March 5, 2010

The Dog Ate Hazel's Homework

I love this story. Like Jam-of-the-Month club, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

In an inquiry into conflict of interest concerns swirling around Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion and her son Peter, initial days of the inquest are discovering that McCallion does not keep records. Her Assistant regularly deletes her emails after she's read them. Apparently Hazel's ginormous computer brain means she doesn't need to keep track of anything she reads. Her Assistant believes this is a fine practice.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Do you know how many emails cross this woman's desk in a day, in an hour? Do you realize the breadth of material she must read and understand on numerous topics? Do you know how many meetings she must attend?

I'll tell you my take on this. Because it's my blog, and I can. Her Assistant didn't get to be her assistant by being stupid. That job is onerous. Now, if your boss, an elected official, tells you to delete every email that comes in once she says so, do you really think you obediently pull the trigger without asking a single question, raising an eyebrow, considering the implications? No way. Not buying it.

Now, if your boss was a newbie, recently elected, you would say something like, "Excuse me, Boss? I think that might be a rash idea. An electronic trail will be really handy to revisit in the event of questions that might arise about process, handling of material, response times, chains of conversations, and problems that may arise should you decide to aid and abet your ne-er do well son as he tries to benefit from your position of influence because he can't seem to earn a living otherwise" - or something like that. That's a ferinstance.

That's what you would say if your boss was a newbie. But if she'd been the mayor since Methuselah was a pup, I can totally understand you being leery of questioning her. In which case you would simply open up a series of folders and store everything anyway. Period.

McCallion also destroyed her calendar every year. Really? This woman who prides herself on the fact she is not just a part of history, but darned near an artifact? Destroys a record of where she's been, who she's posed with, how many ribbons she's cut? I doubt it. Truly. Peer into the brain of most politicians and you'll find a frustrated exhibitionist waiting to sparkle. At the very least you will find someone savvy enough to record meetings to prove they did what they said they were going to. Politicians hate being called out on the carpet - they live by their schedules to prove they're earning their salaries - because people call them out on it with great regularity, and even more often in an election year.

I'm just a normal person. I have my Milk Calendars going back ten years. I can tell you when Ari had a dentist appointment in 1997. I can tell you when pizza days were at Lakeshore School during 1998. I keep all my income tax returns and receipts for 7 years. Because you have to. But McCallion tosses correspondence daily? And her schedule yearly? Even though it's all stored electronically and takes up a few memory sticks?

I'm not buying it.

But I don't have to. Hand off her hard drive - or her Assistant's - to IT. Sorry, Hazel. It's all still there.

Get it and make this be over sooner.

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Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Very interesting articles coming out on Ms. Callion. I'm of two minds about this. She ran that city like a fine tuned engine for decades, BUT, it seems the price is shaping up to be some fine personal graft for the family. If this is the thin edge of the corruption wedge, it will be one stinky wheel of Kraft emerging from the primordial ooze. I might even see a Mike Harris sized rat or two nibbling on the end.

March 05, 2010 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! In this age how can anybody buy that there is no record of her activities anywhere. That city loves her so it will be very interesting to see where "Hazelgate" ends up.

March 05, 2010 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's disgraceful that this ancient, manipulative woman gets away with corruption and appears to walk away scott free. Her son looks like a weasel too. Why are the residents of Mississauga so blinded by her?

March 05, 2010 7:18 PM  
Blogger FibCarver said...

An organization as large and powerful as the City of Mississauga must have a central server, right? An IT department who does regular backups, right?

If not ... why not?

Is it possible that Mayor McCallion has propagated such a culture of fear within the City that there's been nobody responsible actually running the shop?

March 05, 2010 8:50 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

If so, the residents of Mississauga have only themselves to blame.

The fact they are on the hook for Peter McCallion's legal fees for this inquest is shocking.

You can scarcely demand so little of your elected officials then gasp in wonder when they take advantage of the process, their office and the voters.

March 05, 2010 10:11 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I don't know anything about Hazel's specific circumstances but many coropations have (perversely-named) "document retention policies" requiring all emails and memos be deleted/destroyed within 6 or 12 months. It's precisely so that there is no trail of evidence in the case of litigation. In the event of a trial all emails in the relevant time period can be subpoenaed, even emails on entirely unrelated topics. These can lead to additional charges or leakage of trade secrets to the litigant (often a competing company). This is so unnacceptable the business would rather lose exonerating correspondence than have *all* their correspondence made public.

March 08, 2010 12:50 PM  
Blogger FibCarver said...

The Government of Canada dictates that I have to keep my tax records handy for six years. What gives corporations the right to destroy data after six or 12 months?

March 10, 2010 7:31 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

It's neither a 'right' nor privilege; it's arrogance, plain and simple. Remember that fateful video of Conrad Black moving boxes of papers from his Toronto Street corporate head office?

March 11, 2010 6:17 PM  
Blogger FibCarver said...

It seems Hazel has her own 'box of papers' (check out the paragraphs towards the end of the article below) and, as suspected ...

Is it just me or do other people get the impression that Mayor McCallion might have lost the plot?

March 12, 2010 7:13 PM  

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