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County councilman says name used without permission

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By Michael Aubele
Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
 

Allegheny County Councilman Nick Futules questions whether harmartownship.com offers freedom of speech as it claims.

Futules' name appears on the site along with information about the various governmental bodies serving the township. Clicking on his name takes visitors to his official Web page on the county's Web site.

It would appear this is being done with Futules' permission. Futules claims it isn't.

Futules said he knew nothing about the site until former township Supervisor Jim DiPalma mentioned it to him a little more than a week ago.

Futules said he bumped into DiPalma in public and that DiPalma asked him if he noticed that his name appeared on harmartownship.com.

"I told him I didn't know anything about it, but that I would take a look," Futules said. He added that he had no suspicions of anything nefarious.

"When I did look at the site, I realized it was nothing but a political site," Futules said. "(DiPalma) didn't tell me it wasn't the official township site."

The site, which largely takes aim at Supervisor Kim Toney and her husband, township police Capt. Rick Toney, endorses DiPalma and his runningmate in the upcoming election, Bob Seibert Jr.

The Web site domain belongs to Seibert.

Futules said he didn't want to be associated with the site because of its nature and called DiPalma, asking him to remove it. When that didn't work, he sent an e-mail to the address listed on the site, asking that his name be removed.

As of Suniday, Futules' name was still on the site along with a posting of his request that it be taken off and a portion of a later posting he sent explaining his reasoning. shouldn't we update this?

"I have contacted my lawyer to look at the site and see if there is any (legal action) that can be taken against Mr. Seibert," Futules said. "I did not give my permission to put my name on that site as an elected official."

He added that the bulk of his second e-mail to the site was removed before it was posted.

"That's not even half of what I wrote," Futules said. He indicated his e-mail explained that he wasn't associated with the DiPalma and Seibert campaign and that his concerns for the township involved such things as property assessments and bus service cuts.

"If that's freedom of speech, they certainly took mine away," he said.

Resident Ken Thompson said he tried to post comments in support of the Toneys but that his posts never appeared -- even in part.

"It's a one-sided site," he said. "If it's free speech, why not let people reply to it?"

Thompson said he submitted as many as eight e-mails to the site and hasn't seen any appear.

"What (Seibert and DiPalma) don't understand is that we don't want them in office," he said. "That's why we voted them out of office."

Thompson said his only connection to the Toneys is as a political supporter.

"They're running on trust," he said. "That shows me they're better people."

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