PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM KAREN CILEVITZ – NOVEMBER 8, 2019
First, I want to thank everyone who has contacted me since September 18, 2019. Your supportive words and actions during a very challenging time are greatly appreciated, on many levels.
Following is a detailed public statement which I believe prudently and responsibly narrates the issue at hand from my perspective.
At the Council meeting held on September 18, five members of Council voted to suspend my pay for 45 days, and then on October 16 votes from the same five suspended my pay for a further 180 days (90×2), making the total of days I am to go without legitimate pay at 225 days (7.5 months). Taken into consideration with the 90 day pay suspension imposed on December 17, 2018 (before the courts and currently under Judicial Review), the grand total of pay suspension of my Councillor salary, my full-time and only job, computes to 315 calendar days this duly elected Councillor is to go without pay, including thousands of dollars being denied passage into my municipal retirement fund as a result of this pay suspension.
Richmond Hill Liberal article September 24, 2019:
Richmond Hill Liberal article October 23, 2019:
Four Integrity Commissioner (IC) reports bearing my name have come before Council since December, 2018, one currently before the courts under a Judicial Review, all with findings against me but having recommendations from the IC of reprimands only. While a necessary tool which all Ontario municipalities are mandated to have in place, I believe the record substantiates that the in-place Code of Conduct guiding behaviour of Richmond Hill Council members has been used against me for financial hardship, resulting in extreme emotional and psychological stress.
On October 22, 2018, I was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term to represent Richmond Hill’s Ward 5 residents as the Ward 5 Local Councillor. I won every Ward 5 polling station count, including the advance poll, and my support at the polls increased from 46% of the total vote count in 2014, to 52% in 2018. I regard my role as a public servant as one of great personal honour and an immense privilege, connected to a true and abiding personal commitment to public service. I sit in the Ward 5 chair behind our Council Bench by virtue of the People’s votes, in exactly the same way as my eight Council colleagues are seated in theirs.
Given the current circumstances and crippling personal consequences on many levels, I believe it is necessary for me to ensure, from my perspective, that the public record is accurate and clear of misinformation. There has been much said in the public realm that bears scrutiny for its factual veracity.
The three decisions against me referenced above, one on September 18 and two on October 16, were in response to three separate reports from Richmond Hill’s Integrity Commissioner (IC) regarding three consecutive Code of Conduct complaints made against me by Regional Councillor Carmine Perrelli, all regarding the same issue, spanning a period of one month in March and April, 2019.
- For a residents meeting held on March 7, 2019 – IC-56-0519:
- For a residents meeting held on April 8, 2019 – IC-69-0519:
- For a residents meeting not held on April 11, 2019 – IC-102-0719:
- Cilevitz / Perrelli Complaint – IC-65-0519:
- Livestream video link for September 18 Council Meeting – Beginning at Timestamp 1:22:00:
- Livestream video link for October 16 Council Meeting – Beginning at Timestamp 26:48:
In each IC investigation, including the cancelled residents meeting which was scheduled for April 11, the IC found that I had breached the current Code of Conduct because I had not followed a Council-approved policy put in place in June, 2012.
This policy, known as the Policy for Councillor-Held Residents Meetings on High Density Development Applications, in part requires that members of Council and staff must be notified of residents meetings held by Ward Councillors regarding development applications located in high density transit corridors, e.g. Yonge Street – Richmond Hill’s Ward 5 straddles Yonge Street from Highway 7 to Major Mackenzie. It is important to note that Councillor-held residents meetings regarding land-use development are not mandatory in nature. Instead, they are held at the Ward Councillor’s discretion should the Ward Councillor believe it necessary, as an informative and consultative tool regarding development applications. All development applications requiring Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments are presented to residents and Council members at Council Public Meetings, which are statutory meetings held in Council Chambers under the provincial Planning Act, with full public engagement and participation.
Explanatory Note: From the time I was first inaugurated as Richmond Hill’s Ward 5 Councillor in December, 2014, I have never, from then to present, been invited, as per this policy, to attend any discretionary residents meetings held by any Ward Councillor on any transit corridor etc., and, I have never invoked a Code of Conduct complaint against any Ward Councillor in this regard. To my knowledge, this is the first time this has occurred.
