Eight councillors, including Joe Magliocca, have signed on to a notice of motion to conduct a forensic investigation into expenses stemming from the Ward 2 councillors 2019 travel expenses.
The motion, which will come as urgent business at the Feb. 24 meeting of council, will also address governance gaps in the city’s system, particularly relating to oversight by the Coordinating Committee of the Councillors’ Office (CCCO).
This motion comes days after Calgary’s integrity commissioner Sal LoVecchio recused himself from an investigation into Magliocca’s travel expenses related to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in 2019. Later expense reports showed a $163 meal in July 2019 between LoVecchio and Magliocca.
According to the Calgary Herald, who first broke the story, Magliocca tallied approximately $6,400 in total expenses for the excursion, while council colleagues logged between $2,000 and $3,200. Further reporting by the Herald revealed that few of the people Magliocca is said to have hosted confirmed they met with him.
Coun. Gondek said changes to the motion could be up for debate
The motion, put forth by Coun. Jyoti Gondek and shaped with input from seven fellow councillors, calls for an immediate investigation by the City auditor’s office into Magliocca’s expense “discrepancies.”
“… to be conducted by a specialist under the direct oversight of the City Auditor’s Office in order to ensure independence, objectivity and an unbiased results, with the recommendations to be presented to Council as soon as possible,” the motion reads.
When asked why it limited the scope of the forensic investigation to Ward 2’s 2019 expenses – not all councillors and going back a number of years – Gondek told LiveWire Calgary that she’s open to changes.
“If someone wants to make that amendment on the floor, I’m happy to have that debate. I don’t have an issue with it,” she said.
“In order to address the public concerns that we were hearing it was written the way it’s written.
“My bigger concern here is let’s get something started and done. If there are implications, it looks like more needs to be done, based on this investigation, then certainly council can make that direction.”
Gondek also said she didn’t believe having Coun. Magliocca as a co-signer present a conflict of interest.
“If it does, then I’m sure legal will flag it,” she said.
“If this councillor is supportive of a forensic investigation into his own office, I think that sends a stronger message.”
Council oversight, governance important
The motion also explicitly targets the CCCO and oversight concerns, to eliminate conflicts for council by producing a better governance model.
On Wednesday Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said getting the governance portion of this is crucial to ensure future expense crises don’t erupt.
“I think that obviously this is a time for a governance overhaul,” Carra said outside council chambers.
“I think I think we should be a lot more transparent and how we sort of provide our expenses, I think we should be a lot clearer about what we can and can’t expense. This is a wake-up call that we need to improve all of that.”
The motion also asks that council engage in a confidential conversation with the integrity commissioner to discuss the circumstances surrounding his public statement recusing himself.
Gondek said she could support a full investigation of all councillor expenses, once she understood from the city auditor’s office what resources that might take.