Coun­cil­lor seeks $500K in dam­ages

In­ves­ti­ga­tion launched in re­la­tion to leaked voice mail

Thornhill Post - - News - –– Gly­nis Ratcliffe

Con­tro­versy con­tin­ues in the cham­bers of Rich­mond Hill Town Coun­cil. At a re­cent com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing, coun­cil­lors passed a mo­tion to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the be­hav­iour of Ward 5 coun­cil­lor Karen Cile­vitz, to be car­ried out by an in­de­pen­dent third party.

This fol­lows the leak of a con­tentious voice mail that was left on the per­sonal mo­bile of lo­cal mu­sic or­ga­nizer St­effi Good­field.

Three weeks prior to the meet­ing, Cile­vitz had filed a defama­tion suit, seek­ing $500,000 in dam­ages, against Matthew “Groopie” Bergman, for al­leged state­ments he had made re­lat­ing to the voice mail.

Dur­ing the com­mit­tee meet­ing on July 3, coun­cil saw a brief dep­u­ta­tion from Ja­son Alling­ham, from MacDon­ald As­so­ciates pc, rep­re­sent­ing Karen Cile­vitz, who re­minded coun­cil that this mat­ter had al­ready been dis­missed by the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner. Af­ter his dep­u­ta­tion, St­effi Good­field ad­dressed coun­cil.

“I’m not quite sure that you can un­der­stand how phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally dif­fi­cult it is for me to ap­pear here in per­son to­day, as I am presently un­der­go­ing med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions,” Good­field said. “This has not been easy for me.”

In her dep­u­ta­tion, Good­field ad­dressed the defama­tion claim.

“She [Cile­vitz] is claim­ing an out­ra­geous amount of dam­ages and is ask­ing for a half a mil­lion dol­lar pay­out,” she said. “I con­sider this new at­tack on Matt and his ef­forts to stand up for me a di­rect at­tack on me and all the mem­bers of our mu­si­cal com­mu­nity.”

Good­field also an­nounced that she was re­turn­ing the per­sonal $500 do­na­tion coun­cil­lor Cile­vitz had given her dur­ing a fundraiser in March 2017 to help pay med­i­cal costs re­lated to breast can­cer treat­ment.

A lengthy de­bate fol­lowed, wherein coun­cil­lor Tom Muench ar­gued for an ex­ter­nal and in­de­pen­dent in­tegrity com­mis­sioner to ex­am­ine the com­plaint by St­effi Good­field against the be­hav­iour of coun­cil­lor Cile­vitz.

One of the key is­sues that Muench’s mo­tion faced was that com­plaints can’t be brought to the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner af­ter May 31 in an elec­tion year. Mayor Bar­row helped amend the mo­tion by re­fer­ring back to the orig­i­nal com­plaint, which was launched in May, when the voice mail ini­tially sur­faced.

Coun­cil­lor Brenda Hogg did not sup­port the amend­ment, call­ing into ques­tion the in­tegrity of the work­around that was pro­posed.

“I can­not, I will not, ac­cept this mo­tion be­fore us,” she said, ad­dress­ing coun­cil. “I think it goes be­yond the time frame. It ex­ceeds the ex­pec­ta­tions of our poli­cies and our pro­ce­dures. It is just wrong place, wrong time, and it brings for­ward ques­tions of fair­ness in the elec­toral process.”

Af­ter hav­ing been asked to com­ment on re­sults of the meet­ing, Cile­vitz wrote, “It con­cerns me that Cllr [sic] Muench’s highly prej­u­di­cial mo­tion came be­fore Coun­cil in the first place, and, that Coun­cil chose to ig­nore the ad­vice of the Town’s le­gal coun­sel in this re­gard.”

Muench de­fended his mo­tion, say­ing that he be­lieved that pub­lic lead­ers ought to be held to a higher stan­dard.

“I be­lieved [Cile­vitz] threat­ened St­effi. I think it was a ha­rass­ment,” he said. “We as pub­lic fig­ures.… We don’t own the terms. We don’t own the res­i­dents. We ser­vice res­i­dents.”

He also added that the rea­son why he moved such time-sen­si­tive mo­tions was out of con­cern that St­effi Good­field may fur­ther suc­cumb to her Stage IV metastatic breast can­cer.

Good­field had very lit­tle to say about the re­sults of the meet­ing.

“It felt like we were fi­nally be­ing taken se­ri­ously,” she said.

When asked how all of this might im­pact her in the up­com­ing elec­tion cam­paign, Cile­vitz stated, “I am run­ning for re-elec­tion on Oct. 22 on the mer­its of the ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vice I have been priv­i­leged to of­fer our res­i­dents as the in­cum­bent Ward 5 coun­cil­lor for the past four years, work­ing only in and for their best in­ter­ests.”

I con­sider this new at­tack on Matt and his ef­forts to stand up for me a di­rect at­tack on me.”

Event or­ga­nizer St­effi Good­field ad­dress­ing coun­cil on July 3

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