Free Speech Threatened

In a recent E-City Beat piece, ‘Rapping Voters’, we reported that one of Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Lacey’s condescending excuses for last Tuesday’s operational levy failure was some amorphous confused “Opposition Group”.

“And having an opposition group that has their local school district and local educational opportunities confused with their dislike of government doesn’t help”. – GF Tribune 5/08/2018

The truth is that no “confused” opposition group exists and even if it did it would be a remarkable accomplishment to organize the over 9,600 voters who voted NO on the Levy.

If Superintendent Lacey is talking about a media outlet, such as E-City Beat, that provided a forum and disseminated opposing views to the GFPS District demand for more money, then that is “attacking the messenger” and is an extremely defenseless proposition.

E-City Beat gets it – some folks were disappointed by the voters disapproval of the school districts management performance and expressed that disapproval by voting NO to the levy.

We have recently been advised that one frequent commenter who repeatedly voiced unconditional support for the current District operation, Lynette Scriver-Colburn, has taken upon it herself to contact one of our advertisers and condemn him for advertising on our blog.


I see you are now advertising on E City Beat. I wonder why you would want to associate your business with a blog that has spread so much vitriol and division in our community on important community matters.


Lynette Scriver-Colburn is employed by United Way of Cascade County and also works closely with the GFPS District. We sincerely hope that her actions are not condoned by United Way and the school district.

The time on the email, 11:18 AM, is during regular business hours when employees are supposedly working for their employer, so I can’t help but wonder whether United Way of Cascade County knows that Scriver-Colburn is possibly using work time to attempt to intimidate local business owners and discourage them from advertising with another local business.

“…I can’t help but wonder whether United Way of Cascade County knows that Scriver-Colburn is possibly using work time to attempt to intimidate local business owners and discourage them from advertising with another local business.”

Harassing a Great Falls car dealership in the hopes of suppressing the free speech rights of local citizens doesn’t seem like time well spent by United Way employees, especially since that time is paid for by United Way contributors.

Perhaps I should start making a list of local United Way volunteers and contributors and email them all with claims of “vitriol” coming from UW employees and asking why they would consider giving time and money to an organization that employs folks who think so little of free speech and the opinions of others. Nah.

But I do think that what Scriver-Colburn did is pure chicken poop. The advertiser, K’s Auto Sales owner Greg Nickol, who she tried to intimidate thinks so too, here’s his reply:

“We believe our right to free thought, speech and deliberate inclusion constitutional.  When did disagreement, in thoughtful and gentle tones, become vitriol and divisive?

The word vitriol means “caustic, cruel or bitter criticism…scathing, withering, abusive, sarcastic, sardonic speech or writing.”  I’ve read and re-read every E City post but don’t view any of them according to the definition of vitriol or vitriolic.  Certainly, many of these articles disagree with the status-quo of several local conditions, but then, so do, in some cases, a majority of Great Falls voters.  The division in our community hasn’t been caused by E City beat, only noticed by them and reported accordingly.

To answer Lynette Scriver-Colburn, and anyone else who asks, I advertise on E City Beat because their readers also buy vehicles… Some of their views are unpopular, for sure; other views are proving to be more popular than those of their opposition, particularly those regarding the Great Falls Public School System, City of Great Falls law enforcement and city leadership, and the intended area slaughter-house. 

I’m surprised at you, Lynette…..I would never suggest to anyone else what he or she should or should not believe or agree with, so who is it that spreads vitriol and sows division?  Apparently you read the E City Beat, and you saw my advertisement.  Should you pry a little deeper, you’ll learn that E City Beat has a subscriber list much larger than most folks imagine.

  Sincerely, Greg Nickol”

Posted by Philip M. Faccenda

Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

Reader interactions

18 Replies to “Free Speech Threatened”

  1. When you use words like “demand” instead of the word “ask” when describing the school district levy, you reveal your bias. Also, getting into an intimidation battle with a customer/reader is a rather unintelligent decision, as that will put off advertisers more than any reader/customer boycott will. In other words: “Grow up”, Mr. Faccenda.


    1. Lonnie Adkins May 14, 2018 at 6:05 PM

      Nope. I think it is the duty of all free citizens to call out intimidation tactics no matter who uses them. Our Host is well within his rights and responsibilities to do so. So, IMAO, you lose


    2. Philip M. Faccenda May 14, 2018 at 7:30 PM

      Christian, I would reply, that a person like you who is hiding his identity is someone who is an imposter, or a coward. Which are you?


    3. Christian:

      DEMAND: to ask or call for with authority; to call for urgently, imperiously, or insistently
      ASK: to seek information; to make a request

      Did GFPS “ask” voters to pass a levy or did GFPS “demand” voters pass a levy? One could argue that by definition, GFPS did indeed demand rather than ask.

