Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday wants city to pay legal fees for case that would stop city from paying legal fees
Sometimes work that’s started with the best of intentions ends badly. When then-councillor Doug Holyday sued the City of Toronto to challenge its decision to pay the legal fees for Giorgio Mammoliti and Adrian Heaps, it was the kind of action we could get behind. (Council shouldn’t have to be sued to do what its own lawyers tell it to do, but that’s another argument.) The problem is that now–Deputy Mayor Holyday has spent a ton more money than he’d originally expected, and he’d like the city to help pay for suing itself.
Holyday said Monday he had planned to pay for the lawsuit out of his own pocket until its cost ballooned far beyond the expected $40,000. The final bill was $124,180, according to a letter to councillors from his lawyer, George Rust-D’Eye.
Rust-D’Eye asked council to pay $16,000 in fees the courts have already required the city to cover, plus two thirds of the remaining fees, for a total of $88,120. Given that Holyday brought the lawsuit in the public interest and in defence of an opinion that had been provided by the city’s lawyer, Rust-D’Eye wrote, it “would be manifestly unfair” if he was “left to shoulder the burden.”
Holyday, a staunch fiscal conservative, said he knows some taxpayers will be unhappy with his request—but they will save money as a result of his actions even if council reimburses him.
Sure. Just not as much as if it doesn’t.
Holyday did a legitimate public service—as the Star notes, the fact that he won his court battle “prevents council from making such improper payments in future”—and maybe voters should be grateful. Whether taxpayers should be so grateful as to pay the $88,120, well, that’s another question entirely. Holyday and the man he’s deputy to, Rob Ford, ran an election against the budget bloat that has long seemed to stalk city hall, so pardon us for pointing out the obvious irony of adding tens of thousands of dollars to that bloat for a lawsuit the city should never have found itself in. Of course, if the city does end up paying for Holyday’s legal costs, that might be just 80,000 more reasons for council to listen to its lawyers next time.