A reader wrote recently to tell me of an interesting experience she'd had with the Hoover Forum at al.com.
The reader had come across Legal Schnauzer because of several recent posts about the Hoover High School football controversy. When she posted about the blog on the Hoover Forum, her post was almost immediately deleted. She tried it again, and in her words, the second post was removed faster than you can say "Nazi moderator." They also banned her IP address from posting for 24 hours.
For scientific purposes only, I asked someone else to post about Legal Schnauzer. They had the same thing happen.
Our reader didn't see anything controversial or unusual about her post, or the contents of my blog. In fact, Legal Schnauzer is on al.com's list of Alabama blogs. So she wondered what would make them delete her post about my blog.
Here is my guess: al.com is associated with The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Mobile Press-Register. Those three Newhouse newspapers form the heart of al.com's news section.
The Birmingham News, and my references to Briarwood Christian High School, are probably the sources of the sensitivity. As I've noted several times, a strange real-estate transaction involving Briarwood coach Fred Yancey took place in December 1998, just as Hoover was searching for a new coach (a search that finished with the hiring of Rush Propst). Sources tell me that the real-estate transaction was hurriedly done, and pushed by Briarwood, evidently because the school was concerned about losing its coach (and possibly star players Tim and Simeon Castille) to another school. My guess is that school was Hoover High.
Could have been some other school, or there could have been some other reason for Fred Yancey's peculiar move. But the timing fits perfectly with the Hoover search. And because the real-estate transaction was done in a hurry, it also was done improperly, causing me the legal headaches that inspired this blog.
Evidence strongly suggests that Briarwood essentially handpicked my new neighbor, who turned out to be a guy named Mike McGarity--and he has at least eight criminal convictions in his background, even though he works at a reputable place, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. Interesting that a fine Christian institution such as Briarwood would associate with someone of McGarity's background.
My research suggests that Briarwood acted negligently in the real-estate transaction and was liable for damages to yours truly. I suspect Briarwood, or someone associated with Briarwood, might have done something to make McGarity unhappy with his end of the real-estate deal. Perhaps someone was liable to him, as well.
But somehow McGarity wound up filing a bogus case against me--on a claim he clearly did not have under the law--costing both me and him thousands of dollars. Was this done to keep him away from filing a possibly legitimate claim against Briarwood, or someone associated with Briarwood? Certainly curious.
Interestingly, the judge in McGarity's lawsuit against me--Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner--has a daughter who goes, or did go, to Briarwood. McGarity's attorney, William E. Swatek, has a son, Chace Swatek, who is a Briarwood graduate. By repeatedly making unlawful rulings and causing McGarity's lawsuit to drag on for five years, Joiner helped ensure that the statute of limitations ran out on any possible claim McGarity might have had resulting from the real-estate deal. Was this done intentionally? Don't know, but it passes the curiosity test with me.
The real-estate deal was done, I suspect, in order to keep Fred Yancey and the Castilles around and procure a championship football program for Briarwood. And it worked. The Lions are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 5A.
But the folks at al.com, and The Birmingham News, don't want you to know about the slick little, under-the-table real-estate deal that led to my legal woes. After all, Victor Hanson II, the longtime publisher of The Birmingham News is a member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, and the school is a ministry of the church.
I suspect the real-estate deal all started because Hoover, innocently enough, expressed an interest in the Briarwood coach (and probably more importantly, its two star players, who were zoned to Hoover public schools, I believe).
So there, I think, is the reason al.com's censors are on the alert. But they aren't going to censor Legal Schnauzer. And the posts they don't want you to read are coming very soon.