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Office bug sweep necessary: mayor

Jackson tight-lipped about sweep results

Mayor Linda Jackson is staying mum on whether a sweep for bugs in her office last year uncovered anything illicit, citing the security of the City of Vaughan as reason for her silence.

ProtechConsult Services was hired to search her office for hidden recording devices, she says. A payment to the company of $2,600, dated Jan. 31, 2008, appears in the mayor’s expense records, though the invoice shows $2,730 was paid after the GST was included.

“City security is a necessary expense and I do not regret my efforts in protecting the City of Vaughan,” Jackson said in a statement released to the media last week.

She said the bug sweep was needed after she received information her office may have been compromised.

“As you can appreciate, a lot of confidential conversations occur in my office and I felt that it was important to safeguard the corporation as I believed that someone entered my office without authorization,” she said.

The use of Protech to search the mayor’s office for clandestine listening devices was made public after Vaughanians Gino and Mary Ruffolo, former Jackson supporters, received the invoice through a Freedom of Information request.

“If there is a security problem at the city, I would expect the police to be called,” Gino Ruffolo said Monday. “What’s next? Are taxpayers going to pay for all council offices to be swept for bugs?”

Now more than a year later, Jackson says her concerns remain.

“I’m not confident that I have the ability to work in a secure environment,” Jackson said in an email Monday. “I know from past experience that my city email was compromised.

“What’s to stop them from compromising my email and my phone lines in my office now?”

In last week’s prepared statement, Jackson said her family and staff have dealt with “unsettling” events since the sweep of her office was conducted.

“My executive assistant’s vehicle was broken into in early December and her laptop was removed while she was having lunch with a city commissioner,” she said.

Jackson added the security of her family has also been compromised and threats on her home have been made since taking office in 2006.

“My family has been followed by private investigators,” she said. “My youngest daughter was almost run off the road.”

In an interview a year ago, Jackson said her daughter being tailed had been reported to the York Regional Police. She said Monday that nothing has been uncovered to date.

“This is quite disturbing to me and my family,” she said. “I’m sure that the public must be a little confused on what is going on at the city.

“It has been difficult on my family and my life professionally,” she added. “My family and I knew that it was going to be a very difficult four-year term.”

Vaughan Today
In print: April 17, 2009, page 2
Online: April 18, 2009 [link]