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Defamation lawsuit against a MP FProtection District Board member Virgina Chang Kirlay won't be dismissed.

Original post made by Susan Smith on Jan 23, 2013

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" judge has tentatively ruled there's enough merit to a defamation lawsuit against a Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board member that it won't be dismissed.

The Oct. 11 suit filed by John Woodell -- a San Mateo County Democratic Committee member and the husband of Menlo Park Council Member Kirsten Keith -- alleges that Virginia Chang Kiraly defamed him by telling people he stole numerous campaign signs when she was running for a seat on the fire district board.

Kiraly filed a motion Nov. 26 in which she denies making any such statement and calls Woodell's lawsuit "frivolous." In arguing for the suit's dismissal, Kiraly said it "seeks to chill legitimate public discourse" related to the contested 2011 fire district election.

In his Jan. 18 tentative ruling, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Raymond Swope said Kiraly failed to significantly show the "challenged cause of action is one 'arising from' protected activity." In addition, Woodell's lawsuit "demonstrated a probability of prevailing on his defamation claim," Swope wrote.

Woodell's lawyer, Seth Rosenberg, said Tuesday he was "obviously quite pleased with the judge's analysis."

Comments (15)

Posted by career poitico, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 23, 2013 at 7:43 am

Why can't these people who want represent us behave in a responsible, Adult manner? I would have thought this sort of behavior would have been 'shaken out' in high school, and because it wasn't, we all get to endure the babyshambles of the current Chang-Kiraly circus... Menlo Park Fire has had many probems over the years, and it looks poorly when their elected officals behave like this, well, it just feels old and expensive.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Career politico -- Circus is a good word to describe this situation. Not to mention that the other elected person, Rob Silano, was heavily supported by the union, and there still isn't a contract.

I agree the FD has had its share of problems -- union lawsuits, grievances, etc. This Kiraly lawsuits just adds to the ongoing drama there.


Posted by Cautionary tale, a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Sometimes people say things that probably should not be said. Very, very rarely, a person files a lawsuit over it. This will wind up being very unpleasant situation.

It's bound to happen sometime with the Almanac blogs, with all the anonymous attacks going on. Someone will wind up filing a lawsuit naming a "John Doe" defendant, and taking discovery to determine who posted it. That's why I suggest the Almanac prohibit all anonymous postings that attack or criticize any named individual. Anonymous postings should be limited to expressing opinions about issues, not people.


Posted by grow up!, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Woodell should be asked how it is that his phone just happened to be right next to where one of Kiraly's sign had been removed.
Neither party seems to like or even respect each other. But grow up! Make nice and move on.
There are far more important things that need attention.


Posted by news, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Today's Daily Post reported that Woodell provided phone logs the PD and DA to identify who might have taken his phone.


Posted by Think!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Career Politico: There still has been no ruling, so I wouldn't celebrate w/the Keith and Woodell too soon!

Grow Up!: if you're being sued, you must respond. Woodell and Keith started this whole mess. Kiraly had no choice but to legally respond.

News: Saw the same article. It mentions an email that implicates Kirsten Keith, who was vice mayor at the time. She apparently also talked to the Glen Rojas, the former MP City Manager and her subordinate, about her husband's case.

Carrer Politico: If anyone is involved w/this "circus," it is Keith and Woodell! Why can't they just put this behind them and move on? As a citizen of Menlo Park, I would like to hear Keith's explanation in all this. The Post pointed out that there had been no evidence of her involvement before an email from Rojas to Woodell that shows that Keith talked about this incident to Rojas.

She must be involved with this somehow, or her marriage must be a sham. How can a married couple carry this ridiculous situation so far without each knowing about this? I think it's time for Keith to answer some questions as to her involvement.

Still wondering what the end game is for Woodell and Keith. At the end of the day, if there's any victim, it's Kiraly, since it was her sign that discarded in Bernstein's yard, with Woodell's cell phone next to it! I doubt Kiraly asked that her sign be discarded and found next to Woodell's cell phone.


Posted by law, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Lawyers who defend a malpractice victim who has the wrong kidney removed = BAD

Lawyers for these bozos = GOOD

@Bob: 'This Kiraly lawsuits just adds to the ongoing drama there.' How is this related to the actual fire department and firefighters?


