Your letters for March 2

Calgary councillor Joe Magliocca was photographed during a council meeting on Monday, February 24, 2020. Council earlier approved a motion to launch a forensic audit of Magliocca’s expenses. Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

Hefty expense accounts ‘hypocritical’

Re: Magliocca’s expenses set to face investigation as council votes 14-0; City auditor plans to appoint someone to take a ‘deep dive’ going back to 2017, Feb. 25

Throughout my job history, I have submitted travel expenses for reimbursement to various levels of government, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. At not one of these organizations is the reimbursement of alcohol permitted, and there are clear limits on meals (typically $50 for dinner) and travel (e.g., economy class airfare only).

It is both concerning and hypocritical that members of Calgary city council were permitted to expense drinks and lavish $200-plus meals while at the same time imposing large tax increases and cutting local services that impact low-income residents.

There also seems to be no oversight of these claims; the expenses of Joe Magliocca were revealed by a Herald reporter. If there is to be an audit of expense claims, it should encompass all members, including the major, for the last five years.

Shawn Currie, Calgary

Confidence lost in councillor

As a resident of Ward 2, as well as someone who voted for Joe Magliocca in the last two elections, I am totally disappointed in my councillor. At this point, the honourable thing to do would be to resign his post on city council. No amount of apologies and or explanations will restore the lost confidence Ward 2 voters experience at this moment.

Werner Pointmeier, Calgary

Much more serious than who paid for lunch

Re: Councillor expense probe tangles city integrity boss, Feb. 12

I find it interesting that the mayor and city council are sidestepping the other very serious ethical issue relating to Joe Magliocca: why was integrity commissioner Sal LoVecchio even having lunch with Magliocca in the first place? That — arguably the more serious ethical issue — should not be clouded by who paid for the meal.

Why is a person who is tasked with and paid a healthy stipend (by taxpayers) for ethical oversight of elected officials socializing with any person whom he could potentially be called upon to rule on for an ethical matter?

LoVecchio should be fired for his lapse of ethical judgment in this matter; a retired judge should know better. Simply stated, he was not doing his job of providing prudent oversight of the interests of the public and to simply recuse himself on this particular matter and yet retain his position is not acceptable.

Perhaps the mayor should be answering that tough question as to why LoVecchio is still retained by city council.

Bill Webb, Calgary

Why do councillors have expense accounts anyways?

I am somewhat bemused by the response to the Magliocca expense account situation, mainly because no one seems to be taking a serious look at an essential question, which is why there are expense accounts in the first place. If there is any justification for paid expenses, they should be unavoidable costs forced upon them as part of their work and for which there is no reasonable way to manage out of their own pocket.

Our mayor seems to be on the side of fiscal prudence and transparency and yet he admitted that his own expenses would include “way too much A&W.” While I’m glad he isn’t billing the taxpayer for thousands of dollars in food and wine on some ineffectual Quebec junket, even this is too much. I can’t imagine any situation in which it would be appropriate for anyone to assume I should be covering a lunch bill.

Rick Patterson, Calgary

The door is not closed on expense case

Re: City finds ‘gaps’ in expense reports; Still ‘no clear road map ‘for investigation of Magliocca after closed-door meeting, Feb. 20

I am angry. Our city councillors feel they can have a closed meeting, then come out and say there is no clear road map. I can give them the road map — investigate, and do it now! Our mayor says he feels the investigation has been done. No, it has not. Since Coun. Magliocca used my tax dollars for his expenses, I deserve to know who he actually had meals and drinks with. I think that answer will be very telling.

Magliocca feels he has told his story. We, the taxpayers will tell him when we think we’ve heard the whole story.

I hope all the voters will remember at election time.

Helen Altin, Calgary

Clear rules needed

In any public organization, one or more should have the responsibility of vetting expenses. Councillor Magliocca was the most obvious outlier in recovery of expenses as shared with the public by the press.

Unspoken is an apparent laxity of vetting by the city administration, probably based upon inadequate definition and knowledge of what is allowed or failure of a delegation of authority to enforce existing rules. May I suggest that all expenses submitted by and reimbursed to all of council since the last election be investigated by an independent accounting firm and that rules and regulations be established that clearly identify what will and will not be paid by the taxpayers of Calgary.

Warren Hindle, Calgary

Roadmap forward

As a result of the latest revelations in Coun. Magliocca’s expense accounts, I suggest the following issues must be addressed:

A replacement for the current ethics commissioner.

Can Coun. Magliocca be dismissed for his conduct? Is the minister of municipal affairs the only one who can undertake such action under the Municipal Government Act?

Council should not be reviewing and approving their own expense accounts. This should be carried out by a staff finance officer.

Should Calgary police be contacted to review this file?

J.G. Gilmour, Calgary

Hardship self-induced

Re: Magliocca says expense scandal taking ‘huge toll’, Feb. 25

Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca’s recent spending at a conference in Quebec, along with his lunch with the integrity commissioner, is nothing more than arrogance and entitlement. Any personal hardship caused by this issue is self-induced.

Spending $163 for lunch for two at public expense is outrageous. What part of that does Magliocca not understand? As a Ward 2 resident, the only thing I will understand is his resignation.

William Simpson, Calgary

Councillor feeling the heat doesn’t compare

Let me tell Magliocca the recession in Alberta has taken a huge toll on me and my family.

No pay raises, unemployment, part time low-paying jobs, high taxes, school fees, bus fees and cancellation of school buses, new garbage and recycling fees, no retirement benefits or, in some cases, health insurance, high cost of dentists and more visits due to removing of fluoride in the water, housing prices dropping as we speak. I could go on and on.

I have no sympathy for this man. He had it all: high-paying job, security, benefits, pension, as well as the golden handshake bonus. Again, I could go on and on.

Frances Blakely, Calgary