Re­gion to re­strict coun­cil­lor phones

The Welland Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - GRANT LAFLECHE

With Niagara Re­gion un­der in­creased scru­tiny over coun­cil­lor ex­penses, the Re­gion is lim­it­ing how coun­cil­lors can use their cell phones, The Stan­dard has learned.

In an email cir­cu­lated to coun­cil­lors, re­gional clerk Laura Bubanko says the roam­ing fea­ture on re­gion smart­phones and iPads will be “re­stricted.”

“Fur­ther to the Chair’s email be­low and at­tach­ment re­gard­ing Smart­phones and iPads, which in­di­cated that IT would be re­strict­ing the data roam­ing fea­ture to pre­vent un­ex­pected charges, please note that IT will be car­ry­ing out this re­stric­tion ef­fec­tive Mon­day, Septem­ber 18, 2017,” says the email ob­tained by The Stan­dard.

Last week, The Stan­dard re­quested cell phone bills, in­clud­ing roam­ing charges, for all coun­cil­lors for this term of gov­ern­ment. Re­gional staff say they are work­ing on the re­quest, along with the Stan­dard’s re­quest for all coun­cil­lor ex­penses on a month-by-month ba­sis.

The cell phone re­stric­tion fol­lows re­ports by The Stan­dard on coun­cil­lor ex­penses.

The Stan­dard re­ported Wed­nes­day that St. Catharines re­gional Coun. Andy Petrowski filed for and was re­im­bursed more than $44,500 in le­gal ex­penses re­lated to in­tegrity com­mis­sioner in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his con­duct and a failed le­gal at­tempt to block the re­lease of the com­mis­sioner’s re­ports.

The for­mer in­terim in­tegrity com­mis­sioner John Mas­carin found Petrowski vi­o­lated coun­cil’s code of con­duct in three in­ves­ti­ga­tions — 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.

On Wed­nes­day, The Stan­dard learned the Re­gion had ap­proved $44,571 in le­gal ex­penses tied to the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner re­ports. Al­though the re­port did not name Petrowski, his in­tegrity com­mis­sioner files and court case were the only ones that could be have been con­nected to the pay­out.

On Thurs­day, Petrowski con­firmed on CKTB 610 AM that the pay­out was made to him and said he was “open and trans­par­ent” in sub­mit­ting le­gal ex­penses.

Petrowski has not re­sponded to mul­ti­ple re­quests for an in­ter­view by The Stan­dard. He has not an­swered sev­eral emailed ques­tions from The Stan­dard on the is­sue, in­clud­ing a query about who his lawyer was, given that he rep­re­sented him­self in court.

The pay­out was not the first coun­cil­lor ex­pense is­sue to make the news.

Ear­lier this month, The Stan­dard learned that Fort Erie Coun. Sandy An­nun­zi­ata has been billing the pub­lic for reg­u­lar trips to Toronto to ap­pear on a talk-ra­dio pro­gram.

He re­ceived $4,100 in 2015 in ex­penses for the trips and has been a reg­u­lar guest on the show in 2016 and 2017. Al­though his ap­pear­ances are not of­fi­cial re­gional busi­ness, An­nun­zi­ata told The Stan­dard he can ex­pense them be­cause he pro­motes Niagara ev­ery chance he gets.

Re­gional chair­man Alan Caslin did not re­spond to re­quests for an in­ter­view about the Petrowski pay­out Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.