Posted by options, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

Career Politico, the phone may have ended up in a ridiculous location, and this lead to a stream of news articles and the Kiraly lawn sign being shown repeatedly on the television news... days before the election. If the expiation (for the phone's journey) involves evidence of criminal activity by a third party, it would not be appropriate to make that information public.


Posted by Connecting the dots, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 8:59 am

Cautionary Tale: This is exactly the problem with Woodell's lawsuit. The First Amendment protects political speech and freedom of the press. Based on the Daily Post's recent article and the Almanac's coverage of this from the beginning, Woodell and Keith, it seems to me, want to control what is said about them, how people perceive them, and when "caught," exert their influence to cover up their wrongdoings.

I've read many nasty things from posters like "Susan Smith," who posted this original posting, about Kiraly and have seen mean postings about Bernstein in TS, too. No, I'm not saying "Susan Smith's" original posting is nasty, but the headline is misleading and wrong, since the judge has not given any ruling- read carefully. My point is that you don't see Kiraly and Bernstein suing people for the ugly things that are said about them.

If Woodell and Keith want to play in the political arena or "circus," as Career Politico characterizes it, then I agree with Grow Up! that Woodell and Keith should grow up! They should either expect people to exert their First Amendment rights and, at times, be critical of them or get out of politics! Can't have it both ways!

This cellphone incident is a classic example of Woodell and Keith needing to grow up! Had Woodell not brought up this incident again, many people would have forgotten it. Now, people will remember this, and it may affect Keith's future political career negatively. If she's somehow involved with this as Think! points out, then she does not deserve to be in elected office or in any position where she might abuse her authority. Instead of Woodell having to "explain" things now, I think it's Keith's turn, especially she since is in elected office!

And, no, I don't think either of them is innocent! I think it's because they are both involved with this that they want to "fight" this so that they are perceived as being innocent. As they say, "where there's smoke, there's fire." With Keith's "explanation," if they come, I'm sure the stories will continue to pour out! How many more lies will we hear now? OMG... don't sue me for defamation, Kirsten Keith and John Woodell!


Posted by options, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Connecting the dots, if any of the current council members will "roll over" based on anonymous town square comments, they are not capable of negotiating union contracts in closed session.


Posted by Connecting the dots, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Options: you make no sense whatsoever. However, if you want to go there, how about starting with Keith's lack of ethics and integrity. She is a current council member. According to the Daily Post, based on a public records request from the MPPD, it looks like she spoke with the city manager about her husband's cell phone incident. In response to you, without a strong sense of integrity or ethics, I do not believe Keith is capable of doing anything with integrity behind closed doors, let alone represent the residents of Menlo Park.

As Think! says, it's time for Keith to answer some questions as to why she was even talking about her husband's incident with the city manager. What was she trying to influence? That really is the issue for me.


Posted by options, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Connecting the dots, I took another look at the Post article, it doesn't say anything about a public records request from the MPPD.


Posted by Connecting the dots, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Options: The article is on page 30 of the Daily Post from the January 24 paper. The email implicating Keith was obtained from a public records request made of the city, not MPPD. My mistake- sorry! You'll have to read the paper to read the quoted email correspondence between Woodell and Glen Rojas, Menlo Park's former city manager. Rojas mentions that Keith mentioned Woodell getting phone logs to MPPDm as well.

Again, what else did Keith say or do to influence Rojas, who, according to his email, gave it to the police chief or Rojas' subordinate?

Hmmmm... methinks that Keith should be answering questions about her undue influence on the city manager and police chief. Sounds like Kelly Fergusson's Brown Act indiscretions!


Posted by options, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Connecting the dots, you describe the email correspondence as between Woodell and Glen Rojas, suggesting that Woodell sent the email. The article clearly states the email was to Woodell from Rojas, not the other was around.


Posted by Connecting the dots, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

Options: You're missing the point. The point is that Keith, as MP's Vice Mayor, was taklking to the city manager about her husband's cellphone incident. Woodell was, too. How many people in their position would have the city manager's ear about a stupid case like this?

Again, I would like to hear Keith's explanation as to why she was even talking to the city manager, who was communicating to his subordinate, the police chief, about her husband's personal problem? Is Keith somehow involed with this incident, too? You have to wonder!


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