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Council vetoes audit requests

A depleted council of just three voted last week to deny self-described watchdog Paul De Buono’s trio of audit requests.

Councillors Alan Shefman, Sandra Yeung Racco and Peter Meffe — three of only four council members to escape audit scrutiny — turned down the requests.

“We have a lot of experience, regrettably, dealing with these things, and we’ve seen lots and lots of documents so far, so we felt quite comfortable making the decision,” Shefman said last week.

De Buono said he would appeal a negative decision in a letter to council dated June 11, the same day as the vote. He said via email last week he would not be granting any interviews on the subject.

Councillor Tony Carella and regional councillors Joyce Frustaglio and Gino Rosati — De Buono’s three targets — were forced to the sidelines after declaring conflicts of interest, as did Mayor Linda Jackson and Councillor Bernie DiVona.

Audits had previously been ordered into both Jackson’s and Frustaglio’s 2006 campaign finances, and DiVona is in court fighting to avoid an audit of his election books.

De Buono alleges Carella, Frustaglio and Rosati each received $750 contributions from several people or companies that may be linked to Maystar General Contractors, which received the $84-million contract to build Vaughan’s new city hall in 2006.

Accepting donations from associated companies and individuals totalling more than $750 is a contravention of the Municipal Elections Act.

“(De Buono) had a very specific request,” Shefman said. “From the information that we had, we didn’t believe there was a reasonable expectation that these companies were related companies.”

Five members of council and former mayor Michael DiBiase have been targeted for 2006 election finance audits.

The audit aftermath will linger on into the 2010 campaign, Shefman said.

“I think people may be incredibly, incredibly careful about anything they receive in the next election,” he said.

Vaughan Today
Online: June 20, 2008 [link]