ferrisconspiracy : ARCHIVE
Police story: with allegations of shakedowns, payoffs and cover-ups, 2004 was not a great year for the cops. Alan Heisey, as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, aimed to clean up the mess. But one week into his tenure, he found himself the target of a brutal smear campaign. Things went downhill from there.
Source: Toronto Life
Author: Lownsbrough, John
Police headquarters at 40 College Street is a postmodern fortress of pink granite and geometrical clutter. As chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, Alan Heisey had an office on the seventh floor, down the corridor from Chief Julian Fantino. I visited Heisey there last August, a couple of months after he'd announced he wouldn't seek to renew his term. It was sparsely decorated, as if a testament to the fleeting nature of such positions. On an otherwise barren desktop sat a small framed picture of his infant daughter, Rebecca. And hanging on a wall by the door was a photograph of a massasauga rattlesnake, taken in Georgian Bay, where the Heiseys spend their summers. "If you step on it, it bites you," he said with a knowing laugh.
But at least rattlers signal their presence with a warning. When an internal police memo casting Heisey as a pedophile sympathizer was leaked to the press in January 2004, it caught him totally unawares. It bit. It did damage. Yet on that morning in August, the atmosphere on the seventh floor seemed so tranquil. "It's almost peaceful," said Heisey. "But it's an illusion."
Indeed, his tenure as chair of the TPSB could be described as anything but peaceful. He took the position just as an RCMP investigation into Toronto's drug squad was bringing charges of widespread corruption. A few months later, another investigation unearthed allegations of shakedowns and payoffs among the plainclothes unit at 52 Division, implicating the president of the Toronto Police Association.
Even more destabilizing to the board were its internal problems. Heisey had replaced Norm Gardner, whose position was in limbo after he was accused of breaching board conduct. Though Gardner absented himself from TPSB meetings pending an inquiry, he refused to resign, so what should have been a seven-member board numbered six (or fewer) for most of 2004, resulting in hopeless deadlocks. That was one of two D-words used often last year in reference to the TPSB. The other was "dysfunctional." Heisey himself described the board in such terms. And it became a kind of battle cry for those critical of TPSB decisions, most notably the one that ended Julian Fantino's contract.
As the civilian body created to oversee the police--who aren't famous for welcoming scrutiny--the TPSB is accustomed to discord, but 2004, more than most, was a year of disgruntlement and paranoia at 40 College Street. The tabloidization of the issues into stark pro- or anti-cop positions highlighted the chronic absence of a middle ground. And so it was that a 50-year-old development and labour litigation lawyer named Alan Heisey found himself the rational man in an often irrational setting.
His full name--the way he signs his letters, the way he is formally addressed--is A. Milliken Heisey. Despite the somewhat grandiose moniker, Heisey is a man of slight build, five foot nine and maybe 145 pounds soaking wet. His eyes--alert, liquid blue--stare out from behind a pair of specs that lend him a donnish air. You can picture him with mortarboard and gown steering the undergrads to convocation. A devoted downtowner, he is an inveterate cyclist and has been known to bike, in formal attire, to black-tie dinners. He even escorted his nine-months-pregnant wife to the hospital on a bike (she rode sidesaddle on the back). The middle name comes from an ancestor, Major Benjamin Milliken, who was a senior officer in the York Militia during the suppression of the William Lyon Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837. He inherited his first name (as well as his civic conscience) from his father, a former North York alderman. "I hate being an Alan Jr. at 50, so I go with A. Milliken. I wanted to be my own man. It can be seen as an affectation, but it's an attempt to stake out your own territory."
Though people often mistake him for a private-school grad, Heisey went to York Mills Collegiate before attending U of T and then Osgoode Hall Law School. After working at Blake, Cassels & Graydon for a stretch, he became a partner at Kerzner Papazian, where he practised for almost 15 years, until the firm split in 2001. Back in 1992, he'd begun a nine-year stint on the board of the Toronto Parking Authority, six of those as its chair. He has a high energy level, as he is wont to remind you. "I'm an enthusiast," he says. "I approach everything vigorously. I'm Type Triple A."
