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February 25, 2018

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WOW. That lawyer letter, on the face of it, seems so profoundly intimidating. Even the prospect of having to face what seems to be an entirely unsupportable legal action is terrifying to most. Since Mr. Hines is a well established journalist, the 1st amendment implications are clear. Perhaps Mr. Tokarski's attorney would argue that Hawaii Northwest Ventures (HNV), being a corporation, should also be considered to be a "person", as the Supreme Court has declared to be appropriate within the context of campaign contribution law. He might then go on to argue that no real person, including Mr. Tokarski, should be considered to be "the" developer. After viewing the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division information for HNV (link below) which lists Mountain West Investment Corporation as the registered agent and Mr. Tokarski and Mountain West as general partners (the effective date of a Certificate of Cancellation is listed as 11/30/2013), and seeing that Mr. Tokarski is listed elsewhere as the President and Secretary of Mountain West Investment Corporation (listed as current), it would certainly stretch the imagination to think that any reasonable person would not surmise that Mr. Tokarski could justifiably be described as the developer and that Mr. Hover, being described in the letter as a "manager", would be less likely to be in a position to make controlling decisions within the corporation (this may or may not be the actual case). Nevertheless, (I am not an attorney) a finding of defamation of a public figure requires proof of malice (having knowledge that the statement was false) and there seems to be no evidence that that is the case here. Even if one might imagine a hint of negligence (there is no obligation for a journalist to get a statement by the other side), the namby pamby statement that "...the article is very close to being considered defamation." seems inflammatory. Freedom of expression is one of those rights that require eternal vigilance to preserve. Any semblance of prior restraint by way of unjustifiable intimidation should be strongly discouraged.
https://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.show_detl?p_be_rsn=570490&p_srce=BR_INQ&p_print=FALSE

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