Egli Threatens Legal Action For Doing My Job

As a journalist, albeit one that doesn’t get paid, I chase down stories simply because I love doing it. I love local politics and I love getting scoops and I love getting the truth away from the spin.

Earlier today, I got a tip about Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli. Now I’ve been in this business a long time and tips aren’t always truth. I know that. And so, as any good journalist would, I got in touch with some of the people that I thought might be able to help me confirm or deny the story. That’s just how the game works. No one I contacted was aware of the story, so I went to Egli himself.

He absolutely denied it. I then refined the question. He promised to get back to me right away. It took more than two hours for him to get back to me.
But when he did, it packed a wallop! Here’s what he wrote to me and, interesting to note, it wasn’t sent from his City of Ottawa email.

Sue


I was utterly shocked to hear of the defamatory allegation of criminal activity that you have repeated with respect to me.

There is absolutely no truth to this allegation.

I am asking you to confirm to me forthwith that you have either not repeated these defamatory comments to anyone or, if you have repeated it to anyone, I want you to advise me of the name and contact information of each person (including co-workers, friends and family members- as each of them could have repeated or might repeat) the defamatory statement , as well as provide me with proof that you have contacted each person to let them know that the defamatory allegation that you shared with him or her was totally unfounded and that it was wrong of you to do what you did  and to advise them that if they have shared that defamatory comment with anyone, they should be contacting that person to advise that the defamatory comment is unfounded.

I will stop at nothing to take any and all measures to either repair what would likely be considerable damage to my reputation, and/or to obtain damages, to the full extent that any damages can be awarded in law.

I am asking you to provide me with the information I have requested before 8 PM today.

Egli of course used to be practice law, hence the word forthwith! 

Really not sure why Egli thinks chasing a story is wrong. And absolutely dumbfounded why he thinks I can be sued for damages by asking questions. That being said, sort of wish I’d completed my Journalism and the Law course!

Again, for the record, I found no truth to the tip I’d been given, though it won’t stop me from pursuing it further. And again, for the record, I advised the councillor to go for it. I will not be offering up any information to him about who I talked to. Nor will I be bullied by fear of legal action. Sort of shocked Egli would try to threaten a journalist. But there you have it.

Deans Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, a long-serving city councillor and leader on council, is suffering from ovarian cancer.

Deans will be taking a leave of absence from city council as she begins treatment for the cancer on Tuesday. The councillor made the sudden announcement in an email to her colleagues and the media Monday afternoon. “After a summer of not feeling well and a myriad of medical tests, I received the devastating diagnosis of ovarian cancer,” Deans wrote.

As she wrote, she will be away from council for an undetermined length of time as she battles with all of her energy on this “insidious disease.” While her time away isn’t determined, she does refer to returning to council next year. Deans, a left-leaning Liberal, has been as a strong opponent to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on council. And while he appointed her to serve as the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board, she doesn’t sit on the key and powerful finance and economic development committee, essentially the cabinet of council.

Her absence from council will be missed. One of a few city councillors who isn’t afraid of taking on Watson, the long-serving council provides a strong voice for women, minorities and the disadvantaged around the council table.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney spoke to Deans just before the news release went out.”It was absolutely unexpected. Knowing Diane for a long time, I consider her a friend and colleague. This is devastating news. You never expect to hear that someone has serious health issues. But she’s got a lot of friends and lot of support and we’ll do whatever we can,” McKenney said.

First elected to council in 1994, Deans has also ventured into party politics. She sought the Liberal nomination in the riding of Ottawa South, but lost to David McGuinty, and she’s also mused several times about running for mayor.She also attempted to secure the provincial nomination in Ottawa Centre back in 2007, she lost to Yasir Naqvi.

Councillor Darouze Bullied Osgoode Resident

Osgoode Coun. George Darouze broke the city’s Code of Conduct using bullying and intimidation in an attempt to silence one of his constituents, according to a recently released report by the city’s integrity commissioner.

The punishment for having broken the city’s Code of Conduct includes everything from being reprimanded, losing your salary for up to 90 days or giving a written or verbal apology.

The story centres around the use of social media, and several postings made on Facebook by a female Osgoode resident, who is also the wife of an Ottawa Police officer. The woman raised a number of concerns, everything from traffic, speeding and the lack of policing in the ward.

