A year ago, Louie Wright, former president of Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, filed a defamation lawsuit against popular and controversial local blogger Tony Botello. Wright claimed that the Tony's Kansas City writer defamed him in blog posts written on August 22, 2009, and May 13, 2011. In the posts, Botello wrote that "tipsters" told him Wright received kickbacks from donations that firefighters made to the United Way. On Monday, Botello apologized for the posts, issued a retraction and scrubbed them from his archive to settle the suit.
Last August, Botello sent The Pitch an e-mail of his response. It was a rare moment of Botello allowing his public bravado to subside, and he admitted that he wasn't in a good position to get sued. He wrote:
"I'll pretend to be flip about this for now . . . But the fact that the most powerful political operative in Kansas City is the only person to have even threatened to sue my blog says a lot about my work, I guess.
"I am both ill-equipped and completely unprepared to face a lawsuit of any kind.
"Like every other elected official in Kansas City, I will be forced to grovel at the feet of outgoing Local 42 President Louie Wright. This probably means the end of the blog. As for the people whom I owe money, he's gonna have to stand in line.
"Corrupt and incompetent union politics have decimated Kansas City's fiances and our ambulance service. I have no doubt this effort aimed at crushing even the slightest dissent at TKC - The Only Free Speech Zone in Kansas City - Will completely succeed."
Of course, it did not mean the end of TKC. Botello published updates on the case throughout the last year and started an account to raise defense funds from his readers. Court records say the lawsuit is now closed.