Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Correcting the Record

The dishonesty of Wills/ourfigs has gotten so ridiculously out of control that it has become necessary to start compiling and debunking their lies.  The scope and extent of their lying is mindboggling.  Telling even 1 or 2 or 3 malicious lies about someone is unacceptable, and telling 10 or 20 should surely be considered psychotic and unforgivable; so what are we to make of the fact that a mere partial review of their writings turned up 30 different major lies?

Glancing over some more of their writings it's easy to see that there are at least 20+ more lies beyond the initial 30.  That's 50 lies.  Not little white lies, either, but nasty, malicious lies aimed at drastically misleading people, destroying me, and sabotaging the well-intentioned propagation project that I'm doing for the fig community.

What would you think about someone who was doing this to you, if you were the one being maligned?  What words would you use to describe someone who was wrongly bullying and persecuting you on a public forum to such an extent?  I don't need to tell you what to think about such people, because you already know how you'd feel and what words you'd use.

Below is a debunking of the first 30 lies.  

Defamatory/Libelous Myths and Lies
Concocted and promulgated by William Cottrell (Wills)/
Lie #1 – I didn’t have many of the varieties I was selling when I started selling them (i.e. I was selling varieties before I owned them)
TRUTH – I always owned every variety before I offered it for sale.  I never offered a variety for sale before I owned it. 

Lie #2 – My sources are highly dubious
TRUTH – My sources are overwhelmingly beyond reproach.  It’s a veritable who’s who of trusted sources.  And not only do I use good sources, I further improve accuracy by making extensive use of cross-referencing using multiple trusted sources.  For example, instead of getting Black Madeira from just one source, I got it from many sources and compared them to each other.  By doing this I was able to maximize the odds that I would acquire, identify, and propagate true Black Madeira.   I already owned Black Madeira from 1 source when I started offering it for sale, then diversified and acquired it from 8 more sources for a total of 9 different sources.  5 of those sources proved true (HarveyC, kk, fignutty, drivewayfarmer, and Rob); 2 of the sources supplied seemingly dead wood that never rooted, and 2 of the sources supplied material that clearly was not Black Madeira.  I threw out one of the false Black Madeira strains, but grew the other one out of curiosity.  It turned out to be Smith.  I don’t propagate that strain, but I do enjoy the fruit.
Figo Preto is another example where one of the sources turned out to be false (it was Improved Celeste), and I was able to quickly and easily identify it as false because that strain clearly didn’t fit in with the other Figo Preto plants from other sources.
The most important thing to note is that my process of cross-referencing multiple sources is a good thing, not a bad thing.  It is smart and responsible to utilize such a technique, and it has proven its worth by helping to sort out true strains of several varieties. 

Lie #3 – If you get figs from me, they’ll likely be wrong varieties
TRUTH – I have great sources, a great system of cross-referencing using multiple trusted sources, a strong history of providing accurate varieties to many hundreds of folks, and am fanatical about accurately labeling plants.  I have no reason to send out false varieties, and every reason to send out true varieties.   The people who have received my cuttings and plants have universally said that the varieties appear to be true. 

Lie #4 – It’s impossible to propagate figs as fast as I estimated I could.
TRUTH – I had already done it!  I had already experimented with propagating figs in my high tunnel aquaponics system, and had created 6 shippable plants from 1 young mother in just 2 months…plants that were bare-root from the get-go and could easily be shipped to states that require bare-root shipping.  Those 6 could have been planted in their own aquaponics spaces and produced 6 more shippable trees each in just 2 more months.  So at the end of 4 months, there’d be 7 mothers and 42 shippable baby trees.  Do it one more time: plant those 42 plants, and let all 49 total plants each produce 6 more plants each over the next 2 months.  Then, at the end of 6 months, there would be 49 mother trees and 294 shippable baby plants.  The mothers, say 46 of them, could also be dug up and shipped, for a total of 340 shippable trees with 3 remaining mothers.  All I had to do was scale up if needed, and I had already pre-arranged to do so if warranted.