Darouze responded to the woman, and brought in the fact her husband worked for the police. As the exchange between Darouze and the female continued, the Osgoode councillor went so far as to bring the matter to the attention of then Ottawa Police Chief Chuck Bordeleau. A letter was placed in the police officer’s file, though he himself never engaged in the Facebook debate and hadn’t even read them.

Unhappy with the treatment by Darouze, the female resident and her police officer husband asked for an official investigation.

The report by city Integrity Commissioner Robert Marleau doesn’t pull any punches with his findings.

An investigator hired by Marleau had this to say about the dispute:

I find that (Darouze’s) reaction to the Facebook posts of the female Complainant was unjustified and excessive. I find that in sending his September 21, 2018 email to the Chief of Police and identifying both Complainants and revealing that the male Complainant was an OPS officer he did so for the primary reason of silencing the female Complainant and causing the male Complainant grief in his workplace. 
The Councillor’s exaggerated claims of fear and harm, his contradictory explanations, and his aggressive response to legitimate public debate on the question of police deployment in rural Ottawa weakens his credibility in this case. Considering all of the circumstances and the Councillor’s own evidence, this office finds that his explanation is not credible
On a balance of probabilities, I find that the major motivation of the Councillor was to bully and intimidate the Complainants and each of them in the hope that female Complainant might cease her critical Facebook commentary of him.

The report is expected to be dealt with at Wednesday’s city council meeting. Marleau is recommending Darouze issue a “sincere written apology” to both of the complainants; to write to the the Interim Chief of Police to make him aware of the report and request that his letter to the Chief of Police last year be removed from the personnel file of the complainant; and to reprimand Darouze in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Light Rail Off and Running

And it’s a go.

Yes that’s right, Ottawans finally got to ride the much, much, much anticipated and much delayed light rail system.

Hallelujah.

Have to admit, I was a little taken aback at the party-like atmosphere the city put on to celebrate the opening, including some members of the media who seemed more like cheerleaders than outside observers.

And I may never get over  the image of the giddy-with-delight Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley at the prospect of the opening – or Mayor Jim Watson comparing his excitement to that of Christmas Day. (And I thought I didn’t have much going on in my life!)

Not to mention, the light rail system is absolutely unlikely to help Hubley’s constituents or do anything for the incredible gridlock in much of the city – not just during rush hour, but through much of the work week depending on where you’re travelling.

And am I wrong to think the non-working escalators in the system might have gotten a little more attention, save for the cheerleaders?
Former Mayor Bob Chiarelli, the brains behind bringing light rail to the nation’s capital, understands the system’s limitations as it now exists. He also understands the public’s frustration with the ever-growing traffic issues in the system, especially in Kanata and Barrhaven.

However, as the man who first brought light rail to Ottawa, Saturday was a good and rewarding day. 

“Of course, there’s satisfaction that we have a good modern system up and running,” Chiarelli told On the the City, From the Burbs.

“I thought it was a good launch and the people thought it was a good launch. Yes, it’s been a long and winding road. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge,” he said.

Chiarelli had proposed a north-south line that would have cost substantially less and brought suburban traffic into the mix. But when Larry O’Brien won the election and defeated Chiarelli, O’Brien cancelled that plan and instead decided the first link in Ottawa’s light rail plan would go east-west and include an underground tunnel.

“I think the fact that we’ve taken an extra 10 years has created some challenges for the future. We may have missed a round of funding (from the upper levels of government).” I’ve heard and seen some issues that have been raised, the fact that at this stage and time, we don’t have Kanata and Barrhaven connected, to the system, and so there are some unanswered questions. Will people get out of their cars to take a bus to the train and have to transfer and maybe transfer twice? And all of this is compounded by the unbelievable growth in the city, there’s a tremendous amount of congestion,” Chiarelli said. 

“I’m struck by the bumper to bumper traffic on Stranderd (in Barrhaven), congestion in Kanata,” he continued.”There are still challenges ahead of us. But for (Saturday) it was all well done, and you could tell people were excited about it.”

A Tale of Two City Councillors

Two Ottawa city councillors had life-changing events occur in their lives this week.

