Dewey Beach Commissioner David Moskowitz has been banned from eight local businesses after an Oct. 22 letter sent by Stephen Spence, lawyer for Highway One owner Alex Pires.
Spence referred to a July letter sent to Moskowitz that threatened legal action in response to actions Pires considered defamatory and requested Moskowitz not have any contact with Pires.
“Mr. Pires has now advised us that you have been coming to some of the Highway One businesses including the Rusty Rudder and Northbeach and have been taking pictures and making a nuisance of yourself,” Spence wrote.
In the letter, Spence states that being a town commissioner does not give Moskowitz the right to come onto Pires’ properties to take pictures or conduct any sort of investigation.
“You have no regulatory authority,” Spence wrote.
Moskowitz said he is not conducting an investigation; he said he attended the Beer and Pretzel Festival at the Rusty Rudder Oct. 5 and Zombie Fest at Northbeach Oct. 19 to support town and charitable events. Moskowitz posted photos of both events on his Facebook page.
“I attended Zombie Fest with my daughter for about 30 minutes,” Moskowitz said. “While there I took a picture of us with the pirates, and I have been sharing what a great experience it was. It was sad to receive a certified letter from Alex Pires’ lawyer, complaining that my presence there with my daughter taking a picture caused a commotion.”
The letter demands Moskowitz not enter Rusty Rudder, Bottle and Cork, Dewey Beach Liquors, Jimmy’s Grille Dewey, Northbeach, Ivy, Hotel Dewey and Outlet Liquors, and not contact Pires or his wife.
“If our client learns that you have entered any of their businesses after you receive this letter, we will initiate litigation to obtain a cease and desist order,” the letter states.
Moskowitz said he was sad Pires would want to prevent his family from attending traditional events in his town.
“Mr. Pires needs to realize life is too short to bully others,” Moskowitz said. “He has done some good things for Dewey Beach over the years. My wanting the town to address the short-staffed police force in June and July by taking steps such as hiring additional officers, public posting of open positions, paying a competitive wage and increasing police training should be actions that benefit his business in the long run.”
Spence’s July letter was sent to Moskowitz after he distributed a June 20 personal newsletter that linked to articles on fights at Northbeach, and called upon Mayor TJ Redefer to hold a public meeting. Spence stated Moskowitz suggested collusion regarding the Lions Club’s March decision to award a seven-year lease of the Northbeach property to Highway One.
Pires said the letter from his lawyer speaks for itself.
“It's the second time our lawyers have had to warn Mr. Moskowitz,” Pires said. “Mr. Moskowitz recently had a cease and desist letter issued to him from a different lawyer representing a town official. Perhaps he enjoys all the attention. If so, that's sad, but Mr. Moskowitz cannot insult and disparage our town officials and property owners without facing some consequences."
Moskowitz said Pires was referring to Police Chief Sam Mackert, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office after an August town commissioners meeting. Mackert alleged the town violated open meeting requirements when Moskowitz said a report on the police department cited concerns about the chief’s effectiveness and called for the town manager to place an ad and start looking for a new chief. The Attorney General’s Office found no violation.
Moskowitz said Mackert’s lawyer sent him a letter informing him not to make disparaging comments about him.
“Anyone can pay for a lawyer to send a letter; there was no proof of actual malice. He’s a public official and subject to criticism,” Moskowitz said. “Alex’s letter said he operates businesses of public accommodation, so they’re supposed to be open to everyone, not just people with certain viewpoints.”