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Di Biase: ‘Vindication’

Former mayor happy to see city clerk leave, although council mum on reasons for dismissal

FORMER MAYOR Michael Di Biase says he's vindicated by firing of the city clerk. Vaughan Today file photo

Former mayor Michael Di Biase says he feels “comfortable that just retribution” has been meted out after last week’s dismissal of Vaughan City Clerk John Leach.

The city let Leach go on Nov. 14 after council met behind closed doors to discuss Leach’s role in last year’s controversial mayoral contest between Di Biase and current mayor Linda Jackson.

Leach delivered a report to a Nov. 13 committee of the whole working session detailing his decision to program automated voting machines to disregard “over” and “under” marked ballots, rather than have the machines inform voters during the November 2006 municipal election.

That move affected 1,656 ballots, prompting Di Biase to ask for a full recount — a recount that he says Leach blocked, leaving Di Biase “no choice but to go to Superior Court”.

Justice Peter Howden ruled in favour of Di Biase in April 2007, ordering a recount. Howden then left the city holding a $600,000 bill.

“The results I think have vindicated me,” Di Biase said in a phone interview this week. “Time brings out everything eventually and that’s what we’re seeing.

“I’m happy that this has come about.”

The recount confirmed Jackson’s 90-vote margin of victory.

Ward 5 councillor Alan Shefman was tight-lipped about the firing, saying only, “I can tell you that (Leach) has left the employment of the city”.

Shefman refused to elaborate further but added the disclosure of the dismissal left him concerned about an apparent leak at city hall regarding what should have been a confidential personnel matter.

Reports of the firing surfaced in various media outlets on Nov. 15, a day after council’s closed-door meeting.

“We make all personnel decisions in closed meetings,” Shefman said in an interview last week. “We’re required to do that under the municipal act, as well as under privacy requirements in the province of Ontario.

“As a person that really believes seriously in ethical behaviour and in respecting confidentiality, it’s disturbing.”

Vaughan Today
Online: November 22, 2007 [link]