If Guilty, Council Members Must Pay


 

It was inevitable that city councillors, as well as Mayor Francis, would be facing legal challenges from the bridge company. 

Beginning back in 2007 when both the Interim Control Bylaw as well as the Sandwich Heritage Conservation District Study were launched, those opposing such a move went before city council warning of such a possibility. 

It didn’t help matters either  – despite warnings from administration – when a council majority permitted nearly every demolition request within the pie-shaped area known as the Sandwich Community Improvement Plan except for the properties owned by the Canadian Transit Company.

As if that wasn’t enough, A-News revealed the boundaries of the Heritage Conservation District had been extended to include company-owned homes that had been previously excluded.

In July 2007, A-News reported that these homes were not in the study area; but by December 2007 – these boundaries had been extended.

Nearly a year later, the city’s Heritage Committee Chair, Greg Heil, resigned stating in his resignation letter:

REMOVED BY REQUEST OF THE WINDSOR STAR

Mr. Heil’s resignation, according to the Windsor Star, prompted Mayor Eddie Francis to claim that Mr. Heil was “REMOVED BY REQUEST OF THE WINDSOR STAR and not clear as to his motivations for doing so (September, 15, 2008).

That is some power Mr. Heil has.

Is the City of Windsor concerned?  It would appear so as the usual bravado that emanates from city hall was notably absent. 

No accusations of “frivolous” or “without merit,” and no response from Paul Edwards – or perhaps Mr. Edwards changed his name to George Wilkki to tell councillors again to whom they can speak:

REMOVED BY REQUEST OF THE WINDSOR STAR

 Which brings me to my overall point. 

In the event should city councillors be found individually responsible, should residents foot their legal bills?

The announcement touched off a firestorm of emails.  One in particular was very blunt and to the point which was sent to councillors:

I certainly don’t expect you to come to us the voters that opposed your decisions to pay from our accounts for your bad judgement.

I am sure that you are not all equally guilty although you have all been served. For any that are released for lack of culpability I hope this is not a long and troublesome matter, and for those that are found with guilt, shame.

I agree with those sentiments but according to Mr. Wilkki, “It’s all up to the taxpayer to pay for all this.”

The Toronto Star sheds some light on the issue regarding a $150-million lawsuit against the City of Toronto:

The affidavit was among the issues discussed at the meeting, according to a source familiar with what happened. It backs Milani’s allegations that the city acted with “malfeasance and bad faith” in closing her application to rezone protected farmland she had hoped to turn into a lucrative development.

Based on those allegations, repeated in the affidavit, councillors were told the city’s insurer may not cover the city if it loses the case, potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.

If our own city councillors are found to have acted in bad-faith or with “REMOVED BY REQUEST OF THE WINDSOR STAR, why should taxpayers – who expect our elected representatives to act in accordance with all applicable laws – have to foot the bill?

That is unacceptable because as the saying goes, if you’re going to play with fire, expect to get burned.

And depending on the outcome of this newest challenge – residents need to pull out the hoses and resist any attempt to have individual lawsuits paid for by taxpayers.

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2 Comments on "If Guilty, Council Members Must Pay"

  1. MOVE_ON_WINDSOR | 30 July 2010 at 18:48 |

    The only real surprised in the lawsuits against Eddie and council is that it took this long. As a taxpayer I am absolutely opposed to using our money to defend this in court. The DRIC project is the responsibility of Ottawa and Queen’s Park. If they convinced our municipal representatives to use the “heritage” tactic to stall the Ambassador Bridge Company, in order to assure the DRIC project could gather momentum, they those upper levels of government should foot the bill. If the Mayor and council took it upon themselves to engage in this activity, against the advice and pleading of others, then they should personally be on the hook. It’s called accountability. Quite frankly, I am tired of these councillors being so spineless and afraid to stand up to Eddie and his minions, regardless of the potential impact to our city. Our tax dollars, the reputation of our city, and our municipal services are not their personal slush funds, with which they can wage their personal wars and further their ideological agendas.
    I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Schnurr, if guilty, let them cut the cheques.

  2. hey hey | 30 July 2010 at 18:08 |

    From the little I understand, when a council member is sued individually, the cost of litigation rests with them personally.

    This little bit came from a Windsor Council member who is out a substantial amount of personal money over the past year or so due to Council deciding they would not cover the items.

    Must have been dealt with in one of the numerous, transparent, in-candid-camera Council meetings.

    Precedence. Gotta go with that.

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