Lie #5 – I should have listened to the ‘experts’ who said it was impossible to propagate figs as fast as I estimated I could.
TRUTH – I was planning to handle large amounts of demand using my tunnel aquaponics concept, and I am far more of an expert on tunnel/greenhouse aquaponic growth rates of figs than Wills and the rest of the supposed ‘experts’ on ourfigs put together.  I had 5 years of hands-on experience running a tunnel aquaponics system when I made my $7 tree offer just before Christmas 2015; how much of that kind of relevant tunnel aquaponics experience did the supposed ‘experts’ have?  None, or close to it.  I had also already tested propagating figs with terrific success in my tunnel aquaponics system; how much had the supposed ‘experts’ experimented with propagating figs in a large tunnel aquaponics system?  Most likely none.
Fact is, I’m the expert on high tunnel aquaponics fig propagation, not them, and it’s not even close.  The Kansas Farmers Union sought me out and toured my facilities as the keynote for their annual meeting a few years ago.  Professional farmers come to me because I’m a talented problem solver and creative outside the box thinker with years of demonstrable results to back it up.  When was the last time the professional farmers of Florida sought out Wills for cutting-edge expertise on innovative agriculture?  I doubt it has ever happened.
When supposed ‘experts’ without adequate tunnel aquaponics fig propagation experience act like know-it-alls with regard to fig propagation rates in such systems, they sound like uninformed horsemen declaring to Henry Ford that he’d never be able to break 90 mph because horses can’t run that fast.  The horsemen didn’t understand that Ford was planning to break 90 mph using an internal combustion engine.  It was a game-changer, just like large-scale tunnel aquaponics propagation is a game-changer capable of obliterating typical propagation rates.

Lie #6 – I knew I couldn’t propagate figs that fast, and therefore was deliberately conning people when I told them I could.
TRUTH – I already knew darn well that I could propagate figs that fast because I’d already done it.  All of my time estimates were completely honest and made to the best of my ability given the information I had available to me at the time each estimate was made.  I never conned anybody about anything.

Lie #7 – I am a thief/I stole people’s money
TRUTH – I haven’t stolen anything from anyone.  The advance order money was used to grow the figs for those orders, and I never wavered in my efforts or commitment.  All stories to the contrary are malicious fiction.

Lie #8 – I’m a liar and a con man
TRUTH – I have been honest throughout this entire 2.5 year project.  I have never lied and have never conned anyone about anything.  If anything I have been too honest, since my words commonly get twisted, spun, and misrepresented.  Being wrong about time estimates is not lying, especially when there are valid reasons for falling behind.

Lie #9 – I’m a scumbag/slimeball
TRUTH – I’m the good guy in this, and I’m being falsely painted as a scumbag/slimeball by Wills and his accomplices.

Lie #10 – I’ve shipped very few orders
TRUTH – I’ve shipped many, many hundreds of orders.  I shipped 100+ orders of cuttings prior to the $7 tree sale, and have shipped hundreds more orders of cuttings and trees over the past 6 months as I’ve worked through the backorders.  There was also a trickle of orders in between those periods. 

Lie #11 – I could have shipped the $7 trees in Fall 2016 or in Spring 2017, but didn’t because “I’m greedy”
TRUTH – In Fall 2016 I had to spend all of my time building the orchard tunnels in a race to beat freezing temps.  I had no time to ship out partial orders like I had hoped to do.  And then in the next shipping window, Spring 2017, I badly injured my right foot the day after I sent out a group email telling customers that I was ready to start shipping out the bulk of the orders.  The foot injury incapacitated me, slowing me down to where I had to spend 16-18 hrs/day straining just to do the basic daily chores (it took me 10 hrs/day on average just to do the watering).  And every step was an excruciating painful struggle.  I was on crutches for 6 weeks, and had ongoing serious foot problems for many months after that.  It was a mess, and still isn't right over a year later.  There was literally no time for shipping or for responding to the overwhelming avalanche of emails and phone calls during that time period.

