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Councillor Michael Di Biase and the way he does business

Vaughan city council has voted unanimously to dock three month’s pay from Regional Councillor Michael Di Biase for breaching the City’s code of conduct by interfering in the tendering process and harassing and intimidating staff.

This means he will forfeit about $21,000 of the $84,301 he gets as Deputy Mayor of Vaughan. The Toronto Star reminds its readers that Di Biase also gets $52,000 from York Region where he chairs the sensitive Planning and Economic Development Committee, a berth which many people will now consider wholly inappropriate.

The Star says it is unclear if his pay suspension will include his pay from the region.

It should. No doubt about it.

Di Biase cannot simply shrug his shoulders and behave as if nothing has happened, business as usual.

The report from Integrity Commissioner, Suzanne Craig, makes jaw-dropping reading.

The man whose complaint triggered the investigation, Richard Lorello, alleged, amongst other things, that construction work done on Di Biase’s cottage, 90 kilometres to the north of the city, had been paid for by a company whose interests in Vaughan Di Biase was promoting.

The Integrity Commissioner didn’t investigate these allegations “which on their face are allegations of a criminal nature” advising Lorello to take the matter up with the police. The Star says he is doing just that.

Craig interviewed 32 council employees. On pages 19 and 20 of her report she quotes the tongue lashing staff received when they told Di Biase there were procedures that had to be followed when the city was awarding contracts.

Di Biase told one hapless employee to

“stop wasting time and don’t be a troublemaker and cause problems”.

To another Di Biase ordered:

“Just deal with it and make it happen”.

When Di Biase’s favoured company didn’t qualify for tendering:

“You have to be ****ing kidding me. They have to pre-qualify.”

Di Biase tells a city staffer:  

“Don’t make waves.”

And one pearl of a quote from Vaughan’s Deputy Mayor:

“Tell your boss, when I call, respond to your ****ing phone.”

Tomorrow, Thursday 23 April, York Regional Council meets at 9.30am.

This is an ideal opportunity for Regional Councillor Michael Di Biase to do the right thing.

He should request five minutes to make a personal statement, acknowledging the fact that councillors in his own municipality accept the Integrity Commissioner’s findings – even if he still protests his innocence.

He should volunteer to give up three months pay from York Region ($13,000) and stand down as Chair of Planning and Economic Development on the grounds that his integrity and impartiality have been totally compromised.

I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

You can read the final report of the Integrity Commissioner, dated 17 April 2015, here.

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