by Brian A. Wilkins
December 7, 2019 (updated December 14, 2019)
UPDATED December 13, 2019 – Tempe City Council removes vote on Tom Ryff settlement from the agenda
The video starts where Mayor Mark Mitchell says they are removing item 5(A)(3) from the agenda. That is the vote on Tom Ryff’s $150,000 settlement.
Props to Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby. She responded to my email and asked for further elaboration on precedent related to non-disparagement agreements and how the Arizona and federal courts interpret them.
The action by Tempe City Council last night was effectively a punt. Who knows what happens from here. But it’s better than succumbing to Ryff and lawyer Stephen Montoya’s money grab. The latter likely gets a portion of the settlement. Ryff, at some point, has to answer to the taxpayers who have enriched him to the tune of $4 million-plus during his career.
This is about principle. Frankly this is an easy case in Tempe’s favor. I love the gamesmanship. Let’s party!
UPDATED December 10, 2019 – Read my email to Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, City Manager Andrew Ching, and every City Council member, urging them to reject the $150,000 settlement offer.
TEMPE — Former Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff is set to receive a $150,000 settlement from a lawsuit filed in 2017. The lawsuit claims that current Tempe top cop Sylvia Moir and other city employees made “disparaging remarks” about Ryff. The sticks-and-stones allegedly violated a “non-disparagement” agreement when Ryff retired in 2015. The lawsuit alleges that Ryff lost a $109,000 per year job with the Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) because of the remarks.
Tom Ryff disparages himself
Let’s look at this from a legal perspective. Jodi Arias would lose a defamation lawsuit against anyone who called her a murderous nasty skank. Former Phoenix cop and convicted killer Richard Chrisman would lose a defamation lawsuit against anyone calling him a lying, manipulative psychopath. Why?
RELATED: Phoenix killer cop Richard Chrisman released from prison after about five years on September 1, 2019.
The first affirmative defense in defamation, libel and/or slander cases is the truth. The 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan also created the “actual malice” test. Plaintiffs must prove that defendants “knowing[ly] or reckless[ly] disregarded [the truth]” to survive the demurrer stage in defamation cases.
Arizona state courts have not ruled on anything related to non-disparagement agreements that I could find. But the U.S. District Court of Arizona denied summary judgement related to a non-disparagement agreement in 2008. Judge David Campbell wrote that disparagement is subjective, and a jury must decide the effect of the alleged disparagement. See FreeLife Int’l, Inc. v. Am. Educ. Music Publications Inc.
Moir simply told the TUHSD that hiring Ryff would make many city officials “uncomfortable.” She also said it would be a negative development overall for city morale. But Ryff’s feelings and his pocketbook were hurt by the truth.
Tom Ryff’s greatest hits
Here is a short list of truth about Ryff and Tempe police under his leadership.
- Caught on tape encouraging lower-level officers to lie on their time cards and lie to their direct supervisors so they could join Ryff at strip clubs on taxpayer dimes
- Admitted being caught on tape and downplayed it
- Had an affair with Charlene Berge-Blum of Berge Ford fame in Mesa (NOTE: Ryff is/was married at the time)
- Reportedly argued with his mistress from his police desk, once yelling “I’m not f***ing my wife.”
- Terrorized Tempe resident Eleanor Holguin because she told Ryff to resign at a public meeting
- Implemented a DUI arrest quota that led to termination of officers who did not meet said quota
Again this is just a short list. Visit TempePoliceCloset.net for more.
All Moir did was tell the truth. There was no malice in what she said. Granted those “non-disparagement” agreements use slick language crafted by high-priced lawyers. But the City of Tempe, home of my alma mater Arizona State University (Go Devils!) once again let Ryff off the hook.
Andrew Ching – hit me up
Tempe lawyers said in their answer to Ryff’s lawsuit that he cannot be disparaged simply by them repeating well-known truth. The city’s legal team mentioned Operation-Nation specifically. They said a simple Google search reveals documented truth about Ryff in the first few results searching just his name.
Phoenix New Times staff writer Meg O’Connor was first to report that Tempe City Council will vote on the $150,000 settlement this Thursday, December 12. City Manager Andrew Ching, who has seemingly been there forever, conditionally approved the payment on October 30.
Former Tempe cops and other city employees used to call Ryff “Teflon Tom.” He consistently got away with sophomoric malfeasance throughout his tenure. I would gladly testify in a potential trial or give a deposition if Tempe officials choose to go that route. The city cited my work in their answer to Ryff’s lawsuit. Why not take it a step further? I’m not scared of Coolo cop Ryff like Tempe employees. We have a simple contact form right here on this site if you need it.
Ryff is a lying, manipulative sociopath who enriched himself over 35 years off Tempe taxpayers. He will now get the last word and forever taint the city’s integrity. Taxpayers have given him about $4 million in salary and benefits in the last 25 years alone. The least Tempe officials could do is make this guy face all his demons in a court room via trial. Unfortunately Ryff castrated the city long ago and still has Tempe’s spine hanging over his fireplace.