Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Did Staff Spend Without Authorization?

Posted by auroracitizen on November 15, 2008

We should all be concerned about the recent articles in the local newspapers about the expenditure of almost $500,000 without Council approval, after all, it is our money. But before we start pointing fingers we need to have the facts — or as many as we are able to get.

The questions that need to be asked, must be asked and publicly shared. This will be the true test of openness and transparency.

The other thing we must insist on is that Council stop pointing fingers at staff until the facts are know. This is the true test of leadership. The captain of the ship goes down with the ship — they don’t start pointing fingers as soon as trouble appears.

One must also wonder why Council, particularly Mayor Morris and Evelina MacEachern, both who have a reputation for reviewing the cheque lists, never spotted a cheque of this size. Does that suggest it was purposely not listed?

Based on news reports, another troubling question is regarding the May 2007 letter from NORR (the original architects of the building) where they state that compensation for the repairs would be paid through their insurance company, Pro-Deminity Insurance based on independent tests conducted by NORR that concluded the issues that were brought forward by staff were correct (Feb 2007 letter).

However, after partial payment was received for the repairs, NORR informed staff that the insurance company was not paying any additional funds, leaving the town on the hook for the balance of approx. $60,000.

So a few issues that need review include;

  1. Should staff be authorizing payment for expenses that are part of traditional operations? This seems to be a typical operation issue — work was completed with full Council approval but was not completed correctly and staff followed up to get it done.
  2. Is there are dollars amount for all staff purchase above which needs explicit Council approval?
  3. Should staff not issue a purchase order for a “flow through” expense that will be paid by a third party — in this case an insurance company.
  4. Why is Mayor Morris quoted as stating that the focus is getting back the $442,000? Didn’t the insurance company already pay the largest portion of that with the amount not yet recovered closer to $60,000? Or is that mis-information?

Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, just some of the issues that Council needs to investigate and questions that deserve accurate answers.

The concern is that already residents are being spun that;

  1. this is a staff issue and Council has no responsibility,
  2. the firing of John Rogers is connected, and
  3. information is being communicated by Council that is possibly not accurate (or possibly the papers have added their own spin).

However, until all the facts are know, Council should remember, good people who never signed up for public office are having their reputations tarnished by the conduct of Council. Surely that is outside the code of ethics.

For a different view from the 2 local papers, check out Councillor Buck’s blog, as always she has her own view on the subject.

First get the facts — then communicate them accurately, fairly and openly. The community deserves the truth without the spin!

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25 Responses to “Did Staff Spend Without Authorization?”

  1. Anonymous said

    I agree with Anonymous November 18, 2008 8:01 PM, that the Auroran could probably have done more than just mention it, but frankly, let’s remember they are a community newspaper and not exactly known for hard-hitting, hard-hounding news reporting.
    Let’s hope the newly revamped Banner will take the lead.
    Has everyone seen the ads that Mayor Morris has taken in the Banner and The Auroran as a rebuttal to the critisim she is facing on this, and other, issues?
    How much of taxpayers money is she spending on her spin?

  2. Anonymous said

    Anonymous Nov. 17 3:38 pm said the Auroran raised the issue about the bulkhead repairs several times before everything hit the fan in the last few weeks.

    There are three mentions of this in the Auroran before November 2008. In each one, the Auroran wonders why somebody on council didn’t ask why the repairs were needed and who was paying for them.

    Good on the Auroran for raising the questions. But I wonder why the Auroran didn’t go find out the answers and publish them.

    Isn’t that what a newspaper is supposed to do?

  3. Anonymous said

    Thanks to anonymous at 12:17 p.m. for setting the record straight.

    You say “supported by the Auroran” doesn’t mean the Auroran is involved with this blog.

    I don’t understand why you say that is unfortunate. I also don’t understand what “supported by the Auroran” means then.

    Can you help with this question too?

    Thanks. Every little bit of information helps.

  4. Anonymous said

    This is a comment to the original topic. The mayor has put an ad in this week’s Auroran regarding the authorization of this spending.
    I don’t think it is enough of an explanation.