What bears particular note throughout this entire statement is one irrefutable fact – The Integrity Commissioner (IC) and the related Council Code of Conduct are mandatory, statutory requirements under provincial legislation. The IC’s duties include providing impartial, third party, professional advice to Council and responding to any compliance issues and matters relating to their ethical responsibilities and obligations under the Code, as well as educating and advising the community of the same. The IC, appointed by Council, plays the very important role of a neutral, independent officer who oversees the conduct of members of Council, operating independently of Council and the City’s Administration arm. The Code of Conduct, guiding Council’s behaviour and actions, is a policy approved by Council. The IC and the IC’s investigators independent third party role is critical to the nature of their investigations and their final recommendations made to Council for implementation of any possible sanctions. Should their findings and recommendations be followed by Council, the outcome of an IC’s investigation upholds the sanctity of an impartial investigation and decision, ensuring a Council, by virtue of their final vote and principles of fairness, does not become “judge, jury and executioner” of their Council colleagues
The sanction/s recommended by the IC and her investigator in all three report conclusions regarding myself, are the same: That a reprimand be imposed. This is in fact stressed in the reports. The IC investigator, Mr. Marvin Huberman, in the report labelled IC-102-0719, states: “I have decided that the appropriate penalty in all the circumstances of the instant Complaint is a reprimand. In my view, a reprimand will promote compliance with the Code and the Policy and further their purposes and principles, and the goals/objectives of penalties that apply to the context of this Complaint.” Mr. Huberman further states in part: “To address the matters that I have identified in my investigation, specifically that the Member has contravened through inadvertence, that is mistakenly, by accident or oversight…” In all three reports the investigator and IC finds and recommends the same – an inadvertent mistake or omission to be sanctioned by a reprimand.
The question that I believe is demanding of scrutiny herein is for what reason did five members of Council, determining a majority, believe it necessary to impose the severest of consecutive punitive financial sanctions against myself, suspension of pay for a total of 7.5 months (45 days for the first, and 90 days each for the 2nd and 3rd), totally removing my financial livelihood and in so doing, disallowing the monthly automatic contribution to my municipal pension? The votes for suspension of my pay came from Cllrs Perrelli, DiPaola, Beros, Muench, and Liu; with Mayor Barrow, Cllrs Chan and West voting against.
At no time, before or since the IC complaints being made public (subject to confidentiality agreement between the parties and City prior to that), has any member of Council, other than Cllrs Chan and West, engaged me in discussion as to my perspective and/or reasonings for the IC-found policy invitation omissions. Why not?
COUNCIL MEETING – OCTOBER 16, 2019
A number of extracts from the October 16 livestream video follows, however for complete context, the entire video should be viewed from the timestamped beginning:
Livestream video link for October 16 Council Meeting – Beginning at Timestamp 26:48:
It was stated by Joe DiPaola on October 16th that these were “repeat offences” of the By-law and therefore should be punished to the “most allowed” penalty. He further states “the point of the exercise is to change the behaviour” and that he “hope(s) it’s the last” – What Joe DiPaola failed to note was that the two residents meetings in question were held in March and April, 4 weeks apart, with the cancelled meeting scheduled for April too, and that I have held no further policy-related residents meetings since then. The Council meetings to hear the IC reports took place 6 and 7 months later. What I find most peculiar is that DiPaola states “all I have to go on is the IC report” to exact the punishment – Correct, and as above he never engaged me in any conversation, and, as the IC report/s clearly state, in all three, that the penalty should be “a reprimand”. Not a financial suspension, not multiple maximum financial suspensions. “A reprimand”. However, it is apparent now by the irrefutable actions of this Council, that the recommended sanction from the IC report/s held little sway, with Cllr DiPaola and/or Cllrs Perrelli, Beros, Muench and Liu. Why?
This was, as found by the IC after thorough investigations, “inadvertent omissions” contravening a policy. This was not a criminal act involving criminal wrongdoing. However, the manner in which I have been derogatorily represented by some City Councillors in the public realm, together with the severe punitive measures installed to inflict maximum damage and effect, appear to illustrate something completely different. Why?
Timestamp 32:40 :
On October 16th, Carmine Perrelli speaks to “changing behaviour” (reference March/April timeline above) and insultingly likens the IC-found inadvertent omissions, and the related Council-punitive punishments of a fellow Council Member, to that of dealing with a teenager who disregards the Highway Traffic Act. I am a 62 year old educated, intelligent woman who successfully raised three remarkable children into adulthood, a life-long volunteer, a respected community activist, and a member of Council. I am neither a child nor an unruly teenager:
Ward 2 Councillor Tom Muench repeatedly stated on October 16 that his only interest lies in “good governance”. I fail to understand how denying my livelihood for the better part of close to a year, thereby creating severe financial and emotional strain, falls anywhere near his mantra of supposed “good governance”.
