Doug Ford and 3 other councillors won’t be audited


mentalfloss
#1
Doug Ford and 3 other councillors won’t be audited: ruling


In a sharp rebuke to a left-leaning election fairness coalition, a council committee has rejected all the requests for compliance audits targeting four of Mayor Rob Ford’s closest supporters, including his brother Doug. The other councillors are Giorgio Mammoliti, chair of the community development and recreation committee, Michael Thompson, chair of the economic development committee, and James Pasternak, a council rookie and former school board trustee.

“We did everything according to the rules,” Mr. Thompson said after the three-person committee rendered its verdicts. He didn’t rule out a bid to recover costs against the applicants.

With these decisions, the committee members clearly signalled that they didn't feel there were reasonable grounds to proceed with full-blown audits, which can cost candidates thousands of dollars in accounting and legal fees.

Toronto Public Library board member Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, a spokesman for the Election Fairness Coalition, said he was “very surprised” by the decisions, and added that his group will now consider whether to appeal the compliance audit committee’s rulings.

The coalition, formed earlier this spring after the three-person committee ordered a forensic review of Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign expenses, says its mandate is to change and clarify Ontario’s municipal campaign finance laws through litigation and law reform.

And indeed, Wednesday’s two-hour session featured an often-technical debate over the fine points of the legal definition of campaign fundraising activities.

The compliance audit requests filed by the coalition against the four politicians alleged that the candidates couldn’t properly account for all the expenses associated with campaign fundraising. According to Ontario’s municipal election rules, fundraising expenses are not included in spending limits for councillors and mayoral candidates.

Jack Siegel, a lawyer who specializes in election law and represented three of the councillors, argued that 2009 amendments to the legislation have broadened the scope of fundraising expenses that can be excluded from overall campaign spending. The previous version of the Municipal Elections Act said candidates could exclude costs associated with running fundraising “events” but the amendments now talk about fundraising “activities” as well.

Mr. Siegel said fundraising expenses such as direct marketing, ongoing telephone solicitations and fundraiser salaries all fall under that definition. Eric van Eyken, the lawyer for the coalition, disputed that interpretation, arguing that if provincial lawmakers had wanted to allow candidates to exclude all fundraising expenses from their spending totals, the legislation would have said so. “That couldn’t possibly have been the legislative intent.”

The committee, which is comprised of two lawyers and a veteran elections officer, decided early on to render the four decisions after hearing the details on all four requests. The councillors didn’t speak, and Mr. Ford didn’t show up in the crowded committee room. He was represented by Tom Barlow, the lawyer who has represented Mayor Rob Ford in the legal fight over his compliance audit. The mayor has appealed the decision and the case is currently before the courts.

Mr. Pasternak, the novice, appeared nervous during the proceeding, taking notes and shaking his head as Mr. van Eyken itemized allegedly missing revenues from various campaign events. During his turn, Mr. Thompson listened intently, occasionally snapping a photo of the coalition’s lawyer with his smart phone.

Mr. Siegel, a veteran of many Liberal campaigns, argued his case forcefully while Mr. van Eyken at times seemed uncertain. At one point, Virginia MacLean, one of the committee members, asked Mr. van Eyken whether he had any experience with political fundraising. “Like many youth, I grew up watching The West Wing,” he replied, jokingly.

During the morning session, the committee ordered audits for three unsuccessful candidates who were alleged to have accepted corporate donations, which are not permitted under the city’s election rules. Peter LiPreti, one of the three, is a former city councillor, and contended that the contributions came from family-owned businesses and represented personal donations. “To my understanding, if it is a sole proprietorship, even it is a corporate donation, they can legally give money to the campaign,” he said after the session.

Mr. Chaleff-Freudenthaler told the committee that he had found corporate registration numbers for all the donors. “The law is quite clear.”


Doug Ford and 3 other councillors won’t be audited: ruling - The Globe and Mail
 
YukonJack
#2
Why should the rest of Canada care about that?
 
mentalfloss
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by YukonJackView Post

Why should the rest of Canada care about that?

Why not?

It's for the Torontonians on the board.
 
DurkaDurka
#4
I haven't really been paying much attention to this, lately I've been more interested in the billion dollars in cuts they are looking at.
 
mentalfloss
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by DurkaDurkaView Post

I haven't really been paying much attention to this, lately I've been more interested in the billion dollars in cuts they are looking at.

