Brampton Forensic Audit – The Devil is Really in the Details

[ Here is what the report said about John Hutton]


[Top Spending Councilor Hutton cited numerous times in forensic document. Complaint is now in police hands. ]



I do not like attending daytime city council meetings and state that from the outset. It’s not that I am disinterested in watching the goings-on as the wheels of government turn.  Truth be known, I have spent more than a few afternoons watching the Supreme Court of Canada hearings that are televised on PCAP. Intelligent discussion being carried out by intelligent folks is a huge turn on.  It sort of makes me jealous.

The spectators’ gallery at Brampton’s City Hall was packed yesterday.  It was packed and it was stinky and raucous.  My aversion to being in such a place at such a time is that I genuinely feel no kinship to those who stumble in off the street. But, after all, the place is air conditioned and it was muggy outside.  Thus, sitting in comfy seats in a clean and air conditioned spot like the visitor’s gallery at City Hall seems to be a gathering space for a whole lot of folks that are without jobs and without a real life.

Much of what I saw there on days like yesterday was pretty much not the type of folks I would want to hang out with. The goings on in the audience itself was at times much more entertaining than much of the lame rhetoric that was taking place around the City Council table.

My own “take-away” or “catchy” phrases came from the mouths of two of the Brampton “fathers” at the council table. It was quite compelling to hear Councilors John Sanderson and John Sprovieri first admit that neither of them had actually read the 96 page $214,000 Forensic Audit report just released by Deloitte (a well known Public Auditing firm). Little wonder that much of what goes on day-to-day at most City Council meetings passes over the heads of that pair. None-the-less both Sanderson and Sprovieri, struggling to look intelligent asked a few perfunctory (superficial) questions that only revealed their own lack of interest/understanding in the body of work set out by Deloitte.  Instead, each of them chirped in by asking the Deloitte team for advice about taking the report to the police. Odd? I guess some people may be silly enough to confuse a Chartered Accountant with a Barrister. These, then are the type of folks that get elected to public office.  There will never be a threat to the local Mensa Society from Sanderson or Sprovieri attempting to gain membership as Mensa Members.

Had council actually read the entire 96 page document, they would have had obvious cause for concern about their own personal reputation.  I read the entire document through three times and actually set out jotting down key points in my final pass through.

That audit cost ratepayers over $200,000 and was predicated by the constant barrage from a stringer who attaches his name to various pieces in the Toronto Star. Having analyzed the forensic document tirelessly, I can safely say what is there and what is not there.  If the entire process was intended to indict Mayor Fennell of catastrophic malfeasance, it fell far short of that.  Much of what makes up the bulk of the Fennell findings turns around an ill-advised decision to purchase bulk air travel in an attempt to generate some savings on air travel. Truth?  I have always felt that the bulk sale of airline tickets is (in itself) a scam.  I happen to be a cynic and in my long life in the private sector have rarely found ANY corporation ready to give away too much of anything for free. The fact that the airline promoted such a scheme set off alarms in my mind. Fennell and her assistance fell prey to the bulk ticket scheme. That did not make them crooks – foolish? Yep but crooks no.

On the other hand, what I am reading inside the audit report about councilor involved is sickening.  I note that two that two of the biggest financial abusers (Councilors Bob Callahan and John Hutton) were conspicuously absent from the meeting yesterday when their “deeds” came to light.  Fittingly, Hutton and Callahan are connected with the Liberal party – an organization rift with scandal.

Turning first to “top gun” on the rule breakers’ list: is Councilor John Hutton who’s misdeeds are itemized in their own Schedule of the Deloitte audit. They appear in Schedule 5 and reflect some disturbing glimpses of how the “Liberal” mind functions and what entitlement means.  During the current term in office, Hutton is the expense account leader among his colleagues on Brampton City Council ($54,425) followed quite closely by Vicky Dhillon and then Bob Callahan.  Both Callahan and Hutton ducked the blood-letting at the council meeting.

Hutton’s abuses of expense account spending verge on comical in parts to out and out willful entitlement.   It seems that Deloitte unearthed the fact that Hutton was actually billing the taxpayers for TWO cell phones. When nabbed by the auditors, his initial response was to attempt to deny the fact and then to state that he simple forgot that he had two phones.  Aside from not reading the monthly statements for his two cell phones, I supposed that Hutton may have a legitimate argument about his busy life.

 He was busy reading the gallery of monthly magazines (National Geographic, Reader’s Digest etc) that the taxpayers had been paying for.  Hutton was a busy man indeed.  Hutton’s response to questions about his array of monthly subscriptions was that he felt they were relevant to his job. Some of us enjoy reading but find that we can satisfy our reading habit by visiting the local public libraries.  Given Hutton’s “busy” life style, he may have just been too busy to stop into the library like the rest of us.

Similarly, Councilor Hutton seems to have gotten confused about the physical boundaries of Brampton and saw fit to have the rest of us pay for his membership in some mystical group called, The Alumni Association of the NIAGARA Park Commission”  

His elected position enabled him to regularly purchase tickets for an array of charitable dinners and Rose Theatre performances that he and the “missus” regularly attended.  Thus, Mr. Hutton has certainly avoided spending his personal money on (a) cell phones; (b) reading material and (c) lavish entertainment costs that are beyond the financial reach of most senior citizens. I truly envy those treats and wish that each of us had such gifts bestowed on us.

Where Fennell foolishly purchased bulk airline tickets, those tickets proving to be a costly attempt at cost reduction, two things will not likely, merit to much attention. First, the costs incurred ended up being used entirely for work within the scope of her role as Mayor.  Secondly, unlike the abuses by Hutton none of the proceeds of the airfare program flowed directly into her pocket.

Canada’s Criminal Code, (Section cc. 380.(1)) says that everyone who is found guilty of Fraud Over $5000 is guilty of an indictable offense that is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to fourteen years.  The Criminal Code does not seem to have a section defining anyone who falls victim to bulk purchase scams as law breakers.  Will be wonderful to see what the cops say about Hutton.


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