"Alan was suave, charming, connected, and Mel [Lastman] worked really hard to end his term as parking authority chair," says Councillor Kyle Rae, who served with Heisey on that board. "He wanted the North York guys. He didn't care about skills--he wanted loyalty." Heisey is proud of his years at the parking authority, not least because, during his stewardship, pay-and-display machines were introduced. "They paid for themselves within a year," says Rae. "That's amazing."
But Heisey was looking for another challenge, "something to do in my spare time." Not that he has ever allowed himself much spare time. He has two university-age sons, Christiaan and Diederik, from his first marriage (to Ariane Heisey, a former Ryerson professor who now does environmental assessments for the Ontario government). He married his second wife, Janet, president of the Toronto chapter of the American Marketing Association, in 2000. They live on Ward's Island with their two small children--Jacob, who is two and a half, and Rebecca, now just over a year old--in what a friend describes as a "Frank Lloyd Wright type of thing" that Heisey built himself. Somewhere between launching his own law firm, Papazian Heisey Myers, and starting his second family, he lobbied to become one of the four city appointments to the Police Services Board (the remaining three members are appointed by the province) and joined up during the Norm Gardner-Mel Lastman-Mike Harris Tory hegemony.
The TPSB started life in 1956 as the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police. Though mandated by the Police Services Act, which comes under provincial jurisdiction, the board consists of three provincial and four municipal appointees. Through the years, it has attracted its share of controversy, from those who find it too critical of the police and, no less vocal, those who find it not critical enough. Until Heisey became its chair--a job that comes with a $91,000 salary--the TPSB's most tumultuous period had been in the early 1990s, with power struggles between its chair at the time, tax lawyer Susan Eng, and then chief William McCormack.
By inclination, Heisey (who describes himself as a Red Tory) is a sort of genteel shit disturber. At his first TPSB meeting in the spring of 2001, he urged a motion that would civilianize parking enforcement. The idea had merit: why pay police academy-trained cops to monitor expired parking meters? But it would have meant substantial union job losses, and so, as Heisey had anticipated, it didn't fly. The motion lost 6-1, he recalls, "but I wouldn't have had my personal integrity if I hadn't tried." A wry smile at the recollection. "That was my first day."
Heisey was known for his progressive sympathies, such as championing bike patrols in a period when they were being trimmed. After his first two years, he sent off a letter to Lastman itemizing the board's deficiencies, including the lack of continuity. Twenty-two members in seven years is not a testimonial to institutional memory.
In general, however, as Heisey himself puts it, "I was Mr. Anonymous until December 2003." By that time, Norm Gardner had stepped aside, Mel Lastman was out and David Miller was in. Of those who remained on the board--Heisey and provincial appointee Dr. Benson Lau--Heisey appeared the abler, and more interested, candidate for the chair's job. And with three new city councillors in place--Pare McConnell and John Filion (left-of-centre Miller confreres) and Case Ootes (who had been Lastman's deputy)--appearance became reality. No more Mr. Anonymous. Though, within a week of his tenure, anonymity would become an awfully attractive prospect.
Alan Heisey's unfortunate catapult into the limelight all started with a casual conversation, maybe five or 10 minutes long, in the fall of 2002, during a conference about the Internet and sex crimes. At a cocktail reception as the delegate from the TPSB, he apparently mentioned a child pornography case that involved a teacher at Royal St. George's, a private school attended by one of his sons. Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie, a high-profile member of the Sex Crimes Unit, and two other officers were present. According to Gillespie's version of events, Heisey "engaged in a one-way conversation," saying he hoped the teacher was not guilty. Gillespie said he couldn't discuss a specific case but mentioned that most of those his unit charged were "found to be in possession of child pornography involving very young children, and some in diapers."
"I understand how one could be attracted to the beautiful young body of an eight-year-old," Heisey is said to have responded, "but not children in diapers."
Gillespie was offended. He felt Heisey had crossed a line. So he recounted the entire conversation, as he remembered it, in a now infamous memo and forwarded it to his boss, Staff Superintendent Rocky Cleveland, who in turn passed it along to Chief Fantino, with an appended e-mail of his own: "Heisey is definitely a different sort. He has expressed his learned views on the legalization of marijuana and now his, in my view, bent perspective on child pornography and pedophiles. What next ... the benefits of mind-expanding LSD and heroin? Please forgive the rant. But he is a lawyer! Where do they find these people???"
