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markbarbera
Feb 7, 2008, 6:21 PM
From today's online edition of chml.com (http://900chml.com/news/news_local.cfm?cat=7428109912&rem=85064&red=80110923aPBIny&wids=410&gi=1&gm=news_local.cfm):

City councillor comes under fire
Feb, 07 2008 - 6:00 AM


HAMILTON (AM900 CHML) - There are suggestions that a Hamilton councillor may be kicked out of office.
That is a possibility, if allegations against Councillor David Mitchell are proven.

The Spectator says councillor Robert Pasuta revealed behind closed doors Tuesday Mitchell "lobbied" him to support a controversial land ruling on his farm.

Mitchell is trying to sever part of his Binbrook property.

But he insists he never had conversations about his application with his colleagues and he does not believe he is in conflict.

By law, councillors aren't allowed to influence a vote when they could be affected financially.

If guilty, a councillor is dismissed from office and can be barred from running again for several years.

The city's lawyer will report to council on its options for dealing with the allegation.

markbarbera
Feb 7, 2008, 6:25 PM
Related article in the Spec:

Allegations against councillor

Councillor accused of lobbying for land severance


February 07, 2008
Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
(Feb 7, 2008)
Hamilton Councillor David Mitchell's job is at risk amid allegations he tried to influence a council decision about his own property.

Councillor Robert Pasuta revealed behind closed doors Tuesday Mitchell "lobbied" him to support a controversial land ruling on his farm, The Spectator has learned.

Mitchell denied the allegation yesterday, saying he has never spoken with Pasuta about his plan to sever part of his Binbrook property.

"I've had no conversations at all about this application with my colleagues," he said."I don't believe anyone is in a conflict and I don't believe I am either."

Mitchell's statement contradicts several councillors who say he talked to them about the severance -- but did not feel he tried to influence their vote.

By law, councillors aren't allowed to influence a vote when they could be affected financially. If guilty, a councillor is dismissed from office and can be barred from running again for several years.

The city's lawyer will report to council on its options for dealing with the allegation.

"It's certainly dismaying, disappointing and stunning, quite frankly," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who commended Pasuta for his "courage."

"I admire his resolve to stand up and speak his piece. He would not have taken something like this lightly."

Pasuta refused to comment, saying he wouldn't reveal the contents of a confidential meeting.

The rookie Flamborough councillor, whom Mitchell openly took under his wing, shocked his colleagues at Tuesday's planning and economic planning meeting.

The committee was considering a staff recommendation to take Mitchell to the Ontario Municipal Board over the land severance. Mitchell was not in the meeting. He left after declaring a conflict.

Mitchell wants to have a house for farm help where his sister and her husband live severed from his property. His request, approved in the fall by the committee of adjustment, violates planning policies, according to city staff.

When the planning committee retreated behind closed doors to seek legal advice on the case, Pasuta raised his hand to say he was concerned he may have a conflict. He paced the floor as he said Mitchell had asked him to present a motion to go against staff advice to take the case to the OMB.

When the committee emerged, they unanimously supported the staff recommendation.

Mitchell denies speaking with any of his colleagues about the matter, but he said he was quoted in the media suggesting they should visit the property.

Mitchell added he may have given some members of council directions to his farm, but couldn't recall if he communicated by phone, fax, e-mail or in person.

The Spectator contacted all members of the planning committee to ask if they had discussed the land severance with Mitchell. Several confirmed they had, but none felt Mitchell tried to sway them.

"He did not lobby me," said Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.

Councillor Bob Bratina, who drove out to see the Guyatt Road property, said he asked Mitchell for directions but he didn't feel the councillor tried to lobby him.

"Honestly no, but I could see how it could be construed that way."

Stoney Creek Councillor Maria Pearson said she chatted with Mitchell about the severance.

"He just explained the situation."

Councillors Terry Whitehead and Scott Duvall said they also had passing chats with Mitchell. Councillor Brad Clark said he didn't talk to Mitchell and objects to him even raising the subject with colleagues.

"He shouldn't be talking to anyone about it. The act is clear."

Eisenberger said he urged Mitchell a few weeks ago to meet with the clerk to review the municipal conflict act.

Toronto lawyer Stephen D'Agostino, an expert in the legislation, said he advises councillors to completely remove themselves from the process after they have declared a conflict.

That includes not having any conversations with colleagues on the matter, he said.

"If that's not offside, it's pretty grey," he said. "I think there's a real risk."

In recent years, D'Agostino said the courts have not kicked any councillors out of office for violating the act. Most of the cases, he added, have dealt with whether a councillor had an interest rather than influencing the vote.

Mitchell was censured by the previous council in 2005 for trying to get out of a speeding ticket by showing his council identification and alleging police corruption.

nmacintyre@thespec.com

905-526-3299

What does the law say?

The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act states councillors must declare a conflict when they have a "direct or indirect pecuniary interest" in a matter before council.

Once they have declared a conflict, councillors are not allowed to take part in the debate or the vote.

If council goes behind closed doors, the councillor must leave.

