Petrowski billed taxpayer for legal fees
St. Catharines regional councillor Andy Petrowski billed taxpayers for his drive to court to sue fellow councillors in May.
According to regional financial documents obtained by Postmedia under Freedom of Information legislation, Petrowski filed and was reimbursed for two 62 kilometre trips to the Welland courthouse on May 9 and 12 related to his failed attempt to block the release of integrity commissioner reports that said he violated the Region’s code of conduct.
The documents, which detail his expenses from April and May of this year, also show he was reimbursed for mileage for three trips to Mississauga for legal meetings regarding integrity commissioner matters — two for 208 kilometres and one for 231 kilometres — and mileage for multiple trips to meet with regional chairman Alan Caslin.
The documents do not say who in Mississauga Petrowski was meeting with in May, nor specifically what the meetings were for. They are listed in the documents by Petrowski as “I.C Complaint -Legal” and “I.C. Legal - Settle Account.”
There are no legal bills for May meetings filed by Petrowski in the spring or summer. Postmedia is in the process of accessing the expense reports for all councillors for the entire term of this government.
The mileage expenses for April and May — which total to around $665 — happen during the climax of a controversial period for Petrowski during which he was under intense public scrutiny that began with the integrity commissioner reports and ended when he sent a pornographic image to around 100 people from his regional email account.
It was also during that period that Petrowski filed the bill for having consulted Toronto lawyer Elaine F. Gordon regarding the three integrity commissioner complaints against him. The documents show Gordon billed Petrowski $49,494 for her services which included “meeting and taking instructions”, reviewing documents, reviewing the region’s code of conduct, research, providing opinion letters, offering legal advice, and talking to Petrowski on the phone.
Petrowski filed three receipts from Gordon. The list of services provided is identical in each case, save for the dates.
According to the documents, Petrowski met with Gordon three times in a two-week period in February.
Petrowski submitted the full $49,494 as expenses to the Region and was reimbursed for $44,571. The documents do not explain the difference.
Gordon confirmed Petrowski hired her regarding the integrity commissioner matters, but said she did not represent him during his attempt to sue most of council.
The former interim integrity commissioner John Mascarin found in May that Petrowski violated council’s code in three instances — two regarding his tweets and one regarding his conduct at a public meeting.
The day before Mascarin’s reports were to be made public, Petrowski attempted to get an injunction to block their release. Claiming the reports violated his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Petrowski filed suit against 24 of the 31 regional councillors.
A judge threw the case out and Petrowski, who represented himself in court, was ordered to pay $5,500 in expenses alongside Fort Erie resident Fred Bracken who joined him in the suit.
Council eventually voted to accept Mascarin’s recommendation that Petrowski apologize to council. It also voted to remove Petrowski from his committee memberships until he undertakes sensitivity training.
Petrowski was to respond to Mascarin’s report at a council meeting, but ended up taking a leave of absence for most of the summer after he emailed the pornographic image and had his access to regional communications equipment and accounts suspended.
In July Petrowski called the requirement for sensitivity training “a joke” and told CKTB 610 AM that he will not apologize to council.
However, on Thursday, Petrowski told the radio station he would apologize to council that night.
Petrowski has not responded to requests for an interview from postmedia.