It sure beats A-M deC's drunk-driving husband, and his shitty patio on Richmond, which required the removal of a public transit shelter. That patio really pisses me off.
Speaking of public spaces like sidewalks, here is a blast from the past: http://www.lfpress.com/perl-bin/publ...67&s=lfpawards
JULY 5, 2008
London's mayor embraces her role as bar host
Sun Media, London Free Press
London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best knows some patrons at her husband's sports bar are surprised to find her working as a host.
It's a role she embraced to support husband Tim Best, though she'd never have chosen herself the risky endeavour of opening a restaurant. A child of frugal Italian immigrants, the mayor still scours weekly flyers for deals.
But Best sacrificed business interests in Texas to dedicate himself to their marriage and her political career, and now she wants to sacrifice for him.
"This is how people support one another," she said in her office at city hall.
The mayor has thrown herself behind Friday Knight Lights, her husband's Richmond Street bar whose opening in January drew city hall's top administrator, business stalwarts like Fred Kingsmill and the presidents of London's university and college.
DeCicco-Best suggested colours for the interior, took a course on how to serve alcohol responsibly and acts as a host when she can squeeze time from her busy public schedule -- about once a week.
"We know it's a big risk, but I believe in Tim," DeCicco-Best said.
But her devotion has come with a price -- at least for some Londoners, who question whether her commitment to her husband's business has compromised her responsibility to the city.
Several Londoners have contacted The Free Press, questioning the conduct of the mayor and city officials toward the sports bar.
Among the concerns:
In February, the mayor took a few city employees to lunch at Friday Knight Lights and billed it to the city.
Last week, the mayor, her husband and his friends ran through a Zellers as that store opened to nab half-price patio chairs ahead of others.
This week, Best was overseeing the building of a deck in front of his bar that required a public transit bus shelter to be moved.
Next week, the mayor will be the main attraction at a business dinner at the bar -- the mayor said she made the commitment weeks after her husband secured the dinner.
None of the conduct reveals a conflict of interest -- that's the view of municipal expert Andrew Sancton at the University of Western Ontario.
"This is not the stuff of political scandal," he said.
Of greater concern are council members whose work in the business world may conflict with their duties at city hall, Sancton said.
Such concerns were raised in council's last term about Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, who has since distanced himself from debates that affect his business clients.
But while Sancton believes the mayor's conduct is clearly legal, he also suggested it may not be wise -- an assessment shared by an ethics expert.
"These decisions are not improper, but they may be imprudent," said Melissa Williams, director of the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto. "It's more a matter of her political interests -- it's not going to serve her well at the polls."
DeCicco-Best defended her conduct as consistent with a standard of integrity she says has been central to her practice as a politician.
"My reputation means everything to me," she said.
The mayor has been vigilant about declaring a conflict of interest when council considers business involving the landlord for her husband's business, Shmuel Farhi, whose omnipresence downtown has frequently left her on the political sidelines.
As for the city-paid lunch, DeCicco-Best said it's something she does each year for a few city employees who helped her with her state-of-the-city address -- this year they asked to go the Friday Knight Lights.
"That's perfectly fine," said Williams, "but probably it would have been better if she didn't take them to her husband's bar."
Optics were an issue for a Pond Mills retiree, who said she was left in the dust as a team that included the mayor -- there for a door-crasher's special -- dashed through Zellers to get canvas-backed patio chairs for Best's new deck.
"The doors opened and they actually did a sprint through the store . . . that sends out such a bad signal -- this is supposed to be the head person in this city," said the woman, who requested anonymity.
The woman once lived within a block of DeCicco-Best and was an admirer who has supported her at the polls -- but no longer.
"First, I was shocked. Then I was appalled," she said.
The mayor and Best remember the incident differently. They arrived 45 minutes before Zellers opened, and while they ran through the store, they took fewer chairs than allowed so three couples who had also been early got a pair of chairs each -- their account consistent with the number of chairs at the bar.
There's nothing wrong about a mayor looking for a bargain, said DeCicco-Best -- such frugality should be an attractive trait in a politician.
"I know a door-crasher item when I see one. And if I can save a dollar, I'm going to save a dollar. I'm allowed to be a door-crash shopper, too."
That a mayor can act like any other citizen is true, Williams said, but that doesn't make the conduct prudent.
"We do hold our public officials to a higher standard than the letter of the law," she said.
Elevated expectations may explain criticism directed at how the bar was able to get a bus shelter removed and build an outdoor deck, Best said.
The entrepreneur says he's been treated no better than anyone else at city hall or London Transit -- that if anything, officials are more vigilant about making sure he gets no special favours. (What a load of BS!)
"The deck here was a long time coming. We had to get all sorts of permits and have been working on it since February," Best said this week.
Officials with the city and London Transit assert the same, though the latter couldn't recall removing a shelter to accommodate a restaurant.
"This is no different than we treat any other request," LTC head Larry Ducharme said.
Best didn't get everything he wanted from city officials -- he had hoped for a deck year-round but got a permit that requires him to remove the deck each October so it doesn't interfere with snow removal.
The deck and shelter removal were backed by MainStreet London and downtown's business association.
"We welcome the addition of well-designed sidewalk patios to our downtown streetscape," the two groups wrote.
But businessperson Rob de Groot is skeptical. Decision-making at city hall can be painfully slow and De Groot finds it hard to believe Best wouldn't ask his wife to help.
"I'd ask my wife," he said.
There were no favours, the mayor says -- but nor should there be barriers just because someone is related to her.
"Whether it's Tim or any other member of our family, they have the same opportunity as anyone else to be successful at business," she said.
Those who assert undue influence do so based on false assumptions, she said.
"It's the facts that make the difference. (Tim and I) have always been very careful, almost to the extreme."
London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best says she finds time to work at Friday Night Lights when she's not in council chambers or tied up with civic duties.
Jonathan Sher, nominated in the municipal affairs category.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know. -Donald Rumsfeld
Didn't you notice on the plane when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag?