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.
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.