Remarks by Al Maghnieh
Check Against Delivery
REMARKS BY AL MAGHNIEH Check against delivery May 8, 2012 To the residents of this great city, I would like to start by thanking all of you for your patience. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for their advice and support. Most of all, I’d like to thank the people in Windsor – especially those who I represent – for letting me know what they think, loud and clear. What they think – what I think – is this: I have let people down. I have let down the Mayor, councilors, and many other people who have supported me through the years. With my behaviour, and my stupidity and insensitivity, I have embarrassed my family and my friends, all of whom are mad at me. With my ego, and my arrogance and pride, I have shamed myself. I have become less than I was, and certainly less than my parents – and my Dad – brought me up to be. Why did I do what I did? I have thought about that, long and hard. Here is what I think happened. I wanted to be a big shot. I wanted to be a player. I wanted to be important. I used that credit card – against the rules, and after being warned not to – partly to take people out for drinks and dinners. I wanted to impress everyone. I wanted everyone to think I was a big deal. I wanted everyone to respect me. I didn’t get that respect, because I didn’t deserve it. What I got, instead, was fired from every city committee I sat on. What I got was having to quit my full-time job, a job I loved. What I got was the people of Windsor – the people I am supposed to serve – sending me messages, or coming up to me at places like Zehrs, to say things like this. · · · · · · · “You have betrayed the trust of the citizens of Windsor.” “You have betrayed me and my family.” “You have set a bad example for young people.” “What shameful behaviour!” “You do not know the difference between right and wrong" “Your actions…lack responsibility and intelligence.” “There is a real lack of good judgment, honesty, integrity, good character and maturity here.” All of that is true. That last one – that I lack character and maturity – stuck with me. There have been plenty like it. It is all true. I deserve to hear all of that, and more. I am 30 years old. I was one of five kids. My parents came here as immigrants and my Dad died about 8 years ago. My Mom has been through a lot of personal challenges recently, and I regret putting her through yet another one. My parents taught us kids two things: work hard, and be honest. Be grateful for all the things that this amazing country and this amazing city give to you. And never, ever let down those who have helped you get to where you are. My Dad, if he was here, would be very disappointed in me. He would tell me I let everyone down. He would tell me that I have acted like a child, not a man. He would be right. I am therefore trying to make amends, to make up for what I have done. So far, I can tell you this is what I have done: As you know, I have paid back all the debt I recklessly incurred on that credit card. I also paid back to the library board all of the interest any feesâ€“ and then some â€“ that they may have incurred because of me. I have also been notified by the acting chair of the library board that there are added costs by KPMG due to the scope of the audit. This amounts to eighteen thousand dollars. I have committed to repaying that also. It will be difficult, but it's the right thing to do. As you also probably know, the Integrity Commissioner is looking into what I have done. I welcome that. And I did not want to wait to hear from him. So, last week, I reached out to the Integrity Commissioner and have sent him every single piece of paper I have. And I pledge to work with the Integrity Commissioner in every way I possibly can. As the mayor and my family recommended, I have sought and obtained counseling for what I did. I intend to keep getting help, and act on the advice I get from professionals. I intend to deliver this solemn apology, and statement of contrition, to every one of my constituents in person. The people of Ward Ten put me here, and the people of Ward Ten will decide what happens to me. I have heard from many of them. More than you would expect want me to learn from this terrible mistake, and to keep representing them. That is what I intend to do. The people of Ward Ten will decide my fate. In the meantime, I want to take the punishment of the Mayor and council. I want to pay back every red cent, and then some. I want to work with the Integrity Commissioner and follow his rulings to the letter. And I want to accept every single condemnation that comes my way. I am 30 years old, and I wanted to be a big shot. Instead, I acted like an immature kid. A fool. Right here and now, I am asking the people of Windsor â€“ and my colleagues, and my family and friends â€“ to give me a chance to make this up to you. To do better. I am so sorry, and so ashamed, and I would be honoured to be forgiven by all of you. Thank you.