CFN – I would love to think that my odd little city of Cornwall Ontario is unique, but sadly it isn’t. Yes, we may be traversing a more dense patch of the strangeness that comes from generations of Mill Mentality bullying and lying; over cover ups and cronyism, but the recent spate of hate, lies, and criminality is way over the top.
My first experience of it here in the Cornwall area was when I was fired from my first local job as Marketing Director of the Habitat for Humanity affiliate. It was directly done by our MP Guy Lauzon who took over the board with friends and family the week I was suspended. Not being a shy petal I challenged this. It was then leaked out that there had been stealing going on at the affiliate. There had been. I had uncovered it and still have the email from the Secretary at the time who not only admitted to taking cash and goods for her volunteer hours in the store, but that she would continue to. Judith David can still be seen at the affiliate on occasion even know all these years later.
Guy Lauzon would go on to abuse his office of power to impede CFN as a media outlet from doing our job to the point of telling card carrying Conservatives who were working for us that he would refuse to speak to them as long as they worked with us. He further used the office of the Minister of Justice to threaten me for a non governmental issue. I kid you not. It’s on video.
That of course meant that we received no advertising or press releases from the Federal Government during this time nor access to applicable government programs. No Federal assistance because of Mr. Lauzon.
The local Cons strategy was essentially to quietly boycott, as opposed to the eventual Liberal noisily boycott and worse.
CFN grew quickly our first few years. We had great access, some of the largest local advertisers signed on and even the mayor and his clique were on board. We however saw a bunch of grief on the sidelines, again mostly lies.
The President of the Chamber of Commerce told people that we were running a pirate radio station. We weren’t.
During the 2010 election someone posted a comment. I had been drinking at Winners with Mayor Kilger that night and arrived home near 3AM. I saw the person who had posted but didn’t read what they had said. I approved the comment and went to bed.
When I awoke there was pandemonium as Mr. Bedard has essentially accused Ed Lumley of wife beating, Mr Kilger of adultery, and a few other choice comments. I deleted the comment. I deleted the story. I wrote a very sincere apology without further highlighting the unconfirmed allegations. Mistakes happen. Adults do their best to fix them.
But a spidery little weasel by the name of Bob Peters was at work. Mr. Peters had been giving CFN grief about advertising from day one. The little we had from the city was always cut rate and beaten down no matter how low we came in. One time we pitched a deal to Cornwall Transit and Len emailed back wanting the price cut even though we’d seen a Corus radio invoice on his desk and had undercut it drastically with our initial offer.
Even though we clearly performed better than our competition Mr. Peters kept slowing down our growth by diminishing our ability to conduct and compete for business with the city. An example being that we pitched a digital magazine to promote Cornwall. The city spends approximately $20,000 per edition of Cornwall Living which many times simply looks like a Bob Peters friends and family album. Our pitch price was 1/3 and it would not only reach more people we would also be printing DVD’s of it so that it could be physically be handed out at events. We were denied. Likewise after months of fighting for CFN to have the City Bulletin published we were given a contract for less than 10% what the Freeholder was getting paid for the same ad.
Eventually our numbers and results were so strong that Mr. Peters engineered the City’s advertising policy which led directly to the City Boycott of CFN. His chief lie was:
A review of local news websites show that only two allow anonymous posts: the Standard-Freeholder and the Cornwall Free News. Both sites have some moderation of comments, but a review of activity over the past several months have led staff to concur with the generalized assessment of the practice by the American Journalism Review: “Comment sections are often packed with profanity, and vicious personal attacks.”
Not only isn’t CFN full of profanity and vicious personal attacks, we have to date never found such a quote by the American Journalism Review. During the session of open council when this was shared Councilor Syd Gardiner stated that CFN only endorsed candidates that bought advertising. Another lie which clearly could be seen by who we endorsed which included candidates that did not buy advertising that election and candidates we didn’t endorse who did.
Councilor Gardiner also at a board meeting of Seaway Tourism (or whatever moniker they were using at that season) endorsed the city boycott to kill our limited advertising at the time with them.
Mayor Kilger trashed CFN to the Lion’s Club among other places.
Lies travel faster than the truth and the whisper campaign went into high gear, but this year the new tactic was to blatantly lie.
It started with the T shirt incident where I was seated, ready for council to start when the Mayor addressed me personally and demanded I remove or cover my t shirt which had a picture of him on a milk carton.
When I responded to Mayor Kilger he decided, with direction from the clerk, to hit the panic button. Mysteriously seven police officers were in the council chamber in 46 seconds. None of them wearing over clothes or wet in spite of the February snow shower that was in progress that night. The lead officer physically yanked me out citing trespassing even though the Mayor nor anyone at City Hall had invoked that term.
