This is what defamation looks like.

Defamation — also calumny, vilification, and traducement — is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.[1]

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed

To cover my own butt, what I am writing on is still in the stages of being alleged and has yet to be proven in court.

Sworn affidavits from people close to the defendant are some pretty strong evidence though.

I wrote recently on how Druh Farrell refused to recuse herself from an issue regarding a development proposed by the Terrigno family in which it appeared that she had pecuniary interest.

There are a number of questionable actions that apparently have been done by Councilor Farrell which have led to the lawsuit against her launched by the Terrigno family.

A large part of the defamation element of the suit revolves around Farrell apparently claiming that Mike Terrigno was a member of the mafia.

While this allegation sounds sort of comical at a glance, it is very serious when it is coming from an elected official and is directed at a business family. There are few things more damaging to the reputation of a business than being seen as being criminal.

If a person is ever going to state that another person is a criminal, they had better damn well be able to prove it or there will be and there should be legal consequences. It is a gross assault on a person’s character that simply can’t be ignored.

Naheed Nenshi certainly figured this out when he found himself sued for calling a local business man and philanthropist a “Godfather” like figure. That statement alone led to Nenshi having to settle with issuing a groveling apology, retraction and eating nearly $300,000 in legal fees (which he dumped on the taxpayers for a time).

If the statements in the affidavit sworn by Jeremy Sturgess are true, Druh Farrell went well beyond Nenshi’s vague statements with Wenzel and outright stated that Mike Terrigno is “the mafia”.

Like Nenshi, Druh Farrell has an unusually close relationship with her preferred architects.Jeremy Sturgess appears to be something of a favorite for Druh. Jeremy Sturgess has a number of ties to this lawsuit but I am sticking to the defamation aspect for now.

The sworn statement of a close associate of Councilor Farrell on this issue is quite compelling. It is not like Sturgess is a friend of the Terrigno family by any means. He is just giving a sworn and likely honest statement on what he remembers Druh Farrell having said to him about Mike Terrigno.

Below, Sturgess speaks to how long he has had a professional relationship with Farrell along with a reiteration on her apparent mafia allegations about Terrigno.

The document in its entirety can be found here

Seriously, just who do these elected officials think they are?

Do people like Nenshi and Farrell even think twice about how their statements can impact innocent business people? It appears not. It does appear that the courts are taking on the task of instilling the decency and common sense into these members of city hall that they somehow are personally lacking.

If Druh Farrell was telling Sturgess that Terrigno was mafia, who else has she been telling this to? How far has this rumor spread? How much damage has it and will it do to their family business?

Elected officials are entrusted by the public on a number of levels. City councilors hold a higher degree of public profile than your average citizen. This makes it more incumbent upon them to be careful with what they say about others as their words can have a very serious impact on them.

Farrell has dumped her legal fees upon the taxpayers without hesitation as she hunkers down with this lawsuit. Hardly tax funds well spent.

It is indeed election season. I think it is pretty clear that Ward 7 desperately needs new and responsible representation. Farrell has developed far too much entrenched entitlement to properly serve her constituents and the legal fees she is wracking up are simply far too expensive.

Lets hope the usually sleepy civic electorate gets up and votes Druh Farrell out of office next month. Taxpayers deserve it.

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Druh Farrell. The poster child for term limits.

While Naheed Nenshi may get yet another term as Mayor of Calgary, his popularity has been steadily dropping year by year with Calgarians. The number one complaint about Nenshi has been his insufferable arrogance when dealing with businesses in Calgary, fellow members of council and the public at large. The longer Nenshi resides on the municipal throne, the more his arrogance will grow as connection with the real world outside of city hall degrades.

Arrogance led Nenshi to label a leading Calgarian philanthropist and businessman as a “Godfather” type figure. In other words, Nenshi implied that Cal Wenzel was a criminal. Not a minor label to drop on a person without a solid foundation in truth (which Nenshi lacked). Nenshi’s arrogant mouth led to him being sued. As it became apparent that Nenshi was going to lose in court, he settled with a grovelling retraction and apology and found himself saddled with a legal bill nearing $300,000. Nenshi then backtracked on his word not to dump his legal bills on the taxpayers. Calgarian taxpayers carried Nenshi’s legal fees interest free for him for years while he raised funds from donors (while offering charitable receipts) to cover the cost. This is the price of arrogance.

