THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Another Election Race has ended up in the Courts!
This debate ends up in a dark parking lot - kind of place that Mississauga's Councillors do their best work on their opposition!
Ward 7 fireworks - Nov. 2-06
Conn Smythe once said that if you can’t beat them on the ice, you can’t beat ’em in the alley.
In the Ward 7 council race, it’s more like, if you can’t beat ’em in the parking lot, you can’t beat ’em at the polls.
Yes, believe or not, two of the main combatants in the all-candidates’ session sponsored by the Cooksville-Munden Park and Gordon Woods ratepayers last night ended up taking it outside at the end of the evening — although both agree that no physical blows were landed.
That’s about the only thing that incumbent Councillor Nando Iannicca and challenger Shane McNeil could agree on last night.
No use getting into the allegations of who shouted what at whom in the parking lot at St. Timothy’s School and what digitally dextrous retort may have been made, because the verbal blows that were landed inside the gymnasium were solid enough in themselves.
You knew that the game was on when council candidate Beju Lakhani opened with a full-throttle attack on the self-described “chosen son of Ward 7” whose, “18-year long slumber is coming to an end.” Then he blasted Rip Van Iannicca for an alleged conflict of interest for collecting $33,000 on top of his $115,000 combined City and Region salary for sitting on Enersouce’s board.
Iannicca, of course, responded in unkind, reminding Lakhani that Enersource is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the City’s. (Interestingly, no one said a word about Hazel sitting on the Enersource board.)
“I have been the victim of an insulting charade perpetrated by Nando Iannicca,” McNeil said in his speech, referring to e-mails he received from someone posing as Rita Forbes, who turned out to be Nando’s older but-not-necessarily-smarter brother Sandro (the one with the PhD.)
Although he had been served with a notice of libel and slander Monday by the councillor, McNeil repeated his contention that the real author of the e-mails was the elected Iannicca, not his brother. He suggested, quite reasonably, that the democratic tradition of debate might be a better way to settle such matters than suing at the drop of a blog.
What set the councillor or his brother, or both, on edge about the McNeil campaign was a series of controversial statements on his web log, some of which were clearly untrue.
For instance, it was Toronto council, not Mississauga, that took a 16 per cent pay hike this year. McNeil complained that Iannicca bought home furniture with City funds, such as a computer desk, but that is authorized by a City policy that allows politicians to communicate with constituents from their homes, which is much more convenient on evenings and weekends.
The blog has since been edited to remove some of the statements and refine others and a homemade disclaimer has been added at the bottom.
Iannicca claims his honesty has been impugned and he will pursue legal action to clear his name.
Maybe more disturbing than anything McNeil said was the pure enmity that his face reflected as he stared at Iannicca each time he spoke.
For his part, the clearly too-tightly wound incumbent made his own accusations, one of which is patently incorrect according to McNeil. Rather than just having moved into the ward as Iannicca suggested, McNeil said he has lived in Ward 7 for close to a dozen years. He was not on the preliminary voters’ list because he recently moved.
No word yet on whether McNeil plans to use the same law firm as Iannicca.
The challengers landed some body blows (especially on the sorry state of the four corners and Cooksville in general) but when it came to content, Iannicca excelled, as the incumbent obviously should.
In all the hubbub, some very good ideas got lost or minimized. Iannicca wants to rebuild the T.L. Kennedy site to make it more urban and add a community centre next door, create a $2.2 million pedestrian and walk system along the hydro right-of-way on The Queensway and close Burnhamthorpe Rd. W. in the city centre on weekends to make it, “our great meeting place.”
He may have three degrees (journalism, political science, economics), skill in three languages and a way with words that few people on council can match, but Iannicca also has attitude.
He’s a hard-nosed streetfighter from Cooksville who enjoys a scrap and isn’t afraid to use the boots when he has to.
The problem is that, too often, he uses them when he doesn’t have to. That’s probably why Iannicca always seems to draw passionate opponents and the battle always manages to get extremely personal.
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