One will be celebrating, the other will be forced to re-exam his future.

For Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney, who saw charges of corruption against him withdrawn, it’s a week worth celebrating.

Seems little doubt Tierney got off easy. He will have to give up two months salary. Small price to pay. And he can now stop plotting for ways to get his wife Jenny Tierney into his municipal seat under a scenario where he feared he would lose his job.

A quick recap: On the last day of registration for the 2018 election, Michael Schurter, a real estate agent who had nothing but good things to say about Tierney, registered to run against Tierney with just minutes to spare before the deadline.

I phoned Tierney to get his reaction. He was freaking out, apparently with his extended family on hand – getting ready to pop the champagne to celebrate what he had hoped was going to be an acclamation.

Then, according to OPP documents, Tierney called Schurter on his cell phone. Schurter put the call on speaker phone and three people in the Elections Ottawa office alleged they heard the councillor offer to make a donation to a local food bank if Schurter withdrew his candidacy. 
(Remember what happened to former mayor Larry O’Brien when he was accused of offering mayoral hopeful Terry Kilrea an incentive to drop out of the race?)

Schurter contacted the police, and the OPP anti-rackets division charged Tierney with “corrupt practices,” or bribery. I should mention I had a visit from the OPP myself, who wanted to discuss in further detail my phone conversation with Tierney. 

It was an ugly time, with the super-paranoid Tierney flipping out over what his huge mistake in phoning Schurter could cost him.

But now that’s all over for Tierney and his family. Perhaps that bottle of champagne was actually popped!

What is still so puzzling is why Tierney was so desperate to be acclaimed. It would have been an easy romp to a re-election victory – and while he gets to keep his job – clearly his reputation has been tarnished!

The week hasn’t been as kind to College Coun. Rick Chiarelli.

Chiarelli is a longtime city councillor with a wicked sense of humour he often uses against Mayor Jim Watson. The media loves a good quote, and Chiarelli delivers. When Watson unveiled a budget with questionable numbers, Chiarelli called it a Christmas Miracle. The media ate it up, Watson fumed. Chiarelli also had the audacity (and yes, that’s sarcasm) to beat Watson’s former employee Ryan Kennery in the last election.

According to a story by the CBC, Chiarelli has been accused of asking inappropriate questions during a job interview to a woman seeking employment at city hall. The woman has since filed a complaint with Ottawa’s integrity commissioner, suggesting she was asked inappropriate questions of a sexual nature during a job interview.

The same CBC story also said the corporation had spoken with several others  who’ve worked in Chiarelli’s office, and a number of those said they’d heard the councillor make inappropriate comments in the workplace. 

It’s a sad, ugly story wherever the truth lies.

Not surprisingly, Chiarelli isn’t talking to the media and is now apparently on sick leave.

The Week That Was (Sept. 1-7)

SORRY, NOT SORRY: Okay, so the phenomenal win on Saturday evening by Canada’s own Bianca Andreescu in the U.S. Open championship may not exactly be municipal news, but impossible not to mention.

The Mississauga champion beat tennis great Serena Williams to become the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Slam singles title. And of course, being a Canadian, she apologized to the public on hand, saying she was sorry for beating their favourite! Nice touch. As someone who recently visited Greece, our reputation for apologizing is well-deserved. I would find people pushing and shoving me in the throng of crowds and found myself apologizing.

All of Canada is so proud.

TRAIN TROUBLE: In less than a week, the city’s light rail system will go live. And is there anyone out there that doesn’t fear trouble on the tracks? 
The past week makes everyone’s concerns more valid. Just a few short days after the city took over the $2.1-billion LRT system and with the official opening slated for Sept. 14, more than half of the Confederation Line was shut down for hours this past week.

On Wednesday, the light rail system wasn’t running between Tunney’s Pasture and Hurdman stations for several hours.
Three trains were stopped in the downtown tunnel. Two of the trains finally went to Tunney’s Pasture, and the third was taken to the east end. As a result, several radio units needed to be reset.

Is any of this comforting to potential LRT users?

Will transit head John Manconi eventually be physically pushing the trains with a bunch of the city’s bureaucracy behind him? Can you imagine? Maybe you can.