That issue will be dealt with at our trial in February, but at least one councilor started spreading rumors that she was “afraid” of me or that I was dangerous even though I’d done nothing ever to support that position. That I’d interviewed her in her office and met with her for coffee several times didn’t matter. No threats. No actions. Simply holding her and others on her council accountable for their real actions and statements which is what we media are supposed to do if we’re really doing out jobs.
This occurred in South Stormont as well where Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart swore out an A10 (restraining order) not complaining for her safety or fear, but complaining that I had emailed her and shot video of her in Council. That those emails were related to her actions in her official capacity as Deputy Mayor makes that a little bizarre and again there were no threats. Nothing other than professional conduct of what we journalists do.
In February of last year a deadbeat customer and I had a settlement hearing at the courthouse over a bill they had refused to pay. It went badly for them and that night I received a phone call stating that I had made threatening phone calls to them and not to do so again. I was bewildered as I didn’t make any such calls. On Sunday, the 5th Anniversary of CFN and early in the morning I was alleged to have called them back and this time made death threats. I was arrested, finger printed, and of course smeared in the police blotter. The police had never looked at my phone or phone records before taking their actions.
Cornwall, ON – Jamie Gilcig, 49 of Cornwall was arrested on February 10, 2014 and charged with criminal harassment and threats to life. It is alleged that the man repeatedly contacted a 31-year-old man by way of phone calls and e-mails despite having been warned not to.
We publish the blotter almost every day. How many entries lead off with the persons first name? Very very few.
The police chief, whose contract at the time was up for renewal reports to the police board whose chair at that time was Pat Finucan, Bob Kilger’s campaign manager. Mayor Kilger was also on the Police Board.
Now nearly one year later (at two crown attorneys) those charges still haven’t been dropped in spite of a Production Order from Bell stating that I never made the calls as charged. In the meanwhile those charges have been used to not only impact my run for mayor, but also impact CFN and my own name and reputation.
I’d also had Traci Trottier, who’d signed a contract to work for Seaway Radio call the CCPS twice stating that I was doing all sorts of nasty stuff. When the police confirmed at those times I wasn’t where she claimed I was they refused to charge her with mischief. Apparently in Cornwall you are allowed to make false claims to people to the police without any penalty?
The most recent porkies have been run by new City Councilor Robert Brock Frost. Mr. Frost bought a hockey team to get elected. The plan worked, but when he tried to get out of the money losing proposition his plan was exposed and the situation blown up. While investigating the story which we ran we discovered a claim against him from a Nicaraguan real estate deal, a deal he denied knowing anything about during an online radio interview.
CFN published Mr. Frost own letter from his criminal lawyer to the victim admitting the monies were received, we’re not about to be returned, and an offer of settlement made.
Mr. Frost responded by sending out press releases to media stating that he’d “Bankrupt” myself and stop me from continuing to write, and then a few days later, after being served a legal notice from us regarding our upcoming defamation case against him, issued another release claiming that I made sexual advances on him at an advertising meeting. He stated that I had said things that were so offensive that he couldn’t repeat them yet had purchased a large package that day and continue to support CFN including sponsoring our event a month after he alleged I’d made advances which in his own words he stated happened every time we were together, but that he had no proof of.
Mr. Frost took that to another level by running to the court and made a slew of other allegations which we will have a hearing for shortly. (I’ve been muzzled by my legal representation at this point, but the allegations are about as bizarre as the claim that I made sexual advances on Mr. Frost)
The pattern is clear. When someone can’t support their position with the truth, tell the biggest lie you can. In this area right now it seems to be working; but can you imagine if we all did that? Can you imagine if CFN started telling porkies like that? Is that how we want our community to operate?
So if you run the lies together I’m a gay criminal thieving misogynist who hangs out at Traci Trottier’s house while making horrible phone threats to dead beat clients.
Can you imagine that? Is this what happens to new business or people who move to Cornwall who simply won’t be bullied and compete so that they can make a living and provide a much needed service?
These have just been a few examples. There have been many others. In spite of all this weirdness we have been able to build the largest audience in the region. It boggles even my mind as we struggle to keep things running financially as best we can. To look at all the divisiveness and negativity, all that energy that people worked together could change our city can be very disheartening.
Of course some people ask why I stay. Or some of the local hate group demand that I should leave when not threatening to try and have my dog killed by the OSPCA.
The impacts of these types of rumor campaigns do have their impacts. People get isolated which makes them easier targets. Clients are wary to purchase advertising or get attacked by some if they do. The less people stand up the bullies the more emboldened they become, but at the end of the day does anyone have but one of two choices? Either stand up or flee. It’s that simple. I do have to admit it’s easier to make that first choice when you get a bit more support and I am truly grateful for the amount I have had. CFN wouldn’t still be standing without it.
Change does happen though. It can be slow. The truth generally does win the race against lies and eventually some people are held accountable. Sadly not enough and usually that accountability rarely equals that damage done in the first place.
What do you think dear CFN viewers. Will things be better for Cornwall in 2015? You can post your comments below.
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