UWindsor Lance: Was Maghnieh a good man who made a terrible mistake?

UWindsor Lance
Issue 2, Volume 85
May 16, 2012
Jon Liedtke


“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”

Richard Nixon

So there you have it. Embattled Ward I0 city councillor Al Maghnieh has made up his mind and has decided to retain the reins of power, rather than step down from his elected position.

Indeed, who can blame him? Politicians are typically reluctant to give up the power that elevated them to public office.

Maghnieh released his solemn apology and statement of contrition via a live address outside of City Council, YouTube, and an online posting. In it, he stressed that he let down his constituents, the Mayor, his fellow councilors and numerous
others who have supported him throughout the years.

“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.”

Ego, arrogance, and pride; the very qualities which seemingly elevated Maghnieh to municipal stardom equally sent him plummeting downward through a credit card scandal.

“I wanted to be a big shot. I wanted to be a player. I wanted to be important.”

Maghnieh used his Windsor Public Library corporate credit card like a drunken sailor who reached port after a treacherous voyage; savagely and without remorse.

He used it against the rules, and after being warned not to; rules and procedures
mattered not, for Maghnieh “wanted to impress people,” and sought to be considered a “big shot.”

He was removed from every committee he sat on for council — stripped of his responsibilities and committee pay — and chose to quit his full-time job as spokesperson for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board; a job which he
stated he loved.

Throughout the ordeal, he had citizens coming up to him in public with harsh words. However, very few would state that he is not deserving of them.

To date, Maghnieh has paid back all debt that he “recklessly incurred” on the credit card, along with interest for any fees that may have been incurred. Further, he has committed to repaying back the added costs of the KPMG audit; totaling $18,000.

He has pledged to work with the integrity commissioner and has sent him “every single piece of paper” he has.

Taking the advice of the mayor and his family, Maghnieh has sought and obtained counseling for what he did; “I intend to keep getting help, and act on the advice I get from professionals,” he said.

Maghnieh has pledged to deliver his solemn apology and statement of contrition to every resident of Ward I0; “The people of Ward I0 put me here, and the people of Ward I0 will decide what happens to me.”

Through conversations with residents within his ward, he revealed that “more [residents] than you would expect want me to learn from this terrible mistake and to keep representing them. “

While he claims that “the people of Ward I0 will decide my fate,” one must realize that he isn’t affording them the possibility to do so until the next municipal election; roughly two full years away.

However, he is willing to “accept every single condemnation that comes [his] way,” and rightfully so. To not accept condemnation would add insult to injury.

At 30 years old, Maghnieh made it clear that he wanted to be a “big shot,” but instead, ended up acting like an “immature kid” and a “fool.”

Indeed, I do believe that the man is sorry and ashamed, and quite frankly, I’d be honoured too if I were to be forgiven for transgressions such as these.

But we as citizens need to keep Maghnieh’s feet to the fire. He says he will strive to do better, and it is our responsibility to ensure that he does so. We cannot rely on faith or good will; we can only rely on ourselves.

Maghnieh is a good man, who made a terrible mistake. He had his responsibilities stripped from him, and he had to step down from a job, which he claimed he loved.
Will he commit offenses such as these again in the future? It is impossible to tell.

What we can know, is that he acted the way the majority of politicians do in situations like these. He made his apology, he looked the citizenry in the eyes and he promised never to do it again. Further, he demonstrated that he is a true politician through and through; he held onto his power, and was unwilling to relinquish control.


UWindsor Lance
Was Maghnieh a good man who made a terrible mistake?
Issue 2, Volume 85 – May 16, 2012
Jon Liedtke
Page 2

Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.