The witch hunt continues but I'm ready: Petrowski

I can't wait to clear the air.

That's the word from St.Catharines Regional Councillor Andy Petrowski who says he woke up feeling fantastic and will be at tonight's highly anticipated council meeting.

The 55 year old life-long garden city resident tells CKTB he's looking forward to setting the record straight saying he has nothing to hide.

On tonight's agenda is over $44,000 in legal costs to an unidentified councillor for legal expenses related to integrity commissioner reports and a court case that followed.

Petrowski tells CKTB he has openly and transparently submitted his legal costs regarding his charter challenge concerning code of conduct violations and the cost is around $44,000 give or take 10%.

Petrowski, who has become a lightning rod of controversy, says he is not perfect and has made mistakes but he's striving to be a better person each and every day.

Petrowski took a personal leave of absence after a pornographic image was sent from his Regional email account in May.

Council then voted to suspend Petrowski from committees and boards and also requested that he undertake sensitivity training.

In July, Petrowski called the requirement for sensitivity training “a joke” and said he will not apologize to council.

Petrowski talked to CKTB this morning while he was meeting with constituents at the Fourth Ave. Starbucks.

He told us he will be making an apology at tonight's meeting and will be prepared to defend his submitted legal expenses.

He says he submitted the expenses in a matter which is 100% compliant with the existing regional policy.

When asked about today's front page St. Catharines Standard article, he says this is just another hit job from Reporter Grant LaFleche.

He says LaFleche is out to get him politically, and to ruin his chances of re-election.

He says it's not clear if LaFleche takes issue with his strong belief in Jesus Christ, but it's clear he is specifically being targeted by the local paper.

LaFleche stands by his coverage saying The Standard has a 126-year history of investigative reporting and that is not going to change.

The reporter who has worked for the paper for 19 years says their aim is to inform the voting public of what regional politicians are doing, why they are doing it, and how they using public dollars.

You can read the entire statement below.

Petrowski says instead of focusing on $40,000 on legal costs, why doesn't council and the public take issue with more pressing issues.

He says we should be focusing on the $700,000 over budget Niagara-on-the-Lake Sewage treatment plant.

Petrowski says in this case the taxpayers are losing twice.

He says they are funding a corrupt code of conduct system and they are not getting the full benefit of a councillor that wants to hold the region accountable for millions of dollars of cost overruns and late projects.

Petrowski's issue with the code of conduct stems from what he calls the Ontario government's failure to create a blanket code of conduct to cover the entire province.

He thinks the government should have three Integrity Commissioners who hold all elected municipal officials to the same standard, not random officials or lawyers making judgement calls.

Petrowski will join CKTB's Tim Denis tomorrow morning at 8:10 to discuss tonight's council meeting.

Here is Grant LaFleche's entire response:

The conduct of elected officials, and how they spend tax dollars, is a deep and abiding issue of public interest. It is for that reason my colleague Bill Sawchuk and I have been looking closely at regional councillor expenses and will continue to do so. Certainly, a councillor receiving a $44,571 payout following an integrity commissioner investigations and a highly publicized legal challenge that was summarily thrown out of court is news.

We made multiple attempts to reach Mr. Petrowski - by email and by phone - to include his comments in our story as part of our due diligence in our reporting. At this time, he has yet to return our messages. This is unfortunate as there are several important questions that remain unanswered that Mr. Petrowski is uniquely qualified to answer.

The Standard has a 126-year history of investigative reporting and that is not going to change. Our aim is to inform the voting public of what regional politicians are doing, why they are doing it, and how they using public dollars. We will doggedly continue in this pursuit. That is what good journalism is and we stand by our reporting.