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UPDATE: ‘Joey Mags’ audit reveals $16,000 in dubious expenses

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was “shocked” by what the investigation revealed.

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A forensic audit expenses of Calgary Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca shows shocking unexplained spending.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it shows clear signs of bad behaviour.

“What we’ve seen is a consistent pattern of behaviour, over a long period of time,” Nenshi said.

“This is a disregard, a real disregard for the rules at the very worst. This is a pattern of behaviour that I don’t think is befitting of an elected official.”

Magliocca – known as Joey Mags in political circles – tallied $36,687.10 in net expenses since 2017, with nearly $16,000 of either not in accordance with city policy or yet to be determined after the forensic audit of his expenses was released.

A six month investigation was launched after questions arose from travel expenses Magliocca filed in 2017 claiming hospitality expenses with people whom he never met.

In February, council called for an external audit of his expenses dating back to 2017 following Postmedia reports about discrepancies in his receipts from the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City.

 Magliocca, who has been in office since 2013, expensed $6,400 travelling to and from the conference, at least $1,800 was attributed to “hosting” costs, paying for meals and drinks with other politicians and company representatives.

Postmedia found 11 people that Magliocca claimed hosting expenses with who said they had never met him.

The amount was more than double what nine other council members on the trip expensed.

The forensic report showed situations where money was charged to the city that shouldn’t have been, and events that were claimed but Magliocca wasn’t a part of.

The majority of the expenses found ineligible were for meals and hotel rooms.

The external report by external firm pointed out nearly $9,000 in airfare costs they recommended the city look further into.

Those costs represent seven flights where Magliocca upgraded his seat to premium or business class despite a city policy that economy fares should be booked unless they’re unavailable.

It also showed that 17 of Magliocca’s receipts were missing.

The city has forwarded the report to the city police for a look-see.

Magliocca will also be forced to issue a public apology and is banned from future city travel, his council colleagues have decided.

Council will also send the results of the investigation to Alberta’s municipal affairs minister and make Magliocca take a refresher course in city expenses policy.

Nenshi said it’s not the city’s job to remove the councillor.

“Ultimately, I believe that the voters are the arbiters of this. It’s not the provincial government, who is the boss of the municipal council; the voters – the citizens – are the boss,” said Nenshi.

A spokesman for Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu said: “We have not yet received the report, but will review it upon arrival. Calgary has dutifully handled this matter through its code of conduct policy. We hope this situation results in positive changes for taxpayers.”

Calgary NDP MLA Joe Ceci called on the province to remove Magliocca.

“Councillor Magliocca’s expense debacle shows that taxpayers need better tools to hold local politicians accountable when they misbehave,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF.

“The Alberta government must fulfill its promise to introduce local recall rules, which would give citizens the ability to fire local councillors and mayors between elections.

“The city of Calgary must also introduce common sense transparency rules like making sure all expenses are publicly disclosed and prohibiting councillors from expensing alcohol.”

Magliocca said the results were because of clerical errors and told council in February: “Calgary taxpayers expect better of me and so does this council.”

He initially paid back $2,100 in conference expenses and later paid back all “alcohol-related” costs since the last election. Magliocca has now repaid more than $6,000 from the past two years of his expenses. 

Magliocca, who hasn’t commented, hasn’t announced whether he will seek reelection next October.

Council also asked the city manager to look at ways to improve their expense policies.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Having children causes traffic jams, billboard warns

The strange reminders are courtesy from a group called World Population Balance who are concerned the growth of the world’s population is unsustainable.

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Vancouver drivers are being told that having fewer children would cut down on traffic jams.

The strange reminders are courtesy from a group called World Population Balance who are concerned the growth of the world’s population is unsustainable.

“The world is overpopulated. But a surprising number of journalists, elected officials, pundits and members of the public are unaware,” says the group on their website.

“This billboard campaign will raise public awareness of overpopulation, improve everyone’s knowledge on the subject, and serve as a demonstration model that jump-starts a global campaign to speed progress toward a ‘small family norm.'”

Before putting up the billboards in Vancouver, they erected two billboards in Minneapolis and another between Denver and Colorado Springs.

“Human overpopulation is present in Vancouver just as it is in most parts of the world. Everyone around the world needs to be aware of this crisis, because we all have a role to play in resolving it,” said the group.

“While Vancouver occupies an area of about 2,800 square kilometers, its footprint (the area of the planet required to provide food, water and other resources, and to process the waste) is 36 times that.

“Reducing overconsumption can help Vancouver get back into sustainable equilibrium, but contracting population also must be part of the equation. Cities like Vancouver need to rethink their economic development strategies, ceasing to pursue population growth, and begin to celebrate the trend of more couples choosing smaller families.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP demand Lethbridge cops shut down drug injection site

The pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

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The provincial government is demanding Lethbridge police shut down an illegal safe injection site being operated in a tent.

