THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - Oct. 27, 2009 - By Royson James usually appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, firstname.lastname@example.org -
James: Can McCallion's Mississauga handle the truth?
Will Mississauga be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century? We begin to find out Wednesday when its council votes on whether to go ahead with a judicial inquiry into conflict of interest questions involving the city's legendary mayor and her developer son.
A staff report estimates the inquiry will cost between $2 million and $2.5 million and last some 40 days. And costs could increase, if councillors add more issues for the judge to probe.
For example, how did the council minutes come to record that Mayor Hazel McCallion had declared a conflict of interest at one of the meetings when her son's project came before council? The city clerk has been forced to admit to an embarrassing dilemma: video evidence showed neither McCallion nor any other councillor declared a conflict of interest that day. And the clerk couldn't say how or why the error was inserted.
In reporting to council, the city clerk answered the unasked question, just in case you were thinking it. She said the recording clerk would not have been influenced by a member of council to insert the change.
Somehow, that doesn't settle it. The Phantom Minutes is clearly an issue council should include in the inquiry's terms of reference.
Of course, the whole affair is enough to make some councillors gag, one surmises. So it would not be a shock if one or two pro-inquiry councillors get cold feet and abort the judicial review before it starts. The September vote seeking the review passed 6-4, with one councillor missing.
Though McCallion is reportedly mourning the recent death of her son-in-law, the inquiry item is still before council.
"Business as usual," Councillor Carolyn Parrish said Monday, anticipating Wednesday's vote.
Just getting to the inquiry stage will be an accomplishment in a big small town that's effectively ruled by one strong woman, now 88.
When the Star wrote about the issue, the response was, in some cases, vile. Mississauga residents took it personally that their beloved mayor was being taken to task. Leave us alone, they were saying. We trust our Hazel. If she met with her developer son and his real estate buddies, she was doing it in the best interest of the city and if she didn't declare a conflict of interest when the issue came before council, she might have been preoccupied with city business.
Councillor Nando Iannicca proposed the motion seeking the inquiry. Parrish seconded the motion. McCallion backers on council said the inquiry is politically motivated, a witch hunt.
So, have they been inundated with protests from constituents angry they're attempting to besmirch the mayor's record?
"It's been so quiet ... we are pinching ourselves," Parrish said Monday. "I received five emails from the usual suspects who go off whenever I hiccup."
When I told her I received 15 emails of protest, Parrish, infamous for her anti-George W. Bush rant while a federal politician, was unimpressed.
"Listen, when I called the Americans a bad name, I got 5,000 in 24 hours. I got 1,500 when I stomped on the George Bush doll."
You've got to get calls and emails into the thousands "before you get my attention," she said.
But the cost, Carolyn, the cost? At what price good government?
Mississauga is spending $40 million to beautify its city centre square, she said. "If we can spend $40 million to make the square pretty, we can spend $2 million to get to the truth."
Ah, the elusive truth. Finding it is often messy. Ask Toronto. Ask Vaughan. Ask Mississauga?
Comments by others, 34, to this web-page;
Western Skater Oct 27, 2009 2:52 PM
I believed that Hazel has been one of the best mayors in Canada however circumstances recently have clouded my thinking. If her son is in real estate then no way should he be involved in city dealings where Hazel sits. It would only be natural for her to favour him. Another recent episode deals with the Senior Skaters of Mississauga who have skated free for years. This year she lowered the boom and imposed an average fee of $3.50 per skate or $184.00 per year per person. This has cut the skaters off by at least 50%. Many cannot afford it and are too timid to ask for relief. The migration has been to Oakville where it is free and to Centennial arena at less than half price. Hazel you lowered the boom on your peers and by doing this. The City of Mississauga hasn't realised a saving or benefit. Our image of you is fading.
* Agree 1 - Disagree 4
Mississauga resident Oct 27, 2009 1:55 PM
i understand the facts are that the Mayor did declare her conflict three times, but did not this fourth time the issue came up for a total of 37 seconds at council. Probably no other counselor commented and the clerk thought she had declared because it was absolutely no secret that her son was involved. EVERYONE knew it. If you have ever met her son his presence is impossible to miss (Cowboy hat and boots). This is a travesty when the council and the media are focused on a 37 second form over substance technicality to destroy a great mayor and an even greater person. Shame, shame on you.
