Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio Served With Claim By City Workers' Union Leader; Alleges Defamation, Invasion of Privacy. UPDATED
James Tierney, the president of a municipal workers' union in Phoenix has filed a claim against the City of Phoenix and Councilman Sal DiCiccio.
Tierney's claim, a prelude to a lawsuit, alleges that DiCiccio disseminated "false and misleading information" about him, placing him in a "false light," and "seriously invaded his privacy and the privacy of his family."
Tierney, president of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 2384, is asking for a mere $1 in damages, his attorney's fees (about $3,500) and a public apology from the District 6 councilman.
Tierney says he's only asking for $1 in damages because "it's about accountability, it's not about the money."
DiCiccio sent out an e-mail blast to thousands of Phoenix residents on April 11, and it included links to police reports he filed after he says he received threatening faxes and discovered his car had been vandalized.
Tierney is listed in that police report as a person of interest in the threatening faxes incident even though the fax machine had no connection to Tierney's union. The police report included Tierney's home address, date of birth and other personal information.
DiCiccio tells New Times that he is sorry for the mistake. He said that there were links to the reports on his Website, but that he pulled them as soon as he was informed about the personal information included in the reports.
He says that he assumed that the police would have redacted any information that should not have been made public.
The gist of the e-mail that DiCiccio sent was to rally support (money) because he was being bullied for his efforts to reduce the size of government.
DiCiccio wrote that the "bullying really kicked into high gear" when he took to the Legislature Senate Bill 1322, which would have required Phoenix and Tucson to get bids from private companies for city services other than public safety.
[That measure was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer after it was adopted by state lawmakers.]
In the claim, Tierney's attorneys request the city immediately advise them "how Mr. Tierney's birth date and other personal information was obtained."
As New Times reported in April, DiCiccio's e-mail also included a link to a police report he filed on June 3, 2010 after noticing an 18-inch scratch on his car.
While his e-mail states his "car was vandalized in a secure parking garage that only city employees can enter," that isn't what the 2010 police report says.
DiCiccio told police he made "two stops earlier in the day and believes that the damage was not there at the time" [italics ours].
A parking garage camera wasn't trained on DiCiccio's car so it is impossible to say where the damage actually occurred.
Without reading the police report -- and only going by DiCiccio's e-mail -- you would be left with the distinct impression that a city employee was responsible for the damage.
DiCiccio has long rallied against unions, and has made distorted claims that employees make an average of $100,000 a year. He has pushed to outsource many city jobs -- with the exception of police and fire services.
In the March 19 police report, DiCiccio said he had been receiving threatening faxes and has "what appears to be a silhouette" of DiCiccio at the center of a target.
"He's trying to discredit our entire union," Tierney tells New Times. "Hopefully he does the right thing and retracts the lie he put out there."
Tierney says he filed the claim because "left on his own, I don't think [DiCiccio] would do the right thing."
On April 28, Tierney's attorneys first sent a letter to DiCiccio demanding that all of the documents involved in the matter, include his e-mail and e-mail list, be preserved. They also asked at that time for details on how he obtained Tierney's personal information.
That letter never received a response, says Luis Schmidt, vice president of the workers' union.
DiCiccio says that he did apologize in person, and doesn't have a problem putting that apology in writing. He says, however, he will defer to the city attorney on how to handle the matter.
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