From the KPMG report..
  • Reducing the size of the police force. (good)
  • Considering one-officer patrols in certain cases. (okay with this)
  • Closing some library branches and reducing hours at others. (okay with this)
  • Selling the Toronto Zoo. (i guess this is okay, but expect a disgusting amount of ads plastered everywhere)
  • Scrapping the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which provides grants to a host of environmental programs. (not cool)
  • Eliminating late-night TTC bus service. (very bad)
  • Eliminating public health community programs that fund AIDS prevention strategies. (very very bad)
 
DurkaDurka
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

From the KPMG report..

I heard Stintz say that eliminating the late-night bus service would be an absolute last resort, I think she probably realizes the this would hurt her reelection chances but also would be a hindrance to the economy as many people rely on the night service to get to work and back.

Probably their best chance to cut costs is hoping that a large number of employees accept the early retirement packages...
 
weaselwords
#7
Nice to see something about Toronto come up.What I found strange about the hearings for audits was Augimeri getting a pass while Cusimano gets a fine tooth comb. Won't be of much interest for those outside the sphere of the CoU but these two fought it out back in November for Ward 9 which Augimeri won. However there were some voting irregularities and a by-election was called scheduled for July 25th. That is now being stalled in the courts thru an Augimeri appeal. Looks like the sun shines only on Augimeri.
 
mentalfloss
#8
Torontonians Smash Ford's Anti-Tax Agenda


TORONTO—The results of a public consultation with Torontonians released in mid-July has dealt a blow to Mayor Rob Ford's agenda. The Core Service Review - Public Consultation released by the City shows that public opinion of the City's budget deficit is in direct opposition to the Mayor's agenda. Over 13,000 Torontonians completed the consultation.

Ford, who campaigned heavily on reducing City "waste" and freezing tax increases, has faced a dilemma partly of his own creation. While Ford inherited a large surplus from his predecessor, his decision to freeze taxes in 2011 and eliminate a number of revenue streams has the city facing a deficit of over $700 million for 2012.

The Mayor has commissioned audit firm KPMG to find savings in various departments. Meanwhile, the size of the deficit has forced Ford to recently backtrack on one of his 2010 campaign promises. He initially claimed that a property tax increase would not go over 1.8 per cent. But he recently said, “At the very most, I’ve said you can raise property taxes, at the most, 2.5, maybe 3 per cent.”

Ford had urged his supporters (dubbed "Ford Nation") to overwhelm the public consultations to promote an anti-tax, cutting-spending agenda. However the results of the consultation have turned out quite differently.

The results of the consultation conclude that:
Torontonians' number one priority is "Transparent and accountable government." The third highest priority is "Meeting the needs of vulnerable people" while "Fair and affordable taxes" was ranked dead-last out of nine available options.
Public Transit, Fire Services and Water Treatment were deemed to be the most necessary services for the City. The management of Exhibition Place and the Toronto Zoo by the City were considered to be least important.
Survey participants overwhelmingly supported increasing "property taxes to keep the same level of City services." Not increasing "user fees or taxes even if this means reducing the level of service" had the least support.
According to the report the mean recommended "property tax increase for all participants was 5.15 per cent." Over 20 per cent of participants recommended a 5 per cent tax increase. A 10 per cent increase was recommended by 19 per cent of participants.
With the publication of the results, some of Ford's allies on City council have stated that they will not follow the recommendations of the consultation. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong stated, “It’s not statistically valid, those people self-selected, they decided to fill that form out as opposed to if you were to take a representative sample and have a pollster do it.”

Statistically, participation in the consultations was over-represented—compared to other consultations in the Downtown core—by computer users (higher income, higher education, youth), parents and low-income Torontonians.


Torontonians Smash Ford's Anti-Tax Agenda: Consultation shows public wants services before tax cuts | The Dominion
 
Goober
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

From the KPMG report..

  • Reducing the size of the police force. (good)
  • Considering one-officer patrols in certain cases. (okay with this)
  • Closing some library branches and reducing hours at others. (okay with this)
  • Selling the Toronto Zoo. (i guess this is okay, but expect a disgusting amount of ads plastered everywhere)
  • Scrapping the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which provides grants to a host of environmental programs. (not cool)
  • Eliminating late-night TTC bus service. (very bad)
  • Eliminating public health community programs that fund AIDS prevention strategies. (very very bad)

Why the Police is good? - Benefits is the big and long term cost for all employees - That is where cuts should begin.
 
mentalfloss
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

Why the Police is good?

Not quite "good", as much as I simply don't mind less police.

Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

Benefits is the big and long term cost for all employees - That is where cuts should begin.

Which employees? TTC?
 
Goober
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

Not quite "good", as much as I simply don't mind less police.



Which employees? TTC?

Well I prefer less crime and no I do not give cred to Stats Can - Benefits for every City employee - pensions - etc -best pension plans in Canada - referring to Public Service only across the country.
 

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