Lie #12 – The only way you’ll get a refund from me is by submitting a complaint to the Kansas Attorney General (and by putting lots of exaggerations and ourfigs rumors in it)
TRUTH – I gave in the neighborhood of 80 refunds prior to becoming insolvent in March 2017, and almost all of those refunds were given within 24 hours of being asked (since my policy has always been to refund any unfilled order for any reason asap if asked).  I have also been slowly working my way through the remaining list of refund requests.  I already put practically all revenue toward refunds and shipping out overdue orders, so there’s nothing else I can do in that regard.
It is illegal to exaggerate on the complaint.  It is also illegal to regurgitate 3rd party rumors and present them as facts.  Such exaggerations and false claims are classified as perjury. 

Lie #13 –The consent judgment I signed proves that Wills is right and that the nasty narrative he’s pushing about me is true.
TRUTH – It does nothing of the sort.  It memorializes the charges of the 4 complainers and reiterates my current and long-running refund policy that I’ve had since day 1.  It says that I do indeed owe refunds to the people that I already fully admit I owe refunds to.  There are no findings of guilt of anything nefarious whatsoever.  The use of ‘unconscionable’ in the language is a vestige of the legalese in the Act being cited.  According to the Act, being late on delivery (for any reason, for any duration, and even if everyone agrees that there was no ill intent and nothing nefarious afoot) is considered an “unconscionable” act.  Note that this is a legal use of the term and does not have the same charged connotations as the colloquial use of the term (which would be something like ‘nefarious’).  But all it amounts to is, “James is late on deliveries and is accountable to ship the orders or provide refunds,” which was already what I was adhering to anyway.

Lie #14 – My PayPal accounts were locked because I was committing fraud.
TRUTH – That’s just more BS spin from Wills.  I never committed fraud of any kind, and PayPal did not lock my accounts for such a reason.  They were locked because of the high number of claims filed against me, and they stayed locked because 1) PayPal wanted proof of delivery for orders I was still growing and therefore couldn’t provide, and 2) because they wanted me to send them bank statements showing a certain threshold of money (that I didn’t have, because I was insolvent by then).  It's worth adding that one of my accounts was closed at least partially because Wills engaged in an illegal activity called tortious interference by calling PayPal and telling them his malicious false narrative (and urging others to call and tell PayPal the same malicious false narrative) in an attempt to disrupt and destroy my business.

Lie #15 – It was wrong to keep taking advance orders for 2017 when I was behind on 2016 orders.
TRUTH – Believing that myth is dependent on not adequately understanding the mathematical concept of exponential growth and how it applies to this situation.  For example, say I needed to grow 100 figs of variety XYZ for 2016 orders, starting with just 3 initial small plants.  And let’s say that the actual overall propagation rate for XYZ ended up being 10-fold per year (which was far behind my estimated schedule), so at the end of Year 1, I only had 30 plants.  30 is not enough to serve the 2016 demand, not even close, so I would need to do it for another year.  But notice what happens: at the end of the 2nd year, I have 300 plants…which is enough to serve the 2016 demand AND the 2017 demand without really slowing down the 2016 deliveries.  See how that worked?  I had to do the 2nd year of propagation anyway just to create enough trees for the 2016 deliveries (30 wasn’t enough, I needed 100), and at the same time created enough trees by the end of that 2nd year for the 2017 deliveries, too. 
People are just misinformed and flat-out wrong if they think that the 2017 orders significantly slowed down the shipment of 2016 orders.   

Lie #16 – I have hoodwinked or paid off the Law Enforcement Officers who have come here to investigate the ‘scam’ claims and who have said that I’m clearly growing everyone’s figs just like I said.
TRUTH – These Law Enforcement Officers from the local police department and sheriff's office were intelligent, rational, professional, high-character individuals.  I didn’t hoodwink or pay them off, they came to their conclusions using their own eyes and brains.  I would never even think to try such a thing, and they certainly wouldn’t engage in it either.