While Nenshi’s arrogance has been around since the day he was elected, it is indeed growing. Druh Farrell has allowed her arrogance to grow and fester over 16 years in her comfortable council seat. This entitled arrogance has led to Farrell feeling that she can label innocent Calgarians as criminals as well.

Druh Farrell is more honest than Nenshi in some ways. Farrell has never made bones about dumping every penny of her legal fees upon Calgarian taxpayers. Farrell’s contempt for taxpayers and business people alike shows a profound disconnect with reality that has developed due to being in office for too long.

One of the first legal terms that any elected official should learn is “Pecuniary interest” if they want to stay out of legal hot water. It is critical that elected officials recuse themselves from discussions and decisions that will directly impact their personal finances for better or for worse. It is laid out quite clearly in Alberta’s Municipal Governance act. 

The Terrigno family has owned and operated the Osteria de Medici restaurant in Kensington for nearly 30 years. They have unfortunately been butting heads with Druh Farrell over their operations and their plans to redevelop since 2008 when Druh began acting to interfere with the restaurant’s annual Stampede event.

Druh Farrell owns a home just 160 meters from the Terrigno property. This means that actions on that property and developments very clearly could have an impact on the value of the property that Druh Farrell owns. In light of this pecuniary interest, any councilor exercising common sense would know that it would be best to recuse themselves from any city hall actions with regards to that property and leave it to the discretion of the other 14 members of city council. In the arrogance bred from sitting too long on city council however, Farrell never considered stepping back on issues with the Terrigno property.

As things heated from conflict over the restaurant’s Stampede event on to Druh’s apparent heavy interference with the family’s intention to develop the property, a formal request was submitted asking that Farrell recuse herself due to such clear pecuniary interest in the matter.

Letters_to_Druh_Farrell_Asking_her_to_recuse_herself

It would appear that the letter was of no effect and Farrell doubled down on her conflict with the Terrigno family.

Would Farrell have recognized the rationale for staying clear of this in her first eight years in office? I think it is much more likely. Farrell would not have grown the entrenched sense of entitlement and arrogance that she displays today in being enthroned within Ward 7 for nearly 20 years.

Eight years is plenty of time to get a mandate done in city hall. Hell, even twelve may be reasonable. Once we get beyond that, the initial fire in the belly has been lost and elected officials lose sight of why they got into office in the first place. Arrogance and entitlement replace genuine ambition to make change and the goals of councilors then become fixated on control and maintaining their perch on council.

Moving to four year terms was a good move municipally. Setting a two term limit would be even better. It would ensure a steady flow of fresh thinking and would cut back on these local battles between entrenched elected officials and business people that only lead to costs for the taxpayers. It would allow politicians to leave office on a high point and with dignity rather than ignominiously as they finally cross the line with the electorate or even at times with the law.

Farrell went beyond simply interfering with the Terrigno’s development. It does appear that Farrell went deeply into some pretty unforgivable defamation in her battle with that family.

I will post the documents indicating Farrell’s acts of defamation and how damaging they can be in a new posting soon.

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Where has the time gone?

Can you believe that it has been over three years already?

Why, it feels like only yesterday that Naheed Nenshi had an epic social media temper tantrum when he found out that the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation had done a FOIP request to see if the Mayor had dumped his legal bills on the taxpayers.

You could almost hear Nenshi’s fingers indignantly hammering his keyboard in rage as he expressed his ire over having been questioned on this issue.

The twitter thread stems from this tweet back in June of 2014

 

Roger Kingkade did a fantastic dramatic reading of the exchange here.

Yes indeed. Three years already. That means that it has been nearly four years since Nenshi defamed Cal Wenzel on a radio show. That defamation led to Nenshi’s grovelling apology and a legal bill that was nearly $300,000.

That legal bill was dumped on Calgarian taxpayers and Nenshi still has not paid it back.

