Will the Real Trolls Please Stand Up?

Over a year ago, CalCoastNews published an article that asked, “Is Morro Bay parks official a government troll?” Apparently that so-called “troll” was me. But on April 22 of this year, The Tribune showed that wasn’t the case.

Tribune writer Kaytlyn Leslie wrote a fair and thorough article on the trolling going on in the District 3 supervisor race. The astounding bullying and harassment taking place needed to be reported on. Finally it’s no longer me shouting from the rooftops exclaiming, “This is a problem!”

Most readers of the article will likely gloss over the finer details and determine this is a tit for tat exchange between proxies for the Hill and Carpenter campaigns. But a lot has been said about the lengths people will go to in order to demean and discredit those who are not surrogates — paid or otherwise — for local candidates. It was refreshing to see the anonymous haters getting their clock cleaned in print, leaving them isolated in their self-pitying misery.

But the trolling won’t likely stop any time soon. One can hope it stops, but there’s a primary election taking place on June 7, so don’t hold your breath. No matter how diligent we are in correcting the record and uncovering their cesspool of conspiracy-theory idolatry, they will persist. On several occasions, their response to me countering their unsubstantiated assertions has been, “We’re going to post more assertions, more flyers, and we’re going to promote them to Facebook.” Their various acts of personal retaliation are a sharp departure from their original goal, which was to “fire” Supervisor Hill. Instead of seeking to “fire” the supervisor, they changed their mission to seeking the arrest of perceived surrogates for him.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the “Arrest the Troll” movement started before the supervisor announced his run for reelection, though The Tribune article focused exclusively on the trolling as it pertained to the current race.

Los Osos resident and self-proclaimed “government watchdog” Julie Tacker

In January 2015, my mother received a voicemail from a local acquaintance who twice encouraged her to “get [me] a gun.” According to the acquaintance, she had spoken to self-proclaimed “government watchdog” and CalCoastNews contributor Julie Tacker. Tacker reportedly made comments about me that alarmed her. On Cal Coast Fraud, I wrote about what happened in detail, wrote that I felt threatened. Next I learned that Tacker had reported me to law enforcement because she felt threatened by me. According to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, Tacker claimed that I mentioned “something about buying a gun,” and she was concerned for her family. Tacker’s exclusively fictional interpretation of what I wrote became incorporated into an anonymous robocall that went to hundreds of Morro Bay residents. Tacker has denied being involved with the call, though based on her checkered track record I find her denial absurd. The robocall was reported on by CalCoastNews. The site stated as fact that I discussed buying a gun presumably to harm people that I disagreed with.

I later learned from the acquaintance that Los Osos resident Peggy Pavek had criticized my work, at one point falsely accusing me of posting a photo of one of her daughters on Cal Coast Fraud. On CalCoastNews, Pavek stated that any victims of my publication could file a restraining order against me because my “publishing” would “come under cyber-stalking and/or cyber-harassment,” therefore my opinions are fundamentally illegal.

Pavek’s advice comes from at least two cases she was involved in. In one case, a Morro Bay couple criticized Pavek after she referred to residents from Bakersfield and Fresno as “inbreds.” Pavek, a former family friend, told me that she was “threatened” by them and asked for my help. She managed to force the couple into court only to have her request for a restraining order dismissed by the judge. A decade earlier, Pavek accused someone — who she confronted and accused of being drunk at a local government meeting — of threatening her. Pavek attempted to pursue a case against that person, but was unsuccessful.

Los Osos resident Peggy Pavek

Following Pavek’s legally flawed advice to CalCoastNews bloggers and the Internet in general, “at least” three people — who I previously criticized on Cal Coast Fraud — complained to law enforcement about my opinions, Tacker revealed. Two months later, in a scathing, demented Bay News letter to the editor, Pavek echoed Tacker’s comments by stating that people filed complaints to the police over my “actions.” Pavek’s libelous letter also attacked my family who had nothing to do with my Facebook page or my personal opinions.

Peggy Pavek’s May 14, 2015 Bay News letter to the editor

A couple of months ago, my father saw Pavek at the supermarket and asked her, “Why are you saying horrible things about my family?” She denied attacking my family. Recently, she claimed my father threatened her that day. Pavek wrote on April 17, “ I ran into him while shopping one day & he said, ‘Watch yourself when you cross the street’! Creepy!”

Peggy Pavek’s troll behavior has a clear pattern: She confronts people and makes incendiary comments about people, people respond to her, and then Pavek claims she’s the victim of their “harassment” while attacking them — whether by frivolous legal pursuits or online trolling.

Since then, Pavek has made a series of libelous accusations throughout Facebook about my family and I that appeared on CalCoastNews and The Tribune. The accusations have appeared on a near-daily basis for roughly a year. One time she falsely accused my father of calling her a Nazi, which she falsely claimed led to her home allegedly being vandalized. Another time she falsely stated my “briefly held” last job was “created for [me]” by the wife of Morro Bay mayor Jamie Irons. That claim was previously made by CalCoastNews’ Karen Velie, who wrote in her website’s comments section that I was hired by the City of San Luis Obispo to teach computer classes to employees, and that the mayor’s wife was instrumental in landing me that fictional job.

Under the April 22 Tribune article, Pavek insinuated that my father and I were somehow responsible for her Facebook account being hacked. She also made the false claim that we personally incited violence against her.

I recently discovered that Pavek was communicating with the “Fire Adam Hill” page around the time a series of flyers were unveiled by them calling for my arrest. Pavek described my criticism of her actions to “Fire Adam Hill” as two years of “harassment” — of her, not by her. The page responded by promising her that the “federal police” would get me. As an example of this “harassment,” Pavek furnished a screenshot of a conversation she had with Julie Tacker about of my father’s Facebook comments. This confirmed my suspicions that the two trolls have been working together for quite some time.

It comes full circle. The rhetoric is the same. The tactics are the same. The same people are involved, doing what they do best: playing the oppressed victim while moonlighting as oppressors in the digital shadows. There is a price to be paid for exposing the deep flaws of pious sinners, and I’m reminded of that daily.

Bill Murray from “Groundhog Day” should feel lucky.

That brings us to the real trolls, those indulging in constant mudslinging and repeated proclamations of victimhood. Because of their inability to be honest, articulate, reasonable and transparent, they are more likely to be viewed as trolls than anyone else they accuse of trolling — a conundrum that this “troll” doesn’t have to live under the bridge with any longer.

TOAST Magazine Publisher, columnist and consultant from Morro Bay, California.

TOAST Magazine Publisher, columnist and consultant from Morro Bay, California.