One city councillor believes the Calgary police may need to pick up the investigation into Coun. Joe Magliocca’s expenses, with the recusal of the city’s integrity commissioner.
On Tuesday, Sal LoVecchio, the city’s integrity commissioner, said he would recuse himself from the investigation into Coun. Joe Magliocca’s hosting expenses stemming from a trip to Quebec City in 2019 for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference.
Magliocca’s expenses are under scrutiny after it was first revealed by the Calgary Herald that the councillor logged expenses nearly twice that of his council counterparts. When explored further, eight of 10 people Magliocca said were with him for those expenses later said they didn’t meet with the Ward 2 councillor.
Late Wednesday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who is out of town, issued a statement on the matter.
“I’ve been deeply concerned about transparency and accountability since before I was elected. That’s why I’ve championed the Code of Conduct and better disclosure of Council expenses since I took this office,” said Nenshi.
“Clearly, we need to examine the conduct of the Councillor in this case, and we should close the loophole around disclosure of centrally claimed expenses that this incident has unearthed. Furthermore, the Integrity Commissioner did exactly the right thing in recusing himself from this case.”
LoVecchio ‘deeply concerned’ over the expensed meal
LoVecchio’s recusal from the investigation came in a statement Tuesday, where he acknowledged a $163 meal with Magliocca in July 2019.
“The taxpayers of the City of Calgary should not be paying for a social lunch of mine and I am deeply concerned to find out that this has occurred,” LoVecchio said.
Coun. Jeff Davison first expressed his disappointment at the turn of events on Twitter Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, outside the Community and Protective Services committee meeting, Davison said that the investigation into Magliocca’s expenses needed to move forward, despite LoVecchio’s recusal. He also acknowledged that a notice of motion may be in the works seeking LoVecchio’s dismissal.
He said it could take months to find a new person to fill the role.
“At this point, in the absence, likely, to have an integrity commissioner in the short term, we’ve got to get on with an investigation and rebuild public confidence that we are acting, that we are doing something here,” Davison said.
“I don’t want this investigation to taint people’s point of view of all of council. That is not the norm of things that happen on our council. But I think that the appropriate manner at this point is to probably look to Calgary police to conduct the investigation, as that independent body.”
Davison wouldn’t say whether or not he thought Magliocca should step back from council duties or even resign as the investigation is ongoing.
Action needed quickly: Coun. Gondek
Coun. Jyoti Gondek, initially rumoured to be behind a potential notice of motion seeking LoVecchio’s ouster, clarified that she’s looking for an immediate plan to deal with the Magliocca expense review, including hearing from the integrity commission.
“My number one concern is, if it’s not the (integrity) commissioner, who is it?” Gondek asked.
“The whole point of bringing a notice of motion forward was to tell the public, ‘you know what, we’re on this, we’re going to ask the experts what the best course of action is.”
Gondek, who said after reading the initial statement from the integrity commissioner that she was “taken aback,” wasn’t sure if the Calgary Police Service was the ideal body to review Magliocca’s expense situation.
Neither was Coun. Druh Farrell. She said it wasn’t necessarily a decision city council should be making. An external investigator looked at workplace sexual harassment issues at the City of Calgary and that’s how they could move ahead, she said.
Farrell said they need to discuss how to prevent this from happening in the future. She wasn’t sure it boiled down to having new rules.
“You could put in rules and if there’s somebody who’s interested or willing break those rules… then do you just add more rules? Or do you hold that individual to account? That’s a question that we need to ask,” she said.