Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Lawsuit continues

Posted by auroracitizen on October 31, 2009

Gail Swainson Urban Affairs Reporter

Toronto Star: Published On Fri Oct 30 2009

Aurora councillor plans to sue colleagues

Claims defamation by mayor, councillors in complaint over blog

Embattled Aurora Councillor Evelyn Buck has served a notice of action on Mayor Phyllis Morris and five council colleagues for $5.25 million, alleging abuse of power, misuse of public funds and defamation, in the latest salvo of a political dispute over the pointed criticisms she has posted on her popular blog.

“The mayor and town councillors abused their statutory powers and authority for a wrongful purpose which included interfering with (Buck’s) constitutional rights through the improper use of public funds to defame (Buck) and advance their personal and political interests with a view to censoring and eliminating dissent,” says a two-page notice of action filed in Newmarket court this week by Buck’s lawyers, MacDonald Associates. None of Buck’s allegations has been proven in court.

What provoked the move was a formal complaint against Buck, lodged by town council this summer, about her critique of town staff in her lively “Our Town and its Business” blog. The town’s new integrity commissioner quickly rejected the complaint for being “inappropriate as crafted” and suggested it had been politically motivated. He was promptly fired.

Named in the action are Morris and councillors Evelina MacEachern, Wendy Gaertner, Stephen Granger, John Gallo and Al Wilson. Also named is publisher Ian Proudfoot and Metroland Media Group, which published a statement from the town in The Banner newspaper and its website in July. Metroland is owned by Toronto Star’s parent Torstar Corp.

The list of allegations involving the politicians includes malfeasance in public office, intimidation, injurious falsehood, conspiracy, intentional infliction of mental suffering and breach of confidence. Buck has 30 days to file a more detailed statement of claim. She said she could not comment because the matter is before the courts.

Morris, who had yet to see the court document Thursday afternoon, said, “There’s not much I can say at this point because I’m not privy to any information.”

Several years of political infighting came to a head this summer when the majority of council members signed the formal complaint, accusing Buck of posting “unmerited” comments on her blog, in which she said city staff weren’t following proper council procedures.

Morris issued a statement saying council was “obliged” to file the complaint to protect staff. Anonymous ads then ran in the Auroran newspaper calling on residents to turf Morris and five councillors.

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6 Responses to “Lawsuit continues”

  1. Knowledgeable in Aurora said

    Dear Broderick:

    This is not the first time that Mestrinaro has used his “influence” over the “Evil one” to badger staff to get special treatment. Remember the wind turbine issue early in the term. He was the one behind that. The Chief Building official, the Planner and the CAO were all treated dreadfully while the Mayor watched and let it happen. And then he gets put on the Committee of Adjustment!

    I hope this is remembered when Phyllis, Evelina and Mestrinaro all put their names on the ballot in 2010. Not to mention the fact that Phyllis didn’t even blink an eye while the “A” Team of staff were being treated so poorly. Not until the Phyllis hired “B” Team were in place did she all of sudden become the saviour of “staff reputations”. What a bad joke she is!

  2. Anonymous said

    When is this embarrasment going to stop. The mayor protecting her friend St Kitts, giving citizen of the year to her friends and backers, Walmer and Thomlinson, giving her campaign manager Whitehead a plum paid job at the Town,getting her supporter Gallo on council and now the co-mayor tries to get her best friends company a town contract.
    Wow, and I thought that Vaughan was in trouble with their mayor and council.

  3. Broderick Epps said

    According to Ms Morris, council was “obliged” to file the complaint to protect staff. Interesting given the current situation before General Committee and Council. Walter Mestrinaro, a former running mate for councillor with one Evilina Mac, is complaining that staff mishandled his firms bid for bleacher components. His complaint has been an item in GC Oct 20 and Nov 3 and hence council Oct 27.In Item 9 of GC Nov 3 Dan Elliot spells out the reason Mr Mestrinaro’s firm’s bid was disqualified. Essentially the bid called for the successful bidder to show proof of certification to welding standards. Mr Mestrinaro’s firm couldn’t but according to Mr. Mestrinaro the sub contractor he normally used did but by tender deadline date he hadn’t yet contacted the subcontractor. Wading through all this, staff correctly disqualified Mestinaro’s firm’s bid. Not willing to accept no as an answer and blaming staff for flawed logic based on his so called expertise in the matter,he appealed to GC. Of course guess who promptly came up with a motion to send the whole issue to staff.(Hint former running mate). Doesn’t this send a message to staff they will be second guessed for doing their job when they run afoul of a friend of concil’s inner circle?. Where was our HR expert (or so her resume implies) Ms. Morris. Why is something so obvious wasting town’s time and resources?
    What really is apparent, is staff needs protecting….. but from the unnecessary meddling of Evilina Mac and Mayor Morris along with the rest of this council!

  4. Richard Johnson said

    Council was given an opportunity to remedy the damage they have inflicted on Councillor Buck’s reputation but I fully expect that the Mayor will not back down on anything even if common sense or the common good would suggest that she should. This is all about political infighting and manipulation and to admit fault or responsibility does not in any way appear to be within the realm of the possible at Aurora Council these days.

    On a related note, numerous Councillors recently made claims that they wanted to move on from the whole Integrity Commissioner, Code of Conduct mess that they themselves have inflicted on all of us, but when Councilor Bob McRoberts asked to have the offending material posted on the town website concerning allegations but no examples of abuse on the part of Councilor Buck, council decided in its wisdom that such a motion was “reconsideration” of an earlier motion therefore it was dismissed. It is yet to be determined how any posted material on the town’s website can in fact ever be removed if an order from council is considered to be “reconsideration” of the motion that put it there in the first place. I know this sounds whacky, but there are numerous such examples as to how procedures have been inexplicably handled this term.

    I have asked the acting Town Clerk and Town Solicitor twice to clarify what the process is for updating the town’s website if an order in council is not a viable option, but unfortunately I have not received an answer. I also brought the lack of response from the town to the attention of Deputy Mayor McRoberts and he subsequently asked the Clerk to respond, but to no avail.

    Welcome to the new more transparenta nd responsive Aurora, which seems in a very strange way to be at odds with the Mayor’s inaugural speech in more than a few regards.

  5. Nigel Kean said

    It is really disappointing that Councillor Buck has chosen to sue her fellow councillors but I believe that the blame should fall on those who have taken the action against her. This could have been easily stopped had the Mayor and five councillors apologized to Counciller Buck after the integrity commissioner was fired. To me,when the commissioner dismissed the charges,as there was not enough to follow through with the charge, was the time to drop the whole thing.
    This council has been so dysfunctional that this apology might have healed the problem. Now it goes to court, where the only people to come out on top will be the lawyers.
    Councillor Wilson, at a council meeting that I attended, suggested that this be put aside and move on yet voted against what he had said.
    Come on council, let’s bury the hatchet and get on with what you were elected to do, work for the betterment of Aurora. You all made many promises during the last election on how you would improve Aurora. Perhaps you should read your campaign brochures and do what you promised. That goes for the mayor as well who made numerous promises including a workable council that is transparent.

  6. Ask Aurora? said

    You’re Welcome…again.

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