Tag Archives: Richard Lorello

No F in ‘CBC’, but one in ‘Fail’

14 Apr

Vaughan MP Julian Fantino at a recent media scrum in Woodbridge. CBC reporters sourced local activists to advance a story suggesting impropriety about VHCC funding caused Conservative departures.

That’s not Igg the CBC has on its face today, though a mindless story it hurled onto the Web on Wednesday, suggesting resignations from the Conservative riding association here were based on impropriety by Vaughan incumbent Julian Fantino, moved along the viral trail all the way up to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who found the lure irresistible.

That’s egg, and it drips rather well, considering they got suckered by a combination of activist zeal and questionable journalism.

But enough about them. The story is a problem for Vaughan’s image — more so than for Fantino’s, I would wager — because it presented the national media with the something-smarmy-in-Vaughan-politics story they expected to find in this campaign. And given the viral nature of the Internet, and some media outlets’ desire to grab and repeat rather than produce original content, away it went.

The story named two prominent community activists — Richard Lorello and Tracey Kent — who told the reporters they resigned from the riding association due to moral outrage about who may stand to get their hands on some of the $10 million in federal funds Fantino attracted for the Vaughan Health Campus of Care project.

Well, actually, Kent had already resigned, due to a self-confessed conflict about Fantino accepting the endorsement of former Liberal rival Tony Genco. At least a week earlier I was in receipt of her “open letter” of resignation (which seems to be the popular way of bowing out around here this year).

“Due to the recent undertaking with Liberal Tony Genco, I can no longer be a member of the Vaughan Conservative Association,” she said in the letter, dated simply April 2011. “My values do not shift overnight, nor can be compromised. So it was with great disappointment to see my own riding association and representative, take advantage of a man who is clearly in personal distress about his true values, and use it for political spin.”

The CBC story failed to point out that both the subjects and the primary sources for the story are, in fact, the same activists who happen to be intimately engaged and very publicly active in keeping watch over who is doing what in regards to the development of a new hospital in Vaughan. They are not impartial witnesses. Anyone with a Twitter account and a #vaughan hash tag — or a Vaughan driveway that receives weekly Metroland drops — would have known that those sources have vested interests.

Lorello takes issue with the fact that two men connected with the VHCC — Michael DeGasperis and Sam Ciccolini — also worked as fundraisers for Fantino’s successful byelection run in November. That’s fair. A resignation in the absence of wrongdoing having yet occurred strikes me as a little extreme, but I get his point.

However, at the time of the funding announcement Fantino was up front with Vaughan Today reporter Tristan Carter, and I presume other news outlets that contacted him, about it being earmarked for VHCC infrastructure, and not the hospital itself. And as far as I’m concerned, finding out now that he has had dealings with people involved in the project is not the same as having made a breathtaking discovery of some new racket going down. What are we expected to do — insist that a medical development we’ve desparately needed be put on hold until we can elect a politician who can both a) attract government funding, and b) demonstrate that he has had no previous associations with any of the players involved in the development?

Vaughan has a formidable army of watchdogs who can follow the money. Lorello is not the least among them. In fact, he might even be the best. He has the tools, the drive and the understanding to hold people accountable. And he exhibits a willingness to be held accountable for anything he says and does himself. I have every confidence that he could follow the $10 million from start to finish, knowing all the while whether the rules are followed, and if the plans and schedules are on target. (Or, if they’re off, by precisely how much!)

That Fantino has had relationship with persons connected to projects for which he has just attracted government funding is not a news story. Not for us. Not for the CBC. Not for the Toronto Star. It is simply the way the process works — here and everywhere else, regardless of the riding, regardless of who the Member of Parliament may be and regardless of which party happens to be in power. Perhaps Lorello was quick to blow the whistle, because no wrongdoing has taken place merely on the basis of the funding having arrived. It’s when the money starts to disappear, or when nothing has appeared by the project’s due date, that you have a problem.

That the CBC has taken this story, spun it oddly and deceptively, and run with it — all the way to Ignatieff — disappoints me greatly. It is especially disconcerting in light of their inability to get either Mario Ferri, who is the local Liberal candidate in this race, or MPP Greg Sorbara (also a Liberal) to even mention any perceived impropriety in their comments.

The recklessness continued today. I cringed when I saw how they exposed a potential prime minister (Ignatieff) by soliciting comment on a thin story he could not possibly validate on the spot. Unlike Fantino, who had handed them their hats, Ignatieff took the bait.

“The fact that someone resigned from his inner campaign circle indicates, you know, real doubts within the Conservative camp as to the appropriateness of this bit of government largesse to help a Conservative candidate,” Ignatieff responded, as one might expect, to a CBC reporter.

You didn’t know Vaughan was so readily on the minds of the nation’s leaders, did you? I would expect that, until Fantino’s name was invoked in the leaders’ debate on Tuesday night, the CBC didn’t, either.