A year and a half later, just after Heisey was made Police Services Board chair, that memo was leaked to the press. And on January 13, 2004--in one of those terrible moments that forever divide your life into before and after--CFTO aired its damning contents. Heisey was utterly stunned. He found Gillespie's remarks "deeply offensive" and claimed to have been quoted out of context. The TPSB hired retired judge Sydney Robins to decide if Heisey had contravened its code of conduct. Heisey, meanwhile, was left to carry on under an appalling shadow.
"For someone in the public eye, showing sympathy for pedophilia is akin to committing professional suicide," noted an editorial in the Globe and Mail, which condemned the leak but faulted Heisey for raising a specific case with an officer. "You might as well leave town, change your name and start fresh somewhere else."
Though Fantino declared the leak "unacceptable" and vowed to find whoever was responsible, members of the police and the media continued to sound off about the memo's contents. "You can't lose sight of the fact that many of our members were offended by Mr. Heisey's comments," Rick McIntosh, then head of the 7,600-member police union, told the Toronto Star, not long before resigning under a cloud of alleged corruption ties relating to the probe at 52 Division.
"The critical issue is not the internal memo that Gillespie prepared and how, or why, it came to be leaked," concluded Rosie DiManno in the Star. "What's at issue is whether there was justification for Gillespie to be so appalled by what Heisey said--allegedly drawing some kind of esthetic or intellectual distinction between depictions of eight-year-old boys and babies in diapers ... The memo is offensive only if it was wrong."
John Barber, who got his hands on a copy of the memo, was supportive of Heisey. "Nobody who reads Det. Sgt. Gillespie's memo ... will ever dare chit-chat with that guy in a hotel-room hospitality suite again," he observed in his Globe column. "His suspicion, his contempt and his resentment of 'Mr. A. Milliken Heisey,' as he refers to him repeatedly--six times in one five-line paragraph--is merely chilling."
Justice Robins, who released his report two months after the leak, concluded that Heisey had been making conversation, not attempting to sway an investigation: "... why those comments, devoid as they were of any attempt to influence or interfere with police decisions or responsibilities, should be ... noted in a police report is not readily apparent." As for the "body of an eight-year-old" comment and whether such words would compromise the integrity of the board, the judge thought not: "In distinguishing one degree of perversion from another, Mr. Heisey says he was trying to fathom the mind of a pedophile and comprehend how one could engage in such deviant behaviour. In no sense was this a statement of his personal beliefs or an indication of sympathy toward child pornography or abuse. He is shocked beyond words that his remarks could be so grotesquely misconstrued."
Robins included in his report a conversation between himself and Rocky Cleveland, Gillespie's boss, during which the staff superintendent admitted he'd reacted out of frustration that board members "were not better educated (he blames 'the government' for this) about 'the business we are in,' and ... do not realize it is unacceptable to make such comments at a child pornography seminar to a member of the Sex Crimes Unit. At the end of the day, he thinks that Mr. Heisey made a mistake in making the comments he did but that 'He is a bright man, and I'm truly sorry for his problems; it is unfair and inappropriate.'"
Talking to me months later; however, Heisey tried to convey an impression of composure. "I'd never dealt with the press, I'd never heard of a media scrum, but I'm used to conflict because I'm a litigation lawyer," he told me. "I was totally on, February onward. Hell, I gave a speech to police officers the week that memo was leaked. I heard cops muttering 'He's got balls to be here.'" Yet his pale blue eyes still registered pain at the memory. At his law office at King and York, I noticed photographs of his older sons in their school uniforms, and I wondered aloud how his family had handled that difficult time. After all, Heisey and his wife had just celebrated the birth of their daughter, Rebecca, when the memo was leaked. A joyous occasion became suddenly tainted. "My home phone was ringing at six in the morning," he recalled. "I was chased by media at public functions, scrummed by four or five reporters at one social event." Heisey shifted in his chair: "It's worse than you know," he said quietly, his eyes clouding. End of discussion.
