CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Mayor-by-five-votes ... Doug Martin
GM of the EDTC ... Jim Thibert
Ward 3 Councillor .... Bob Steckley (first elected in 2006)
Ward 4 Councillor ... John Hill (Beat incumbent Tim Whitfield in a landslide)
Ward 5 Councillor ... Don Lubberts (Beat a number of candidates, including incumbent Martha Lockwood)
Ward 6 Councillor ... Paul Collard (Beat out a few candidates to fill Ann Marie Noyes' former position)
The Ninjas: a group of malcontents, often referred to as the Great Unwashed or The Usual Suspects. Biggest mouthpieces are Greg Bonito and Lesley North.
It really all started in earnest after the 2010 election. Not only did four councillors get elected by good majorities, but the mayor almost lost his seat but for five votes. The people of the town who voted sent a strong message: we do not want our public waterfront land (Bay Beach) given away to a high rise developer.
But that message was not well received by certain people in this town and an effort was started to discredit the four councillors and anyone who stood out against the Molinaro deal. During the lame duck period after the election, a lawsuit was started against me as I was the blogger of record against the development and the part that Jim Thibert, head of the town's arm's length corporation, the Economic and Tourism Development Corporation played in the deal. He was the puppet master in the campaign, setting candidates and campaigns against the four councillors, especially Bob Steckley. He also targeted Ann Marie Noyes, former councillor, who was running for mayor. He had promised to "crush them" because they openly questioned his tactics and his record at council. So, he convinced his then board, about to have some changes, to use taxpayer money to sue me for slander. So far, that exercise has cost the taxpayers well over $20,000 and accomplished nothing.
A blog came into existence, offered by a couple of guys who fancied themselves as political experts. It was nothing but a hit piece for the disgruntled to vent their anger against those who were elected to office and anyone opposed to the Molinaro Deal. That went on for a couple of years until in-fighting caused the cessation of that blog and the formation of a new blog run by a hitherto unknown, chronically unemployed wannabe. From those beginnings rose a small but vocal group that soon took over as the Peanut Gallery at council meetings. From there, they escalated to harassment and bullying of those in opposition to the Molinaro Project. Of course, they turned on the four councillors with a vengeance. Soon came accusations of everything from hit-and-run to arson. Now called The Ninjas, after their favourite after-school TV program, they set about to dig for anything they could to embarrass or cause difficulties to the four and their supporters.
People were threatened; confidential banking information was leaked; multiple police reports were filed and their blog went on and on about every little thing the four did. They even followed the guys to a local watering hole after a meeting and took pictures through the window. Drive-bys of people's houses were frequent; pictures taken of vehicles and officials called in their obsession to drive the councillors out of office.
Of course, the mayor-by-five-votes was on board with these tactics; he even encouraged them by allowing their delegates to attack the four councillors during presentations to council. The ninjas also became Jim Thibert's go-to guys when ever he wanted to plant some information. In turn, they became mini-celebrities in their own warped minds. They thought they were doing good for the community, when, in fact, they were subverting the will of the people by attacking these duly-elected representatives. It is one thing to disagree with a local politician but another to wage a smear campaign against decent people with whom you disagree.
(OK. Now you can say that I did the same to Jim Thibert. Not quite. I reported that he told a sitting councillor that she was "delusional." He did. I was there that night. He has done some very petty and nasty things to those who challenge him. He fought a FOI request through the courts which again, cost the taxpayers, and still hasn't produced everything required by the decision against his corporation. In my opinion, he has done a terrible job of leading this town's economic corporation. Otherwise, I could not care less about his personal life.)
But the ninjas do care about everyone's personal life, especially those they disagree with. Living in their glass houses, they have reported personal and confidential information about the four councillors, me and others who are against ONE DEVELOPMENT - the high rise at Bay Beach. The ninjas have lied to people, claiming that the four are against all development.
And the worst yet: Mayor Martin convinced former and big loser Tim Whitfield to file a lawsuit against the four councillors for conflict of interest in the firing of town lawyer, Heather Salter. The other two councillors, Rick Shular and Stephen Passero supported the lawsuit with testimony. So much for "Working Together" for the betterment of Fort Erie. Heather Salter made obvious mistakes, especially those where she copied information from the Molinaros without double-checking first. She was openly insubordinate to the councillors, even at council meetings that are preserved forever on videotape.
Now the ninjas have decided to be kingmakers to candidates set to challenge the four councillors if all else fails. They have already blamed the four councillors for everything unfortunate that has happened in Fort Erie when they should be looking at the bigger picture as I have tried to point out from other media sources.
Too bad, one can't trust any of the local media, especially the so-called "hometown newspaper" that is actually part of a large consortium. The slanted coverage in favour of their largest advertiser (the town) would make an outsider wonder what in the world is going on in Fort Erie.
I'll tell you what is going on in Fort Erie:
The democratic process is being thwarted by a few losers who refuse to allow duly-elected representatives do their jobs in peace and with respect.
Meanwhile, the council unanimously approved a new budget that has the lowest tax hike in years. You won't read about that on the ninja site. No, that is not on their agenda. They prefer to make fun of the councillors' looks, occupations, friends and family.
I may be risking another taxpayer-paid lawsuit, but I am going to expose these fools for what they are - before they do any more damage to this community.
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