TRASH TALK: So the city of Ottawa has decided it won’t extend the collection contract of a major garbage company that has failed to consistently abide by pickup schedules for communities in the west suburbs.

Waste Management has been receiving heat because it hasn’t always collected residential garbage in a timely fashion. The company has the city collection contract in Kanata, Stittsville and the surrounding communities in west Ottawa.

City council was told Waste Management would no longer be collecting residential trash in the west zone starting next June.
A memo from solid waste services director Marilyn Journeaux, a fellow/former hockey mom, says council will be asked to approve a contract with Miller Waste Systems for the west zone garbage collection.

HOW HIGH CAN YOU GO?: A larger transit tax increase could be the new norm for municipal budgets this council term, unless the upper governments pump more money into city hall’s public transit program. This according to a news story by the Sun’s Jon Willing.

A proposed 6.4% increase to the transit levy in 2020 wasn’t being considered as the long-range financial plan for transit called for the specific tax to rise by the same rate as transit fares.

The Ontario PCs  shut down a plan by the former provincial Liberals to double gas-tax transfers to municipalities. 
Can’t blame Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson for this – no way he would have known.
“The federal and provincial governments have the most ability to generate revenue through taxation and fees that we don’t have,” Watson said this week, according to Willing.

IDEALIST CLIVE DOUCET RUNNING AGAIN: According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen, former city councillor and mayoral candidate Clive Doucet is set to announce he’s running for MP for the Green Party in Cape Breton, where he has a home and where his heart is. Doucet said he’s always seen himself as a municipal politician. But honestly, I’m excited at the prospect of him being part of a group of like-minded individuals. And seriously, if he were running for the Green Party in my riding, he’d have my vote. Few politicians are as sincere as he is. Just recently chatted with him on CFRA on the Rob Snow show, and it made me realize that while I seldom agreed with him, I do miss his idealism. It’s perfect for the country and the Green Party.

Heading Back to School, Waiting for my CPP!

There’s a bit huge pit in the bottom of my stomach.

On Tuesday morning, after a 37-year hiatus, I’m headed back to Carleton University to embark on my Masters of Journalism. Yes, that’s 37 years, no typo there.

What the heck was I thinking? I have loved being a journalist. There’s really no job like it. Over the years, I’ve been able to meet some amazing people that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to either meet or get to know. And while I always wanted to be a journalist, I sort of fell into my career.

When the Ottawa Sunday Herald started up, with former CFRA broadcaster Lowell Green behind the ambitious endeavour, I sent in my resume – and one weekend evening – got a call from Green. I didn’t get the job, but honestly, just hearing him telling me I was in the running – and that he thought I had a sense of humour, that was everything.

I did eventually start freelancing there. I caught the Herald’s interest when they gave me a freelance assignment to get people’s reactions to an Ann Lander’s column that suggested women preferred cuddling over sex – and I had to talk to people about her column. 

When the Ottawa Sun bought the Herald, I was given a chance at a real career in journalism. It wasn’t easy. In the early days, when I got the spelling of one of my subjects wrong in a story, my boss made it clear my job was on the line. “This isn’t the Herald,” said editor John Paton. (I’m now double checking the spelling of his name!)

All to say, I’ve had some lucky breaks when it comes to being a life-long journalist. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Well, not every minute, but many of them.

But on Tuesday, I’m waking up to attend my first day as a graduate student at the age of 60. Don’t ask why. In truth, I’m barely sure! The first day is a full day of orientation, and even the term full-day strikes fear in may heart. I’ve become so used to doing nothing, I just can’t imagine concentrating for that long.

I know that since taking the voluntary retirement from Postmedia, I’ve spent far too much time sitting in my basement playing Candy Crush and watching some incredibly bad television. (Yes, I’ve seen Dr. Pimple Popper. Don’t ask.)

But I still have a desire to learn. I know how to get to the bottom of a story, but am anxious to learn more about the theoretical side of the business – where it’s headed, where it’s been, a discussion of ethics,

And as I tweeted recently, in one week, I was accepted into the masters program and was approved for my Canadian Pension Plan (CPP).
I need them both!
In truth, I”m terrified. I know I can get to the bottom of a story, but just not at all convinced I’m up to the challenge of completing my Masters of Journalism.

Hope my CPP comes in soon!