      For example, it seems to me that GFPS did “ask or call (for the levy) with authority.” GFPS personnel and the school board have implied that they are the “authorities” regarding our schools—not the rest of us.

      The district was also quite insistent and urgent regarding the levy. They imperiously promoted it. (imperiously: intensely compelling). Yes, they were quite compelling when announcing the supposed dire consequences if the levy wasn’t passed. Doesn’t GFPS imposition of consequences in this case put the district’s actions more in realm of a demand than an ask?

      In addition, It appears to me that you wish to virtue signal by stating that the word “ask” should have been used instead of “demand.” You postulated that the author’s use of “demand” was biased. You seemed to suggest morally superiority when you state that the word should be “ask” rather than “demand.”

      The fact that you choose to quibble over the connotative and social constructed meaning of a word rather than advance a substantive argument is also telling.


  2. Christian, What did you think of Mr. Nickol’s email.


  3. Mary, I am Mr. Nickol. What do you think of my email to Ms. Scriver-Colburn? Should her perspective here be appropriate, where does she (and anyone who agrees with her tactic) draw the line? Should I discontinue advertising in the Tribune because they post unpopular stories or responses? I also advertise on craigslist; it’s been a short while since they regularly posted personal ads of deviate sexual nature. Should I forego advertising on craigslist, too? Or do we simply redefine actuality, morality and decency to make them defend our argument?


    1. I really liked your email! I was just trying to bait Christian.


  4. I hate to start a spat here but I believe my thoughts are worth posting. Christian, I’m kinda wondering if your last words were appropriate? In other words, I’m wondering who really needs to grow up?


  5. Lynette’s sister is a teacher so that may be part of the reason she did what she did.


  6. Lynette is merely commenting on her own reflection in the mirror. She has used outright unfair tactics to bully people on this blog in the past. Apparently she doesn’t agree with freedom of speech except for her view. She is a bully and the letter proves it. GFPS will get no more money. The public are sick and tired of being played.


  7. Mike Mikulski May 15, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    I guess I’m not surprised at this tactic or attempt to use what appears to be a veiled threat against a business. Looks like Ms. Scriver-Colburn got taken to school on the proper definition and use of the word “vitriol” by Mr. Nickols. See, schools aren’t the only place where learning occurs!


  8. Kristen Juras May 15, 2018 at 7:47 AM

    Thank you Mr. Nickol for your thoughtful response in support of free speech and respectful dialogue.


  9. Seems to me that free speech is alive and well. Both Ms. Scriver-Colburn and Mr. Nickol have said their piece. No one has been denied the right to do so. Much ado about very very little, in my opinion.


  10. I am a teacher. I feel that the public has a right to vote how they feel and hope that they read all the information available from all outlets including this blog.


  11. Rick, Constitutional violations often appear much ado about very, very little until they undermine our individual rights. If it’s okay for one person to intimidate another via violation of that individual’s constitutional rights, then it’s okay for another person to deny your right to free speech, for whatever reason, whether it’s voiced in this venue or elsewhere. Obviously, this argument can’t be rightly justified or excused in a true democracy or a Christian nation. The question seeking answer here isn’t merely about simple violations of the rights of another but about the attitude that allows the combined effects of a multitude in its suppression of a voice not its own.


  12. Mr. Nickol, thanks for responding. Which Constitutional violations are occurring? Semantics aside, I see no violations of the 1st amendment by any stretch of the imagination and I believe that an examination of case law would support my view. No direct threat was made and even if she had said “I will never do business with you and I will tell all my friends about this”, she would be on solid legal ground. Boycotts and threats of boycotts etc happen every day.

    Was her question to you a veiled threat or intimidation? It could be seen that way, certainly, but again there is no squelching of anyone’s speech nor any violation of the accepted list of things that the 1st amendment doesn’t cover. Did it or does it in some way affect your ability to speak freely? No, not at all as is evidenced by this thread.

    For the record, I wish you much success in your business. I have zero problem with your advertising or its placement. I simply believe this particular issue has gone off the rails, unfortunately. Regards


  13. Oh my goodness. Rather than put your head down and brain-storm solutions to the school budget, this nice young lady would rather lash out and blame. Holy buckets of manure. When the citizens are done lashing out at one another, someone will have to solve this budget crisis. That solution won’t come easy as the problem is compounded by the narrow focus of certain folks. Great Falls doesn’t deserve this narrowness in the solution process. Great Falls deserves a thoughtful, creative, and compromising solution. It’s way past time that the good folks of this community rise up and voice their solution to this budget crisis; be it good or bad. The writing is on the wall folks, our administration is out of ideas.


  14. […] This isn’t the first time Scriver-Coburn has allowed her personal political views to be displayed publicly in a way that seems counterproductive to her employers interests. Last year she attempted to intimidate a local business owner and discourage him from advertising with another local business – E-City Beat. You can find the details here. […]


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