Anonymous Commenting

Randall Freeman and Chuck Reutter, are two people who wrote to The Californian discussing anonymous commenting on websites, and I'm sure...

Randall Freeman and Chuck Reutter, are two people who wrote to The Californian discussing anonymous commenting on websites, and I'm sure they're talking about Menifee 24/7.

Here's what was said...

(Randall Freeman, Aug 23) - My first experience in seeking to serve my community by running as a candidate for my local school board has produced somewhat unexpected consequences. As part of my efforts to inform the local community of my desire and qualifications for serving on the school board, I submitted a candidate's statement on local Web sites. When I checked in on my statement this afternoon, I was pleased to observe that there were several comments posted in response to it. Pleased that is, until I read them.

The vile and offensive diatribes were blatant and disturbing to me. Simply by virtue of stating my profession of being an elementary school teacher, I was vilified by several anonymous cowards. Statements included, "You and your ilk will be happy to bleed the public dry to support your hidden agenda. People like you sicken me ..." and "You have all let the parents and children down ... for your personal wealth and ambitions. I agree with the previous comments, we need parent representation, and you do not fit the bill."

Statements like these make me wonder why anybody would wish to serve in any public capacity. Will I have to be concerned for the safety of myself and family simply because I desire to serve my community and just happen to be a teacher? I have to wonder.

(Chuck Reutter, Aug 27) - I hope all these negative comments Mr. Randall T. Freeman wrote about in his Aug. 23 letter to The Californian will not keep him from seeking election to the Menifee Union School District, and I would not pay any attention to the cowards who do not give their name when making a comment. In addition, the Webmaster of the site to which Mr. Freeman is referring does not have the courage to publish his name either.

I strongly suggest we all ignore those who do not have the courage to give their name because I think it is not the American way.
To address Chuck's assertion that the owner of the website doesn't give his name, is wrong. I have my first and last name on the website, at the far-left, as being the publisher of this website. I also describe who I am on the "About Us" page, which is linked from the same location.

For the record, here is the article Randall Freeman is referring to...

While there certainly are some very critical comments there, there are others that are more constructive, and others yet that defend him. But every comment on there reflects the true feelings and sentiment that exist in the community. Those sentiments are of real voters who will be marking ballots this November. What Freeman got from his candidate statement on Menifee 24/7 is a look at what he needs to address if he wants to win a seat on the school board.

Moreover, anyone who seeks to gain public office must be vetted by every voter in public. Vetting also includes examining how that candidate handles criticism, and this is perhaps a test for Freeman.

I would certainly love for everyone to disclose their names when commenting. But, my goal is to build discussion, not to discourage it. Aside from the articles I publish here, the ensuing discussion is also a big reason why people come back here to read. The community dialogue is a major part of what makes Menifee 24/7 what it is.

Also, if I forced people to provide their name, all they'd do is make up a pseudonym to get around it, and they'd still be anonymous.

I don't think Freeman needs to worry for his personal safety. Menifee is still the same community, with or without Menifee 24/7. Had he never submitted a candidate statement to me, would he have believed the community was more friendly to him?


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  1. Sounds like that pesky first amendment thing is getting in the way again. Sure there are harsh statements here but this in one of the few venues you can state your mind on the goings on in Menifee. You have to take the good with the bad as well as all things in between. Besides, People Suck so get over it!

    Benjamin Dover

  2. If this guy is worried about harsh comments and anonymous commenting then he needs to avoid serving the public in any capacity. Yes, there are those who thrive on negative commenting and have nothing better to do than post vulgar and threatening comments anonymously. However, as a computer person I know that if indeed a true threat was placed on someone the website admin can trace the actual poster and provide this information to local law enforcement.
    The main reason that people usually post anonymously is because it is just easier to do and without fear of repercussion from either a colleague or possibly a neighbor.
    You have to really read between the lines from the people who have valid comments and from those that are just plain morons.

  3. You are absolutely correct. If a anonymous poster places a direct threat via this or anyother website they can be traced by the system administrator via the computers IP address. That is, unless they are extremely sophisticated and know how to reroute the identifier. Most system administrators will log every single IP address of anyone who posts comments in the event something like that takes place.

  4. I for one am not about to create another user account just to post comments on a website. I have enough username and password accounts to remember already.

  5. as a widdowed senior citizen - I will remain anonymous for my own safety. Until the area changes and once again becomes a safe place to live, it is the only way to communicate safely.
    Anyone who puts a statement on the internet, is open to opinions, and this still being a free world ( if not so safe) everyone's opinion counts.
    Part of being a responsible adult is learning to take the bad with the good so take all the opinions, and learn from them. A teacher should understand this.