Yes, despite Nenshi’s petulant outbursts it appears that Canada’s most highly paid mayor (depending in the year) still dumped the fruit of his act of defamation upon innocent taxpayers.

Nenshi is claiming that the bill will be paid soon. Nenshi of course claimed so stridently that the bill would never been dumped on us so he holds little credibility in this regard. It now becomes a thing of, “I will believe it when I see it.”

I guess this could be part of why Nenshi got caught up in a scandalous $5,000 per plate pay to play fundraiser just weeks ago.

As a small business owner, I sure could use an interest free loan for a few hundred thousand to make some capital improvements. Alas, these sorts of benefits only apply to Mayors I guess.

As it has been years now, we should be reminded that it is an election year. In a few short months, Calgary voters can choose to elect a mayor who is less inclined to dump his legal fees upon them.

I sure hope that the voters lose their apathy and do so.

While the last 4 years went by quickly, a further 4 years of Nenshi would be agonizing.

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Has Druh Farrell finally gone too far?

Let’s face it. Druh Farrell has never really been the sharpest knife in the Calgary city council drawer. Despite having resided in a council seat for nearly 16 years, there really has been little of note accomplished by Druh. The only real hallmark of Farrell’s extensive term has been a propensity to vapidly jump on and lobby for whatever the latest self-styled, hipster trend is happening these days whether its taking countless hours to try to regulate what sort of soups restaurants may serve to the completely catastrophic Memorial Dr. closure for her failed anti-automotive initiative called “The Bow River Flow”.

In Calgary, a councilor typically needs only to be mediocre in order to maintain their seat in perpetuity. Dale Hodges managed a council career that spanned decades and used the simple strategy of conveniently timed bathroom breaks to ensure that he never had to vote on a contentious issue. Druh however has made sure to be vocal on any issue where she can take shots at the things she despises in life such as automobiles, suburbs and successful businesses. This trend of blind ideology has led to a steady decline in Farrell’s support to the point where she only gathered 37% support in the last municipal election. This is an appallingly low level of support for an incumbent and it was only through a fortunate splitting of votes that Farrell managed to cling on to her cushy spot.

Having served so long in city hall, Farrell views Kensington as her own personal little fiefdom where she hopes to build a small, inner city hipster’s paradise where her name will go down in dreadlocked history as the founder of this miniature Portland North. That would explain Farrell’s hypocritical opposition to a project that would add density and economic expansion to her little demesne. While Farrell strongly opposes, suburban expansion and supports increased density throughout the city, she is the ultimate NIMBY in her own neighborhood and has pulled every string possible to fight these elements in her own community.

This hypocrisy leads up to the battle that began in 2008 with the owners of the Osteria De Medici property that has now landed her in the middle of a rather comprehensive looking lawsuit.

The statement of claim against Farrell can be downloaded in full here.

It begins with Farrell apparently trying to use city of Calgary bylaw officers as something of her own personal army in working to shut down an annual Stampede parties at Osteria. Farrell couldn’t abide by seeing so many unwashed Calgarians celebrating Western Canadian culture in her neck of the woods. Only drum circles and vegan tastings are appropriate! Apparently after failing in getting bylaw services to shut down the popular event, Druh began a personal vendetta that finally led to changes in rules surrounding popular Calgary Stampede parties.

This began the feud between Osteria and Farrell which clearly has only gotten worse over the years.

The statement of claim contends that Farrell coached people to defame the Osteria group in city hall. Farrell then apparently reiterated the the claims that the family was made of up criminals. This all has to be proven in court still of course but is sure sounds familiar. Nenshi’s forced apology and settlement with Cal Wenzel proved that the courts do not look kindly on accusations of criminality being leveled at business people by elected officials.

Even uglier, the statement claims that Farrell through an agent essentially tried to extort from the group through demands for a campaign contribution, a commitment by the group not to support any other candidates and a commitment to hire her preferred architect in order to get her support for a new development on the Osteria land. If any of this is indeed proven true in court, Farrell indeed is unfit to serve in office any longer.

I cant see Farrell’s support getting any stronger over the last few years and I don’t expect that this legal action will aid in her chances of re-election.