The tent sprung up after a controversial Lethbridge safe drug consumption site shuttered its doors on Aug. 31 after the Alberta government cut its funding after an independent audit discovered a litany of problems including “financial irregularities.”

Now the pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

“Alberta’s government provides a legal, sanctioned overdose prevention site a block away from this location, with adequate capacity for the community, said associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan in a statement to the Western Standard.

“This illegal site contravenes the Criminal Code of Canada and we expect the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service to enforce the law.”

ARCHES received up to 800 visits a day – one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in the world. Lethbridge, a city of 100,000, has the highest per-capita rate of opioid overdose deaths in Alberta.

The pop-up site is being run by the newly formed Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, CBC reported.

The tent offer services for a couple of hours before packing up for the day. There is enough room for two people to inject drugs at a time.

ARCHES had received more than $14.4 million in taxpayer dollars over the past two years.

The government announced in July the accounting firm Deloitte found:

  • $1,617,094 unaccounted for due to missing documentation for expenditures from 2017 to 2018.
  • $13,000 of interest off ARCHES bank accounts was used to fund parties, staff retreats, entertainment and gift cards.
  • A senior executive’s compensation totalled $342,943 for calendar year 2019. This includes $70,672 in overtime for fiscal year 2019-20. The grant agreement allows for a salary of $80,000.  
  • The Everyone Comes Together (ECT) program staff salaries and benefits also exceeded the amount allocated by the grant agreement by $16,000.
  • The number of ARCHES employees is greater than allowed by the grant agreement.  ARCHES maintained up to 126 employees. However, the exact number could not be verified.
  • $4,301 spent on European travel for management to attend a conference in Portugal.
  • Thousands of dollars in unverifiable travel expenses, including trips charged to company credit cards but not recorded in the ledger.
  • A senior executive’s family member was hired, earning $9,900. The auditors could not locate a resume or personnel file to verify any qualifications.
  • $7,557 for management retreats, including meals and mileage where documentation for spending was unclear.
  • The grant agreement requires the organization to maintain the funding received from Alberta Health within a separate bank account; however, the audit revealed that it was comingled with other funding sources. As a result of ARCHES comingling their accounts, the auditors could not verify thousands of dollars of expenses.
  • Proper personal conflict of interest declarations were not recorded when related individuals or vendors were hired or utilized.
  • Vendors were repeatedly secured in secrecy with a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • No petty cash reconciliations have been completed.
  • $1,129 was used to buy gift cards for board members for The Keg, iTunes, Boston Pizza, Earls, Gap, Shell, Chapters, Cineplex, Amazon, Starbuck’s, Tim Hortons, MasterCard, and Bath and Bodyworks. The expense was recorded as “Gift cards – Board Members.”
  • $2,100 was spent on gift cards to The Oil Changer – a business owned by a senior executive’s spouse.
  • $2,205 was spent on a television with no receipt documentation to support the purchase.

The report has been passed on to police.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Trump approves $22-billion railway between Alaska and Alberta

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces

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U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive permit allowing a $22-billion international railway to be built between Alaska and Alberta.

“Based on the strong recommendation of @SenDanSullivan and @repdonyoung of the Great State of Alaska, it is my honor to inform you that I will be issuing a Presidential Permit for the A2A Cross-Border Rail between Alaska & Canada. Congratulations to the people of Alaska & Canada!” the president tweeted Friday.

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces, but can’t export quickly enough to meet demand.

A2A proposed route

The company will start by constructing rail from North Pole, near Fairbanks, where the Alaska Railroad ends today. From there the railway will move south and east through Alaska, across into Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and into Alberta.

“It is approximately 1,600 miles, with roughly 200 miles of new track in Alaska, and the remaining 1,400 miles in western and northern Canada. We estimate our investment to be $15 billion CAD in Canada and another $7 billion CAD in Alaska,” said the company’s website.

“The port capacity and sometimes the rail capacity at other places in Canada are just so choked that there’s a potential market for a new port and a new method to get to Asian markets,” Treadwell said in an interview in August with KUAC.

“The Alaska Railroad right now runs 512 miles from Seward to North Pole we’re going to take that track and extend it 1500 miles to connect up with rail lines in Alberta,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell said the the system will transport bitumen, potash, sulfur and grains.

“We believe we have a project which is competitive with pipeline and one of the reasons why it’s competitive is because its risks can spread over several different commodities,” he said.

Treadwell says if all goes according to plan, work on the project would begin within three years and be completed in six. 

The company said it will now begin an “extensive environmental impact assessment” (EIA) under Canadian legislation for the Yukon, B.C. and Alberta.

Company founder Sean McCoshen has already spent over $100 million USD through the pre-feasibility, feasibility, and detailed engineering phases of the project. 

A2A Rail has also started talks with Indigenous groups along the proposed path.

“The proposed route for the A2A Rail project includes portions of traditional, treaty and heritage lands of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the United States. A2A Rail has initiated dialogue with Indigenous Peoples along the proposed route to brief them on the project,” said the company.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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