by Jack Mayne
A website aimed at discrediting the Normandy Park Cares organization – which has been opposed to Hanbleceya, a for-profit mental health business operating illegally according to the DSHS – was started on Feb. 13 and taken down Thursday evening, perhaps because of a letter from the Normandy Park mayor, or potential media stories, even perhaps because of potential investigations by state or local officials.
The site was headlined as “Bigots of NPC” (Normandy Park Cares) and it said there were “two main purposes” for it:
“1) To inform the residents of Normandy Park, the city of Seattle and the state of Washington who is part of the organization and/or support of the Hate Group Normandy Park Cares (NPC);
“2) Anytime a new resident decides to follow this group, we want to make the entire community aware.”
The site’s founder, according to the posting, was “Jan Chen” who said, “I have lived in the Seattle area for many years. I currently live on Marine View Drive in Normandy Park with a dear friend.” She also said she had a relative with mental health issues.
Chen did not respond to the Normandy Park Blog’s e-mail request for comment.
Jan Chen was not known to anyone, said Normandy Park Mayor Clarke Brant. He said he refused to open the site “because I don’t what that kind of thing on my hard drive.”
Site challenged Cares
The Bigots of NPC site said, “NPC espouses to be open and accepting, yet I firmly believe they practice Hate. NPC regularly discriminates against the mentally ill, but say they are fighting for their safety. This is a hypocritical group and most of us living in the Normandy Park community know it.”
It went on to suggest ways people could help:
“If you know anyone who supports NPC or is part of the organizing of NPC please send me their name, picture, and any relevant facts about what they are doing to help NPC continue their commitment to discrimination and bigotry. Providing a workplace name would be real nice as well. Help me call these people out for their anti-humane efforts to eradicate mental illness from the Normandy Park area.”
The site contained three photos of people in Normandy Park Cares, one photo distorted to make the individual look hideous. It also listed several names of people it thought were in league with Normandy Park Cares, but Mayor Brant said most he had never heard of.
Mayor asks for “some examples”
The mayor did respond to the email about the Bigots of NPC new site.
His letter began “Dear Jan” and challenged her premises.
“If you can expose specific acts of ‘bigotry’ that you see daily, I would appreciate some examples. I know the city is working with our legislators and state agencies to try to get this operator under some form of regulation and oversight which will greatly help the vulnerable people they are working with.”
“I have had mental illness in my family also, and know it can be very difficult to deal with. I would ask that you evaluate your motives for raising the speech level in this matter by using inflammatory words such as ‘bigot’, ‘hate’, ‘discrimination’ and such. There should be room for rational discourse without becoming a purveyor, yourself, of the ‘hate’ you seem to be able to see. By the way, going after people’s workplaces could expose you personally to various and costly tort litigation.
Brant ended his response by saying he was “writing on my own behalf and not the rest of the City Council and simply ask that you not throw gasoline as an attempt to put out a perceived fire. The city is working diligently, and with the help of our attorneys to find the best solution which likely will involve state oversight and licensing of for-profit companies working with the mentally ill and hope that you can support that goal.”
The mayor said he discussed with the city’s police chief whether the Chen website violated the state’s Cyberstalking law which says:
“A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other person or a third party.”
Brant said Police Chief Chris Gaddis felt the site did not meet that legal standard.
Kerry Paulson, managing partner of Hanbleceya Treatment Center, founded in 1979 and based in San Diego, told the Normandy Park Blog he would not support such a site, that he and the company had nothing to do with it and would have nothing to do with Chen and such an organization.