OPP wraps up its investigation of city's downtown loan program

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After an internal and external audit, then an OPP investigation, Mayor Larry Di Ianni is confident Hamilton's downtown loan program is cleared of any perceived wrongdoing.

"This is a good program," he said. "Nobody has done anything wrong. I'm not surprised by the results. But it is nice to have a third party vindicate the program."

The OPP's Anti-Rackets Section, after conducting a three-month investigation on the downtown loan program, when a citizen raised complaints about how it was loaning money, issued a short statement to city staff Dec. 14, saying it did not "uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing."

City Manager Glen Peace praised municipal employees for acting in a professional manner during a time of "intense scrutiny" during the investigation.

"The results are very much what I expected," he said.

The city had already conducted its own internal audit on the Downtown Renewal Division's financial assistance programs, such as the Downtown Residential Loans, Commercial Property Improvement Grants, and Enterprise Zone Realty Tax grants at the request of Di Ianni and other senior administrative staff earlier this year.

An external audit was also conducted by the city's accounting firm, said Di Ianni.

The Downtown Residential Loan Program, which offers interest-free loans from a $20 million line of credit, has provided money to 12 projects at a cost of about $16.2 million.

The projects included the Chteau Royal condominium project on James Street, which retired its $3.4 million loan to the city earlier this year, and the condominium conversion of the former Hamilton Spectator building at 80 King William Street.

Overall, the downtown residential programs have provided about $80 million to redevelopment projects that have contributed to the city core's revitalization, said Di Ianni.

Criticism of the loan program began late in 2003 when Judy MacDonald-Musitano, expressed a concern to senior city staff, some politicians, and the mayor about the program's operation.

Musitano-MacDonald, who operates a food market in Stoney Creek, took her concerns to the Hamilton Police Service. Police Chief Brian Mullan handed the complaint over to the OPP.

"I asked for a good investigation," said Musitano-MacDonald. "That's the only thing I wanted. And I got it. These anti-racket officers are professionals. They wanted to have evidence that was beyond a reasonable doubt."

Musitano-MacDonald's complaint was revealed to the public in the wake of Stoney Creek councillor Dave Mitchell's speeding ticket incident. He subsequently accused the Hamilton Police Service of corruption, after he believed they were not properly dealing with Musitano-MacDonald's complaint.

Di Ianni said the results of the OPP investigation should give some Hamilton residents pause before they make charges of wrong-doing within city hall.

"We live in a pluralistic society where people can say things, and then they have to be played out," he said.

"I was confident the truth would and did come out. This should be a lesson to them as well."

OPP wraps up its investigation of city's downtown loan program

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After an internal and external audit, then an OPP investigation, Mayor Larry Di Ianni is confident Hamilton's downtown loan program is cleared of any perceived wrongdoing.

"This is a good program," he said. "Nobody has done anything wrong. I'm not surprised by the results. But it is nice to have a third party vindicate the program."

The OPP's Anti-Rackets Section, after conducting a three-month investigation on the downtown loan program, when a citizen raised complaints about how it was loaning money, issued a short statement to city staff Dec. 14, saying it did not "uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing."

City Manager Glen Peace praised municipal employees for acting in a professional manner during a time of "intense scrutiny" during the investigation.

"The results are very much what I expected," he said.

The city had already conducted its own internal audit on the Downtown Renewal Division's financial assistance programs, such as the Downtown Residential Loans, Commercial Property Improvement Grants, and Enterprise Zone Realty Tax grants at the request of Di Ianni and other senior administrative staff earlier this year.

An external audit was also conducted by the city's accounting firm, said Di Ianni.

The Downtown Residential Loan Program, which offers interest-free loans from a $20 million line of credit, has provided money to 12 projects at a cost of about $16.2 million.

The projects included the Chteau Royal condominium project on James Street, which retired its $3.4 million loan to the city earlier this year, and the condominium conversion of the former Hamilton Spectator building at 80 King William Street.

Overall, the downtown residential programs have provided about $80 million to redevelopment projects that have contributed to the city core's revitalization, said Di Ianni.

Criticism of the loan program began late in 2003 when Judy MacDonald-Musitano, expressed a concern to senior city staff, some politicians, and the mayor about the program's operation.

Musitano-MacDonald, who operates a food market in Stoney Creek, took her concerns to the Hamilton Police Service. Police Chief Brian Mullan handed the complaint over to the OPP.

"I asked for a good investigation," said Musitano-MacDonald. "That's the only thing I wanted. And I got it. These anti-racket officers are professionals. They wanted to have evidence that was beyond a reasonable doubt."

Musitano-MacDonald's complaint was revealed to the public in the wake of Stoney Creek councillor Dave Mitchell's speeding ticket incident. He subsequently accused the Hamilton Police Service of corruption, after he believed they were not properly dealing with Musitano-MacDonald's complaint.

Di Ianni said the results of the OPP investigation should give some Hamilton residents pause before they make charges of wrong-doing within city hall.

"We live in a pluralistic society where people can say things, and then they have to be played out," he said.

"I was confident the truth would and did come out. This should be a lesson to them as well."

OPP wraps up its investigation of city's downtown loan program

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After an internal and external audit, then an OPP investigation, Mayor Larry Di Ianni is confident Hamilton's downtown loan program is cleared of any perceived wrongdoing.

"This is a good program," he said. "Nobody has done anything wrong. I'm not surprised by the results. But it is nice to have a third party vindicate the program."

The OPP's Anti-Rackets Section, after conducting a three-month investigation on the downtown loan program, when a citizen raised complaints about how it was loaning money, issued a short statement to city staff Dec. 14, saying it did not "uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing."

City Manager Glen Peace praised municipal employees for acting in a professional manner during a time of "intense scrutiny" during the investigation.

"The results are very much what I expected," he said.

The city had already conducted its own internal audit on the Downtown Renewal Division's financial assistance programs, such as the Downtown Residential Loans, Commercial Property Improvement Grants, and Enterprise Zone Realty Tax grants at the request of Di Ianni and other senior administrative staff earlier this year.

An external audit was also conducted by the city's accounting firm, said Di Ianni.

The Downtown Residential Loan Program, which offers interest-free loans from a $20 million line of credit, has provided money to 12 projects at a cost of about $16.2 million.

The projects included the Chteau Royal condominium project on James Street, which retired its $3.4 million loan to the city earlier this year, and the condominium conversion of the former Hamilton Spectator building at 80 King William Street.

Overall, the downtown residential programs have provided about $80 million to redevelopment projects that have contributed to the city core's revitalization, said Di Ianni.

Criticism of the loan program began late in 2003 when Judy MacDonald-Musitano, expressed a concern to senior city staff, some politicians, and the mayor about the program's operation.

Musitano-MacDonald, who operates a food market in Stoney Creek, took her concerns to the Hamilton Police Service. Police Chief Brian Mullan handed the complaint over to the OPP.

"I asked for a good investigation," said Musitano-MacDonald. "That's the only thing I wanted. And I got it. These anti-racket officers are professionals. They wanted to have evidence that was beyond a reasonable doubt."

Musitano-MacDonald's complaint was revealed to the public in the wake of Stoney Creek councillor Dave Mitchell's speeding ticket incident. He subsequently accused the Hamilton Police Service of corruption, after he believed they were not properly dealing with Musitano-MacDonald's complaint.

Di Ianni said the results of the OPP investigation should give some Hamilton residents pause before they make charges of wrong-doing within city hall.

"We live in a pluralistic society where people can say things, and then they have to be played out," he said.

"I was confident the truth would and did come out. This should be a lesson to them as well."