* Agree 4 - Disagree 1
MISSISSAUGAWATCH Oct 27, 2009 1:14 PM
Dear Mr. James. You started your article with "Will Mississauga be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century?" You haven't filed over $2,000 worth of Freedom of Information on City of Mississauga governance as I have or you wouldn't have written that! Mr. James, I swear on all that's holy that I'll be satisfied if I can successfully drag Mississauga kicking and screaming into the 1990's! --Love, The Mississauga Muse
* Agree 2 - Disagree 3
MISSISSAUGAWATCH Oct 27, 2009 1:09 PM
austind asked "Why didn't the councillors pipe up and recommend that the mayor declare a conflict when it was obvious she wasn't going to? They can't tell us they didn't know the details." Exactly. I wondered that too. Why some councillor didn't gently remind her (because I really do believe it's possible to miss an item on the agenda). At a recent Council meeting, Councillor Eve Adams explained that it's NOT the job of another Councillor to remind another elected official. And I guess in a way that makes sense. It keeps full responsibility for declaration of direct or indirect pecuniary interest with ONE person. Otherwise you can accusations and finger-pointing extended to other councillors as well. One thing I've learned researching municipal governance since 2006 (much of it using Freedom of Information)... common sense and what you and I think is appropriate just doesn't enter into any of it.
* Agree 3 - Disagree 2
MISSISSAUGAWATCH Oct 27, 2009 12:56 PM
gsd is RIGHT! Let's have an inquiry into Mississauga itself!
gsd, writes, "Mississauga is doing better than almost anywhere in Ontario, and Canada for that matter, mabye there should be an inquiry into what is being done so well there and then those lessons can be applied to other municipalities, ie. neighbour to east." YES! Let's have such an inqury! Because we'd finally have it confirmed in black and white that Mississauga was blessed by location, location, location, right next to Toronto, blessed with an international airport right in it, blessed by being in the GROWTH phase and gorging on development fees, not to mention blessed by being in the most prosperous province in the country (at least for much of Mississauga's 30 years of existence.
* Agree 4 - Disagree 2
MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca Oct 27, 2009 12:44 PM
Vegas writes, "Nothing can be gained from a public inquiry that we don't already know." There you have it Mr. James. Blind zealous support backed up by zero facts. How Hazel McCallion stayed in power for over 30 years. And how Mississauga became MYTHissauga. A vast cadre of DUCKSPEAKERS (check the online Newspeak dictionary).
* Agree 2 - Disagree 4
MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca Oct 27, 2009 12:32 PM
Phuket dumped on Royson James with, "Mr James in your last epistle launch at the residents of Mississauga you eluded to us being asleep and naive. Now you are inferring we are infants & vile." I've been researching Mississauga Council (videotape, Freedom of Information) since June 2006 and this is the picture. Freedom of Information CONFIRMS that Mississauga residents are either asleep or naive --OR they don't care about constant annual cutting of services to residents in order to protect employee salaries/raises and benefits. Because that's what's happening cut-to-the-bone services even as the Mississauga.ca website trumpets "superior services". Employees are doing GREAT! Mississauga just won Top 90 Employer Award for the GTA. Mississauga governance is a sham and a scam. Would not hold up to scrutiny. It's also why Mississauga is so shrek-terrified of external investigation. True media scrutiny (with Freedom of Information) would expose Mississauga.
* Agree 3 - Disagree 4
gsd Oct 27, 2009 12:28 PM
And when will anyone have the guts to ask for a financial inquiry into why and how David Miller and his cronies put a great city like Toronto $4 billion into debt? When will we have an inquiry into the outragous and lavish expenses that CONTINUE at Queens Park? Mississauga is doing better than almost anywhere in Ontario, and Canada for that matter, mabye there should be an inquiry into what is being done so well there and then those lessons can be applied to other municipalities, ie. neighbour to east.
* Agree 5 - Disagree 3
jgirvin Oct 27, 2009 12:06 PM
it is straight forward...McCallion's son is in real estate and has been for years and therefore there would be potential conflict's at every turn not to mention the possibility of influence peddling... it would be in her, and her son's, best interests to resign...however, the people of Mississauga deserve to know the truth and therefore a broad-ranging inquiry should take place...it's suprising that it has taken so long for something list this to come to light...sometimes democracy is not pretty but with inevitably flourish in the end
* Agree 5 - Disagree 4
Cheesecake Oct 27, 2009 11:53 AM
People are not looking the other way. They realize what's been done. But they're willing to forgive her. After all, she's the best thing that's happened to Mississauga.
