawsuit contesting the April 11th election. It will be posted - in full text - once that has been done. And it should send shock waves around the country as to what lengths certain individuals will go to ensure they win elections.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Snail Mail Address For Grapski Defense Fund

Putting up a new post to draw people’s attention to the following long-awaited addition to the Grapski Defense web site:

Those interested in contributing via regular mail you can send a check to the following address. The Open Records Project is helping with the coordination of the Defense Fund and related efforts.

The Open Records Project
P.O. Box 611
Alachua, FL 32615
Attn: Defense Fund

Checks may be made payable either to Charlie directly (Charles Grapski) or to The Open Records Project.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Raw Story does in-depth article on Charlie’s charges/candidacy

This is what bloggers can do when we work together. In response to the post Helping Charlie: this story needs "legs"!, Rayne commented that a major media outlet was interested in Charlie’s story, and that she had given them my e-mail address. Later that day, I received an e-mail from a reporter at Raw Story, and I gave her Charlie’s address and the latest update on his situation.

Today, there is an in-depth article about Charlie’s plight featured at Raw Story:

Florida House candidate to face litany of criminal charges after alleging vote fraud

In an exclusive interview with Florida House of Representatives candidate Charlie Grapski - arrested after he filed a lawsuit alleging voting fraud against Alachua County City Manager Clovis Watson, RAW STORY learns of corruption allegations that can only be described as not seen since the days of Boss Tweed.

Charlie Grapski, a Democrat running for the Florida House of Representatives, was arrested in April after filing a lawsuit alleging that City officials abused power and influenced the outcome of an election by manipulating the absentee voting process. The story, however, does not start or end with election fraud allegations. What Grapski tells is a tale that one cannot imagine occurring in a law abiding country, one of false arrest, intimidation, and a crony-business system all centered around money interests.

Clearly, this calls for a celebration!

Dancing Snoopy

That was fun. Okay–back to work!

Grapski Defense Fund

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Grapski Defense Update

Originally posted in the comments at Blog for America

We still need to raise another $2,500 minimum by tomorrow AM to pay for the current legal expenses to date.

We raised about that much between Friday evening and Saturday morning. I have to give the defense lawyers another $5,000 Monday morning before they will take any further actions - to cover existing expenses.

As for those who come here claiming that they have seen “no proof” of anything - its funny how much that mirrors the official line of the Alachua County Republican Party. But who lays out their strategy to the opposition BEFORE the game? Its like giving the opponents your game plan in advance. Not exactly the wisest move.

As for the allegations of wrongdoing in the election - we have filed a legal action (this with another lawyer who is doing this pro bono - Joe Little, a law professor who I have worked with on cases in the past - he is amazing and a true local hero in Alachua County - the only thing we have to come up with on this front is the costs of pursuing the litigation (filing fees, deposition costs, etc.)).

We have a formal complaint filed with the Courts. It lays out certain allegations as we are required to do by law. It does not lay out ALL of our evidence yet - as this is not the forum for that - the trial and discovery phase will be for that.

However, as soon as Tuesday, we will be filing an AMENDED complaint - alleging far more detail (again not every detail - but more allegations of serious wrongdoing) of what took place. I’ll post it once it is filed.

All I can say is that I have evidence that this election was:

1) Improperly conducted in such a way as to call into question the validity of the election.

At minimum - the City officials did not follow any of the laws they are required to follow - and thus compromised the election (even if you allege no intentional wrongdoing - there is ample evidence of misfeasance).

Indeed the SECRECY of the ballot was denied to all who cast “absentee” ballots. And this election was decided by absentee ballots.

But that is not all we are alleging:

2) City Officials CONNECTED WITH the campaign of the commissioner “elected” by absentee ballots to his 40th consecutive year - improperly influenced residents to cast absentee ballots specifically FOR this candidate.

The City officials committed numerous acts which constitute criminal actions - including numerous felony acts and certainly the violation of civil/voting rights.

The simple question should be - IF I had no case - WHY would there be such an OVER-reaction by these officials.

As for the alleged crime I am being charged with - this is absurd. I did not “secretly” record anyone. Everything I did was in plain sight. Indeed the officials openly acknowledged I was recording - and continued to talk on record. Plus in Florida these are PUBLIC officials - and under Florida’s law - they are required to act SOLELY as PUBLIC officials when in that capacity. The public has a RIGHT TO KNOW what they do as public officials.

And here is a good example of how absurd this is:

Michael Canney, who is now the co-chair of the Florida Green party, is also being threatened to be arrested. Michael is a good friend and an Alachua resident who has long been fighting the corruption in Alachua.

For what? Well - he videotaped me engaged in discussions with the public officials. OK - this was while I was openly recording them and they chose to speak on record.

But what else is missing from this story? Well - the local ABC affiliate, TV20, was there as well at the same time. What were they doing? They were videotaping the very same thing!

Indeed when I contacted them Friday night - and they put the story out - they used THAT footage!

So, if what I did was a felony in audio taping that conversation (openly) and what Michael did in videotaping that conversation (openly - kind of hard to “miss” the fact that someone is three feet from you with a video camera rolling) is a felony - then why is what the TV station did not a felony?

They have not had any action filed against them? Why not?

By the way - if you want to know one “good” reason why the establishment here is so concerned about this case - beyond merely the Alachua officials and their election wrongdoing - think about it this way.

Florida has VERY open government laws (its called the Sunshine Law - composed of FLorida’s Ethics Law (112), Public Records Law (119), and Open Meetings Law (286) - you can follow links to these statutes to read them for yourself at the Alachua Project site (

The legislature and courts, however, have been ERODING these laws rapidly in the past few years. Very consciously. But the laws are still there - they are Constitutionally enacted by the people (in the 1970s) - but those in public office do not like them. They are the tools (indeed weapons) that the people have to hold their public officials to account. And those public officials, by and large, see this as harassment - and don’t think they should be as such.

But if my case were deemed to be a felony - it would mean that if a citizen saw Rodney King being beaten by cops in Florida and videotaped it:

1) The Citizen could be arrested for a felony (incentive to NOT tape such activities);

2) The Video could not be used against the police in a Court of Law (good incentive for the authorities to take this position).

The same goes for corrupt politicians - and Florida is notorious for this - who have been caught by investigative journalists taking MONEY while being secretly videotaped.

Now those who EXPOSE public corruption - have the tables turned on them by the officials - who can then criminalize the activities of the citizens who merely CATCH the public officials in wrongdoing.

That is a truly frightening prospect.