Lie #17 – I never responded to customers and always just ignored them.
TRUTH – I responded to as many calls and emails as I could, literally thousands.  The twin problems were that there was an overwhelming amount of them, and that the time demands of the actual hands-on nursery work left no time for it.  Especially in Spring 2017 when I broke my toe and badly injured much of my right foot in March.  At that time I had to start working 18+ hour days every single day just to keep the trees alive and growing.

Lie #18 – Since I’m behind on production and deliveries, it’s okay for people to post rampant lies about me that contradict my pictures, my reports/updates, and the reports of the LEO’s who have visited. 
TRUTH – It is immoral and illegal to engage in defamation and libel.  Being frustrated by the delays does not give you free license to engage in those behaviors. 

Lie #19 – The fact that I bought some fig plants/cuttings from HarveyC after I’d already listed those varieties for sale proves that I was selling varieties before I owned them.
TRUTH – That’s bad reasoning.  If I’m getting fig plants/cuttings from HarveyC for a variety I’m already selling, that means I’m getting additional material from him to complement what I already own.  This happened many times:  sometimes because I was trying to ramp up production with more stock, and sometimes to cross-reference varieties in an effort to help ensure accuracy.  Those are both perfectly acceptable and smart things to do.

Lie #20 – I blame everyone else for everything and won’t take responsibility.  I won’t even apologize.
TRUTH – That’s ridiculous and the opposite of reality.  I have publicly apologized dozens of times, and have apologized many hundreds of times (thousands?) to people individually.  I have refrained from discussing 99% of the libel, defamation, tortious interference, sabotage, and threats I’ve been subjected to.  And then when I do speak up even the tiniest bit, it gets written off and twisted into the false narrative.

Lie #21 – My Fall 2017 cuttings sale was a likely scam.  (Kelby’s PSA)
TRUTH – As I said at the time, the cuttings being sold were extra cuttings above and beyond what I was setting back to fill the overdue 2016 orders of cuttings and trees.  I explained that I was broke and needed to use these new Fall 2017 cuttings orders (which were shipped right away) to fund the shipping of the overdue 2016 orders, which would ship concurrently.  I published many pictures of the huge orchard proving my quantities, and had been building to that point for 2 years so it was common knowledge that I had been swelling inventory and that that ship was finally coming in.  Furthermore, law enforcement officers came by and verified it, and this was reported back to members of ourfigs.

Lie #22 – It’s okay to steal refund money that is intended for other people’s refunds
TRUTH – It’s both immoral and illegal to do that.  It’s also immoral and illegal to publicly urge people to steal refund money that isn't theirs, as some at ourfigs did.  And it’s also immoral and illegal for Wills to publish and condone it. 
That theft slowed down refunds for other people, causing a ripple effect that hurt the other folks who are still in line for refunds.

Lie #23 – It’s okay to run a defamation/libel campaign against me since it’s being done under the guise of vigilantism (but really motivated by $$ and greed).
TRUTH – It is neither morally nor legally okay.  I’m done turning the other cheek and not responding to the dishonest profiteers who attack me and poison the minds of others with lies, malicious misrepresentations, deceptive spin, and other techniques of manipulation.  Those folks should print off what they've written and take it to their own trusted attorneys to get their legal opinions on whether it's illegal defamation. Their blood will run cold when their attorneys tell them how guilty they are and how much potential financial liability they have if I choose to pursue it.

Lie #24 – If lots and lots of people corroborate the fact that their orders are late, then that corroborates their additional claim that the reason the orders are late is because I’m supposedly a lying thief who intentionally deceived and scammed them from the beginning.
            TRUTH – The former does not imply the latter.  The orders were late for valid, legit reasons.

Lie #25 – I have plenty of money for refunds but just withhold it out of greed unless I’m forced to disburse it by the Attorney General.
TRUTH – I don’t have the money.  Going the AD route is just a way to cut in line in front of the other people who are already in line and respectfully waiting for their refunds.  Basically it just screws over the other customers and causes them to all have to wait longer.  It does nothing to solve the underlying problem of my insolvency.