  6. If a person wants the truth, then the only way they will get 100% truth will be anonymous. Why do you think that elections and pretty much every other form of feedback is usually from anonymous sources.

  7. Boo Hoo Randall! Put your big boy pants on if you want to be in politics, or any 'tics for that matter.

  8. Steve, have you thought of having a way for someone to "flag" a post if something written is objectional? Just a thought :)

  9. Steve,

    We don't always agree with your comments but you still provide the forum for us to speak..that I thank you..and for the Senior lady who is allowed to get her opinion out with retribution. Mr. Freeman is truly a poor sport. I read his comments and the other candidates. Mr. Freeman looked like he was very offensive when criticized. He needs to review his history about Watergate, when you don't get your way, you can't seek out peoples identity. Next he will want to see who vcted against him with the Registrar of Voters..this guy did not want to serve this community, but his own selfish interest and he was exposed. I still don't always agree with you Steve, this time I do.

    Honest Jon

  10. When I first began what I thought was a campaign against injustice by SCCA upon its helpless senior members in Sun City a few years ago, I was seriously demonized. When I stood up to Jerry Stamper for his unethical activies as Chairman of the Board of the new Chamber of Commerce of which I was one of the founding members, I was slandered. When I demanded the Chamber send me a laundry list of my wrong doing, they never produced one.

    At first I was hurt by all that until I remembered Bob Dylan's song. Remember Bob Dylan's song--"They Stone When You're trying to be so good. They stone you when. . .Every body must get stoned."

    Now when I hear negative statements about me, I laugh. I am secure in who I am. I know my critics don't know me. Many of them only know what some one else incorrectly said about me. My actions and opinions--whether or not any one agrees with me--are meant in the spirit of doing the right thing because it is right.

    It only takes two people to have a debate on their separate ideas. So, if step forward to do what you think is right, you will be criticized. If you don't step forward to do what is right,you will be criticized. That is what is so. So what! The most important person in all this is yourself. You must do what you must do and be damned with invisible opinions.

    I risk negative opinion every week on Menifee Valley Talk Radio. Like it or not, I still work hard to bring to the listeners the best possible information and opinions I can give.

    So go forward my friend and get stoned. (No pun intended)

    Therese Daniels

  11. You know, I actually defended Mr. Freeman on the other blog article, but after reading about his continual sobbing over the harsh words inflicted in the comments section, I am quite stunned!

    Mr. Freeman, if you want to run for a public office, you MUST have thicker skin. The way you reacted to the previous blog was immature to say the least. Grow up, answer the critics ONLY when it pertains to issues, and do NOT engage in immature mud-slinging and name-calling.

  12. REPRESENSIBLE BEHAVIOR: Interesting to read Therese's comments and her wisdom in knowing how to stay sane in the public world. Hang tough Therese - you have loyal supporters for your speaking truths! Sure, for most of us, its a hard lesson to learn; that once you step out, unscrupulous, vile people are waiting to pounce. Worth watching: The new election coming in October for Menifee Lakes Homeowners Association Board. The current board president, the puppet of two sadistic men who sit with him; are again pulling out their white sheets (either they get them at discount or they are cheaper than particle board or what?) to destroy their opponents and discourage them from running, same dull tactics as last election. No, Menifee, we're not invaded by a new bunch of undesireables, its the same ole bunch and tactics of long time residents. Take note of the whitesheet sign posted at Newport and Antelope Roads. Cowards posted it at night with only the bats watching, while most decent people were at rest. It is starting already, a repeat of the immoral actions against their 'unwanted' opponents running for seats on the Menifee Lakes Homeowners Assn board, led by the sitting president's group against anyone they feel is a threat (refuses to be just another puppet and has a mind of their own). As most readers know, a group of conscientious homeowners of Menifee Lakes, after enduring long attacks, succeeded in recalling their at-that-time current board for misuse of funds and a series of wrongdoings. THE RECALL PASSED! Yes, the recall was declared legal and deemed as passing by a Superior Court Judge at Riverside County Courthouse, to which 'they' like to blindly ignore or deny. After the 'three boys' (which they liked to call themselves) expensive campaign aimed at a takeover, they won the election only because of their seemingly endless supply of funds and due to passive, beaten down and exhaustive state of the homeowners; many refusing out of fear to get involved. Yes, they literally bought their way in, both with their money and frightening threats with wrongdoings and damaging property of the opponents. Then, finally having won, only to bring back (appoint) the recalled former board president the first chance they got? Pay attention to the candidates running for the ML election coming up and take note of the smear-tactics of the ones they don't want. They have, so they think, hand chosen the ones they want to sit with them on 'their'new board: The Recalled CFO, the Recalled President, and a few others they consider as spineless, easy-votes in their dealings. Now I ask you folks, would you ever expect putting your name in the ring could lead to endless acts of vandalism and harm to your family? Or having to call the sheriff the first time in your long life because they had come to your home to threaten?? So, Mr. Freeman, consider yourself lucky if all you get are negative comments while awaiting the election. Its not until you get your autos and homes damaged, lights shining in your bedroom windows with notes left overnight on your door and autos for scare tactics, that you can really experience the devils that come out after dark. All this comes hauntingly to mind when reading the latest acts of burnings in Lake Elsinore, etc.
    Latest from the ML Board: Last homeowners' meeting was cancelled at their whims with the excuse they feared a unruly (wouldn't follow what they wanted) board member would attack them at the meeting; while the same evening of the supposed meeting, they themselves, were taking part in a Volleyball Tournament ?? Yes, they have no ethics in blaming someone else to cover their hinds. Menifee Lakes has its own 'gang' to fear. No, its not a group of young thugs, its a group of what the world would see as 'supposedly okay' men. Now, which is more dangerous..the obvious gang of thugs you know to avoid OR unscrupulous individuals who catch you offguard ? Note: Yes, this will be 'anonymous' because of situations like this.

