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It should be noted for your readers that Edwards made many other comments about the author and the suits in this interview, which Mary Minow voluntarily removed from the blog after hearing the facts from the author. She kept these Edwards’ comments off the blog after she personally reviewed actual documents, agreements, and such involved. This showed a high level of integrity on Ms. Minow’s part.
It should also be noted that another lawsuit was instigated by the author for defamation against BHS and Edwards for their comments on this blog interview which were removed after posting by Ms. Minow. In this later suit between the author and BHS/Edwards for defamation, BHS filed a special motion to strike the complaint as frivolous. The Alameda Superior Court denied the motion, holding that the author had shown a probability of success on the merits of his claims of defamation. Carleton Briggs represented the author in this case. BHS was dropped from its liability insurance company, which gave the author a settlement of $39,000 to cover his legal expenses in fighting these BHS/Edwards’ remarks and it did not give BHS or its attorney a chance to reject the settlement. The settlement was not confidential.
Originally, in February 2004, Edwards and BHS forced down two photos from the author’s ad for his local history book at a hardware store and made certain comments about the author breaking agreements to the storeowner (which he did not), causing the original suits. The ad had been up for years; the same BHS photos were previously used in other ads across town, including BHS’ own museum when the author used them in his February 2001 lecture to the society about his book. There was no complaint by BHS on any of these same uses before this hardware store incident in February 2004.
It was only after Edwards and BHS apologized to the author when they filmed another of his history talks at the BHS museum on April 27, 2003, after he had told them not to, that BHS then became so concerned about the author’s ad that they forced down the two photos at the store in February 2004. The ad had been up for years with no complaint by BHS.
As to the 2003 filming incident, though the author did not ask for an apology, Edwards/BHS gave him a written one when the tape of the author’s lecture was destroyed in front of the author.
Edwards wrote on May 13, 2003, “During the April 17, 2003, Berkeley Historical Society General Meeting, a videotape recording was produced of the entire meeting. This included your presentation “Landscape of Berkeley Before Development” despite your request that it not be recorded…we acknowledge that this videotape covering your lecture and slide show should not have been produced, and we apologize for the discomfort and embarrassment caused by the production and existence of this videotape…
“Richard, the Berkeley Historical Society acknowledges your contributions to the preservation, research, recording, and promulgation of Berkeley’s history. Your presentation at the April 27 General Meeting was most captivation and educational. We treasure your contribution to Berkeley as a researcher, historian, author, and lecturer. We hope that we can continue with this relationship, and place this regrettable episode behind us.”
He also wrote, “Neither I (read BHS) … followed any established procedures for obtaining your consent. We apologize for that error.”
“…we are mindful of your many contributions to researching and promulgation of Berkeley’s history. It is greatly appreciated and, indeed, consistent with the BHS mission statement.”
“…we treasure your contribution to Berkeley, and the benefits that you’ve brought to the BHS, as a researcher, historian, author and lecturer.”
Some months after the Edwards’2003 apology, the way Edwards and BHS placed “this regrettable episode behind us” and to show the author its “appreciation” was to march down to a public place and tell the storeowner that the author broke agreements and they forced down his works from the store window without so much as a phone call to the author to discuss any of their concerns. There was no breach of any contract by the author. Even former BHS board members and the museum chair agree there was no breaking of any contract by the author. These facts speak for themselves.
In summery,it was only after Edwards and BHS apologized to the author when they filmed his talk at the BHS museum, after he had told them not to, that BHS then became so concerned about the author’s ad that they forced down the two photos at the store. They never contacted the author before or after the incident to speak about any concern. The author had simply asked BHS to apologize to the storeowner and him and retract their statements. When BHS refused and promised to continue to “enforce” their policies (even if it meant not contacting the author and forcing down parts of his ads), the author sued to prevent any such acts from ever being repeated again. The only court ruling between the parties is noted above.
Thank you for the opportunity to present these facts to the readers of this blog.

The Author

I was a Berkeley Historical Society board member between 2004 and 2009.
In 2001 when the author was asked to present a lecture at BHS for
their 20th anniversary, I witnessed Tom Edwards, then president of BHS,
ignore a request by the author to not videotape his talk. When Edwards was
forced by numerous people to destroy that video recording, I believe a
vendetta on Edwards' part was set up, leading to the unfortunate incident
involving the author' display at the Berkeley ACE Hardware. The BHS board
meeting official minutes said that Edwards was to investigate a possible
illegal use of BHS photos. Instead of contacting the author directly and
trying to discuss any concern, Edwards took it upon himself to go to the
hardware store, and tell the owner that the display was breaking agreements
made by the author and that it should be removed immediately by the store
owner, who had no agreements with BHS; the owner told him the photos were
supplied by the author. The author only learned of the incident when he went to
the hardware store for hardware and saw the owner, who told him what had
happened. BHS spread the false information that the author had broken a
contract, which he did not. I know this as I have reviewed all the written
and signed documents, and there is no such contract.

Some time after I became a member of the board, I began to examine this
case; I am the only board member, other than Edwards, who read all of the
documents and attempted to understand the series of events. The other
board members simply left everything up to Edwards to resolve the problem
he initiated and perpetuated. I believe the documents show that Edwards was
using BHS to further his vendetta against the author, who had all along been
a friend and member of BHS. There was never an agreement signed for photo
access, as the Burl Willes letter confirms. Burl's letter confirms that one
of the two photos Edwards forced down at the hardware store had no
restrictions whatsoever on this public domain photo. How did BHS and Edwards
think they had a right to force it down? BHS never responded to those
questions from the author to explain their actions.

The one contract the author later signed in 2000 involved the second photo
forced down and this contract was not broken as far as I can see. The photo
had written permission to be used in the book and the photo was in a display for
the book. There was no restriction on advertising for the same use. The book
was for sale not the photo. There was no second use.

Also, even if BHS saw this as some small thing to discuss, one has to
ask why they did not approach the author to speak about it. Why did they avoid
that before and after the incident, and only tell the storeowner the author had
broken agreements?

The board unthinkingly defended Edwards without question as one of their
own, and called the author names and denigrated him for protecting himself
against this attack. (I witnessed this at official board meetings and
informal discussions), even though they refused to read the actual documents.
They assumed that the author was just out to obtain free access to all BHS
photos when the written documents show he initially asked simply for a
written retraction of what Edwards said to the storeowner and an apology.
That would have ended the incident. BHS promised the author in writing they
would continue such policies and called the author names in writing. The author
was not part of the nastiness. BHS’s total refusal to apologize and
retract Edwards' remarks, to examine its own acts and its continued promises
to maintain its "enforcements," forced the suit to stop further attacks on the author.

To further illuminate my point and belief, when I spoke to the board,
armed with the actual written documents in the incident, BHS immediately
passed a motion that barred any further discussion or even bringing up the incident
or subsequent suits. They remained stuck in defending Edwards and not looking at their involvement in this incident. I resigned from the board shortly after that action.

I have no doubts, after reviewing all documents, that there was very
clear evidence, in my opinion, that Edwards went to the hardware store and
said provably false things that would clearly damage the author's reputation,
which, in my perception, is impeccable. Instead of speaking with the author
about any concern, Edwards chose to make public and provably false
statements about the author. This speaks volumes in itself.

I request the blog post this response as otherwise, it misstates that the author broke an access contract he signed that doesn't exist or a use agreement, which he never had. Thank you for the opportunity to correct the record.

Former BHS board member

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