Bortolin Reprimanded For 'Rape' Comment

Windsor Ward 3 city councillor Rino Bortolin says he will publicly apologize after being formally reprimanded by council for violating its code of conduct.

The apology comes after Bortolin was quoted in the Windsor Star on October 18, 2017 as saying, "there is no money for a $3,000 alley light where that person got beat up and raped last week."

Integrity Commissioner Bruce Elman found Bortolin's comment was admittedly false and disparaged council's decision making process. In all, Elman found Bortolin to have violated three code of conduct rules.

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City of Windsor Integrity Commissioner Bruce Elman gives his report to council at its regular meeting on May 7, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Bortolin was frustrated by recent spending at city hall including money for the Bright Lights Festival at Jackson Park and $750,000 to restore an old streetcar.

Mayor Drew Dilkens stressed those types of comments can do real damage to the city's efforts to attract investors — in particular those considering relocating to the downtown.

"If they read a comment like that, it calls in to question whether they should do that or not, whether they're making the right decision," says Dilkens. "When you're talking about rape, we don't use the term rape in hyperbole."

Bortolin sat in the gallery as councillors addressed Elman's recommendations for a formal reprimand and apology.

"I'm here listening to councillors, the mayor speak about they care about investors in Cairo, California, Copenhagen. You know what? I care about the people on Caron (Ave.), Karl (Pl.), on the streets of downtown, on the alleys that abut those streets," says Bortolin.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens attends the regular meeting of council on May 7, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Councillor Fred Francis pushed councillors to agree using the word "rape" in an exaggerated way was offside.

"At the very least, of whatever else we agree or disagree on, can we all agree that we should not use rape as hyperbole? Can we at least agree to that? That rape should not be used as hyperbole?"

While Bortolin has apologized for the word choice, he stresses his constituents are fed up.

"Residents come to me in frustration and then I have to tell them that there's no money for alley lights, but we can spend $3-million on Christmas lights and a trolley," says Bortolin.

The Bright Lights budget was later revised to $1.5-million.

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The regular meeting of council for the City of Windsor on May 7, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Councillor John Elliott pushed his colleague to formally apologize for going a step too far.

"You man up. You were frustrated, you're angry. I get that. We're just simply saying, be a man. Apologize about your words. I've had to in my life, trust me, I've had to, so that's what we're talking about here."

Bortolin calls council's response to Elman's report "curious."

"We worry about the investment. We worry about where they're eating their pizza," says Bortolin. "A man was shot in the head in a dark alley. I woke up one morning and answered a phone message on my voicemail about a man whose brother found a dead body in an alley with no light."

Windsor police responded to a body being found in a downtown area alley on the morning of Valentine's Day. Investigators identifeid the victim as 16-year-old Chance Gauthier.

The apology requested from council is to be made in council chambers. Bortolin expects to have an apology prepared for the city's next council meeting.

Only councillor Chris Holt voted against the motion to reprimand while councillors Bill Marra and Irek Kusmiercyzk were absent from Monday night's meeting.