Despite Fantino's promise, the source of the leak remains unknown. "If there is a lesson to be learned from this unhappy affair, it is that it should not happen again," wrote Judge Robins. "No member of our community should suffer the grave injustice that we have witnessed here."
By the time of his exoneration, however, Heisey was probably already contemplating his escape. His friend David Butler, an urban planner, recalls a February lunch at which Heisey indicated that an exit strategy was in the works. "He's always been a David and Goliath kind of guy," says Butler. "But when it's something that affects family, you say, 'Why am I doing this?' To go toe to toe in the courts or the Ontario Municipal Board, you win or lose on your capability. You may not like the result, but this is something quite different. It's politics--it's dirty."
The Heisey memo had apparently floated around police and media circles for months before it broke on CFTO. Norm Gardner, who had received a copy from Fantino in late 2002, was probably in the best position to know how the document circulated so widely but confesses himself at a loss. "I had the thing on my desk for a few days," he says. "To the best of my knowledge, it was in the files. Maybe somebody got into the files." He evidently thought little of it at the time it arrived, though later he claimed to have shown it to two members of his board, councillors Gloria Lindsay Luby and Frances Nunziata. (Both women denied being broached on the matter.)
Short in stature but tall in macho affect, Gardner has lupine eyes and a long nose that crests in two pugilistic nostrils. A gun fancier, he famously used one from his collection on a man in a balaclava who tried to stick up his North York bakery. "I thought I'd hit him," he says, re-enacting the event, "but he's going like agazelle." His speech has the cadence of a Borscht Belt comedian. "I grew up in a poor area," he begins one anecdote. "We shared our gum." Garrulous to a fault, he is, as Alan Heisey says, "the ultimate schmooze guy."
It should have been Gardner at that fateful conference in 2002, schmoozing with Paul Gillespie and the others, but he had agreed to be a panellist at another conference in Newfoundland and sent Heisey to attend in his stead. "Just bring greetings and go with the flow" is what Gardner says he told Heisey. "Why would you get into a discussion with members of the pornography squad who think it's a terrible thing and say you hope the person gets off? You never say what you think somebody should get, especially if it's controversial with the police. If you don't say anything, you don't get into trouble." And yet, when the memo was forwarded to Gardner, he didn't mention it to Heisey.
Which begs the question of the relationship between the two men. "There was a rumour going around that Heisey wanted to unseat Gardner," says Lindsay Luby. "I think he was working with board members to do that." Frances Nunziata, the only person I've ever heard refer to Alan Heisey as Al, adds that "there was a lot of bitterness between Norm and Al. I guess Norm felt he would never be challenged." His critics complain he became far too cozy with police management and union both. "After a while, I think Norm felt he was a police officer," says Nunziata. "I think he probably wished he was a police officer, that he'd gotten into policing rather than politics."
Perhaps that assumption best explains why Gardner allegedly accepted, either as a gift or at a wholesaler's discount, a Para Ordnance Tac-Four handgun from a Scarborough firearms manufacturer. The subsequent investigation revealed that he had also availed himself of 5,700 rounds of free amino from the police training academy. "Probably a mistake in judgment," he now admits, adding that he had been told the ammunition was surplus. "I accepted it because these guys are trying to be so nice to me. Perhaps I allowed too many police to get too close to me--which is not bad because it improved morale. It's sort of a Catch-22."
Gardner was formally suspended from the board last April, but he appealed while continuing to hold his seat. Nothing in the Police Services Act demanded he resign, though both Mayor Miller and Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter would join the chorus of those urging him to do so.
"There's no ability to replace him, even on a temporary basis," Heisey complained in the summer. "That's an outrageous outcome. It's also not good for Norm. I think he should resign, and I've told him so to his face. I'm just sorry he didn't apply his dedication to make the right decision."
Some speculated Gardner held on because he wanted the board to pay his legal costs. Though no longer able to draw the chair's salary, he could continue to claim the annual $8,700 paid to other board members. Adding to his ignominy came the revelation that, as TPSB chair, he had approved his own travel and meal expenses to the tune of $50,000. With all the appeals and requests to overturn appeals, the whole thing dragged out until last October, when Gardner's original appeal was upheld. Yet it seemed a pyrrhic victory. On November 1, a month before his term on the board would expire anyway, Norm Gardner at last announced his resignation.