Further, Tom Muench states I have been in breach of the Code of Conduct “6” times – this is egregious misinformation. As per the public record, I have been found in breach of the Code of Conduct four times – the three in discussion here all laid against me by Carmine Perrelli, and one from December, 2018, by a resident, which currently sits before the courts. Tom Muench, should, at the very least, offer me a public apology for uttering a misleading and patently erroneous statement.
It bears noting that Carmine Perrelli, while serving as the Ward 2 Councillor from 2010-2014, filed a lawsuit against the then-Town seeking to quash a By-law and policy he deemed “illegal” and that “Council had acted outside its jurisdiction”. He further publicly stated that the policy “ties his hands”, “hampers how he does his job”, “invading the privacy of his residents”, that it “goes outside the jurisdiction of the municipality”, that it “infringed on residents rights” and was “without merit” and “unenforceable”, and that “council overstepped their authority and was once again imposing their will on residents without consultation”. The policy that Carmine Perrelli sued the then-Town of Richmond Hill over in 2012, is the same policy over which he made three complaints to the IC about myself in 2019, clearly and indisputably leading the charge to now hold me to extraordinary punitive measures:
Carmine Perrelli ultimately withdrew the lawsuit in August, 2013, saying his “goal for challenging the bylaw” had been “achieved”.
It is therefore astonishing that on October 16, as per the livestream video link, Carmine Perrelli appears to admonish me while raising his voice at the residents in Council Chambers, saying that I have filed a lawsuit against the City to “quash a By-law” and rails at Cllr David West as being a “hypocrite”. Given the words uttered by Perrelli here, is it not apropos to ask whether or not the possibility of revenge might be a factor driving and influencing what has occurred?
Timestamp 55:10 & 58:00 :
For the record, Carmine Perrelli has launched a number of lawsuits against the Town/City over a period of many years, all of which can be substantiated through examination of the public record.
In stark and questionable contrast, on October 16, another IC report was also heard – A complaint I had laid against Carmine Perrelli for abusive and humiliating actions demonstrated towards myself at the Council Public Meeting held on April 17. The IC states in her final report “I find that Councillor Perrelli’s statements about the Complainant in the Meeting constituted abusive conduct pursuant to both the Code and the Respect 7 in the Workplace Policy” and that “Council shall impose a reprimand on Councillor Perrelli for having contravened section 10 of the Council Code of Conduct and Section 1 of the Respect in the Workplace Policy in the circumstances of the instant Complaint.” This final report was “received” by Council only, no sanction applied.
Council Public Meeting – April 17, 2019:
Cilevitz complaint against Perrelli – IC-65-0519:
PUBLIC COMMENTS – RICHMOND HILL LIBERAL
On October 23 at 9:45 pm (screenshot capture below), in a response to retired RH Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg, Perrelli states in part:
“Brenda……There was no reprimand against me. Here are the facts. Councillor Cilevitz made a complaint, the IC (Integrity commissioner) found there was a violation. Councillor Ciletitz (sic) and all the members of Council voted to not reprimand me. ….”
This was the second IC report heard on October 16, the first was the Perrelli complaint against myself for which I received a 45 day suspension of pay for breaching a City policy. When this matter came forward, Mayor Barrow who was the Chair, went to Carmine Perrelli first for the relevant motion. I had recused myself from the Bench in keeping with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA). With the second, mine against Perrelli, with Perrelli recused from the Bench as per the MCIA, wherein the IC had found Perrelli guilty of “abusive conduct” toward myself and breaching the City’s “Respect in the Workplace Policy” with a recommended reprimand sanction, Mayor Barrow went first to Ward 1 Councillor Greg Beros who then put forward the motion “to receive the IC report”. This meant that no sanction was to be applied to Carmine Perrelli should the Beros motion be approved. I attempted to correct the motion with an amendment to also “reprimand” Carmine Perrelli, as per the recommendation of the IC in the report. This was denied as it was deemed “contrary to the original motion”.
Given the above, I was caught in a Catch-22 situation, as were other members of Council, regarding the Perrelli report. I had to vote to receive the report according to the Beros motion on the floor. Had I not, I would have effectively nullified the IC’s report on a complaint I had brought forward against Carmine Perrelli. Had I not voted to receive the IC’s report regarding Perrelli’s abusive actions toward me, it would have indicated I did not accept the report. This was categorically not the case. Therefore, I regretfully had no option but to vote for the Beros motion to only receive the report.
