Any right-thinking person who has read the St. Albert Third Floor News blog will quickly realize they'll never get the time back they wasted reading it.
The blog, engineered by a person or persons who have a hate on for the city, makes several unsubstantiated claims about the city's misuse of funds.
It begins with a rant about a city employee who ran a landscaping business on the side. The blog states that many of the materials for the landscaping company were purchased on city accounts. The blog claims the city employee was a union member, and instead of having him charged with theft, the city forced the individual to leave with a package. Unsubstantiated, not attributed and categorically untrue.
In fact, the theft occurred during former city manager Bill Holtby's tenure, and Holtby called out the blogger's claim. He referred the misguided and roguish writer to a March 9, 2013 Gazette article that stated the former public works employee was charged with fraud and sentenced to 12 months house arrest and 40 hours of community service. In addition, he had to repay the city the money he wrongly charged to the city's account – a sum totalling nearly $8,000.
Clearly, this should be evidence enough that this blog is simply the rant of an individual who has too much time on his/her hands and too little regard to write something meaningful and insightful. The blog goes on to make numerous drive-by smears against Mayor Nolan Crouse, a couple of pot shots at current city manager Patrick Draper, and insists there's something sinister afoot at city hall.
The Internet is rife with anonymous drivel that is spiteful, defamatory and untrue. It's tabloid trash and that's exactly what Third Floor News is, and that's why it's puzzling that the city, or in this case Draper himself, is pursuing legal action against the blogger(s).
Draper has been authorized by city council to use money from the stabilization fund – taxpayers' money – to pay for the lawsuit. Any money that he may be awarded from the suit will be donated back to the city. The key word is “may.” First of all, Draper has to hire a lawyer who then has to find out who the blogger is. That will take time, and the meter will be running.
What damages will Draper seek? How much has his reputation suffered from a blog that was up for a short period of time and likely read only by a small sampling of the public? If this case makes it to court, there's no guarantee the damages sought will be paid. What is the defendant's ability to pay? Will it be determined that a public apology is sufficient to satisfy the courts?
In the meantime, the taxpayer is on the hook as Draper attempts to make an example out of the anonymous blogger or bloggers, and there's no guarantee of success – far from it. Third Floor News isn't worth the trouble nor the money it will cost.
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