Maghnieh Library Board Chair Resignation Is Not Enough

A Pandora’s box has just been opened up. There is more that is going on than what we know to date. That is why Dwight Duncan and Teresa Piruzza have no choice but to support the Petition of over 750 Windsorites that calls upon the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to look at what is going on in this City. And this time, we need a proper examination, not a whitewash one.

It is time that they broke their silence and spoke out in favour of their constituents, the citizens of Windsor. I know it is embarrassing for the Minister of Finance considering that Dwight-Lite worked for him, but he has a job to do as well and it is time that he started doing it.

It is time as well that the Mayor and Council of the City of Windsor support that Petition just to clear the air because right now, as far as I am concerned, the air is quite polluted in this City as a result of the Library affair.

If Councillor Dwight-Lite and Edgar (aka Eddie) think that the resignation of the Councillor as Chair of the Board of the Windsor Public Library will close down the growing scandal, then they are both foolish. I trust that Dwight-Lite also resigned as a Member of the Board. However, there is a lot more to be discovered before this ends.

Here is what I found fascinating in this CBC News story on April 21, 2012:

“Maghnieh and the Windsor Public Library board both say he has repaid the money, but Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said Saturday that he still encouraged Maghnieh to resign.

Francis told CBC News he advised Maghnieh to immediately release all the credit card expenses, given the confusion over differing reports of the total money charged for personal expenses.

The mayor said he also told Maghnieh that the results of an audit by KPMG that discovered the personal spending should also be immediately released to city council so it can be shared publicly.”

Edgar won’t be too upset about the Councillor leaving as Chair. I am sure that you remember this controversy between the two of them:

Mayor questions mall library idea
(Doug Schmidt Windsor Star 01 Nov 2011)

Mayor Eddie Francis is pouring cold water on the Windsor Library Board’s decision to “explore” setting up a new branch at Devonshire Mall…

In a story in Monday’s Windsor Star, chairman Coun. Al Maghnieh said the board approved contacting the owners of Devonshire to look at the possibility of creating a 12th branch at the mall, a South Windsor shoppers’ magnet that draws up to eight million patrons a year…

“Any freed up dollars are for the taxpayers,” said Francis…

Referring to decisions council made to help pay for the new downtown facility, Francis said, “It’s not fair to close down Adie Knox and Windsor Water World (swimming pools) and then expand the library system.”

He questions why the board would “raise expectations” for something he suggests has “no chance” of proceeding.”

Here is Edgar who was not a member of the Library Board telling them what they can and can’t do. Moreover, it is clear that Edgar needs every single dollar available from wherever for his white elephant Swimming Pool.

Where is the Library Board in all of this? There are flagrant violations of their policies and they are invisible. Why?

The only Board member that has said anything as far as I know is Councillor Payne who is the Vice-Chair. Frankly, he ought to be resigning his position as well after this remark even though he had a change of heart the next day:

“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)

It seems that the Councillor/Vice Chair had no idea what the Library policy was with respect to credit cards when he made this comment or if he did, then his comment was inexcusable. Being “new” is no excuse:

“But library vice-chairman Hilary Payne told The Star Friday the board was told Maghnieh had spent even more, charging $6,000 in personal expenses…

Library policy prohibits the use of a corporate credit card for personal use.

Maghnieh said it was convenient to use the library’s credit card because his own personal cards had been cancelled when he lost his wallet.” (Monica Wolfson and Dave Battagello Windsor Star April 21, 2012)

How could the Councillor Payne let the story go about $3,000 when he knew that the amount was $6,000. Has the Vice Chair looked into whether the Library has been reimbursed for the total amount spent in personal charges or does Dwight-Lite only have to pay half of the amount that he charged?

I’d like to know as well when Councillor Payne and the other Board members found out about this. How long have they been sitting on it and what actions have they taken?

Surely, he was aware of Board Policy when he made his “newness” comment that the Library credit card may NOT be used for non-business purchases ie. personal items. Dwight-Lite admitted that he used it as a personal credit card, a complete breach of the Library Procedure.