* Agree 5 - Disagree 4
Vegas Oct 27, 2009 10:47 AM
Notihng can be gained from a public inquiry that we don't already know. Hazel should have declared a conflict but did not. She was wrong. The project should voted on did not go ahead. If this is the worst she has done as the longest serving Mayor in North America that we are all fortunate. Let's end this witchhunt and move on. Hazel knows she was in error for not declaring a conflict and I am sure she will not repeat this mistake again. End of story. Let's move on.
* Agree 9 - Disagree 5
Civil Ian Oct 27, 2009 10:24 AM
Works out to $50,000 per day. Will they be conducting the inquiry in Fiji? I certainly think an election would be cheaper.
* Agree 9 - Disagree 2
hjk50 Oct 27, 2009 10:15 AM
Did I actually forgot the word 'NOT' and it read that Carolyn Parrish should be elected. So sorry about that. She would destroy Mississauga more and even faster than what Miller has done to Toronto. I promise to proof read my comments much more carefully in the future .
* Agree 10 - Disagree 4
George W Bush Oct 27, 2009 10:10 AM
I can't believe that some of these posters think because she has done a good job in the past that we should look the other way.
* Agree 11 - Disagree 6
Uncle Cool Oct 27, 2009 9:38 AM
It will become just as bad, or worse, than Toronto once Hazel is gone.
* Agree 8 - Disagree 6
Goooooey Oct 27, 2009 9:31 AM
is needed to sort out what the facts are and aren't about this public issue. The key issue here is what constitutes conflict of interest by a publicly elected official in carrying out her responsibilities. There are obviously two points of view in this specific matter so an inquiry is the only recourse if the Mississauga council believes in openness and accountability.
* Agree 5 - Disagree 2
Zak Attack Oct 27, 2009 9:17 AM
Now that Miller is a lame duck Mayor (as shown by last night's vote of garbage fees), it looks like Mr James is scrounging for things to write about. Why aren't you writing about something really important (like Vaughn's so-called Mayor) ?
* Agree 7 - Disagree 6
austind Oct 27, 2009 9:14 AM
I think this inquiry might backfire a little bit on the councillors who ordered it. If I understand the facts correctly, there were at least two moments in the various meetings where Hazel could have declared a conflict. Why didn't the councillors pipe up and recommend that the mayor declare a conflict when it was obvious she wasn't going to? They can't tell us they didn't know the details. And if these councillors say it's not their place to stand up and point these kinds of things out, then as a taxpayer I say you're not doing your job. Hello Mrs. Pot, I'm Mr. Kettle...
* Agree 8 - Disagree 2
superpeach Oct 27, 2009 9:07 AM
Voters will soon have a chance to declare Hazel guilty at the polls if they so chose. Skip the enquiry. I am sure Mississauga can find much better use for the $2 mill plus in savings.
* Agree 11 - Disagree 5
pdn Oct 27, 2009 8:57 AM
Carolyn Parrish has tried at all levels of government to get in, and finally succeeded with this smear campaign. If she manages to squeak in because of it, the city will be in far worse shape than it ever could be with Hazel. It seems no one is satisfied unless we are in the same predicament as Toronto. Parrish is the one who will bring us there.
* Agree 12 - Disagree 3
RobtheRealist Oct 27, 2009 8:56 AM
We all know how this will turn out. Hazel will win again next fall with little or no effort and will sit in office until she dies at her desk. Regardless of what happens with or without and inquiry the only people benefitting will be the lawyers and consultants-as usual. Mr. James' unbiased attempts to shine a light on the situation will be as effective as it was in Vaughan. Thank goodness I live in Durham region...
* Agree 7 - Disagree 7
hjk50 Oct 27, 2009 8:53 AM
Yes your comment did sound disparaging and anti-senior. You also forgot to add that she passes her drivers test. I would challenge you to match her weekly work schedule (including late night council meetings, attending functions and weekend work) against your weekly work schedule. .
* Agree 7 - Disagree 3
hjk50 Oct 27, 2009 8:46 AM
I just hope for the sake of Mississauga, that Carolyn Parrish is elected. Then the even the folks in Toronto can say even Miller was a better Mayor.
