|In the article below, London developer Peter Sergautis, whose company purchased Elieff's buildings under power of sale, responds to the rebuttal against Fp president Robert Metz.|
I CONGRATULATE Scene for bringing the Elijah Elieff story to the attention of the public (CenterSpread, Scene, Nov. 4) and wish to comment on Jacqueline Thompson's rebuttal (Viewpoint, Scene, Jan. 13) wherein she defended Susan Eagle as one of London's finest citizens and charged that the Nov. 4 Elieff article by Robert Metz was "inventive, distorted and misleading."
I respect Ms. Thompson's right to express her views but feel that her close relationship to Ms. Eagle should be disclosed, as well as the errors and omissions in her rebuttal. It is also appropriate that I disclose my relationship to Mr. Metz and Mr. Elieff.
My company purchased the Cheyenne apartment buildings from the bank under power of sale and rehabilitated them, after Mr. Elieff was forced into insolvency. This purchase was opposed by Ms. Eagle. Prior to my involvement with the Cheyenne Ave. apartment buildings, I had never met either Mr. Metz or Mr. Elieff.
Mr. Metz was interested in the Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint against Mr. Elieff, and while observing the tribunal proceedings, came upon Mr. Elieff defending himself. Without a lawyer and obviously over his head, Mr. Elieff was struggling to face demands made on behalf of the complainant for many thousands of dollars in compensation. Mr. Metz offered to assist Mr. Elieff in his defense, free of charge, even after Elijah Elieff was vilified in numerous newspaper articles. I respect Mr. Metz for that generous humanitarian effort to help someone in a time of need.
So what was Elieff's crime, renting apartments to the "boat people" that many other landords rejected? When I had occasion to meet Mr. Metz and Mr. Elieff, I heard the other side of the story --- one completely at odds with the stories in The London Free Press.
I also had similar experiences with Susan Eagle and associates and these experiences were less than favourable. Her efforts to control the building continued after Mr. Elieff was out of the picture.
Jacqueline Thompson's Jan. 13 rebuttal article displays some of the stories previously published by The Free Press. Mr. Elieff believes those articles are one-sided. Ms. Eagle was and is married to Mr. Joe Matyas, a Free Press reporter. This connection raises the question about her influence with the Blackburn-owned paper --- the only daily paper in town. To this day, The Free Press has failed to report anything positive about the former Cheyenne Ave. apartments (now Oakland Ave.).
There is a reasonably happy ending to the chapter, however, if not the story. There is still a substantial Asian population in the buildings --- and with certain parties no longer involved with the buildings --- confrontations between tenants and management have evaporated. The buildings have been substantially renovated without any government money whatsoever, and there's often a waiting list for the reasonably priced apartment units. Many of the original tenants are now moving out and buying houses, having established themselves and prospered in the community.
Had Ms. Eagle been successful in establishing a housing co-op at the Cheyenne buildings --- using millions of dollars in government subsidies --- one can only wonder whether these same tenants would now be independent and buying their own homes.
I look forward to all the facts being determined as the civil claim against Ms. Eagle, the United Church et al. proceeds through the courts. I agree with Ms. Thompson that Mr. Elieff should have his day in "a court of law" wherein he will have the opportunity to offer evidence, prove his claim and seek justice. I invite Scene readers to obtain more information on the Elijah Elieff and Cheyenne Ave. apartments story at www.freedomparty.org/cons22_4.htm.
last updated on April 28, 2002