For all those months that he'd refused to budge, however, his absence became a kind of presence. And people would trace the source of the TPSB's biggest problem--a six-member board split down the middle--to the man who wasn't there.
Sure you should be careful what you say after a few glasses of wine in front of detectives," a TPSB source told the Star, "so, OK, what Heisey did was not wise. But it's scary for everybody around it. There's a sense that if you're not a cheerleader for the police, they may get you. You know--one misstep and watch out!" People had their ideas about the reasons behind the leak. They noted, for instance, how the memo furor occurred just as the inquiry into Norm Gardner's alleged misconduct had gotten under way, and how the Heisey matter might deflect attention from Gardner's woes--a conspiracy theory that had traction in certain sections of city hall. They noted, too, that Heisey had been making noises about developing a plan for a new independent complaints system on alleged police misconduct, and that a Heisey board was likely to apply greater scrutiny to the $700-million police budget. Only the board had the authority to examine the budget on line items; with its power to hire and fire the chief, this amounted to its greatest responsibility.
The Heisey board, in other words, promised to reinvigorate civilian oversight, which had dissipated during the Harris years. "Under the Tories and Lastman, the appointments tended to be more police friendly," says Marcel Wieder, a one-time political consultant to the police association. "Now the rank and file don't trust the civilian oversight because [those in civilian oversight] don't understand what they do. They have the sense that they're second-guessing them. Any time the Police Services Board tries to use its mandate to oversee, the police think they're trying to infringe on how they're doing their job. They see things in black and white: you're for us or against us."
For all its good intentions and ideas, however, the Heisey board was impaired from the start. For the first few months of last year, it consisted of only five members. Norm Gardner's seat was still in limbo, and the retired Ontario Superior Court judge Hugh Locke would not take his seat at the table until April. Heisey was often lumped in with McConnell and Filion as the left wing of the board--a label that irked him. Similarly, it bothered Ootes and Lau to be classified as the reactionary element. "Being a minority," says Lau, with an air of ingenuousness that defies dissent, "how could I be right-wing?"
Clearly, though, the board at times appeared divided along partisan lines. Ootes found McConnell "continuously confrontational. You'd think you were on a social services committee. Social programs and recreational centres are extremely important, but ... You ought to look at the budget in terms of the services it requires and not simply endeavour to knock it down because it's the largest."
On this score, Lau shared Ootes's views. "Some think the service should do more community work, and I don't agree," he told me. "I think they should do more policing." He also approved of the more laissez-faire attitudes of the Gardner era: "When the operation is running well, there's no need for the board to interfere."
I asked Heisey about the culture clash between the cops and the board. "There isn't a culture clash," he replied pointedly. "We don't interact. Effective civilian governance is about relationships, about being close but not too close."
In the effort to become close, but not too close, he walked a fine line. "I thought he was moderate, very balanced," says Me Connell. She is the workhorse of the group, and something of a keener--the smartest kid in the class, striving in vain to keep her hand down when the teacher asks a question. "Heisey never moved quickly, without thought. Sometimes I thought he moved a bit too slowly--but I think that's good in a chair, that he considers all sides."
Ootes cannot resist a dig. With that wintry twinkle of the country parson, he recalls a conference where Heisey, in his remarks, is supposed to have used the phrase "We in the police culture ..." Ootes's recessive mouth puckers slightly. "Well, I'm not in the police culture--I'm above it. I think Heisey means well. He just doesn't have the skill set."
In the shadow of the 52 Division corruption scandal, the TPSB gathered at the Delta Chelsea in May 2004 for a day-long retreat. In relative terms, it went well. The group, including its newest member, Hugh Locke, managed to agree, in theory, on seeking an outside review of police management. But Fantino had orchestrated his own response to the drug squad brouhaha. A couple of years earlier, without board approval, he had hired retired justice George Ferguson to consult on police reforms, which fall under the board's purview. Fantino claims they were "operational" reforms, not involving policy, and that he wasn't required to consult the board. But now, instead of collaborating with the TPSB to improve a troubled police force, he held his own press conference to announce the implementation of Ferguson's reforms--a way of signalling who was in the driver's seat. As one board source characterized it in the press, Fantino was "playing Lone Ranger."
