The City of Guelph has spent $90,000 so far on a lawsuit against a local blogger.
Former deputy CAO Mark Amorosi is suing Gerry Barker for $500,000 for critical comments Barker made on his guelphspeaks.ca blog.
Amorosi no longer works for the city, but because he was an employee at the time the lawsuit was filed, and because it was related to his work, the City of Guelph is paying his legal fees.
GuelphToday asked for the city for the legal costs incurred by the City of Guelph up until Jan. 24 to represent Amorosi and was told it would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain the information, which it did. The information was provided Thursday via mail.
Barker, a retired journalist, posted in early February that he has spent $86,000 of his own money so far defending himself against the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, is ongoing.
Barker tried to have the suit dismissed, arguing that it was a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit meant to quell public criticism and oversight of the city’s administration, but that application was denied.
Barker is now appealing that decision.
Amorosi filed the lawsuit based on numerous critical comments found on guelphspeaks.ca., a city council watchdog blog where Barker has repeatedly detailed criticism of the city and some of its staff.
In 2017 Amorosi and the city parted ways after thousands of private emails were mistakenly released by the city to a former employee who was suing them for wrongful dismissal.
Amorosi wasn’t directly responsible for releasing the emails, but was head of the department that did.
In the lawsuit, Amorosi said he has applied for several jobs since leaving Guelph and has not received a single interview. He believes Barker’s blog posts are at least partially to blame for this.
Barker argues that Amorosi’s inability to obtain job interviews is the result of news stories reporting on him being terminated by the city following the leaked emails.
Barker’s blog receives an average of 550 page views a week, according to the suit.