I am affronted both as a citizen of Vaughan and on a professional level. In spite of the optics, though, this may not be an agenda-driven story. It could very well be just a matter of lazy reporters not bothering to dig beyond the easy source. In fact, if I had to make a call based on examining the story as evidence, I would lean toward sloppy reporting being the genesis. But in journalism, laziness is as lethal as venom.

The one word I can reach for without effort to summarize the CBC job is this: Fail.

— Dan Hoddinott


Chance to meet your candidates TONIGHT in Kleinburg

19 Oct

The Kleinburg and Area Ratepayers Association will host a Meet and Greet session for Mayoral, regional and Ward 1 candidates tonight (Oct. 19) at Kleinburg Public School.
It’s a long one – from 7 p.m til 10 p.m. Starting at just after 7 or so, each mayoral, regional and Ward 1 candidate will be invited to make a two-minute statement. Then the remaining of the evening will be meet and greet style — you can mill about and chat to the candidates (til about 10 p.m.)
Here’s your chance to chat face-to-face with some of the candidates. If you don’t live in Ward 1, you can still meet the mayoral and regional hopefuls.
(Why not make a night of it, go for dinner in the village!)

Hear ye, hear ye: Reminder, Vaughan debates on Rogers TV tonight!

17 Oct

The Rogers TV regional council and mayoral debates will air TONIGHT, Oct. 17 on Rogers TV York Region.

7:00 PM – Candidates for Mayor in The City of Vaughan debate the issues.
8:00 PM – Candidates for three Regional Councillor positions in Vaughan debate the issues.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that these pre-recorded debates were lively and at times heated.

Tune in tonight to watch your candidates duke it out.

Now, I am not entirely positive about which channel(s) these will turn up on on your TV. I think (now, don’t get mad if I’ve got this wrong!) that Rogers York Region is on channels 10 and 63. (That’s on their website.)

Since I don’t at present live north of Steeles, I have a sinking suspicion that my Cable 10 won’t be showing this debate. So, if you can record and upload, or fill me in later, I’d appreciate it!


Sign City?

12 Oct

With less than two weeks to go before the election, the sign wars are in full swing around Vaughan. We went out and shot a sampling in Ward 5, where a variety of colours (and potential political affiliations) are well represented. With some candidates complaining of sign tampering, the colourful election materials have become a hot issue. What do you think readers: Do signs make a difference in terms of which candidate you choose? Which ones catch your eye? Are you sick of them by now? Leave us your comments!


(Note: your email address is required, but will not be published)

Is change in the air? Incumbents see no advantage at regional council debate

8 Oct


Regional council hopefuls duke it at a debate Thursday

Regional council hopefuls duke it at a debate Thursday


(Note: Post updated Oct 12 — see below)

By Josh Freeman

The so-called incumbents’ advantage was nowhere to be seen last night as regional and local councillors Joyce Frustaglio, Gino Rosati and Mario Ferri found themselves vulnerable to attack in a debate with nine rivals jockeying for their jobs.

About 150 people packed Vellore Village Community Centre in Woodbridge to check out 12 of the 13 candidates in a three-hour debate hosted by the Vaughan Citizen and The Vaughan Social Action Council.

Although the first hour of the debate was fairly tame, with candidates sounding off on questions about improving services for kids with mental health issues and increasing affordable housing in the city, it began to pick up when a question was posed about transit services for seniors.

Frustaglio and Rosati both pointed to Metrolinx and the region as the arbiter of such problems, with Rosati adding he supports full free access to transit services for seniors and students. Their comments, however, were fodder for Deb Schulte, who followed.

“It’s nice to hear our incumbents actually saying they’re going to make a difference. It’s too bad very little has been done up to now,” Schulte said. “Why can’t our seniors ride around for free outside of rush hour now? Our buses are riding around almost empty anyhow. It shouldn’t be an issue,” she quipped to applause from the audience.

Things continued to get rocky for the incumbents. Asked about traffic problems in the city, Frustaglio lamented gridlock as an issue that exists everywhere and will never be solved. Richard Lorello seized on the comments:

“Well, you heard your answer from at least a couple of your members of council right now … They have no solutions. The problem is everywhere, so we’ve got to live with it too,” he said.

However, the most heated comments were reserved for a question about what candidates would do to stop the political theatrics that have dogged the city for the past four years.

Citizens embarrassed

To applause, Schulte said the past four years have been a disgrace that has left citizens embarrassed to say they’re from Vaughan.

Rosati, who spoke next, said he did his best under difficult circumstances and that the troubles of the last few years had actually brought council closer together.

“Some of the issues people have been referring to have been beyond the control of some of us. Hopefully all of that should be behind us and will be resolved.”

Frustaglio more bluntly blamed Mayor Linda Jackson.

“When you have a good leader, you create good followers. It is unfortunate we did not have a good leader the past four years,” she said to an immediate round of boos and heckles from the audience. “I’m going to continue to be the very best representative this city has ever had.”

To boot, her comments earned her a chastisement from the moderator, who reminded her of the ground rules forbidding speakers from maligning others.

Ferri said the city needed to have more of a team approach, but stopped short of making any apologies for the last four years.