At the May 27 meeting of the board, just 10 days after the Delta Chelsea retreat, Heisey's talents as a moderating influence were stretched to the breaking point. It took place in a conference room at City Hall, where the chief, the secretary and counsel for the board, and the board members themselves--minus Case Ootes, who was on vacation--assembled in semicircular formation at cherrywood-fronted desks.
George Ferguson showed up, and though his appearance was not unexpected, what he had to say was. A pale and severe-looking figure in a wheelchair, he was there to protest the impending motion for independent police review, which, he claimed, would "duplicate virtually all" his own work. It represented an "irresponsible and offensive insult to me, to my mandate and to my investigation," he scolded. The judge wore a bracelet that clinked occasionally against the desktop as he emphasized certain points. His lecture and his spectral appearance prompted a collective intake of breath from the assembled. Heisey kept his cool but was stinging in return: "Any doubt I had in sponsoring this motion--and I've had doubts--has been resolved in favour of this motion."
A united TPSB front would have been helpful at that moment, but removed from the collegial spirit of the Delta Chelsea, consensus seemed to vanish. McConnell, who had been the driving force behind the idea of outside review, had been making last-minute changes to the motion right up to the start of the meeting. Judge Locke wasn't biting. Though what fuelled his crusty demeanour probably stemmed more from the toxic context in which the motion was being proposed. "The wording struck me as nothing more than an insult to the whole police service," he said later. "I was disgusted because I felt pressure and I felt it was a political manoeuvre."
After some piercing commentary on the responsibility of civilian oversight and how to re-establish the line between the police and the TPSB, Locke attempted his own pre-emptive strike. He recommended that his "good friend" Judge Ferguson's remarks be received and studied, and he moved to defer the independent review motion. When that didn't go over, he upped the ante. Snapping shut his briefcase, he stood up, offered a curt "Good day" and walked out of the chamber; Benson Lau, who believed that Heisey and the others were taking advantage of Ootes's absence to force their agenda, followed in short order. Deprived of a quorum, and quivering in frustration, Heisey had no choice but to adjourn. It was at this meeting that he first publicly described the board as dysfunctional, a remark offered up with a tiny snort of disbelief, but the word's truest application was still to come.
Though 62 years old, Chief Fantino--"Julie" to his friends, "the General" to his underlings--was in no mood to retire. Protocol demanded that he announce his intention to seek renewal of his contract nine months prior to its expiration date, which he did. The TPSB, in turn, was required to respond within 30 days. Because these decisions are made in camera, what actually transpired is based on conjecture and hearsay. But in a place where leaks to the press are habitual (no matter that every board member takes an oath of confidentiality), the accepted version of events had the board split 3-3 on two motions, one to extend Fantino's contract by two years, another to extend it by one. A split vote meant the motions could not pass. The General was out of luck. Not surprisingly, Ootes, Locke and Lau were said to support retaining Fantino, while McConnell, Filion and Heisey--whose confidence in the chief seemed to be shattered after the Ferguson episode--were supposedly against.
The decision was released on June 24, following the TPSB's monthly meeting. I remember watching Fantino that afternoon, and nothing in his expression indicated awareness of this bitterly disappointing outcome. But then, the chief often played his cards close to his vest. It was said that Lastman had offered Fantino an extension on his contract as early as spring 2003 but that the talks had stalled. Fantino himself may have stalled them, assuming he could make a better deal if John Tory became the new mayor, as seemed likely at the time. Despite his high poll numbers--78 per cent favourable at their peak--the chief had a reputation for being authoritarian and thin skinned, too inclined to opt for high-tech doodads like helicopters and tasers rather than fundamentals like beat cops and bike patrols, and far too proprietary when it came to sharing information with the community and his civilian overseers.
In its statement to the press, the TPSB was fulsome in its praise for Fantino--except that he was going and "as this is a personal [sic] matter," the release stated, "the board will not be making any further comment." Here was a Freudian slip board critics could savour.
Fantino fans railed that the TPSB had been hijacked by politics. And by politics, they meant left-wing politics. "They [i.e., Heisey, McConnell and Filion] are answering to someone's political whim: maybe their own, maybe some other people at city hall, and I would suggest the mayor," declared Andrew Clarke, a spokesman for the police association.
Lau and Ootes felt Heisey had been co-opted and made their views public. "I firmly believe he was taking direct instructions from the mayor," Ootes said, "especially as it concerned the extension of the chief's contract."
It rankled Heisey that he was seen as part of some left-wing cabal. True, he and Miller had crossed paths before, and they were clearly simpatico on some issues (they had both been directors of the Community Bicycle Network). He had also given money "and a little advice" to Miller during the 2003 mayoralty campaign. But he was hardly in Miller's back pocket. He had also given money to Barbara Hall and John Nunziata. "In my wildest imagination," he told me," I never thought Miller could win."
David Miller shut down a discussion on the chief's contract in city council, on a vote of 24-19. But at least two representatives of the Keep the Chief campaign--councillors Giorgio Mammoliti and Frances Nunziata--wouldn't back down. They showed up at the July TPSB meeting asking to speak. A motion to hear Mammoliti provoked another deadlock vote. Nunziata, whose jockette vivacity made her the Rizzo of City Hall Central High, then sprang into action and went to crouch beside Heisey at the board table. But whatever persuasion she attempted did not have the desired effect. "Mr. Chairman, I'm very surprised at you, very disgusted," she declared as she and Mammoliti exited the auditorium.
Meanwhile, with a motion on the table to retain a search consultant for a new chief, tempers continued to flare. Lau, whose term on the board was expiring in a couple of months, insisted he had "no moral ground" to support such a motion. That duty, he felt, should be left to a new board. Locke agreed. "Mr. Chair, you yourself are reported to have said the board is dysfunctional," he said before intimating that perhaps the selection of a consultant had been "preordained." The suggestion was that Heisey, McConnell and Filion had made the decision in advance.
"That's libellous and that's not true," said Heisey the lawyer.
"It's not libellous and I believe it to be true," replied Locke the judge. "Never mind threatening me."
The motion was ultimately shot down, but first, in a misguided effort to smooth the waters, John Filion directed attention to Fantino. "I'd like to ask the chief if he's got words of wisdom," he said. Fantino, the image of smouldering hurt, replied, "I consider myself the victim in all this--I don't think you want my words."
The delicate matter of the chief's contract would not be resolved for several months more. In September, after achieving board approval for his version of a new public complaints system, Heisey stepped down. The city appointed in his stead Dr. Alok Mukherjee, a human rights advocate and associate of the mayor. The province, for its part, resisted any quick replacement of Lau, indicating an intention to follow the city's lead in the appointment of board members. The decision meant that, at the October meeting, the board numbered five again, with a reform element (McConnell, Filion and Mukherjee) in the ascendant.
"When you call this vote, I know which way it's going to go," said Locke with irritable resignation, and no one could doubt the outcome this time. The motion to hire a consultant and begin the search for a new chief passed 3-2.
The future of the TPSB in the short term appears to be a calmer one, given that the progressives are in control (the province finally appointed journalist and community activist Hamlin Grange to replace Lau). On the other hand, certain structural problems remain. The Police Services Act should be amended to prevent a Norm Gardner absentee situation from arising again. Miller (who will take a seat himself in May, when the current council reps' first terms are up), has even been encouraged to push for municipal control of the act. And some observers think the size of the board should be increased, even doubled, to better reflect the city's diversity.
Another motion that passed at the October meeting initiated a process recommended by Justice Sydney Robins. To prevent future smear campaigns, Robins had suggested, "Protocols and procedures dealing with the collection of unfounded, unsubstantiated and unproven information should be developed." No one mentioned Heisey by name. Out of deference perhaps. Or maybe to avoid revisiting a still raw and painful episode.
At his farewell board meeting, Heisey had tried to put a positive spin on his gruelling experience with civic duty: "Thank you for this opportunity," he told the assembled officers, staff and spectators. "It's been a real slice. I'm going to go away and do my day job and kiss my children." A reporter later asked him if he had any regrets. "No regrets at all," he said. He was, after all, a high-energy guy who had been looking for a challenge. He found one