By Miriam Raftery
October 1, 2017 (Campo) – After being blocked on a neighborhood watch forum, Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group member Keven Owens posted a profanity-laced podcast on his “Erroneous Opinions” webpage in which he threatened to punch 69-year-old Claudia Millerbragg in the face.
A partial transcript of his more than 20 minute rant is below, asprovided in writing by Owens in an email response after ECM sent him an inquiry. You can hear an audio excerpt at the audio link above published under the Fair Use doctrine on a matter of clear public interest:
“I live here and if I see you I’m going to punch you in your old bitty [biddy] face. At this point, yeah, it’s trivial and it doesn’t (expletive) matter, but this is the town I live in and I’m trying to do good.”
Later in the podcast he stated that if he saw Millerbragg at the store, “I’m gonna smile, I’m gonna say hello and I’m gonna give a friendly wave. And she’s gonna (expletive hate that, absolutely hate that. And that’s killing them with kindness.”
His podcast , which he since removed off his website, further discussed a “mid-life” crisis he indicated he is suffering including loss of a job and frustration of structuring of agenda items. He indicated he was considering quitting the planning board seat that he was appointed to fill after Millerbragg resigned from the post. He later told ECM he has no plans to resign at this time. He also indicated that if he did step down, he would likely continue live streaming planning group meetings as a public service—meaning Millerbragg could still encounter Owen even if he were no longer on the board.
The dispute arose after Owens was twice blocked from posting on a community forum, most recently over posts involving noise complaints raised. He also posted a poll asking forum members their opinion on Millerbragg. Millerbragg says the posts were rude, Owens says they were respectful. Neither side kept copies, both parties told ECM. Millerbragg says some posts were removed by a male administrator, not her, prior to her blocking Owens permanently.
He has since started a rival Neighborhood Watch page that has attracted some community members.
Owens said others have complained of being blocked off the forum by Millerbragg and he provided written comments from several as evidence that he's not the only one who felt Millerbragg had been too quick to block posts with which she disagreed. There been other posts supporting Millerbragg on social media.
But other blocked posters have not resorted to threats of violence, and the podcast wasn’t Owens’ only attack on Millerbragg. He has repeatedly referred to her as a witch, hag, and beast on social media posts.
In one post on Erroneous Opinions, he wrote, “Does anyone know how to get rid of a witch like Claudia Millerbragg? I have one that lives in my town and I’d like to get rid of her…Asking for a friend…Our science division is working on a device to transport her back to the fantasy world in which she lives. However funding is short at the moment and we may need to find an alternate means of transportation.”
On the Mountain Community Page he wrote, “I’m done playing nice with her. F**k you, ClaudiaMillerbragg.” He also posted a witch image that he claimed was her yearbook photo.
Owens has also posted that he was blocked off the Brush Fire Partyline, a separate online forum not run by Millerbragg. On his website, he posted a derogatory remark stating “boys have a penis, brush fire partyl ine has a vagina.” Owens said he objected to what he viewed as “political” posts on the emergency information site; the site had posted info on homelessness and hepatitis, a declared county emergency, recently
As for his remarks about Millerbragg including those made on tape, Millerbragg told ECM, “I consider his statements a threat and that he is attempting to incite others to cause damage to me.”
ECM asked Owenss about his conduct. He called this a “learning experience” adding “I do not see how this comment is a threat,” referring to his online call for someone to “get rid of” Millerbragg.
As for his podcast threat to punch Millerbragg in the face, he contends it was taken out of context and that his comments were not made in any official capacity as a planning group member, adding,” there was no attempt to instill fear in this individual….My comment can easily be classified as nothing more than angry utterances or ranting and as it stands is constitutionally protected as free speech.”
But Sheriff Commander David Myers, a 32-year department veteran and candidate running for Sheriff, disagrees with Owens’ view.
“Advocating violence is NOT protected speech,” Myers wrote in an email to ECM today.
He added, “In today’s political discover where too many people are using social media to threaten others, in my opinion [this] does constitute a real and measurable threat [CA Penal Code Section 422).
Moreover, he noted that “fringes” of society “look for signals from our elected official and we have many documented incidences where that fringe has acted. It’s unconscionable that a public official would advocate violence against women.”
A second Sheriff’s department official, who spoke off record, indicated the threats should be enough to justify a judge to issue a restraining order against Owen if Millerbragg should seek one.
ECM sent copies of Owens’ threats to planning group chair Billie Jo Jannen and Supervisor Dianne Jacob. A spokesman for Jacob’s office indicated that while Supervisors typically don’t intervene in disputes involving planning group members, her staff has forwarded the threatening posts to both County Counsel and the Sheriff.
Jannon stated, “Some people in this community have too much time on their hands and too much ego invested in slamming others. This is far from the only example of this behavior, and unfortunately, it has become more common then not through the entire Internet.” She indicated that a planning group ethics document was removed from the group’s bylaws several years ago because it was wielded as a tool to shut down dissenting voices on the board.
In his since-removed podcast, Owens voiced concerns that he could be voted off the planning group board. But though some community groups’ rules allow censure of members for offensive conduct, neither the Planning Group nor the Supervisors have the power to remove a Planning Group member unless they miss too many meetings, Jannen and Jacob’s office have indicated.
However the public does have such power, through the recall process. For details see http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/cob/docs/policy/I-1.pdf.