Barry Parr, creator of Coastsider.com, published an article about "Jimmy/Susan" the person(s) who posted messages to the Pacifica-L mailing list, claiming to be long-time Pacifica residents, but who apparently were associated with Peebles' P.R. firm, Davies Communications.
(I was the one who originally pointed out that the messages being posted came from an IP address belonging to Davies, and other people on the list later confirmed this.)
Parr talked to John Davies, the CEO of Davies Communications, to get a response. Davies said:
"he [Davies] thought the Pacifica list readers were mostly negative thinkers with too much time on their hands"
Davies also didn't seem very concerned about the ethical issues raised by employees of his P.R. firm posing as ordinary Pacificans supporting his client's position.
There are several troubling aspects to this story.
First, Peebles seems to have problems hiring good companies to represent him. First it was the company distributing charrette fliers who failed to get them mailed on time, then the signature gatherers who made misleading statements and badgered Pacificans, and now his P.R. firm stands accused of manufacturing artificial grassroots support for his development.
Second, even when presented with convincing evidence of his "astroturfing", Davies refuses to take responsibility or apologize. When he says:
what he means is that his firm has no record of the emails being sent. Many small companies do not keep such records.) But that does not explain the basic fact that the IP address as recorded by Google is assigned to his company.
Finally, if Measure L passes, it is very likely that Peebles will continue to retain Davies Communications as his P.R. firm to help push his development through the planning process. This means that we may see more examples of manufactured support for Peebles, making it difficult to tell exactly what's real and what's not. (For more examples of this, see The Public Relations Industry's Secret War on Activists, by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton.)