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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teresa DiFalco- On Compliance Committee Process

As many of you know, the compliance committee process has reached an end, with the decision of the compliance committee on a number of matters. One of these matters, became an application concerning my campaign finances when I ran for Ward 10 Councillor.

Throughout the time that this matter unfolded, I responded to each media request I received-the lion’s share of which came from The Hamilton Spectator. I thought it proper to allow other media to cover this and not to speak about it here on The Hamiltonian, given that I am the Publisher.

As the matter has now been decided, and the committee has concluded that a compliance audit is not warranted in my case, I am at ease with writing about this in The Hamiltonian.

I believe that the compliance committee ultimately arrived at the right decision, with regard to not proceeding to a compliance audit,  where my campaign finances are concerned but I had grave concerns with the process; both, in my case and in the other cases that went before them.

My concerns grew as I learned that during one of Ms. Viv Saunders' applications concerning a councillor, a committee member told the councillor that she need not speak because he already knew that she had done nothing wrong. This highly prejudicial statement did not belong in the proceedings and assails the integrity of the process. I also became concerned when Ms. Joanna Chapman was informed by a compliance committee member that because a candidate was not successful in their election bid, that they were not subject to penalties. That statement was blatantly wrong and it makes one wonder if the committee members were duly skilled and informed to be hearing these matters.

In my case, and briefly, I provided a complete Form 4 package and ticked off indicators on the Form 4, that signalled that an additional schedule and charts were attached. Somehow, one schedule and two charts were not scanned and uploaded to the city’s website. This was beyond my control and seemingly, a result of human error. I am not assigning blame, but certainly I would imagine that people are people and are not infallible, even if you work at City Hall. We all make mistakes. Further, it would be completely illogical for me to check off boxes on my Form 4 stating that materials were attached, reference the information in those attachments throughout my Form 4 submission and factor them in the calculations, and yet not provide them.

In terms of the matter of my campaign deficit, I calculated it correctly, in accordance with the guide and cited the references throughout the guide that supported my calculation. This calculation, and my entire Form 4 submission was verified by an independent Chartered Professional Accountant, who provided his report accordingly. Upon receipt of the application, I presented the application to the independent Chartered Professional Accountant, and had him re-review my Form 4 and supporting materials in light of the application. He again confirmed that I was in complete compliance and provided a letter stating so, that I provided to the committee.

I intend to inform the public of the proceedings in my case more thoroughly, but in short, I am glad we have the safeguard of an audit compliance committee in the system. However, I am disappointed in the manner in which these proceedings were executed. There is room for significant improvement. Stay tuned.

Respectfully,
Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

12 comments:

  1. M Adrian BrassingtonJuly 29, 2015

    To properly understand this audit request assessment, you really had to be there. (I was, for two of the three sessions, including the middle one, when most of the requests were presented.) Reading reports (such as those from The Spec and CBC Hamilton) do not provide the context required to allow for an objective opinion.

    There is a climate in Hamilton that's worrying. (At least to me.) One of suspicion, one of accusation, one of an adversarial spirit. Especially towards Councillors.

    Here's my take: 1) From what I gleaned over the hours spent watching and listening to the sessions, the election campaign financial requirements are massively detailed. 'Complicated' might be the best descriptor. I'm not saying this should be any other way, merely that adhering to the guidelines is a priority in anyone's campaign. 2) On Councillors' parts at the very least, there is absolutely nothing to be gained by cheating. By finding ways to somehow hide (or blur) contributions. It's simply not worth the risk. Especially for Councillors...because getting re-elected is, statistically, a sure thing, with more than 90% of incumbents being returned to office over the past quarter-century in Hamilton. (The 'fairness' of all this is another conversation entirely.) 3) Entities within Hamilton who could use a leg-up, the inside track on, let's say, development are not going to be able to 'buy' this by way of spreading out $5,000's worth of contributions across Council. This is Hamilton, not NYC and Tammany Hall of the 19th Century. 4) Finally, as much as self-appointed watchdogs, especially those who apply a wholesale effort to the cause and apply for multiple audits of Councillors like to believe that they're providing some kind of invaluable civic service, when there's a unanimous verdict of 'Denied' such the one handed down by the -volunteer- committee, they should be required to perform community service. (To anyone who believes these verdicts were part of an over-arching conspiracy at City Hall, that it's just another case of things being white-washed, the only thing I can say is "Congratulations on being a pitchfork-wielder in the 'Throw the Bums Out!' mob.")