Timestamp 1:11:10 :
On October 24 at 9:50 am (screenshot capture below), in a response to RH resident Joel Clements, Perrelli states in part:
“Joel…..Its the Integrity Commissioner, not the Ethics commissioner. You ask “whose the bully” not Perrelli. I say that with confidence because all members of council voted not to reprimand, Including the complainant, Councillor Cilevtz (sic). I believe they did so because they believe the IC got it wrong. ….”
To suggest that by voting to receive the Perrelli IC report I “… believed the IC got it wrong” is patently erroneous, subjective, and misleading.
On October 23 at 9:54 pm (screenshot capture below), in a response to RH resident Marney Beck, Carmine Perrelli states in part:
“Marney……. The cost savings to the Taxpayer by suspending Councillor Cilevtz (sic) pay will more than offset the cost of the Investigation. Contrary to what Councillor Cilevitz and the media is reporting, I never had a “personal” relationship with Councillor Cilevitz. ….”
This statement is patently incorrect and misleading. To the first part regarding “cost savings” – I asked our City Treasurer, David Dexter, to respond to this statement by Carmine Perrelli. Mr. Dexter responded to my email on October 28, 2019 – Quote: “In no way is the reduced cost from the pay suspension contingent on offsetting savings for the IC or any other cost. The IC is an independent body that performs reviews upon request. The savings from the suspended remuneration contributes towards the annual operating surplus.” End quote. Treasurer Dexter’s professional comments clearly and irrefutably demonstrate that the public statement made by Carmine Perrelli in the comments section of our local newspaper, is both patently incorrect and totally misleading.
To the second part of his comment regarding the “personal relationship” statement – I have never stated in any form that Carmine Perrelli and I had a “personal relationship”. This is an abject fabrication. The unwanted, fractious and combative relationship I have had to endure over a period of nearly a decade relative to Carmine Perrelli, is well-documented in the report IC-69-0519, link above, and through my sworn affidavit given for this specific complaint. Further, Carmine Perrelli cannot escape the veracity of a YRP report from December, 2013, which came about as a result of his questionable actions undertaken to inflict possible maximum damage to myself should he have been successful in his attempted contrived complaint against me to YRP.
On October 24 at 6:48 am (screenshot capture below), amongst other disparaging words Carmine Perrelli uses, he states in part:
“… People might feel different if the reporter reported out the fact that Councillor Cilevtz (sic) is suing no less than 8 different people, one of them twice, stemming from her first IC violation where she bullied and harassed a resident with Stage 4 Cancer.”
Apart from the fact that Perrelli repeatedly spells my last name incorrectly, he should know better than to comment on a lawsuit in which he is a named defendant. Again, it is my legal and constitutional right to appeal to the courts regarding a matter/s I believe to be unlawful. Carmine Perrelli has done the same on numerous occasions, with much fanfare and public protestations.
The Code of Conduct implicitly states, Section 7.8 c: “use of social media to publish anything that is dishonest, untrue, offensive, disrespectful, constitutes harassment, is defamatory or misleading in any way.”
Current RH Council Code of Conduct:
Since December, 2018, the start of this current term of Council (2018-2022), the following complaints have been received and adjudicated by the current IC and ADR Chambers, and received and sanctioned by Council (Note: Complaints received that are dismissed by the IC remain confidential, the details of which are not publicly released):
- 1. December 17, 2018 – Complaint against Councillor Karen Cilevitz by a resident; found in contravention of the Code of Conduct for harassing a resident; sanction recommendation of IC – Reprimand; sanction by Council – Suspension of pay for 90 days – Before the courts under Judicial Review.
- 2. September 18, 2019 – Complaint against Councillor Karen Cilevitz by Councillor Carmine Perrelli; found in contravention of the Code of Conduct for breaching the City’s Policy for Councillor-Held Residents Meetings on High Density Development Applications; sanction recommendation of IC – Reprimand; sanction by Council – Suspension of pay for 45 days.
- 3. September 18, 2019 – Complaint against Councillor Carmine Perrelli by Councillor Karen Cilevitz; found in contravention of the Code of Conduct for abusive behaviour and found in contravention of the City’s Respect in the Workplace Policy; sanction recommendation of IC – Reprimand; sanction by Council – None.
- 4. October 16, 2019 – Complaint against Councillor Karen Cilevitz by Councillor Carmine Perrelli; found in contravention of the City’s Policy for Councillor-Held Residents Meetings on High Density Development Applications; sanction recommendation of IC – Reprimand; sanction by Council – Suspension of pay for 90 days.
