Friday, May 9, 2014

Fact #22: Doug Ford used tax dollars to help his Deco client avoid a pollution fine


It's true. In August 2012 Doug Ford (and his brother) intervened when one of their Deco Labels & Tags clients was facing a fine for dumping sewage into a North York river:

"Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford summoned the highest levels of the city’s bureaucracy to a meeting after they learned a Toronto company that has done business with their family firm was the prime suspect in a sewage spill investigation, newly released records show. 
In a series of after-hours e-mails and phone calls from Aug. 14, 2012, Mayor Ford and his staffers, along with a staffer for Councillor Ford, contacted Toronto’s top managers – including city manager Joe Pennachetti, deputy manager John Livey, as well as the head of Toronto Water, Lou Di Gironimo – after bylaw inspectors descended on Apollo Health and Beauty Care, a manufacturer of soaps and shampoos. The Ford family business, Deco Labels and Tags, has manufactured labels for Apollo’s products. None of the senior bureaucrats were made aware that Apollo has contracted Deco Labels and Tags to make their labels, city officials said in interviews. 
On Aug. 15, three senior Toronto bureaucrats – Mr. Livey, Mr. Di Gironimo and Joanne Di Caro, the head of the division that responds to environmental spills – met with Apollo’s chairman, Richard Wachsberg, along with Mayor Ford, Doug Ford and the city inspector who first traced the spill back to the company, records show. The North York factory is not in Councillor Ford’s ward."
It should be noted that Apollo acted responsibly to correct the problem:

"Since the spill and the meeting, Apollo has co-operated extensively with the city to improve how it treats its discharge and is participating in a compliance program, Mr. Di Gironimo said. He stressed that city officials want to work with businesses, especially new businesses, so that they can comply with the city’s sewer bylaws rather than have staff automatically take an adversarial approach to policing the sewers. Apollo has not been fined."

Why should I care?

Want a good definition of gravy? How about tying up the mayor's office, a councillor's office, the city's top bureaucrat and several senior civil servants to to handle a minor issue that could have been resolved at a much lower level and with far fewer people. How many thousands of dollars of staffer time was wasted on this exercise? And why was Councillor Doug Ford's (Ward 2) office involved when Apollo's operations are in Councillor Anthony Perruzza's district (Ward 8)? Doesn't Doug have his own constituents to look after?

This is a textbook definition of conflict of interest. Did did Rob or Doug not have time to bother telling anyone that they had a personal financial stake in Apollo's operations? How many similar activities has Doug undertaken for companies outside his ward that aren't business customers of his private company?

Remember when Rob testified in court that his definition of conflict of interest was that a member of council needed to benefit? So using city resources to bail out your business partners doesn't count? Maybe the Ford brothers should have taken five minutes to actually read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

Next time you see Doug or Rob, let them know how pleased you are that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used to increase sales at Deco. Because that's what an open, transparent, gravy-free government is all about.

How do I know you're not lying?

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