Editor’s note: Maureen Cassidy sent a letter to the City Thursday requesting she not be paid during her leave. An official informed the London Free Press no such letter has been received from Mayor Matt Brown.
Mayor Matt Brown is receiving special treatment in the wake of shocking revelations this week that he and Maureen Cassidy had an “inappropriate relationship,” suggests the president of the union that represents inside workers at city hall.
After their affair was revealed publicly on Tuesday, both Brown and Cassidy have said they will be taking voluntary time away from city hall to deal with family issues, time away with pay, according to a City spokesman.
It’s not known when Brown and Cassidy will return to city hall from their leaves. Tuesday’s revelations resulted in Cassidy stepping down from her role as deputy mayor, and, according to sources, prompted the resignation of Brown’s chief of staff Corrine Rahman. Both Brown and Cassidy have said they would return when ready.
London taxpayers could be on the hook for $10,909 per month for Brown.
Speaking with AM980’s Craig Needles, Steve Holland, president of CUPE Local 101, asserted their members wouldn’t be able to take an indefinite amount of paid time off for a personal situation.
“Under our collective agreement, under our code of conduct, I don’t see where we would be afforded that same leave of absence,” Holland said. “We would be ‘use your vacation, maybe sick time’ or, in this situation, there is no investigation that I’m aware of that’s going on looking into this. The person could be under the code of conduct, they could be affected by this up to discipline of some sort, or potentially termination, depending upon how this is viewed by the City of London.”
The code of conduct, Holland says, is clear when it comes to not participating in any activity that negatively impacts the reputation of the corporation.
“Does this negatively impact the City of London? This is across the nation on news. Does it look good for us? No,” Holland said.
“Our politicians are held to a different standard,” he continued. “They lead the way for us, they’re supposed to be our shining example of how we should be acting, and yes we make mistakes, but again they’re held to a different standard.”
Brown met with Greg Stewart, the city’s newly hired Integrity Commissioner, at Stewart’s Grand Bend law office on Thursday, a city spokesperson said. It’s not known what the two discussed during their closed-door meeting, but Brown has said previously that he would follow any recommendations Stewart may make following an investigation.
Stewart, who previously served as an Integrity Commissioner in Middlesex, Oxford, and Perth Counties, was hired last month to work on an “as needed” basis for $250 an hour plus expenses.
Economist Mike Moffatt, who endorsed Brown during the election, said Thursday he was disappointed in the Mayor’s leadership following a crisis that he said could have easily been avoided.
“I had people in Ottawa, because I just got back from Ottawa, saying ‘what’s going on? Your mayor screwed up and now he gets to go on vacation on the taxpayers’ expense?’ Moffatt said. “It’s not showing leadership. [..] If I were in his shoes, I would be doing something, (I’d) say ‘yes, I screwed up, I have to own this, I have to repair the situation with my family, I’m going to go away for six weeks, but the London taxpayer shouldn’t suffer for that.”
Speaking to AM980 on Thursday, Ward 8 Councillor Phil Squire said getting city hall and council back on track should be the main focus, not whether Brown or Cassidy will be compensated while on leave.
“There’s the legal part of it, which is they’re perfectly entitled for this period of time to accept the money, the second thing is, I don’t want to be punitive to families,” Squire said. “There’s two families involved, and I think it sounds great, ‘let’s cut them off right away,’ sort of a form of punishment, but I think at the end of the day you might be punishing again, twice, people who have already been punished, and that’s families, because that’s where money goes to in a household.”
“This council and the administration in this building wants to get the work we need to do get done,” he continued. “The two individuals, I agree that they’ll have to address the issues and how they move forward, I have no difficulty with that, but there’s 13 people here still working, and they’re people of high integrity, and they work hard, and I have no lack of confidence in where we’re going right now as a council.”
(with files from Matthew Trevithick, Craig Needles)