The act directs councillors to not attempt to influence the vote "in any way whether before, during or after the meeting."

Once a violation of the act has been alleged, there is only six weeks for a complaint to be filed with the courts. This can be done by a councillor, city official or citizen.

If found guilty of violating the act, a judge must order the convicted politician's seat vacant and can bar a councillor from running again for up to seven years.

The court can offer a less severe punishment if the judge determines the violation occurred inadvertently or by an error in judgment.

markbarbera
Feb 7, 2008, 7:46 PM
This is the same councillor that tried to get out of a traffic ticket by flashing his business card to the police officer issuing the ticket. Unbelievable!

Can someone please explain to me why Councillor Whitehead is stonewalling the mayor's integrity commissioner initiative? We obviously need someone there to keep an eye on these guys!

realcity
Feb 7, 2008, 7:56 PM
Will this mean we can finally get rid of Mitchell? It's been too long, he's hates Hamilton. Whttp://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=549hether you live in Hamilton or the suburbs, he is nothing but poison to this community.

SteelTown
Feb 7, 2008, 7:58 PM
Can someone please explain to me why Councillor Whitehead is stonewalling the mayor's integrity commissioner initiative? We obviously need someone there to keep an eye on these guys!

Whitehead is trying to save money in his opinion. The province has set up a provincial integrity commissioner and so the City can request that commissioner to review certain matters. Whitehead doesn't see a need to have a separate commissioner for the city when the province can offer one for free.

markbarbera
Feb 7, 2008, 8:31 PM
That train of thought doesn't go very far at all. Municipal matters are currently out of scope for the provincial integrity minister. And, given that the provincial integrity commissioner's duties have expanded substantially as a result of the Public Service of Ontario Act, it would be unlikely that duties could be stretched to cover municipalities as well.

Whitehead loves to pass the buck to the province whenever possible. That's a real pet peeve I have with him. City Council needs to be directly held accountable for integrity, and the responsibility should not be delegated to an outside body. It's what the people of this city want, as demonstrated during the last municipal election. Why deny the will of the people?

SteelTown
Feb 7, 2008, 8:43 PM
I can sort of understand where Whitehead is coming from. The city passed anti-idling bylaw but no money to enforce it and it'll be the same story here. Get an integrity commissioner set up a budget and than the next year make cuts and next thing you know integrity commissioner will be a victim of cutbacks and the city will use the provincial integrity commissioner instead.

markbarbera
Feb 7, 2008, 9:34 PM
It's about giving the citizens of Hamilton what they want. Eisenberger's election as mayor should be a clear message to the entire council that we want an integrity commissioner in place in the city. Financing this is a drop in the bucket, and Whitehead's concern about affording it is an obvious red herring. Heck, given a choice between an integrity commisioner and flowerbeds in traffic medians, gimme the commish any day...

raisethehammer
Feb 7, 2008, 9:43 PM
This is the same councillor that tried to get out of a traffic ticket by flashing his business card to the police officer issuing the ticket. Unbelievable!

Can someone please explain to me why Councillor Whitehead is stonewalling the mayor's integrity commissioner initiative? We obviously need someone there to keep an eye on these guys!


it's not just whitehead. It's a bunch of them.
Take a wild guess why hamilton city council doesn't want an integrity commissioner:koko:

hamiltonguy
Feb 8, 2008, 3:54 AM
Although I don't like Mitchell, his ideas, or his methods, I do think he should be allowed to sever the land like the Committee of adjustment agreed to. I think it's a shame this is turning into a big fight.

To be fair I'm been part of a group that has a recreational facility in the Greenbelt and the land is part of a farm of a member. Unfourtunately we are not allowed to sever the land and if the owner has to sell we are SOL for our location. So sometimes I think they should allow severances.

HAMRetrofit
Feb 8, 2008, 5:11 AM
This is the type of behavior that deserves a stern kick to the curb. The only reason to back pedal on an integrity commissioner is because of ongoing behavior that lacks integrity.

raisethehammer
Feb 8, 2008, 11:49 AM
Although I don't like Mitchell, his ideas, or his methods, I do think he should be allowed to sever the land like the Committee of adjustment agreed to. I think it's a shame this is turning into a big fight.

To be fair I'm been part of a group that has a recreational facility in the Greenbelt and the land is part of a farm of a member. Unfourtunately we are not allowed to sever the land and if the owner has to sell we are SOL for our location. So sometimes I think they should allow severances.


not to turn this conversation elsewhere, but you couldn't have a set-up where they could "sometimes allow severances".
If they allow them, it's allowed for everyone.
I agree with the Greenbelt plan and the desire to maintain our great rural/farming communities.

Mitchell has always tried to be a tough guy thug on council.
Let's hope the Mayor finally convinces the rest of these clowns to get an integrity commissioner. Lord knows they need one.

DC83
Feb 8, 2008, 1:17 PM
from 900chml.com
http://900chml.com/station/corus_qod_poll.cfm?PollID=22386

Should city politicians who leak confidential information to the media be punished or applauded?