Would CAO Payne be as generous to a City employee who breached a procedure so flagrantly or does his generosity only apply to a fellow Councillor?

Councillor Payne as well as the Board should be demanding answers from the Library CEO and Administration as well. If the answers are not satisfactory, then heads should roll there as well.

As I understand it, library credit cards are only issued to “employees.” Dwight-Lite was not a Library “employee.” How then, did he get a credit card in the first place! Moreover, the employee has to be approved in order to get such a card. Why was Dwight-Lite “approved” and who approved him? Oh, I forgot. He was bringing anonymous investors to the Library whom he had to wine and dine.

The Board policy makes it clear that the preapproval for the issuance of the credit card has to be done by an Administrator at the appropriate level. Who would approve the Chair? The answer is that no one could and no one was expected to do so because he was not a “employee.” But someone did… Who?

The CEO gets involved in the process so he obviously knew that the Chair was getting a Card because he is supposed to determine the credit limit. Now that is a nice question to ask… How much could the Councillor spend and what was the basis for that amount? Perhaps the CEO will now answer his telephone when the Star calls to answer that question.

Of course, Dwight-Lite’s protestations of innocence rings hollow when the corporate card policy requires the cardholder to have a thorough working knowledge of all applicable policies and procedures and guidelines. In other words, Dwight-Lite knew or must have known that he could not use the card for personal reasons even if his personal credit cards were lost. Convenience is not an excuse.

Dwight-Lite must also have known that he was required to report any unintentionally charged items to enable corrective action and to do so immediately, not months later.

The Board needs to look into why management did not ensure compliance with policies and procedures because after all they are designed to protect organizational assets. My understanding is that there is a whole process involving management and the Finance Office with respect to reconciling and approving credit card transactions, ensuring that all purchases are legitimate and reviewing individual transactions. Clearly, that whole system failed miserably.

The CBC News story added a very interesting twist that we have not heard before that makes this whole situation even worse:

“The mayor said he also told Maghnieh that the results of an audit by KPMG that discovered the personal spending should also be immediately released to city council so it can be shared publicly.”

Now we find out that the outside auditor blew the whistle on this and not Councillor Dwight-Lite himself or even the Library Financial Office. Is that the reason why the Library Administration did the following as the Star reported, because of the auditor finding:

“Administrators notified Maghnieh in January that he should come to the office and pay the library back for personal expenses.”

If in fact KPMG determined this and the Finance Department of the Library was aware of it, did they report the matter to the CEO, to the Board Finance Committee and to the Board itself? This was a breach of library policy. If the Finance Committee Chair knew about this and did nothing, then he must go too!

What did KPMG do and to whom did they report this violation? That needs to be examined to see if they followed their reporting requirements. Or did they issue a clean bill of health to the Library? You know the boiler plate:

“In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material aspects, the financial position of the Corporation of the City of Windsor Public Library Board as at December 31, 2011, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year ended in accordance with Canadian generally accepted
accounting principles.”

Without going into any more of this, this whole situation is a mess that needs further investigation, not by an outside accounting firm but by a forensic accounting firm to look at the entire operation of the Library! Yes, I know it was done before and everything seemed fine but now we have a new crew involved.

It should be very plain right now why citizens have been badly served by our Mayor and Council over the Todd Langlois affair. I will let you, dear reader, draw your own conclusions to see if you agree or disagree with me.

Our Mayor is showing as well his lack of leadership. Why he would make this comment before the facts are completely out is beyond me:

“I told him he has a lot of work to do to repair the relationship with his council colleagues, as well as the community,” Francis said. “His actions from here on will speak louder than any words.”

Frankly, based on what we know to date, the Dwight-Lite should immediately resign also as a Member of Council. That is what the Mayor should have “encouraged” Dwight-Lite to do.

Dwight-Lite’s actions as far as I am concerned are unworthy of someone in whom citizens of Windsor have bestowed their trust. For the Mayor to pat him on the head and tell him that everything will be all right is incomprehensible to me.

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About the Author

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.

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