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It’s all personal: mayor

Allegations being hurled about her spending habits are the result of a personal vendetta, Mayor Linda Jackson said last week.

Mayor responds in an open letter to continued attacks. Read it here.

Vaughan’s city manager will review Jackson’s 2007 expenses, council agreed Monday. The move comes after former Jackson supporter Carrie Liddy wrote to the city manager questioning numerous items on the mayor’s expense filing, including grocery charges, business meals and travel costs.

The city manager is to report back in early May. Council also agreed to retain a forensic auditor “if required”.

Jackson says she’s once again being targeted by someone with an agenda.

“Why is it always me?” Jackson asked. “(Liddy) should get her facts straight before she makes accusations.

“This is a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.”

The mayor says she has nothing to hide when it comes to her expenses.

“Let me do my job,” Jackson said. “(Liddy) should worry about other things and stop this nonsense.”

Liddy says the mayor should welcome questions from concerned citizens.

“Given Ms. Jackson ran on a platform of accountability and transparency, I am uncertain why she is choosing to attack me personally instead of simply responding to legitimate taxpayer questions,” Liddy said in a statement. “A better response from the mayor would have been to open public discussions on the use of our funds than to attack me.”

Liddy correlates the mayor’s budget spending to tax increases and said she’d like to see a public discussion on council expenses.

“I’m not picking on Linda,” she said in an interview. “I’m a taxpayer and I’m really tired of these tax increases.”

The mayor’s 2007 expenditure reports she spent $84,944 excluding her pay — less than her allotted budget.

In a letter dated April 4, Liddy asked the city manager to address the perceived irregularities in Jackson’s filing.

“Because of what appears to be a lack of checks and balances, I am seeking a full and comprehensive forensic audit to be conducted on all of Mayor Jackson’s 2007 expenses, in addition to full and detailed explanations being provided for all her expenses for 2007,” she wrote in the April 4 letter.

Liddy also questions several corporate credit card charges. She cites three restaurant charges, totaling $346.94, that were listed on Jackson’s expenditures as American Express charges. Liddy circulated Jackson’s monthly expense form wherein the mayor requested reimbursement for what appears to be the same meals.

Jackson could not be reached before press time.

Liddy’s concerns include a $210 charge at a grocery store, $1,502 at a china shop and perceived debatable car charges.

In response to Liddy’s query about grocery bills, Jackson said she often entertains business guests at her home.

“That saves money rather than going out to dinner,” she said.

As for the $1,502 spent at a china shop, Jackson said she personally went to pick out Christmas gifts for the senior management team.

In addition, Liddy says the mayor’s driver is missing from the expenditure document.

“There was a resolution that this was coming out of her budget,” Liddy said in an interview last week. “The guy was paid.”

Jackson denied the driver was used to the full extent of the allowed $20,000, which was allocated when she injured her knee last summer.

“(The finance department) would transfer that money if it wasn’t used,” Jackson said. “This is really all an insult to our finance department.

“This is wasting money going through all this.”

Joint byline: Alexis Dobranowski and Philip Alves
Vaughan Today
Online: April 17, 2008 [link]