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Trustee challenger accuses TDSB of corruption

October 18th, 2010 · 3 Comments

By Khristopher Reardon

Ward 10 trustee candidate Michael Sims says he is shocked by the “level of corruption and opacity” at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) following an investigation of incumbent Chris Bolton.

Chris Bolton

Calendars were handed to elementary students bearing incumbent Chris Bolton’s image and campaign website, which is a violation of TDSB election policies.

“I’m upset that the TDSB is refusing to enforce its own policies against trustees campaigning in the schools,” said Sims in a phone interview.

Bolton gave calendars to school principal Maria Pantalone at the Old Orchard Junior Public School (380 Ossington Ave.). Several parents complained when their children came home with campaign literature for Bolton.

Maria Pantalone is the sister of mayoral hopeful Joe Pantalone.

“You see there is a very incestuous, problematic relationship here with people named Pantalone—Joe and Maria, with people named Layton, with people named Bolton,” said Sims at an all-candidates debate at the Garrison (1197 Dundas St. W.).

Sims and Ward 19 council candidate Sean McCormick have openly accused council candidate Mike Layton of wrongdoing for campaigning with Bolton. “Mike needs to prove to the voters of Ward 19 that they can trust him, this is a good test of his character as it will show whether he will put the interests of the Ward ahead of the interests of the New Democratic Party,” said McCormick in a press release.

Sims says he is not surprised that it was Pantalone’s school where the offending calendars were distributed. “It’s clear that there’s a little bit of influence-peddling going on here and I don’t think it’s coincidence that Chris Bolton chose Ms. Pantalone’s school to distribute these flyers out.”

Michael Sims

According to a Toronto Star report, “Bolton said he delivered the cards to Maria Pantalone on Monday [Oct. 4] because he was ‘in the neighbourhood.’” Bolton told the Star he had been sick in September when asked why the calendars, which would normally go out at the beginning of the school year, went out in October.

In a telephone interview with The Gleaner Bolton refused to comment directly on any of  Sims’ accusations.

“It’s not news, it’s been withdrawn, the letter basically says it,” said Bolton. “What we should be concentrating on is … policy.”

Bolton did issue an apology on his website. “This calendar, in error, had my campaign website address on it,” he said.

TDSB media representative Kelly Baker says the board has investigated the matter. She says no further action is needed since the TDSB stopped distribution of the calendars and an apology was issued by Bolton.

“The trustees do regular letters, so this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a school to distribute a newsletter,” said Baker.

Sims is seeking more information about the investigation which according to Baker took “a few days.” In an email to TDSB chair Bruce Davis, Sims asked the board to be explicit in explaining what actions they have taken. “Who determined that trustee Bolton’s actions were not, in fact, in contravention of board policies? Have you requested legal advice about the implications of the TDSB violating the Municipal Elections Act?” As of press date, Sims had not received a response. Repeated attempts were made by The Gleaner to contact Davis for comment, but calls were not returned.

Sims says he is very disappointed that the investigation has not yielded any action.

“You know I don’t have any access to go to the school and put flyers in kids’ backpacks. I can’t go to the school principal and give them a stack of flyers and say ‘Distribute these to all of the parents.’ It’s an abuse of power,” said Sims.

Bolton, who has been a Ward 10 trustee since 2003 believes the matter has been overblown. “Why would there be an investigation?” said Bolton. “It’s something that we’ve done for years, it’s not news.”

Tags: News · General

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 An Endorsement for Michael Sims for TDSB in Ward 19 | Ossington Village // Oct 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    […] feel he is dismissive of local concerns. In questions from the local paper, the Gleaner, “Bolton refused to comment directly on any of  Sims’ accusations. ‘It’s not news, […]

  • 2 Liberty Gleaner On This Trustee Race « Michael Sims for TDSB Trustee in Trinity-Spadina // Oct 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    […] Liberty Gleaner On This Trustee Race By Michael Sims, on October 21st, 2010 The Liberty Gleaner has a story covering this trustee race and the incumbent sending home campaign materials with schoolchildren. […]

  • 3 Final Thoughts From The Campaign Trail « Michael Sims for TDSB Trustee in Trinity-Spadina // Oct 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

    […] My opponent is a retired educator. In the 2006 election he received contributions from corporations and unions that do business with the school system, and I assume the same is true in 2010. He is running in conjunction with Mike Layton and a major political party machine in ward 19 and 20. Here’s his entire platform. Go on, click through that link and read it, then hit the Back button. That’s right: his entire platform is “coming soon”. If elected, he plans to do exactly nothing in the next four years. In all of his campaign materials, flyers, debates and every other interaction he has had with the public over the last few months, he has put forward exactly zero ideas about how to improve the Toronto District School Board or what he wants to do in the next four years. Ah, I take that back. He has expressed a desire to run for the chairmanship of the Board (an internal election among the 22 trustees). So he has expressed a desire for more power, but nothing – literally nothing – about how to use that power to effect good change. If elected, he’ll owe his job to the corporations, unions, and political party who supported him. He doesn’t live in the ward or have any children in the public schools – he’s got no stake in the system. He’s ethically challenged. […]