Saturday, January 12, 2013

On Appeal: Guilty As Charged

It may have been like pulling teeth to get the system to appreciate the concerns of taxpayers for the whole sordid conflict of interest case against our former Trustees but upon successful appeal it was clarified Friday in no uncertain terms. Elected officials are not allowed to start their own societies, become directors of those societies and then use their status as elected officials to vote public funds to their societies without declaring their conflict of interest.

Most of us thought it was an open and shut case right from the get go but when elected officials have unlimited access to public funds to defend themselves win or lose it all becomes a major cat and mouse game. The taxpayer is highly disadvantaged having to pay out of their own pocket additional money just to defend the public interest in a case of conflict of interest 101 that should never have gone on this long.

I fully appreciate the concerned members of our community who felt the incredible importance of this issue enough to petition the courts, lose and then appeal it, again at their own considerable expense. To Norbert Schlenker and the orginal gang of 15, Ted Bartrim, Alison Cunningham, Harold Hill, Malcolm Legg, my good friend Dietrich Luth, Victoria Mihalyi and Mark Toole, a big thankyou. I am sorry that it cost so many tens of thousands of hard earned dollars, time and cash on behalf of taxpayers but if it prevents future opportunisitic secret funding by our elected officials then it may all have been worth it, on principle alone. And thanks again to public videographer Jill Treewater for capturing the essential evidence that proved the case. I hope my small cash contribution helped in some way too.

The appeals court made its strongest point when it stated: “The object of the legislation (Conflict of Interest) is to prevent elected officials from having divided loyalties how to spend the public money. One’s own financial advantage can be a powerful motive for putting the public interest second but the same could also be said for the advancement of the cause of the non-profit entity, especially by committed believers in the cause, like the respondents, who as directors were under a legal obligation to put the entity first”.

I think it would behoove the former Trustees to come clean now and apologise to the community for patronizing the petitioners and polarizing the electorate against each other on an issue that was as easy to understand as any we have seen come before the courts, it has cost way too much at this point. I certainly will be looking to Trust Council to refund the taxpayers for the massive cost of this indefensible court case in lue of any attempt to raise their budgets this year..

Paul Marcano Vesuvius

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