THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Mississauga News - Aug. 24, 2010 - By Tom Urbaniak is a Mississauga native, political scientist and author of Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga.
Not a World Class dealLet us assume that Mayor Hazel McCallion’s lawyers are right: Her Worship pushed a controversial hotel, convention centre and condo deal on behalf of World Class Developments (WCD) only because she loves her city.
And let us even imagine that Peter McCallion, the mayor’s son, had no role in the deal and stood to gain nothing.
If all this were true, there would remain a serious issue of political judgment.
Due diligence on the mayor’s part would have raised doubts about the viability of the project and its proponents.
This was supposed to be a crowning jewel for the City Centre. Yet WCD, as a company, had never previously developed anything. After the departure of Murray Cook, only one of its principals could really be called a developer: But Tony DeCicco had no experience developing hotels, never mind hard-to-finance luxury hotels. No one at the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), the co-vendor of the land, had heard of him.
WCD had little money in the bank. It was behind on its bills. DeCicco fired experienced architects because they gave an honest opinion of the time it would take to develop the proper drawings and site plan.
City staffers were concerned about how the convention centre had been scaled down. A desired walkway to the Living Arts Centre, considered crucial, was missing from the sketches. The file at City Planning went cold over several critical months in 2008.
Maybe WCD could find solid partners? That’s hard if you have burned bridges.
DeCicco had burned bridges. On Sept. 30, 2008, before McCallion made a last-ditch barrage of calls to senior officials at OMERS demanding they keep the deal alive, Superior Court judge John Murray handed down a scathing judgment against DeCicco.
DeCicco’s company, Endplex, had terminated an agreement to buy part of Derrydale Golf Course, but later sued for damages from Derrydale on “frivolous and vexatious” grounds. According to the judge, the action “misused the justice system” and was “malicious.”
Meanwhile, OMERS officials were eager to accommodate the mayor’s WCD interventions, but we now know from internal documents that they would have hoped for some “collateral benefits” from the City — help with infrastructure, going easy on other development charges and the like.
In other words, the taxpayers could have been on the hook for some money.
When a powerful mayor doesn’t do her homework, the whole class loses marks. This time, however, the class is paying attention.
Comments by others - 1 - to this web-page at time of posting;
Aug 24, 2010 7:32 PM
Tom Urbaniak does his homework
right IN the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry courtroom! Every detail Urbaniak wrote pertaining to the hotel deal can be checked against the transcripts. The only statement I would dispute is Urbaniak's last sentence.
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