  5. Anonymous said

    To anonymous at 09:34 11-18. Unfortunitly, you are incorrect.

  6. Anonymous said

    I don’t know why there is such fuss about who is behind this site. It has been obvious from the beginning. All you have to do is scroll all the way down to the bottom of the main page and there is the answer in big red letters. It’s the Auroran, our local newspaper. I don’t see why people are upset about this when the answer is right there.

  7. Aurora Citizen said

    To anonymous at 7:15, your point about “name calling and personal insults” is well made. It is a difficult balance we try to manage.

    If you reject comments because we think they are over the line, then we are open to accusations of stifling discussion. But when we allow everything, we are open to comments such as yours.

    Thus far we have been very lenient and only rejected comments that were directed at private citizens.

    Our view is that when you stand for public office, you accept the fact that some people will not like your decisions. That is the cross public officials must bear and they knowingly accept it. We are reliant on the common sense of the public to comment appropriately.

    That said we agree with your comments. Hopefully others do so as well and will keep them in mind when writing their comments.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  8. Anonymous said

    As a parent of a learning disabled child, I was disappointed by the reaction of the person who showed such contempt for the student who wrote in. The student wrote “seen” instead of “scene.” This mistake is common for children with learning disabilities. They often use homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently than the word they intended to use).

    I don’t know why the student made this mistake. But I do find it odd and somehow cruel and insensitive that an adult would feel it was so important to respond in this way. What is the point of jumping on ANYONE like that, let alone a student working on an assignment and expressing an honest opinion?

    Perhaps the student did hit a nerve by suggesting the tone of this site is mean-spirited. The person who wrote back proved the point. So have so many other correspondents who seem to view the world as black vs. white, good vs. evil. That represents everything that is wrong with today’s world, suggesting that anyone who holds a different point of view is somehow wicked, stupid or immoral.

    On Sept. 15, someone responsible for this site wrote that those who write in should do so “without name calling and personal insults.” Looking at much of what has been posted since then, I wonder what happened to that policy.

  9. Anonymous said

    I don’t think this is an attack machine. The Blog owner provides the venue, the people select the content. I’m responsible for at least one of the topics. It was posted at my request. Obviously people are talking about issues that are important to them. It’s unfortunate that most of the topics relate to the job the mayor is doing in her elected position, what’s MORE unfortunate is that a Mayor who has much potential is wasting it. There is such an opportunity here for improvement, if she would only show some respect I’m such it would be returned ten-fold. This Council needs to learn transparency and respect for staff.

  10. Anonymous said

    If someone found out the name of the administrator of this blog but is afraid to reveal it, surely suggests to me something is amiss.
    Someone is setting up a blog that acts as an attack machine, yet is too cowardly to come forward.
    In that context the blog sets the tone for someone to attack a student who thinks the blog is boring and mean.
    I don’t think this blog is doing Aurora any good.

  11. Anonymous said

    How could council NOT know about the issue. If you go to the Auroran’s website and search for the word bulkhead, there are a few very recent listings, and a few from 2007 that were brickbats from Dick Illingworth wondering how staff could have approved a report to reconstruct the bulkheads without asking how much/why/who pays, etc. Something’s definitely fishy in Denmark.

  12. Anonymous said

    For all of the anonymous posts here…..

    I have emailed the administrator of this blog before and due to some technical problems, I got a bounceback from their provider showing the real name of the owner. I can assure you that the owner is not Ms. Buck and while I know who it is, I will not publish it. I will let him/her do it when/if they are ready.

    Let’s not worry about who owns the blog but concentrate on discussing the issues.

  13. Anonymous said

    From Phyllis Morris’ inaugural address: “You’ll find that I’m a “hands on” Mayor, interested in the day-to-day operation of our town.”

    She has stayed true to her word in this respect, and residents are continually surprised by her constant micro-management of even the smallest issue. So what is her excuse on such a large issue as this? This has happened on her watch. How did she miss this? She must accept the responsibility and provide a full and accurate accounting to the residents.
    If this was the reason the CAO was fired, as is being suggested in media accounts, then how would the town be liable to pay-out the balance of his contract as a settlement? Would this not be “cause”.
    Will there ever be transparency on this issue?