  13. Would these be the same people who want to bring prayer back into the schools and city meetings? Scary!

  14. Your comment doesn't make sense or direct your question...For whomever, anyone who is afraid of prayer must somehow be guilty of accosting God and fear inviting Him in. Yes, leave prayer in the council meetings and bring it back to the schools. Now do you want to open another can for discussion?

  15. Yes, it's called hypocrisy.

    Of which you may be the poster child for.

    Bring it all back, unfortunately you will also find that it is not the solution to a problem that doesn't exist soley from the lack of "values".

  16. I would also like to express my opinion in regards to anonymity on this site.

    I have posted a number of opinions here since this site first opened. I think the anonymous sender idea is a good one, because it allows people to voice opinions without fear of reprisal.

    I think obvious vulgarities should be edited, or the author should be told to edit them before publication; however opinions are only opinions.

    Unfortuntely there are some who post here who think nothing of just telling outright lies, or making false accusations against those with whom they disagree politically. While this is lamentable in any respect, the anonymity of the writers protects them from libel suits in some cases.

    But this is the price we pay for freedom of expression when there is the "anonymous" author option.

    If I had to judge I would say that if the anonymous posters were required to I.D. themselves, there would be fewer lies, and defamations posted; but then there would also be fewer folks posting comments who "had the goods" on politicians, board members, property managers, and the like who have misused their offices, and currently misuse their offices to pursue their own selfish and often times sinister goals. One with knowledge of these acts would certainly fear reprisal if his or her identity was revealed.

    Hey how about that $5000 donation from Avalon (the paid, property manager for Menifee Lakes Master Association) to BOARD PRESIDENT JERRY STAMPER when stamper made his unsuccessfull bid for city council? That was the single largest campaign donation to ANY candidate.

    And within 45 days of the donation, the management contract for MLMA was up for renewal. YEP Avalon's contract was renewed. The vote? 5-2 I think.

    I have seen, and experienced first hand the wrath of board members in Menifee Lakes. If you don't agree with board members Savard and Roach, they will yell at you, threaten you, and use their power to denegrate you and destroy your standing in your community. They literally attempt to control everyone and everything in the community. If a homeowner speaks out at a meeting regarding an inequity, or concern about something such as "security" or "why aren't the boats being rented" or some such innocent question, they are met with raised voices, and usually get no answers because of the smoke and mirrors approach used by the three tyrants, and the two women who say yes to everything Savard and Roach say. One of them is, as it was correctly pointed out, a RECALLED board member who was heavily supported by Savard and Roach during the successfull recall effort. Not only was she appointed back to the board (4-2 vote) but another RECALLED member was 'appointed' special consultant to the board. He was also heavily supported during the recall effort by Savard and Roach.

    People have associated them with bashed in car windows, tagging, homes being "boxed", people being followed home and harassed for disagreeing with them: stolen for sale signs posted in yards (front and back) of political opponents, personal vendettas, irresponsible spending, and the list goes on and on.

    People have all but stopped coming to board meetings, because all you see is Savard and Roach controlling every topic, and every member... well almost every member. There are two board members who don't lie down for Savard and Roach. And of course they are the targets of the incessant attempts by Savard and Roach to silence them; whether by threat of law suit, or law suits actually filed... people are afraid of these two.

