Petrolia CAO’s actions ‘serious issue’ which may need police involvement says expert

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Heather Wright
The Independent ©

A expert in municipal politics in Ontario says Petrolia councillors need to act sooner rather than later after revelations the town’s top administrator didn’t disclose his ownership of two buildings now being used and paid for, in part, by the town.
The Independent has found CAO Manny Baron is receiving $1,800 for utilities in lieu of rent at the town’s youth/seniors centre and $2,500 per month from the town and Victoria Playhouse Petrolia for the use of 395 Fletcher St. Baron didn’t disclose his ownership and told councillors on Oct. 10, developer Horst Richter owned the building. Baron’s numbered company had owned it for 12 days at the time.
“This is a serious issue. Council has the obligation to deal with it sooner rather than later,” says Andrew Sancton of Western University.
“I don’t think a municipality of any size can go about its business with this sort of thing going on; it’s not an acceptable situation,” says Sancton.
He said if he was a municipal councillor in this situation, he would meet with the CAO to try to get an explanation, and if it wasn’t acceptable, the expectation would be he would be fired.
“That would be the first line of action. The next possible step would be to call police and launch an investigation,” he added. “There does seem to be to me the potential that everyone would benefit from a police investigation.”
Sancton added this could also be a case for Ontario’s Ombudsman to investigate.
“It’s not a question of how much money is involved… the issue here is the failure to divulge relevant information,” Sancton added.

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