Coun. Joe Magliocca owes another $1,200 for expenses that can't be verified, city says

·4 min read

The City of Calgary wants Coun. Joe Magliocca to pay back more money for ineligible expense claims, saying it can't find some of the people the councillor says he met with and others denied meeting with him.

After an internal review, the city says Magliocca — who represents Ward 2 in northwest Calgary — owes taxpayers another $1,200 for meals and drinks that he claimed while entertaining other officials.

The city has concluded it can't find the people Magliocca says he met with or those people denied meeting with Magliocca.

The councillor has already paid back more than $6,200 for ineligible expense claims.

According to the city, the issue will be discussed by the priorities and finance committee on Tuesday.

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who now chairs the committee overseeing councillor expenses, says these claims should never have been accepted by the city so it raises questions for both the councillor and those processing the claims.

"Why were these types of receipts submitted? If they were submitted, why weren't the names of who you entertained and hosted on these receipts? The alcohol that was on some of these receipts, why was that authorized?"

The councillor says she's grateful all of this came to light because it showed the breakdowns within the system.

"That's the part that has been really disappointing for me. You look at what has gone on in the past with past practices, the policies and the standards in the office of councillors," she said.

"It really tarnishes the reputation of the elected body."

Colley-Urquhart says there are still a number of gaps within the city's policies that she plans to have dealt with by either February or March.

"They relate to travel, to hosting, to what you're claiming when you eat, what you drink," she said.

"There is either a lack of policy [or] there are different policies that say different things."

No comment from Magliocca

After Magliocca's forensic audit was concluded last year, council voted to impose four sanctions.

First, they wrote a letter of reprimand to him, requested he write a public letter of apology, take training on proper city procedures and barred him from submitting any business travel expenses until the end of the current council term.

The reprimand was issued last September, but the Magliocca has still not written a public apology letter.

The city confirms he did take the required training last November.

However business travel by any council member remains a rare event during the pandemic, rendering that sanction a non-issue.

Magliocca has refused to comment on the problems with his travel claims, how this happened or offer any explanation for why he submitted claims for meals and drinks he bought for people who weren't actually at the same table.

In October 2020, council voted to have Magliocca reimburse the city $2,700 for air travel seat upgrades that he booked without approval. Following that vote, Magliocca issued a statement indicating that he would repay that amount.

However, he will not confirm to CBC News if that has actually happened and the city refuses to comment.

Last September, Mayor Naheed Nenshi was asked about the possible repercussions of Magliocca ignoring council's sanctions and his refusal to comment on the situation.

"There are none," said Nenshi at the time. "We do not have the ability to actually impose these sanctions."

The provincial government does have the power to remove a local elected official from office but the UCP government has signalled it has no interest in pursuing this matter.

"We basically gave the most extreme sanctions we have to give," said Nenshi.

Magliocca's refusal to apologize hasn't sat well with most other council members. One indication of that came last October during council's annual organizational meeting. That's when the committee assignments and other duties for council members are decided for the year ahead.

It was proposed on the way into the meeting that Magliocca be deputy mayor for February. It's just a designation of which council member in a given month will stand in to represent the mayor if he's unavailable.

But after closed door conversations, council voted to not include Magliocca at all on the deputy mayor roster for 2021.

Magliocca is the second member of this council to ignore some or all sanctions imposed for breaching council's code of conduct.

An investigation by former integrity commission Sal LoVecchio in May 2020 determined Coun. Jeromy Farkas breached the code of conduct for a social media post about a council vote which never occurred.

LoVecchio recommended Farkas apologize for providing misleading information to the public. Council accepted that finding and requested the apology. But Farkas refused to comply.

Magliocca hasn't revealed whether he intends to run for re-election in this fall's municipal election.