* Agree 6 - Disagree 6
Phuket Oct 27, 2009 8:34 AM
Mr James in your last epistle launch at the residents of Mississauga you eluded to us being asleep and naive. Now you are inferring we are infants & vile. Disappointed in your continued insults directed at the residents of Mississauga. I was concerned I may have erred in canceled my Star subscription after your last dig at the residents of Mississauga. Now I know I made the right decision.
* Agree 7 - Disagree 4
MISSISSAUGAWATCH.ca Oct 27, 2009 8:18 AM
Mr. James writes, "Ah, the elusive truth. Finding it is often messy. Ask Toronto. Ask Vaughan. Ask Mississauga?" Fact is, the truth about Mississauga is that McCallion and Councillors don't run Mississauga, STAFF do. Next, McCallion and Councillors haven't a CLUE what Staff are doing (especially not doing --which is the degree to which Staff don't follow Corporate policies). Next, it doesn't cost millions or even need a judicial review to get at the truth. I managed with just over $2,000 in Freedom of Information requests. Another truth? The only people who really know what's going on at Mississauga City Hall come in two flavours. The 2-3 who file Freedom of Information --and the perpetrators...
* Agree 8 - Disagree 2
MooneyPilot Oct 27, 2009 7:55 AM
At the risk of sounding "anti-senior", I'll point out a mayor that is retested yearly for a drivers licence.
* Agree 10 - Disagree 6
Mantis Oct 27, 2009 7:47 AM
This is a complete non-issue and council, led by the horrible Carolyn Parrish should drop it. Mississaugan's don't give a damn. Parrish simply sees this as a cheap way to further her goal of becomming mayor of Mississauga - not that the voters of Mississauga will ever allow that to happen.
* Agree 16 - Disagree 9
nickns2 Oct 27, 2009 7:42 AM
So should everyone just resign when they are accused of something? I think she's probably guilty...but I don't expect her to just step down because the media has made it look like she's guilty.
* Agree 18 - Disagree 3
nickns2 Oct 27, 2009 7:39 AM
It's time for McCallion to move one...she's done well in her time but Mississauga needs some new blood and new ideas. I live in Mississauga and like Hazel but it's been too long and it's time for a change. My only hope is that when she does go Parrish doesn't get anywhere near the mayors seat.
* Agree 18 - Disagree 5
Babsurvivor1 Oct 27, 2009 7:39 AM
It might be interesting to investigate how the suggestion of having an inquiry came about and why? James, this was an easy target for you to write about..do some real investigative work
* Agree 9 - Disagree 12
Babsurvivor1 Oct 27, 2009 7:35 AM
Come on, this doesn't warrant an inquiry. This "legendary" Mayor as you so deservabley put it has done more for this city then all Mayors put together in Canada. Give her breathing room and allow the process to unfold the proper way as it has with others in the past. This is a witch hunt and you are an active participant...shame on you....
* Agree 9 - Disagree 11
sharry Oct 27, 2009 7:20 AM
as a former resident of Mississauga and a supporter of Ms. McCallion I believe that the inquiry should go ahead...whatever the consequences the people of Mississauga have a right to be informed of any backroom deals
* Agree 15 - Disagree 6
Lefty Fluff Oct 27, 2009 7:13 AM
...is exactly the type of thing that pushes us further down the slippery slope. McCallion should save her city the cost and embarrassment of having to deal with what is obviously a very difficult issue for them, and just resign. If she doesn't, she muddies all who tolerate her continuation in office.
* Agree 12 - Disagree 8
Larry Perlman Oct 27, 2009 7:13 AM
I fail to understand the need to put together a inquiry in this manner. The allegations against Queen Hazel is a potential violation of the Ontario "Municipal Conflict of Interest Act". Within three months of being aware of the potential conflict the politician could be taken before a Superior Court judge on charges of violating the Act. The impression I get from this inquiry is that Mississauga City Council does not want to get REALLY GET Queen Hazel in trouble (she cold potentially lose her seat), all they are seeking is some embarrassing comments from the inquiry judge. Bringing Queen Hazel before a Superior Court judge would cost the taxpayers of Mississauga SIGNIFICANTLY less than $2 Million. Who's fooling whom?...
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