Council flouts court to pay councillors’ legal expenses

In a previous post  I noted  that an Ontario  court ruled  that City Council  did not have the jurisdiction to cover the legal fees of councillors incurred  prior to their becoming councillors. Now, according to the following article  in the Toronto Start, in a final act of disrespect  of contempt  for  the taxpayers of  Toronto, City Council  has voted to:

1. Ignore the court order and pay the $140,000 in legal fees anyway; and

2. Appeal the Divisional  Court decision that ruled  that Council  had exceeded  its authority in authorizing these expenditures.

Obviously City Council  does  not  think  that the law  applies to  them. Actually, the whole point is that City Council does not  have the  authority to authorize this spending. Since, they are acting outside their legitimate jurisdiction as City Councillors, those  who voted  in favor  of this should be held personally accountable.

________________________________________________

August 25, 2010

Paul Moloney

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/852597

Toronto City Council has decided to pay almost $140,000 to cover the legal expenses of councillors Adrian Heaps and Giorgio Mammoliti despite a recent court decision that they’re not entitled to reimbursement from the public purse.

Council also decided Wednesday night to appeal the Divisional Court ruling that found council exceeded its authority in voting to pay the money in 2008 to cover legal fees the councillors incurred defending themselves against lawsuits for alleged transgression of spending rules during the 2006 municipal elections.

Councillor Doug Holyday, who had pursued the case in Divisional Court at his own expense, said he would be speaking to his lawyer Thursday about the council decision to make “grants” to Heaps and Mammoliti “in the amount of the legal expenses they incurred.”

“The sense of entitlement here is mindboggling,” Holyday said after the closed-door vote. “To say it’s a grant now after the fact is wrong.”

However, Mayor David Miller defended the reimbursement, saying the court decision faulted council for not declaring the public purpose in making the original payments back in 2006.

“This is to protect people who aren’t rich being able to run for office,” Miller said. “Nobody in this city, unless you’re really rich, can afford to run for public office and be subjected to $70,000 in legal fees. No reasonable person can afford that. It’s a way to drive people out of public office.”

Council’s own lawyers warned there was no legal justification for the payments.

3 thoughts on “Council flouts court to pay councillors’ legal expenses

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    This article from the Toronto Sun provides much more information including list of those who voted for this outrage.

    ______________________________________________

    No wonder taxpayers are fuming
    By SUE-ANN LEVY, Toronto Sun

    Last Updated: August 27, 2010 9:21am

    Mayor David Miller — the lawyer and Harvard graduate — came out of an in-camera meeting Wednesday night urging his compatriots to vote with their “conscience” to ignore the law.

    After he waxed poetic about how he was really doing it for the “public” and not at all for the motley cast of characters who’ve hitched their wagon to his star, councillors voted 24-14 to appeal a recent Ontario superior court ruling that said council didn’t have the power to pay the legal expenses of two city councillors fighting audits of their 2006 election spending.

    The court ruling, released July 19, quashed the bylaw that made the legal payouts to Adrian Heaps and Giorgio Mammoliti — of $83,375 and $95,973 respectively — possible.

    But that didn’t bother council one bit. Led by the feckless Miller, they simply crafted their own bylaw that would allow the money to be provided to the two councillors in the form of grants.

    That motion was merely a technicality since both councillors already have their $179,348 in payouts.

    “It is shameful … we should be upholding the integrity of elections,” Miller said. “We should be ensuring that people aren’t risking their house or their family’s future in order to stand for office and commit public service.”

    It’s obvious to me that our so-called “strong” mayor and esteemed lawyer didn’t much like that the Toronto Party for a Better City and Councillor Doug Holyday chose to go to court to fight council’s move to make the illegal payouts — and horror of horrors, won.

    The decision Wednesday night should have been a slam dunk — had this council been led by a mayor who actually practises what he preaches about leading with integrity.

    (I repeat, is it any wonder taxpayers are mad as hell and not prepared to put up with this nonsense anymore.)

    It was all handed to Miller and Co. on a silver platter in the form of advice received by the city’s very pricey outside counsel, Alan Lenczner.

    In his confidential Aug. 11 opinion, obtained by the Toronto Sun, Lenczner recommends that the appeal be “abandoned” — noting he does not see a “reasonable prospect” for it to succeed.

    City solicitor Anna Kinastowski advises council in her confidential report of Aug. 23, also obtained by the Sun, that it will cost upwards of $40,000 for the appeal and another $25,000 if the city loses and is forced to pay costs.

    She does not provide figures on what has been spent on the court case to date.

    But Lenczner doesn’t stop with his advice not to appeal. He suggests that while the court could not order the city to retrieve the money from the two councillors, he suggests the city do so anyway.

    “The city may grant them time to make the payments but the demand should be made,” Lenczner writes.

    In another opinion, provided on Aug. 18, Lenczner says that there is “no lawful bylaw” that can be crafted to address the reimbursement of councillors Heaps and Mammoliti retroactively.

    Kinastowski, in her report to council — which she recommended be made public but has not — even gives Mammoliti and Heaps an easy out, suggesting they be allowed to raise the money they need to pay back from private donors!

    She writes that the integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, has offered to be available to spoon-feed them advice on how they can do so while still complying with the gifts and benefits provision of the code of conduct.

    Ah, yes. Makes me wonder what she’d say about their appeal for funds using their councillor letterhead.

    Seriously, the whole situation is absolutely absurd considering on the very same day (Wednesday) mayoralty frontrunner Rob Ford had his knuckles rapped for using his letterhead to solicit private funds for his football foundation.

    Holyday said Thursday this will just keep adding to the city’s legal bills and is a “blatant disregard” of the taxpayer.

    “These people seem to think they’re above the law,” he said. “They’re doing all this in aid of their own.”

    Murray Maltz, of the Toronto Party, echoed Holyday’s sentiments.

    “This is nothing more than an attempt to try to do what the courts have already told them is illegal,” he said.

    “Clearly this shows a lack of good faith and continual breach of their fiduciary duty to the taxpayer … it’s obvious council simply intends to ignore the law no matter what.”

    sue-ann.levy@sunmedia.ca

    THE VOTE TO APPEAL

    YES: Paul Ainslie, Brian Ashton, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Frank Di Giorgio, Mike Feldman, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Adam Giambrone, Mark Grimes, Pam McConnell, Joe Mihevc, David Miller, Howard Moscoe, Case Ootes, Joe Pantalone, John Parker, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Kyle Rae, Bill Saundercook, Adam Vaughan.

    NO: Mike Del Grande, Rob Ford, Suzan Hall, Cliff Jenkins, Norm Kelly, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Peter Milczyn, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata, Cesar Palacio, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Michael Walker.

    MIA: Maria Augimeri, Sandra Bussin, Adrian Heaps, Doug Holyday, Giorgio Mammoliti, Denzil Minnan-Wong, David Shiner.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: HOLYDAY – and – CITY OF TORONTO, SANDRA BUSSIN, ADRIAN HEAPS and GIORGIO MAMMOLITI | Vote John Richardson – Independent Judgment For Toronto Danforth – Ward 29!

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