Calgary

Day after Jeromy Farkas kicked out of council meeting, allies call out his 'lies'

Two allies of embattled Calgary city councillor Jeromy Farkas are spitting mad about his inaccurate social media posts and his reaction to a temporary removal from one council meeting.

Embattled councillor censured for inaccurate Facebook post about council salaries

Coun. Joe Magliocca, left, and Coun. Sean Chu, right, say colleague Jeromy Farkas, centre, left them no choice but to eject him from a council meeting. (CBC)

Two allies of embattled Calgary city councillor Jeromy Farkas are spitting mad about his inaccurate social media posts and his reaction to a temporary removal from one council meeting. 

At issue is the fact Farkas, the Ward 11 councillor, created a Facebook post that accused his colleagues of voting against freezing their pay and then voting against a five per cent pay cut.

In fact, council realized a pay freeze would likely result in a de facto raise and so rejected the motion.

Their pay is tied to the Alberta weekly earnings report, and the September to September average showed approximately a 0.2 per cent reduction, according to the city's chief financial officer at Monday's council meeting.

As for the five per cent reduction? There was no vote in council. Farkas proposed the motion late in the debate, but it was not seconded and never reached a vote. 

'You should not lie'

Despite having all of that information, Farkas insisted on using old numbers from November that suggested council was in line to receive a raise and said all the other councillors voted against the pay cut. 

"You know about the five per cent reduction in pay, we didn't even vote to that, we didn't even get to that point. Why would he even put out there that he was the only one that voted for and everybody voted against it, which is bullshit," said Coun. Joe Magliocca. 

"And you know, he lied and you should not lie. You want facts. I don't mind having facts. You don't throw lies out there. That's why I always stand behind him, but this time I could not support him." 

It's not the first time Farkas has butted heads with colleagues. In November, he was accused of grandstanding by sending a notice to media saying he would propose the pay freeze motion, without consulting colleagues.

Coun. Ward Sutherland already had a similar motion on the books. 

Also in November, he was accused of lying about being bullied in a closed-door session dealing with the budget. ​

Magliocca insists he likes Farkas and thinks he's a good councillor but said he has to draw a line somewhere. 

Kicked out of Monday's meeting

On Monday, Farkas refused to apologize for his post. In response, his colleagues voted 14-1 to kick him out of the day's meeting until he apologized.

Farkas, however, insisted over social media on Tuesday morning that he has been ejected from council until the next election or until a majority on council voted him back in. He sent an email to his supporters asking for help. 

"As I understand it, city council has ejected me until a majority vote to accept me back," reads a portion of the email. "This is regarding my Facebook post on the estimated 2.34 per cent increase in Council salary, and how council voted."

The statements on his ejection from council and on the pay increase are factually incorrect.

The motion on his removal as read by Mayor Naheed Nenshi in council chambers was to "remove Councillor Farkas from this meeting until the member makes an apology acceptable to the meeting."

His figures on the pay increase are based on numbers that were updated on Monday.​ Farkas insists he will continue to use those numbers until official figures are presented on Dec. 20 and will retract his statement at that time if warranted.

Integrity commissioner 

Also on Monday, the rest of council decided to send the matter to the integrity commissioner for an independent review. 

"You know what, it's the only way you could send a message to him because he says every time, he'll go on and say, 'I apologize to council, I shouldn't say that.' But you know what? The next day, he does the same shit over and over," said Magliocca. "Let's see what the integrity commissioner says and we'll have to live with his decision, that's what we pay him for."

Councillors stood behind Mayor Naheed Nenshi as he spoke defending the 14-1 decision to remove Coun. Jeromy Farkas from Monday's council meeting. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Coun. Sean Chu, another ideological ally of Farkas who has supported him on council, said he takes no pride in the fact he voted to refer his colleague's actions to the integrity commissioner, But he, too, says he saw no other option. 

"I think that, in a way, this is the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "One too many times, too [much] factually wrong information is being posted as facts and I just can't take it anymore."

'It's going to be really hard for him'

Chu said he's tired of Farkas's behaviour. 

"You just can't take it all the time. You try to help someone and that person continuously push[es] you under the bus. How would you feel?"

Magliocca wonders how Farkas will be able to function within a governing body that requires some level of co-operation and consensus. 

"Why do you have to get out there and grandstand and throw everybody under the bus?" he said. "That's why nobody wants to work with him anymore. And you know, to be quite frank with you, it's going to be really hard for him to get shit done whenever he does anything now."

With files from Scott Dippel

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