THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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"The workers, who earlier claimed Adams forced them to work on her re-election campaign, say the councillor threatened homeowners with bylaw infractions if they didn't comply with her wishes."
Mississauga News - Oct 20, 2006 - By Joseph Chin
Adams accused of election abuses
Councillor denies any wrongdoing
Ward 5 Councillor Eve Adams has been strong-arming residents to place her election signs on their properties, charge her two former office workers.
The workers, who earlier claimed Adams forced them to work on her re-election campaign, say the councillor threatened homeowners with bylaw infractions if they didn't comply with her wishes. The workers also say Adams told them to use false names when they campaigned on her behalf to hide their identities as City of Mississauga employees.
Early this morning Adams defended herself against the allegations saying, "They are simply not true."
Adams told The News she never asked her campaign workers to force residents to put up her election signs. She also said she never told her workers to use false names and that she never forced them to work on her campaign.
In documents obtained yesterday by The News through Mayor Hazel McCallion, Danielle Edwards and Diane Ferris, City workers who served as administrative assistants to Adams, recounted what they said occurred.
Edwards said she was present when Adams instructed her own brother to point out bylaw infractions to residents if they were hesitant about having a sign put on their property.
"She actually stated that if they had a basement apartment or extra-wide driveway to say 'it would be a terrible shame if the City of Mississauga decided to crack down (on the infractions),'" said Edwards, in a letter she and Ferris wrote to City Manager Janice Baker on Oct. 18.
This morning Adams said she was "disappointed" with that charge, again insisting it was untrue.
The new details follow a story in the Wednesday edition of The News that indicated Edwards and Ferris asked to be re-assigned during an investigation into the matter launched by Baker. They were replaced by temporary workers for the duration of the campaign. Adams was issued a warning.
The City's conflict of interest policy regarding elections states staff members are allowed to work on campaigns provided they do so voluntarily, on their own time and do not identify themselves as City of Mississauga employees.
Edwards said when she told Adams she was "uncomfortable" spending so much time on her campaign she was threatened with dismissal.
"'Let me clarify something for you. I hired you and I'm the one who can fire you,'" Edwards said she was told by Adams.
The first-time councillor has denied any wrongdoing, explaining that when she asked her assistants if they wanted to work on her campaign, she told them verbally and in writing that it must be done on their own time. All charges, she said, are false.
"I have always been very clear with the City staff assigned to my office that any volunteering with my campaign is done on personal time only. I have tried to reinforce this both orally and in writing," she said.
Adams added that she sent her staff workers a memo in August outlining the City's policy and procedures concerning elections. She also forwarded a copy of this memo to The News.
Adams went on to say that she went back to work as a councillor a week after giving birth to her son.
"He came to work with me," Adams said. "He attended events and meetings. I've balanced being a mom and a councillor - and enjoy working with incredibly supportive neighbours."
Yesterday, McCallion said she has taken over the case from the City Manager's office.
"She has questioned the integrity of the City and, unfortunately, I have to get involved personally," said McCallion.
The City has "oodles of data," including affidavits and e-mail records, to support its charges, McCallion said.
The mayor said the public wasn't informed earlier out of concern for Edwards and Ferris.
"We're dealing with two girls here...they were very upset. We didn't want the matter rushed into press," McCallion said.
After learning Adams had denied any wrongdoing, Edwards and Ferris decided to tell their side of the story, said McCallion.
In their letter to the City Manager, Edwards and Ferris said the councillor told them on numerous occasions their "priorities" were working on Adams' campaign "first and foremost."
Their tasks included soliciting campaign workers from a list provided by the councillor and her husband, Peter Adams, and scheduling volunteers to canvass Ward 5 constituents for sign placements. They also said they were instructed by Adams to use false names when they went door-to-door in order to hide their identities as City employees. Adams provided Ferris with a laptop, which she used in her office, allowing her to flip back and forth between municipal work and election work.
"(Adams and her husband) would call Diane every morning or afternoon to indicate that sheets from canvassing needed to be picked up and the database updated," Edwards said.
McCallion said the matter is being reviewed by the City's legal department, but concedes the City's hands are tied because Adams is an elected official.
"It doesn't seem there is any other action we can take," the mayor said.
Adams said she was disappointed with the mayor's comments and all of the allegations.
"I think the residents know how dedicated I am to my job and how hard I work on their behalf," said Adams. "I have never compromised by reputation in the areas that have been described."
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