The arrogance displayed by Farrell in this matter and in her behavior over the last 8 years or so has at least brought about some very serious conversation about term limits for city councilors and some new ethical guidelines being brought down. A silver lining perhaps. Maybe a new accountability guideline can be dubbed “Farrell’s law”.

I suspect that Farrell has burned enough bridges over the years. She very likely will not retain her chair this time around.

It is time to reform accountability for city councilors in the future though or we may simply see a Druh Farrell by another name assume the chair she vacates.

This will be an interesting court proceeding to watch to say the very least. I am sure that more than a few elected officials will be watching it in Alberta as these sort of actions may come their way too if they don’t take care.

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Calgary taxpayers give Nenshi a loan.

purplepeacock

From yesterday’s CBC article: The city is picking up the tab for Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s legal battle with developer Cal Wenzel, but he now has to fundraise in order to pay the city back.

When Nenshi found himself rightly being sued for slandering a Calgary businessman and philanthropist during a radio interview, many people were rightly concerned that taxpayers would find themselves on the hook for the legal bills.

Nenshi could have easily ended this entire mess with a simple retraction and apology years ago. That is exactly what he ended up doing in his settlement anyway. Clearly Nenshi was on the losing end of that settlement as he had to humbly apologize and didn’t get his legal fees covered.

I suspect that His Worship in his arrogance was so confident that he would come out on top in this lawsuit that he never thought twice before screaming to any and all critics that he would pay all the legal bills.

One has to wonder if Nenshi would not have dragged out this legal mess as long as he did if the city wasn’t going to backstop the legal bills for him until he could pay them back? How many employers will pay 6 figures in legal fees on a loan for employees who are in the midst of getting sued for slandering somebody and outside of their employment duties? Nice loan if you can get it.

The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation acts as a watchdog on political spending on all levels of government. This is very important in municipal politics as there is no official opposition working to ensure that our elected servants are being responsible with our money. In doing his job at the time, Derek Fildebrandt made a request to ensure that the Mayor indeed was going to pay his own damned bills.

Fildebrandt’s inquiry set off a classic, petulant Naheed Nenshi public tantrum. Calgary’s Mayor truly does sound like a six year old when he gets upset.

Roger Kingcade with QR77 radio in Calgary did a fantastic, dramatic reading of Nenshi’s social media hissy fit which can be played at the link below.
Nenshi Vs Fildebrandt tantrum.

Nenshi sure was sensitive to the issue.

As Canada’s highest paid mayor ($216,401 per year), I guess Nenshi felt he could absorb the costs if he had to.

Now it looks like Nenshi will be asking others to pay his bills through contributions. How long that will take and how that may work on a political influence level is tough to tell at this point.

One thing that we can be sure of though is that taxpayers have tied up a bunch of capital in covering Nenshi’s legal fees until he can find a way to pay them. Will there be interest charged? Service fees? Loans typically aren’t free and I don’t see why an exception should be made for our Mayor who dug his own legal hole.

6yearold

We can doubtless look forward to more outbursts from Nenshi on this and other issues.

We must follow up on this though as no matter how hard Nenshi howls, the bill simply isn’t paid until Nenshi finds a way to pay it.

For now as usual, taxpayers remain on the hook for the cost of Nenshi’s big mouth.

I hope he has pursued insurance for future suits.

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OK now folks, raise your hand if you thought that smoking wasn’t bad for you.

The Redford government has launched a $10 billion lawsuit against tobacco companies for what appears to be two reasons:

1. To desperately try and find the funds required to pay for the massive spending promises Redford made in the last election.

2. To filter money to her ex-husband’s law-firm as it has unsurprisingly managed to land the contract for the suit and could potentially make millions.

The Alberta government has already reaped many billions of dollars in revenues from tobacco taxes over the years. This lawsuit is the equivalent of a drug pusher suing his supplier for the damage having been caused to his clients while he continues to push the product. The tobacco industry is so heavily regulated and taxed by the provincial government that the government is an outright partner in the distribution and sales of the product.

