US District Judge Marsha Pechman issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the city of Sammamish from deleting citizens’ comments on its Facebook page. The injunction was issued in the course of the First Amendment lawsuit filed against the city by three citizens.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated the likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claim [lawsuit],” Pechman wrote in her ruling. “Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Motion [for a preliminary injunction] and hereby ENJOINS Defendants [the City and its communication manager, Celia Wu] from enforcing its rule prohibiting comments that are ‘not related to the particular article being commented’ for the pendency of this litigation.” (Capitalization in the source.)
After counting 95% of the ballots, Mayor Karen Moran won her re-election in a landslide, winning over 75% of the votes. Moran is also the only candidate in this election crossing the 10,000 vote count.
Also winning, in tight races, were Karen Howe, Kali Clark and Amy Lam.
Sammamish City Council Candidate Josh Amato did not respond to tough questions raised regarding the veracity of his candidacy announcement concerning an arrest and a recent attempt to scrub his 2010 ties to a white supremacy hate group.
Instead, Amato’s sister posted a comment on our story, largely backing Amato’s version of the events. The sister’s comment, however, leaves many questions open.
The Sammamish Comment asked Amato for further clarifications – three days ago – with no response from the candidate. Amato also ignored requests to comment on the original story.
In a blog post responding to questions about his history as a Republican, Amato said “as uncomfortable as confrontation may be, I believe it is absolutely your right to ask tough questions of those asking for your vote.”
Instead, his supporters are now attacking The Comment for highlighting the issues with his campaign’s obfuscations.
UPDATE [Oct 25]: after ignoring our interview questions, Amato told Lin Yang’s blog the Comment “did not talk to him ti understand the full story.” – another falsehood from Amato, refuted by copies of the emails we sent him prior to publishing our stories. See more at the bottom of this story.
When Josh Amato announced his candidacy for Sammamish City Council last spring, he posted a video on his campaign website disclosing an arrest at age 21 for a misdemeanor.
However, the police report from the Tacoma Police Department discloses that the circumstances surrounding his arrest were far more serious than Amato revealed – it was for intimidation, stalking and threats with a weapon – a felony.
In addition, Sammamish Comment uncovered political documents on the Internet that connect Amato, then campaign manager for Dick Muri, a Republican candidate for Congress, to groups with racist and white supremacist leanings.
Shortly after The Comment discovered the key document, Amato’s name was removed from the posting on the Internet.
Amato is currently a Sammamish planning commissioner.
The City of Sammamish and its communications manager, Celia Wu, have been named defendants in a lawsuit in federal court alleging infringement of the First Amendment for ongoing censorship of protected speech on the city’s Facebook page.
The plaintiffs in the case, Sarah Hawes Kimesy, Tarul Kode Tripathi and Catherine Freudenberg, are asking the court for an injunction preventing the city from continuing to violate the Constitution and an award of damages, including punitive damages.
A hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for October 22 in front of Federal Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle. (update: the hearing has been rescheduled to November 5)
The Sammamish Comment will provide a special coverage for this development story.