Other challengers echoed Schulte’s sentiments.

“Whoever is voted in is in your team and you support that team,” said John Ross Harvey. Domenic Del Luca added there should be a recall mechanism for councillors.

Note: The original version of this post incorrectly attributed comments by John Ross Harvey to Robert Craig. The mistake was corrected within hours, but for the record, Craig responded to the same question with the following:

A lot of the problems that we’ve had with this previous council is that last election they ran on a  slate if nine. Everyone got on except for one person. Now for these eight people to come forward and ask the new mayor to resign and think that their opinion outweighs the 26,800 people that voted last election is absurd… council should have respected what the citizens of Vaughan voted for and got.

Joanna Cacciola-Lionti said, “that day (when council asked Jackson to resign) was truly a day when Vaughan was disgraced… If you think she’s unfit, why aren’t you running for mayor?”

No clear winner, but incumbents didn’t impress

Although there was no clear winner, random audience members said afterwards they were variously impressed with Schulte, all challengers, and none of the incumbents.

The debate was at times stymied by its format, which had candidates passing a microphone from one to another to answer questions in 30-60 second allotments. Because of the sheer number of candidates to get through, each one generally stuck to his/her points without addressing one another’s comments, making it feel at times more like a class presentation than a debate. Speakers also had their microphones cut off when they had reached time, ruling out the possibility of off-the-cuff discussions.

The audience was allowed to contribute questions by writing them down and dropping them in a box at the back of the room by 8pm. Although there was a full box of questions, time only allowed for three or four to be asked. The result was a furious outburst by mayoral candidate, Savino Quatela, who jumped from his seat near the end of the debate and repeatedly screamed “scandal.” He had to be verbally subdued by the firm voice of moderator Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region.

Regional council hopefuls set to spar tonight at Vellore Village

7 Oct

The race for regional council could be the hottest of this municipal election in Vaughan. We’ve got three incumbents clinging to their seats with 10 hopefuls — including a former mayor and several long-time candidates, a former trustee and some council watchdogs — vying to overtake them.

Thanks to our media friends the Vaughan Citizen and its community links panel who are hosting a regional council debate tonight. It’s your chance to see the candidates go head-to-head: Where do they stand on the issues? What’s their vision for Vaughan? How do they carry themselves? Who’s got good ideas?

Thursday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Vellore Village Community Centre, 1 Villa Royale Ave., in the cafetorium.

Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region, has been given the daunting task of moderating the large debate (12 of 13 candidates have confirmed attendance, according to organizer Kim Champion.)

Participating candidates: Joanna Cacciola-Lionti, Robert Craig, Domenic De Luca, Michael Di Biase, Mario Di Nardo, Mario Ferri, Joyce Frustaglio, John Ross Harvey, Carrie Liddy, Richard Lorello, Gino Rosati and Deb Schulte.

The panelists will be members of the Vaughan Citizen’s Community Links group and members of the Vaughan Social Action Council. There will also be time for audience questions. If you’ve got a burning query for your regional hopefuls, come on out and put them on the spot.

Please bring a non-perishable food donation for the Vaughan Food Bank.


Stage set for regional councillor candidate debate Oct. 7

30 Sep

This came through the wires yesterday from the Vaughan Citizen. They are going to host a regional councillor candidate debate on Oct. 7. Here’s the press release in its entirety:


The Vaughan Citizen and its Community Links, together with the Vaughan Social Action Council, present an all-candidates debate for those seeking election at the regional council level in Vaughan.

Three longtime incumbents face challengers such as a former Vaughan mayor, several of Vaughan city hall’s most outspoken critics, as well as first-time candidates and community activists.

A significant portion of Vaughan residents’ tax bill — 48.8 per cent of every dollar — goes to the region, which provides services to more than one million York Region residents. Those services include transportation, housing, family and children’s services, public health, court administration, economic development and tourism, and more. This second-tier regional council is made up of mayors and regional councillors from York Region’s nine municipalities. Members of regional council elect the chairperson. Vaughan has four representatives at the region, three local and regional councillors and the mayor.

WHAT:            All-candidates debate for contenders vying for three local and regional seats in Vaughan’s 2010 municipal election

WHO:            Moderator: Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region

Participating candidates: Joanna Cacciola-Lionti, Robert Craig, Domenic De Luca, Michael Di Biase, Mario Ferri, Joyce Frustaglio, John Ross Harvey, Carrie Liddy, Richard Lorello, Gino Rosati and Deb Schulte

Panelists: Members of the Vaughan Citizen’s Community Links group and members of the Vaughan Social Action Council

WHERE:            Vellore Village Community Centre, 1 Villa Royale Ave., in the cafetorium. Woodbridge, Ontario

WHEN:            Thursday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

CONTACT:                  Kim Champion, Editor, Vaughan Citizen, Tel: 905-265-4148

(Note: It says “all candidates”. I notice two missing – Mario Di Nardo and Krystof Klabouch. I’ll try to find out if they’ll be there.)

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