    P.S. Congrats to Teresa for responding to the audit request in so thorough a manner. (I sat with Teresa and Cal during the marathon session.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 29, 2015

      Yawn. For someone who sat through the marathon session sounds like you missed the point. Comes from having your head so far above us common folk.

      Delete
    2. AnonymousJuly 30, 2015

      I'm also presuming that you see no wrong-doing in SEVEN City employees being in attendance during the deliberation (in-camera) meeting when these verdicts were discussed?

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    3. @ Mr. Brassington. I agree that there is an overall tendency toward adversery and mis-trust of our public officials. In some cases, it may be warranted. But the greater question is, why is this happening? If we accept that people are intelligent beings, there must be something to this. I ask this openly and sincerely.
      Sorce

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  2. I was not there and so I trust the accounts of Teresa and my friend, Mr. Brassington. I would say that I am always leery of these types of committees. I respect that they are volunteers, but they are also asked to decide on the plight of people .The city should have had a lawyer in the room. And in your case Teresa- the probability of them not scanning your documents, against you,a highly respected person who has some profound insights, choosing not to include them yet including the numbers, is high. No one in their right mind would choose to exclude documents that they refer to and that apparently were confirmed by an accountant, but it is common for documents to get misplaced, not scanned uploaded or whatever.

    I wish the process played out better overall.

    P.S. I am glad to see The Hamiltonian back. I was missing it.
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 30, 2015

      The city did have a lawyer in the room. It also appears they had 2 lawyers, plus 5 other City Staff, attend the "in-camera" meeting before these decisions were reached by this independent committee

      Delete
  3. AnonymousJuly 29, 2015

    I think Hamilton should move on. Let it go already. It has used up too much time and money and it is making the city look bad...again. Lot of this is political and taxpayers have no patience for it.

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  4. I have a real hard time accepting the need to waste my money and drag applications in front of a compiance committee for a 50/50 draw that raised $200. I also find it very "strange" the the city is claiming the forms were not attached, even though the boxes on the form was checked off. I have experienced first hand materials going astray after handing them over to city hall staff. I am also suspicious about this being politically driven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I mentioned previously MLC, it is pretty clear that the documents were not posted. The alternative is silly to believe. It is this type of thing that makes the whole process look ridiculous

      The purpose of this type of legislation is to ensure that noone has attempted to contravene the act in corrupt or malicious ways, in order to benefit. It';s not about persecuting people who make the effort to run to represent us, when unintentional human errors are made.

      I see someone at the top of this thread has advised that a lawyer and staff were present during the deliberations. No lawyer would agree with some of these decisions and process flaws.
      Sorce

      P.S. Thank God Pan Am games are over. I got tired of yawning ;-)

      Delete
    2. AnonymousJuly 30, 2015

      The city clerk, the city lawyer, the elections manager, the legislative coordinator, and legislative services were at the head table during the two first meetings. Perhaps someone has pictures of head table of the third? City employees are not supposed to be on the committee, its in the MEA.

      Delete
  5. AnonymousJuly 30, 2015

    As a citizen, I find it disturbing that these statements are not checked for completeness when they are signed off at the city. I don't expect them to be checked for accuracy, but surely the city is suppose to check to make sure everything is complete. A lot of time and money could have been saved if the City was doing their job.

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  6. The Forgotten TaxpayerJuly 30, 2015

    Teresa, you were more thas $10,000 below your spending limit and as far as I can see, you did not throw any elaborate parties, or purchased ridiculous gift cards or "tokens of appreciation".Your spending should be held out as the responsible way to conduct a campaign!!!!!!. Why isn;'t anyone mentioning that?

    ReplyDelete

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