  14. Anonymous said

    Why do people care who is behind this blog. Someone out there started it and now you are reading and commenting on it. So what is the problem? Use it for what is for and enjoy!

  15. Anonymous said

    Sisman laughed at the notion that she is the eyes and ears of Evelyn.
    I laughed when she stated that “it is not Evelyn” and “imagine ANYONE trying to tell Evelyn what she should so or say”… yet doesn’t realize the irony in her assertion that “it’s not Evelyn”.
    On what basis does she make the assertion?
    Does she watch and listen to Evelyn 24/7?
    Has Evelyn asked her, given her permission to speak for her?
    I know I wouldn’t want anyone speaking for me, unless of course it was a lawyer, or I was unable to speak for myself.
    I’m glad Sisman laughed.
    I too laugh… and laugh.

  16. Anonymous said

    Maybe this someone, other than Evelyn, writing this blog is just Joe Blow who wants to have the citizens of Aurora educated so that the next time they go to the polls they make wiser decisions about who they put in office. I for one will be. Thank-you Aurora Citizen for make peoples opinions heard.

  17. Heather Sisman said

    Hey Anonymouse from 3:15 AM who suggests I’m the eyes and ears of Evelyn – I have never laughed so hard in MONTHS. First of all, imagine ANYONE trying to tell Evelyn what she should so or say. And when you stop laughing… and if you’d like to have an intelligent conversation, let me know. There’s nothing I like better. I find it interesting that there are so many versions of the story at hand. I hope that it all comes out in the open at some point.

  18. Anonymous said

    I believe the word you are looking for is “scene” not seen.

    I have no idea what “school” you attend but I hope it’s not in Aurora! Perhaps in addition to your research, you should take a course in remedial English.

  19. Anonymous said

    man this is one boring blog. i’m doing research for school, came here, but hey you guys make the seen boring. mean too no wonder people don’t vote.

  20. Anonymous said

    Hey anonymous, time to wake up and smell the coffee. You seem to be one of very few who continue to blindly follow and support the behaviour of the Mayor and her cronies.

    Even the Banner in their recent Editorial see the issues here ( Or do you believe they are controlled by this blog as well. Maybe the blog also caused the snow storm last night so Council would have a shortfall in the snow plow budget, or the sun so that the water shortages could be blamed on Council.

    And of special note, I notice the one and only comment, which supported the Mayor is by “AuroraGuy” — an anonymous comment. So it appears that; 1) none of the Mayors supporters are prepared to state their names — either here or in the newspapers, and 2) allowing anonymous comments is standard practice.

    You and your constant complaining are irrlevant. The fact that this blogs continues to publish them proves they publish everything and don’t filter comments to support any point of view, and that you have nothing of value to say.

  21. StephanieAllen said

    Can we have comments that address the issues please?? I’m getting quite tired of this. See my previous comment, I’m not repeating myself, like you seem to be Anonymous #1.

  22. Anonymous said

    Heather sisman is the ears, eyes, voice of Evelyn?
    She speaks for Evelyn? Is Evelyn failing?
    Some find the constant references to this and Evelyn’s blog and sisman’s involvement in both strange, especially because no one will own up to being behind this blog that pretends to be the voice of aurora, but is just an attack machine, like Evelyn’s.
    It reads like negative electioneering.
    Oh well, let them party on.
    Love the whole freedom of speech thing don’t cha know.

  23. Heather Sisman said

    Why do people keep suggesting that Evelyn Buck is behind the Aurora Citizen? If I knew who was behind it I’d tell you – but it’s NOT Evelyn. She does her own thing on her own blog and posts under her OWN name. Check it out!

  24. Anonymous said

    Why would Evelyn hide behind this blog when she says how she sees it on her own blog and when she has commented on this one she uses her name. She is not afraid. It is what is is. There is no hiding when you put it out there for all to see. Openness and transparency.

  25. Anonymous said

    If you don’t want spin why refer to Evelyn’s blog?
    Could it be as some suspect this is Evelyn’s blog?
    Just asking.

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