62% Punished
38% Applauded

****************************************

I have finally figured out why this city is so damn backwards... it's b/c it's "citizens" don't give an F about corruption! Wow.

raisethehammer
Feb 8, 2008, 3:10 PM
from 900chml.com
http://900chml.com/station/corus_qod_poll.cfm?PollID=22386

Should city politicians who leak confidential information to the media be punished or applauded?

62% Punished
38% Applauded

****************************************

I have finally figured out why this city is so damn backwards... it's b/c it's "citizens" don't give an F about corruption! Wow.


I think you're partly right.
It's also due to how the media presents (spins) everything.
the issue here shouldn't be presented as though someone ratted out councils private business.
It's someone upholding the law that was trying to be broken by an elected official.
If this poll question said "should councillors who attempt to abuse their power and break the law be punished?" the answer would be overwhelmingly in favour of punishment.

And thats exactly how they would present the question if it were McHattie or Bratina or someone else who isn't a brain-dead puppet of the home building industry.

highwater
Feb 8, 2008, 5:52 PM
"Applauded' is up to 41%. Get on over to 900chml and freep the poll. Maybe we can even this baby up.

hamiltonguy
Feb 10, 2008, 1:38 AM
not to turn this conversation elsewhere, but you couldn't have a set-up where they could "sometimes allow severances".
If they allow them, it's allowed for everyone.
I agree with the Greenbelt plan and the desire to maintain our great rural/farming communities.

Mitchell has always tried to be a tough guy thug on council.
Let's hope the Mayor finally convinces the rest of these clowns to get an integrity commissioner. Lord knows they need one.

I think that's the role of the committee of the adjustment to allow severances in cases where it's not in violation in of the spirit of the greenbelt. The Greenbelt is about stopping sprawl, not about making things inconvenient for land owners and rural residents (as opposed to land speculators and developers).

But once again the way Mitchell acted was despicable. If he can't behave himself he needs to be off council.

SteelTown
Feb 14, 2008, 12:19 PM
Council censures Mitchell

February 14, 2008
Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator

City council censured Councillor David Mitchell late last night for trying to influence a council decision on his own property.

The Glanbrook councillor will not be allowed to be chair or vice chair of a committee, or act as deputy mayor for the remainder of the term.

Council approved the censuring after more than three hours behind closed doors. "I think council has taken this very seriously," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

This is the second time Mitchell has been censured. The previous council censured him for trying to use his position to get out of a speeding ticket.

The Spectator revealed last week that Councillor Robert Pasuta told his colleagues in-camera that he was lobbied by Mitchell to support a land ruling on his farm.

Under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, councillors aren't allowed to influence a vote when they could be affected financially.

The city's lawyer advised council last night that it can't ask a judge to investigate. Council could order a judicial inquiry, but the lawyer advised it could cost up to $1 million.

Instead, council chose to punish Mitchell under its own code of conduct. A private citizen can still ask a judge to investigate, the mayor noted.

Last fall, the committee of adjustment approved a severance on Mitchell's farm against staff advice. Staff wants council's approval to take the case to the Ontario Municipal Board. Council agreed last night, despite Mitchell withdrawing his severance request.

raisethehammer
Feb 14, 2008, 12:22 PM
feel free to toss the bum out.

beanmedic
Feb 14, 2008, 7:38 PM
"A private citizen can still ask a judge to investigate, the mayor noted."

Could be interesting. Do you think it will happen?

raisethehammer
Feb 14, 2008, 7:45 PM
"A private citizen can still ask a judge to investigate, the mayor noted."

Could be interesting. Do you think it will happen?


this is such a joke. the entire integrity system of politics is off the rails.
Who has the time or money to do that? Look at the hassle Joanna Chapman went through 100's of thousands of dollars and years in court just to have the illegal donations looked at. The city and province should be doing this stuff on their own. Not washing their hands of it and saying "if a citizen wants to investigate, they can". It's not our job! morons.

DC83
Feb 14, 2008, 8:05 PM
this is such a joke. the entire integrity system of politics is off the rails.
Who has the time or money to do that? Look at the hassle Joanna Chapman went through 100's of thousands of dollars and years in court just to have the illegal donations looked at. The city and province should be doing this stuff on their own. Not washing their hands of it and saying "if a citizen wants to investigate, they can". It's not our job! morons.

She spent all that time and money trying to take down the Don. And what did it get her/us? Him running for Federal Politics where they're even bigger crooks (look at the Valeri/Copps/Martin saga).

Well to be fair, he did lose the race for mayor which can be tied to his CONFIRMED politically-criminal activities. Let's hope that these facts wont be forgotton come the time he runs for the Feds. Infact, I'll be sure to remind everyone I know at that time (as will you guys, and Chapman, etc).

Mitchell is just a hick-councillor from Glanbrook who should be FIRED! This is his second attempt at using political "status" to sway decisions. He's obviously in this position for no other reason than to power-trip to his own advantage!

raisethehammer
Feb 14, 2008, 11:00 PM
I'd rather they fire him instead of censure him. Don't do that. It's taking away material for us and the media! lol