One common vapid defense for these kinds of lawsuits is claiming that people did not know that cigarettes were bad for them because tobacco companies so effectively hid the adverse health effects of smoking. Come on people, that is nothing less than a load of crap. People have known smoking is bad for them for nearly a century now and most were not so stupid as to fall for ads understating the risks from tobacco companies.

To prove my point I am thrilled to be be able to link to a piece by some of the most brilliant entertainers of our time. Yes, I am speaking of the Three Stooges of course.

 In this episode, the stooges have won a large prize from the “Coffin Nail cigarette company” at about the five minute mark if you want to watch it. The term “coffin nails” being used as a slang term for cigarettes has clearly been around since at least 1938 as demonstrated by Larry, Curly and Moe. The origin of that term is of course because people knew that smoking tended to send people to an early grave thus cigarettes were compared to adding nails to the coffin.

 While the full extent of health damages caused by tobacco may not have been known 80 years ago, it is pretty clear that nobody was under any illusion that there was not a health risk associated with smoking.

The above point is key because these lawsuits are predicated on the assumption that nobody really knew that smoking was bad for them until the 1980s or so. That assumption is simply not true.

The other flaw in these lawsuits is the calculation of apparent health costs due to smokers. The numbers being drawn up by anti-smoking activists and class action vultures like Redford’s ex-husband are brutally flawed. It has to be assumed that non-smokers will never get sick or die for the numbers to be correct with the alleged health costs due to smoking. Believe it or not, non-smokers can get chronic and expensive illnesses too. While it sounds unbelievable, I have to point out that non-smokers indeed do eventually die and often cost the healthcare system a great deal of money on their way out the door as well.

Most people use the vast majority of their healthcare consumption in the last couple decades of their lives. You can visit with some of the healthiest of people in their 70s and I assure you that they still will be able to draw you a long list of the medications that they are on, the procedures that they have had done and the very frequent schedule of visits to health professionals. I am not holding that against these people of course, but it does have to be faced that senior citizens are very expensive to care for health wise. Now it needs to be noted that seniors are not contributing income taxes and such as they used to as well and that many are drawing from government services such as OAS and subsidized care for decades.

In light of all of the above the case could be made in a very cold way that coupled with massive tax revenues to government, smoking may indeed actually save the public purse money in that it takes so many people out at a young age thus saving the costs associated with a 30 year retirement. It is indeed clear that the costs of smoking to governments are greatly exaggerated to say the least.

Now before the chorus of offended health zealots harms my virtual ears let me say that I do not see tobacco consumption in any amount is good for people or for society at large in any way. I am not advocating that people should die young in order to save the system money or that smoking does not still cost us all in lost productivity or even the emotional costs of seeing loved ones dying early due to health issues associated with smoking.

What I am saying is that we must stop being disingenuous in the efforts to demonize and sue a legal entity. Lets base this stuff on real facts before moving forward and lets start embracing some personal responsibility here.

I started smoking while young and only managed to quit a few years ago. I was never under the illusion for a moment that smoking was not bad for me. I did have that youthful “it will never happen to me” attitude but knew deep down that smoking was harming me. Since quitting I have packed on a fair degree of weight which is not a healthy thing either. Now regulating my diet and exercise is my responsibility as well but it should be pointed out that stopping people from smoking does not mean that they will immediately become healthy in every other way.

Governments ban all sorts of drugs, items and even simple pesticides based on those things being unhealthy to people. If the government really feels that smoking is so harmful, they really should ban the practice altogether. Will this lawsuit stop people from smoking? No! Again this legal action is nothing less than a corrupt and hypocritical money grab. Even after the suit government will continue to profit from the massive taxes levied on tobacco products.

Where indeed will this end? What other companies that are legally operating and following every government regulation may be sued for damages to people consuming their products? Will Sifto Salt be sued because people use too much salt? Over-consumption of salt is epidemic in North America and it is a proven killer so why not? Soft drinks? Meat packers? None of the aforementioned examples are unrealistic at all should the province win this lawsuit. How about ski hills? Orthopedic injuries cost a fortune in surgeries and lost productivity.

I guess we will simply have to watch and wait on this one. It is sad that government has to rely on shaky lawsuits to backstop their irresponsible spending.

 

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