What a delight to see Sue Sherring back in the Postmedia funny papers.
The onetime Ottawa Sun-Petfinder city hall typist returned this week with an urgent dispatch from Facebook (first reported on her blog): Ottawa city councillor Jody Mitic had posted a selfie with his galpal. And not everybody Liked it!
“Mitic was on the receiving end of some nasty comments on Facebook after he posted a picture with his girlfriend and former staffer Kelley Shields: ‘Troops! Meet my girl Kelley. She’s my best friend. #truelove #bestfriends,'” Sue could reveal.
“Is it anyone’s business that our politicians have affairs, that they cheat on their spouse? Still wrestling about that. But when a politician takes to social media and makes the relationship public, well, that’s a different thing. The public is then free to write anything or everything. And they did, some offering their support to Mitic, wishing for his happiness; just as many had scathing comments for Mitic, accusing him of leaving the woman who had stood by his side and hurting her by going public. Note that Mitic has been busy deleting many of the posts. And Mitic’s ex Alannah Gilmore weighed in too, well…Facebook became a free for all.”
“What Mitic has never accepted is that as an elected official, the rules are different for him. He hates that, doesn’t seem to really understand it and doesn’t react well when it happens. When I tweeted that I was going to be writing about the Facebook controversy, Mitic didn’t take it well.
“‘What the f..k are you doing?’ he asked me through a direct message.”
And well he might. Jody and Alannah, after all, split back in late 2016, whilst the intrepid journalist was busy packing her Postmedia buyout parachute. As an Ottawa Sun day-oner, Sue qualified for the maximum kiss-off (75 weeks’ salary), and thanks to her failed run for a council seat in 2014, she was deemed damaged goods on the city hall beat, even for Toastmedia. Faced with the prospect of a general assignment dry-docking at Baxter Road, Sherring opted for the high jump.
But that keen, inquiring mind won’t rest. How, Sherring wanted to know, had Mitic’s paramour ended up on the city’s payroll?
“Shields worked on his election campaign and then in his office. Mitic said the affair was discovered during the campaign and wasn’t ongoing when she came to work in his office. She was somehow later moved into the city bureaucracy after Gilmore protested to her husband about his former mistress working in his office…How and why the city gave Shields a job in the city’s bureaucracy is a story I don’t quite understand. And Mitic’s explanation is troublesome. Surely our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to give someone a job because a city councillor had been having an affair with them.”
For a clue, Sherring could do worse than look to her own Sept. 2015 column on woofy expense claims by certain councillors, as ferreted out by a Sun FOI request. Health nut Mitic, it transpired, had billed the city for a $300 blender and some $1,000 worth of vitamins.
“He also charged a night at the Sheraton Hotel, just minutes away from Ottawa City Hall — then reimbursed the city for the $237 bill he had put on his city credit card. Mitic said the entire thing was a misunderstanding, that he had had a busy day, had an evening event — and so asked hotel staff for a quiet place to take off his prosthetic legs and rest for half an hour — but didn’t realize he was getting charged for the night. He reimbursed the amount.”
It was not long after this curious transaction came to light, coincidentally, that Kelley found herself discreetly reassigned from Jody’s office to her new gig.
Sherring, it must be said, has not always been so fastidious. In the bad old days before the city adopted its squeaky-clean conflict of interest policy, councillors habitually pocketed gifts from developers and others doing business with the city.
In 2008, for example, Mattamy Homes bought a table at a federal Liberal fundraising beanfest at the Ottawa Congress Centre and favoured Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder with two of the tickets as a token of their esteem.
The freebie went unreported by Sherring for some reason — though certainly not because she occupied the second seat, at Harder’s invitation.