- 5. October 16, 2019 – Complaint against Councillor Karen Cilevitz by Councillor Carmine Perrelli; found in contravention of the City’s Policy for Councillor-Held Residents Meetings on High Density Development Applications; sanction recommendation of IC – Reprimand; sanction by Council – Suspension of pay for 90 days.
I believe the five points above speak clearly for themselves and illustrate a disturbing pattern which cannot be denied.
In closing, and notwithstanding that the formidable current situation in which I have been placed – a 225 day suspension of pay which places my family and I under immeasurable financial stress and emotional strain, I want to assure our Ward 5 residents that their Councillor, Karen Cilevitz, this woman who is dedicated to the job to which she was re-elected in 2018 to proudly serve a second term, remains committed to ensuring their best interests will always have her utmost attention while she continues to be seated as the duly elected Ward 5 Councillor.
No matter the unwanted and unjustified hurdles some may attempt to use to derail me or prevent me from undertaking my civic duties, my focus to responsibly serve our Richmond Hill residents is clear, and my commitment to them remains steadfast and unwavering.
All I want is to do my job, the job the People of Ward 5 have elected me to do, with the honour and integrity befitting my Oath of Office, the job to which I have willingly and sincerely dedicated myself since 2014, the job which I truly love to do.
Again, thank you all for your ongoing and much-appreciated support.
Karen Cilevitz – Councillor, Ward 5, Richmond Hill
4 Screenshot captures from the comments section of the RH Liberal – October 23 & 24, 2019:
Karen Cilevitz has lived in Richmond Hill since 2009, and is a proud Ward 5 resident elected to the Ward 5 Councillor seat in 2014, and re-elected for a second term in 2018. She has 3 adult children who live in Ontario. A lifelong volunteer and community activist, Karen served as Chair of the DDO Defenders for 6 years, leading this grassroots community advocacy group in protecting and conserving Richmond Hill’s iconic David Dunlap Observatory Campus and surrounding lands as a public legacy.
Her dedicated work on the DDO file, and her work with residents and residents’ groups defending the Town against over-development, led Karen to run for public office. She prides herself as a steward of our natural environment, working towards conservation of our greenspaces and protection of our wildlife. An avid amateur astronomer, Karen has the distinction of having a Main Belt Asteroid named in her honour – Asteroid 108382 Karencilevitz. Karen’s commitment to her residents as Richmond Hill’s Ward 5 Councillor demonstrates her dedication to public service excellence, ensuring all Ward 5 residents receive her undivided attention as their elected representative on Council.
COMMITTEES AND BOARDS – 2018-2022
Council Member, Chair – Accessibility Advisory Committee
Council Member, Vice-Chair – Civic Precinct Project Steering Committee
Council Member, Vice-Chair – David Dunlap Observatory Park Steering Committee
Council Member – Heritage Richmond Hill Committee
Council Member – Richmond Hill People Plan Task Force
Council Member – Richmond Hill Economic Development Committee
Council Member – Richmond Hill Business Leadership Council
Advisory Board Member – Chorus York
Advisory Board Member – Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra
Advisory Board Member – York Region Food Network
Municipal Advisor – Leadership Team: Pflag York Region
Member – Blue Dot Richmond Hill
Member – Clean Air Council – Clean Air Partnership
Member – Working Group for OMB Reform
No upcoming events
Ward 5 CIVIC ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
2018 – 2022 Ward 5 Civic Engagement Committee Executive:
- A new W5CEC Executive will be chosen at our first meeting in November, 2019, stay tuned for details – If you would like to be a W5CEC Executive Member, please email me to have your name placed into consideration: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ward 5 Civic Engagement Committee (W5CEC) is a unique Ward Committee overseen by Councillor Cilevitz with participation by and with Ward 5 residents. The W5CEC is comprised of the Executive Committee and residents living in Ward 5. The Committee hears and discusses matters of concern and/or interest to Ward 5, and works in a pro-active manner to reach consensus on decisions/directions to Councillor Cilevitz in the best interests of the residents of Ward 5, and in keeping with in-place policies which guide and direct our municipality as a whole. We meet as a group three times a year for informative, inclusive discussions, and host regular Ward 5 Resident Community Meetings presenting many topics for informal, engaging discussions between Councillor Cilevitz, guest speakers and presenters, and residents.
With thanks to the outgoing 2015-2018 Executive Committee for all their dedicated hard work!
Need Councillor Cilevitz’s assistance with a Ward 5 municipal matter?
Councillor Email: email@example.com
Direct Councillor Office Line: 905.771.2510
Councillor Cell: 416.806.7582