Maureen Cassidy is ensuring taxpayers won’t be footing the bill for her indefinite leave of absence from Council following an affair with Mayor Matt Brown.
Days after Cassidy resigned from her post as Deputy Mayor, city officials received a letter from the Ward 5 Councillor on Thursday requesting she not be paid during her voluntary leave in the wake of the scandal.
Mayor Matt Brown has so far failed to indicate he’ll do the same.
Brown met with London’s Integrity Commissioner, Greg Stewart, on Thursday at his Grand Bend law office. Brown has said previously that he would follow any recommendations Stewart may make following an investigation.
It’s unclear how long it’ll take for Stewart, who is paid $250 an hour plus expenses on an ‘as needed’ basis, to decide whether any rules were broken or if any recommendations will be made.
Stewart has previously served as an Integrity Commissioner in Middlesex, Oxford, and Perth Counties.
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.
As of Thursday night, City Hall has yet to receive any correspondence from Brown indicating he does not want to be paid during his time away.
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.”
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)