Lie #26 – I don’t respect my customers because I stopped replying to them individually for a while.
TRUTH – I paid my respect every day with effort and dedication totaling close to 10,000 hours now.  The ultimate respect I can show to the customers is to successfully finish the project and grow/ship what they wanted.  I have always aligned my actions with the principle of ‘Always do that which is best for the customers’…period!  That principle has often required me to spend my time doing actual hands-on farm/nursery work rather than replying to emails and phone calls.  I spent my time doing that work precisely because I respect my customers so much, and it’s maliciously dishonest to try to twist that into a show of disrespect.

Lie #27 – I “promised” to have the plants ready by the estimated delivery dates; and I therefore “lied” since the plants weren’t ready in time.
TRUTH – I didn’t make promises about delivery dates, I just made estimates, and they were my honest best estimates.  Being wrong does not equate to “lying.”

Lie #28 – I ripped off Wills, raking in a lot of money on a fundraiser and not passing his share along to him.
TRUTH – Another false garbage claim by Wills.  I made 3 perfectly accurate donations, and the totals were completely in line with my projections prior to the fundraiser.  He received around $15 total.  There is an additional $3 that was to be the 4th installment, and which was never made, since Wills ostracized me from the ourfigs forum prior to disbursement.  He will concede that he doesn’t care about $3 and that he believes I owe him far more because he believes that 1) my fundraiser’s sales were far higher than they actually were, and 2) it’s apparently unfathomable that people donated more to the F4F Foundation than they donated to him.  The numbers are verifiable: not only do I still have the spreadsheet I made to track relevant sales, the sales records are still in my PayPal account and can be used to corroborate my spreadsheet.

Lie #29 – I never had a plan for handling a ‘runaway’ large volume of sales, and just kept taking orders anyway.
TRUTH – Oh yes I did!  I had already held discussions with the realtor handling the vacant 10-acre field adjacent to my home, and had even already negotiated the deal and was pleased with their offer (2 year lease with an option to purchase at the end; they'd dig a new water well and run electricity in from the road; all for just $400/mo total).  In the event of runaway sales, the plan was to lease the land and put up larger versions of my successful high tunnel aquaponics system.  I almost called the realtor on day 1 of the $7 tree sale due to the huge positive response, but the shade/aspersions being thrown by Wills ('James might just steal your money and go to Vegas', etc) had such a chilling effect on my sales that I decided to wait.  When I finally decided much later to do the lease and put that part of the plan into action, I learned that the owner had been forced to make a sudden sale during that time due to serious health problems.  The new owner doubled the sale price and wasn’t interested in leasing to me. If I had signed the lease early on and put up the additional full-size high tunnel aquaponics systems, I would have been able to meet the original estimated delivery dates rather easily and everyone would have been happy (well, everyone except for the greedy profiteers of course). 

Lie #30 – The fig community should ostracize and refuse to do business with any collector who engages in significant immoral and illegal activities; therefore, since I supposedly engaged in such activities, I should be ostracized and people should refuse to do business with me.
TRUTH – I wholeheartedly agree with the general principle underlined above, and I think it’s great that there are a bunch of good folks who have committed to adhering to it.  But folks need to understand 2 things.  First, I’m completely innocent of all the claims of immorality and nefarious illegality that are being hurled at me by Wills/ourfigs in the false narrative they concocted.  Second, William Cottrell (Wills) actually HAS been engaging in rampant immoral and illegal activities, as have a number of the moderators and members at ourfigs.  They have shown a reckless disregard for the truth, painting me with a false brush and engaging in malicious defamation and libel to a ridiculous degree, all of which is morally reprehensible and highly illegal.
Therefore, if you believe in the principle underlined above and truly want to adhere to it, you’d need to ostracize Wills (and his accomplices), refuse to do business with him, and renounce ourfigs until it fixes the corruption at its core.