Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Paul Moloney

p. B4.

'Pirates' steal Toronto's cash, Lastman says

Mayor's first day on police board a real eye-opener

On his first day as a member of the police services board, Mayor Mel Lastman attacked senior levels of government for shortchanging Toronto on cash used for undercover drug busts.

Lastman said he learned in his first board meeting that tax payers' money used to buy drugs that is seized upon arrest goes to court as evidence but isn't returned.

Instead, it ends up in federal and provincial coffers, he said.

"How much can they keep pounding us and robbing us? They're pirates," Lastman told reporters, adding he intends to formally demand the drug buy money be returned.

Councillor Norm Gardner, chair of the board, estimated about $3 million a year goes toward drug buys.

The city does receive funds for local crime prevention initiatives and the federal government will help defray policing costs of the recent NATO meeting in Toronto, Gardner said.

"But over-all, the city ends up being shortchanged, he said.

Lastman said he found his first board meeting to be windy. Everybody talks so long, I can't believe it. I thought politicians talk a long time. You should see these guys."

Lastman himself was uncharacteristically silent, asking only one question of a lawyer advising the board on a controversial police towing contract. "I didn't understand her at all," he said later.

On his swearing in, Lastman promised not to disclose unauthorized information. "That means I can't talk to the media," he quipped. "Not as much," Gardner responded.

On a trial basis, the meeting was held in a city hall committee room, a departure from traditional practice of meeting at police headquarters on College St. A decision will be made later on whether to meet permanently at city hall or go back to headquarters.

Lastman occupies the seat formerly held by his designate on the board, Councillor Judy Sgro, who resigned from the board to run for the Liberals in the Nov. 15 federal by-election in York West.

Sgro had been vice-chair of the board, a post awarded yesterday to lawyer Jeff Lyons, a provincial appointee who's also a lobbyist at city hall and a Lastman supporter.

The appointment means Lyons will be in charge if Gardner is ill or out of town.

Councillor Oliva Chow, a recent appointee to the board, says Lyons has demonstrated a willingness to put a great deal of effort into the job.

"I'm glad he has the time to do that, because he's a very busy person," Chow said. "I think you need a person who has the time, the commitment, the integrity, experience and knowledge for a complex job."

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 10, 2000
Last modified: October 10, 2000
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710