Integrity Commissioner leaves more questions than answers in Darbyson/Maika ruling

OPINION

 

I feel that instead of investigating the actual complaint, Giorno decided to focus on a trivial irrelevant query of a not-for-profit volunteer-based community service.

— Christine Darbyson

After charging taxpayers $4,350 and taking a full year to investigate what was  a very brief altercation, Integrity Commissioner Guy Giorno finally released his report at the May 7 meeting of MV Council. In his strangely-worded ruling, he cleared former Councillor Shelley Maika of any wrongdoing after a complaint by resident Christine Darbyson who said she was physically and verbally assaulted by Maika in front of several witnesses in the municipal offices. (Above from left: Shelley Maika, Guy Giorno, Christine Darbyson)

In her complaint Darbyson stated that Maika, upon learning that Darbyson was having a meeting with the Township’s Interim Acting Treasurer, came rushing out of a nearby room shouting and swearing. She then tried to force her way into the private meeting, pushing the door against Darbyson who was seated just behind the door. As The Current reported at the time the altercation was witnessed by a member of the public. Click HERE to read.

Darbyson was advised by Mayor Kim Love to file a complaint with Giorno. The complaint said Maika had breached Council’s Code of Conduct because her behaviour offended the requirement that members of Council “shall refrain from conduct that is an abuse of power or otherwise amounts to discrimination, intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, or the adverse treatment of others.”

The same member of the public who witnessed Maika’s attempt to gatecrash the private meeting also revealed that Maika followed him outside while apologizing to him (she never apologized to Darbyson), and made additional slurs in his presence about Darbyson and others. The witness says Maika told him;

I’m sick and tired of these f**king freeloading hippies that homeschool their children. I’m sick of these c**ksuckers. I’m sick of their mooching off the township.

Maika did not deny making “disparaging” comments but said she was speaking to herself and “might have been overheard”. The witness told The Current that he volunteered to make a statement because he was so offended by Maika’s conduct. His statement was sent to Giorno last June, but Giorno made no mention at all in his report that there was an independent witness who corroborated Darbyson’s account that she was subjected to an unprovoked attack by Maika.

Giorno’s report

Giorno opens his report with a meandering seven-page introduction, discussing at length a historical dispute between Darbyson and Maika arising from a request for a refund because of disruption in a session of the karate club. Oddly, Giorno then uses the existence of this dispute to arrive at his conclusion that the victim (Darbyson) of Maika’s attack was equally to blame for the episode.

Darbyson is adamant that everything she said or did was only in response to the onslaught upon her by Maika, and questions why Giorno chose to ignore evidence from a neutral observer.

Giorno’s conclusions are baffling in light of the independent witness’ account which painted a clear picture of behaviour by Maika which fell afoul of the section in the Code of Conduct that Darbyson relied on.

Darbyson told The Current,

Unfortunately going through this process has left me with the knowledge and proof that the citizen complaint system does not work. It has accomplished one thing only and that is to discourage complaints. Others may look at the outcome of this case and decide their reputation is more important than the truth. It has shown me also that the process has no integrity at all and that is a very sad state of affairs.

 

Click HERE to read the full report submitted by Integrity Commissioner Guy Giorno

3 Comments

  1. Gerry Beanish

    Barb Cardwell, you should check your facts before jumping to conclusions. Guy Giorno currently serves as the integrity commissioner in 33 Ontario municipalities. He has been consulted by several provinces to help shape their laws.
    Previously Madawaska Valley was represented by a school board employee ( sunshine list), who practiced real estate law part time.
    Pity, all this over $25.

    • Barb Cardwell

      Gerry Beanish, I’m not sure what facts you think I need to check. Giorno took a year to produce a report, that cost taxpayers over $4,000. Giorno’s experience elsewhere is irrelevent – each complaint should be reviewed on its own merits. The background of the previous Integrity Commissioner is also irrelevent, and I’m not sure why you brought it up.

      If I had ever behaved in my professional position the way Maika did, I would have been fired, and rightfully so. He even had a statement from an independent witness to her behavior, but still cleared her of any wrongdoing and stated that she was not in violation of the Council’s Code of Conduct. How on earth??? Regardless of the history between these two individuals (Maika and Darbyson), as a municipal Councillor, Maika had a duty to act respectfully and professionally. She clearly did not, and should have been held accountable.
      I’m sorry if you can’t see how wrong this is, but I sure can.

  2. Barb Cardwell

    Wow. Just wow. The only conclusion I can come to is that Integrity Commissioner Guy Giorno must be a personal friend of Shelley Maika. There’s no other explanation of why he did such a botched job and presented such a ridiculous report.
    I sure hope the township doesn’t use him again – what a waste of our taxes to be paying this guy.

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