    Now I am told that they have made some sort of arrangement with the owner of this site to have IP addresses given to them of those whose anonymous posts conflict with their opinions of what should and should not be allowed at this site.

    That would mean, if true, that Steve is giving out the IP addresses to them, or their cohorts, so that the anonymous posters can be identified for further harrassment and actions by Savard and Roach.

    Is this true Steve?

    If our anonymity is not protected, perhaps it would be better to do away with it altogether. If people are lured into a false sense of security, trusting that when they click "anonymous" their identity is kept confidential only to find out later that select individuals have access to IP numbers because someone associated with this site gives them to them; well, that IS scary.

    Steve would you please comment on this? I would like to know if these remarks made by those who claim to already have certain posters IP numbers, and now are in process of chasing down specific posts based on the IP addresses associated with those posts is TRUE.

    If it is possible, by any means, for anyone to retrieve thes IP addresses, and from there access the identities of the posters, then I for one would appreciate full disclosure.

    If it is not true, then it would be great to know that as well, so the liars can be exposed.

    In the meantime, I will continue to post anonymously like many in Menifee Lakes because these men frighten me, and my family.


  17. No one has asked me for IP addresses, and I have never given out IP addresses to anyone. I haven't given any information to anyone that could identify specific users of Menifee 24/7. No one could get this information without a court order, and I haven't gotten one.

    IP Addresses is a bit of myth. You can't trace an IP Address to a specific human being. All it does is identify your ISP, and the specific server handling your session. There could be a hundred people being handled by the same server. There's no way to identify you strictly using the IP address.

    So while my server does log the IP addresses of visitors, all that data will tell me is which ISPs those people are using. I have no way to determine the specific individuals.

  18. As a former IT professional you can rest assured that Steve is correct in his last statement regarding IP addresses. He can provide IP addresses of posters on this website. But only to law enforcement who can then trace it back through the ISP. Even if Steve wer to provide the IP information to anyone, they wouldn't be able to do much with it unless they had insider connections within the various ISP's to try and trace it to a specific household. You can rest easily that posting information anonymously will continue to be anonymous.

  19. Thanks to Steve and Anonymous IT expert for your informative reply and explanation to my post regarding the assurances of anonymity when posting to your site.

    It gives me great confidence in the integrity of your web site and these community response forums.

    Even though members of the MLMA Board of Directors still try to intimidate homeowners by telling falsehoods like the ones referenced.

    IT is just another indication of how some want power and control more than their concern for honesty.


  20. Since I have told so many people about the Menifee Talk Show and checking 24/7 for what's going on in our community, its gratifying to hear from the IT experts. I've often commented about the forthright integrity Steve seems to have when covering situations, and that he would make a great loyal friend. The poster is absoutely right when he says certain men on the MLMA board use such threats to scare, they did the same things and made the same 'empty' threats during the recall and last election. So with the new election coming up, here we go again. Thank you Menifee 24/7; you do a great job for the community.

  21. The guy making "ranting comments" is none othe than Mr. Don Harris.

  22. For those of you that are being threatened by the Menifee Lakes Board, I would suggest you contact local law enforcement and/or an attorney. Heck, contact Gloria Alred, she loves this kind of stuff.

  23. Go to the board with significant numbers and bring a legal observer to report back to an attorney or even contact your local DA's office. This group sound like Chicago 12...get them out and clean up this corrupt HOA.

  24. I agree - there have got to be some good attorneys who live in Menifee Lakes area. Find them and get them involved. Have a large forum and address this issue at the next meeting. Their threats should never be tolerated. When we lived there, I know the newsletter would include the services people provide in the area. Look there.

  25. Steve,

    I request that the Anonymous button be removed. People can still use the Name/URL button and post false names to project their identities if they feel afraid of reprisal. At-least we would be able to address their comments directly, rather than having to quote the time of the post. Of course good manors requires you introduce yourself before you begin speaking in any other setting.

  26. If typing in a random name in the Name/URL field is acceptable to everyone so that specific issues can be addressed to that individual then I feel that removing the anonymous button would be acceptable. Maybe the Name/URL button could be renamed as Name/URL/Anonymous and require at least something be placed into the field prior to someone posting. However, I think that most people might not understand this.

  27. If I lived in Menifee Lakes, I would make sure to completely clean house and refuse to vote for anyone that has anything to do with any of the contraversy that had gone on over there.

    Organize and take your community back.

  28. Anonymous