A Payne In The Neck

Yes, it is an obvious line to use given his name. But frankly, I am tired of Councillor Hilary Payne and his role in the Maghnieh scandal. CKLW now has told us that the amount involved is over $13,000, a far cry from the initial amount of $3000. Just go back to the Articles that I have written and read what I have said. I have no intention of repeating everything here again.

I was very  supportive  of  Mr. Payne  running for  Council.  I thought  his  presence was needed.  I expected a  lot from  him.  I was wrong.

His handling of the Maghnieh matter in my opinion has been less than stellar and not one that I would have expected of a man who should be so experienced considering that he was a former CAO of the City of Windsor before he was elected as a Councillor.

However, it is what was said in the Jarvis column that absolutely infuriated me. Who the heck does he think he is:

“The library also has a whistleblower policy. That didn’t seem to help, either. The employee who had the guts to do something about all this, the one whom Payne credits with helping to “break the logjam,” went to Mayor Eddie Francis. The person reportedly feared for their job.

That should bother Payne. He says it does.

“Absolutely, I’m concerned,” he said. “That should not have to happen. The system should not work that way.”

But it won’t be part of the review, he said.” (Anne Jarvis Windsor Star April 27, 2012)

Of course, it must be reviewed. Clearly, just like the allegations about City Hall that need to be cleared up one way or the other, is there a toxic work environment at the Library that necessitated whistleblowing and running to the Mayor to disclose problems?

Poor Councillor Payne. Those darned exhaust fumes from the Tunnel must have dimmed his memory because he forgot that he said this a few days before:

“Payne said there will be full public disclosure on “the steps that permitted this to happen.” (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

Full public disclosure of only what the Councillor wants us to know? Just like the Timeline that started in November and not earlier and did not  include the new Procedures being  proposed? I think not.

I would have thought that one of the steps that must be investigated is why the employee felt this way. Why did the employee feel that he/she must run to the Mayor rather than to a City Councillor who was on the Board. What a slap in the face to him.

Since when is he a position to determine what or what not is going to be “reviewed.” He is not the Mayor nor is he even a CAO who controls Administration. He had better go back to that book of his that he is writing to find out that he is nothing more than a lowly Councillor, just one out of 11 members of Council with only one vote too.

He is only one member of the Board of the Library as well with only one vote. All of the Board members are the ones who must ultimately decide what the scope of the review is. And it had better not be a whitewash either.

I liked this comment too:

“Payne and Holmes both said there is no chance Holmes resigns.

“Nobody in November or December could have ever imagined what he was going to do,” Payne said.” (CBC News April 25, 2012)

Well I guess it is true because only Mr. Holmes can decided if he is going to resign. However, the underlying assumption has to be that the CEO did nothing wrong. That can only be determined after that full public disclosure.

Didn’t the Councillor get it? The issue is not what someone can imagine or not but whether systems and procedures were complied with or not. The whole purpose of a procedure is to prevent problems in the first place. I would strongly urge the Councillor to go through the Timeline to understand that.

I really have no intention of wasting my time setting out all the flip-flopping of the Councillor on this matter. I will remind you however what he did say about Dwight-Lite early on:

“He called the library board incident a “wake-up call” and said he was pleased with Maghnieh’s decision to resign.

“I think he’s doing exactly the right thing and, hopefully, he’ll be able to rebuild his career after this very distressing episode,” Payne said.
When asked if he thought Maghnieh should resign from council, Payne said he saw no justification.

“That’s kind of over-the-top punishment.” (Kristie Pearce Windsor Star April 21, 2012)

This however will blow your mind in the circumstances. Remember, it was said after the Finance Committee of April 17, 2012 when this matter was first revealed:

“Windsor Public Library Board vice-chair Hilary Payne said Maghnieh is being honest and handled the issue as best he could.

“He’s new to the business,” said Payne.

“I think that’s part of what’s happened here.” (Chris Thompson Windsor Star April 20, 2012)

Speaking of that Finance Committee meeting, Councillor Payne needs to explain why he did not immediately tell what happened to the two other members of the Board who knew nothing about it but rather waited two days until the Board meeting of April 19. I would imagine that Board members were ambushed by the media after the meeting considering this report from CKLW as an example. Note the time and date:

2012-04-19 17:20:41

Windsor Public Library Board Chair Al Maghnieh has issued an apology after admitting he misused a corporate credit card.

The Ward 10 councillor says he made purchases that he shouldn’t have totaling about $3,000. The purchases were not directly related to Library Board business.
Maghnieh has paid back the money, surrendered the credit card and says it won’t happen again.”

According to their Agenda, the Board meeting was to start at 4 PM on the 19th.

I don’t expect that the Councillor will remain a member of the Board of the Library after the Striking Committee makes their decision. The Jarvis Column made that pretty clear as far as I am concerned.

New people are needed because the Library has been in turmoil for years. It has to stop especially given what may happen to the Library over the next few months and its possible move. Moreover, if there is going to be full public disclosure, then the Councillor’s actions may well come under scrutiny.

Accordingly, I hardly think that he can remain as a member of the Board in these circumstances. It would be in everyone’s interest if the Councillor made it known to the Striking Committee that he is no longer interested in continuing to be a Library Board member.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.