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Brampton councillors want answers about city resources used for Mayor Susan Fennell’s galas
May 27, 2014
San Grewal

Brampton councillors say they will use Wednesday’s council meeting to address what they describe as “abuse of power” by Mayor Susan Fennell, after a series of emails from the mayor’s office was recently released by the city.

The main issue for several councillors is the use of city resources for the mayor’s private events.

“This is a total abuse of her office, an abuse of her position and influence. I’m going to be adding the issue to the agenda (Wednesday),” Councillor John Sprovieri said Tuesday morning.

Sprovieri, Fennell’s harshest critic on council, said an ongoing forensic audit of the mayor’s and councillors’ spending, also needs to look at her annual private gala.

Fennell’s gala and golf tournament are annual events that raise money for community groups. The events are not affiliated with the city and the funds are distributed by a gala board.

“I’m going to ask what council’s options are to deal with this abuse. I want an expert opinion: can council ask the mayor to pay back the staff time that was used? Can we ask for the taxpayer money back that never went to community groups?” Sprovieri said.

Fennell could not be reached for comment.

“Some of us have gone through more than 1,400 pages of documents out of the mayor’s office,” said Councillor John Sanderson, who called for the audit and is running for the mayor’s job in this year’s election.

Sprovieri also said he will be asking for clarification at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I want to make sure the auditors are looking at this gala because so many city resources and taxpayer dollars have gone into this gala,” he said.

The Star investigation found that 25 per cent of the money raised at the events in 2012 and 2013 combined went to community groups. About 63 per cent went to the event planner and 12 per cent was for administrative costs or went unspent.

Emails obtained under freedom of information laws by the Star show that work for the private events was done by city staff during business hours using city resources.

And taxpayers’ money was used to buy tickets.

Despite Fennell’s claims that no taxpayer dollars were used, it was recently revealed that the city purchased about $175,000 worth of tickets.

In 2012 alone, more than $63,000 of taxpayer money was spent on tickets to the events by the city, the Region of Peel and the Peel Police Services Board, of which Fennell is the vice-chair.

The emails also show numerous examples of Fennell soliciting money for her private events, including as much as $100,000 from sponsors and $32,000 from fellow members of the police board. Fennell told the city’s integrity commissioner, whom she asked in 2011 to look into her gala activities, that she never asked people for more than the price of dinner tickets.

Sanderson said a new integrity commissioner that will be hired shortly needs to get involved.