Polhill offers goodwill cash gesture to taxpayers, but then retracts
Published Monday, April 7, 2014 6:09PM EDT
Coun. Bud Polhill was prepared to make financial amends for his legal bill in the Billy T’s Tap & Grill investigation at one point Monday.
The get together Polhill attended with several other councillors and Mayor Joe Fontana in February 2013 was declared an illegal meeting by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.
Polhill suggested on CJBK radio Monday morning and later to CTV News, he might repay $5,000, out of the $97,000 legal bill, picked up by taxpayers.
“I know there are some people already who are not happy that I made the statement, so we'll have to see where we go with that,” he said.
He later retracted the statement, telling CTV News that after speaking with a legal consultant, he discovered he could be on the hook for the full amount.
Polhill says it could set a dangerous precedent for legal indemnification programs across Ontario.
The Ward 1 councillor had earlier said it would not be an admission of wrong-doing, but rather a goodwill gesture to taxpayers.
Polhill and the other councilors hired a Toronto law firm to defend them during the ombudsman's investigation.
Some councillors involved maintain that the Billy T’s gathering was a social one. However, when it came to the legal bill it was considered council work. A city bylaw protects councillors from legal expenses incurred while doing council work.
Councillors argued legal representation was necessary, as they had to make sworn statements.
Coun. Stephen Orser says he would not follow Polhill’s route no matter what his colleague ended up doing.
“If I had the money, I wouldn't pay it. I don’t have the money. And council members that voted yes on it can come up and pay for it because it was an order from council that we have legal coverage, if we so desire,” Orser says.