OMHM Lawyer Objects to Court Delay for Senior Seeking Medical Treatment

On January 23, Marc Charland wrote a letter to the scheduling agent at the Quebec Rental Board asking him or her to ignore a January 18 letter from Daniel Palladini.

“En effet, il apparait que ladite lettre de M. Palladini, laquelle n’est aucunement corroboré par quelque pièce justificative, est tout à fait inadmissible et dilatoire,” [In fact, it appears that the aforementioned letter from M. Palladini, which is corroborated by no evidence, is completely inadmissible and dilatory.] wrote Charland in a letter signed by someone with the initials ‘KS’. “En consequence, nous vous prions de ne pas tenir compte de ladite lettre de M. Palladine et de fixer la continuation de l’audition le plus rapidement possible.” [Therefore, please pay no attention to the aforementioned letter by Mr. Palladini and set a date for the continuation of the hearing as soon as possible.]

Palladini is a 70-year-old facing eviction from the Manoir Bernard, a subsidized residence in Pierrefonds. Charland, a principle partner at Charland & Séguin in Montreal North, is representing the Office Municipal d’Habitation de Montreal (OMHM) in the case.

The two last saw each other on January 12th, when Commissioner Rosario Nobile charged them with agreeing to two specific dates for the hearing to continue.

Palladini’s letter, in which says that he will be out of the country until March 5, was addressed and faxed to M. Charland personally and copied to the Regie du Logement and Nobile.

Charland’s letter is addressed to the “Maitre des Roles” at the rental board. He did not send a copy to Palladini, who picked it up himself from the Regie when he went to get audio copies of four days of testimony that’s taken place in the hearing so far.

The move is the latest frustration for Palladini, who is trying to plan a trip to Cuba to have dental work and eyelid surgery done.

For three years, he’s combined medical treatment with a vacation in the sun. He says he pays less than half for the combination than he would have to pay for subsidized dental work at home.

“I’m exhausted and I want to have medical treatment at the same time,” said Palladini. “The lawyer has never contacted me. I spoke to him at this time last year when I rushed back from Cuba. I sent him a letter asking for a copy of the evidence and he said he’d give it to me when the hearing commenced. He gave Maitre Beauchamps (Palladini’s then-lawyer) a 40-page document at the beginning of the hearing and she’s supposed to represent me. This is not a typical landlord tenant squabble.”

(This article appeared in the West Island and city editions of the Suburban yesterday.)

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Autumn in the life of Louise Thérèse Lareau

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She  died in the fall of her 38th year, just after the leaves of Quebec turned colour then fell. The vibrant red of the maples formed a backdrop for the yellow leaves of the birch trees and the oranges of the oaks.

Twenty years earlier, Louise Thérèse Lareau married her husband Joseph. Together, the couple had ten children.

Three of them died before their mother did.

Louise Thérèse’s first son, baby Joseph died only a few weeks after he was born. 

Her next eldest child, a daughter named Marie-Reine, died in February, 1784, a week after she celebrated her eighth birthday and her parents celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary. She was the eldest of four children then, and one imagines that it was her responsibility to take care of the baby, Marie-Anne. The family celebrated Marie-Anne’s first Christmas just two months earlier.

By the end of February, the baby died too.

The family of six became a family of four: Louise Thérèse and her husband Joseph with their two daughters Josephe-Angelique and Marie-Thérèse.

The family somehow survived the rest of the winter. Spring arrived, and by the following autumn, Louise Thérèse was pregnant again. The birth of her second son, also named Joseph, cheered the family up in time for St. Patrick’s Day, 1785.

The couple had three more daughters and another son after that. All four children were born as the trees around them began displaying fall colours. Marie-Catherine was born on November 22, 1786; Charlotte came on October 4, 1788; Guillaume was born on September 22, 1792 and Marie-Victoire arrived on October 19, 1794.

Marie-Victoire’s birth was too much for Louise Thérèse. She died two weeks after the little girl was born.

The church did a census the following year, in 1795. It showed the rest of the family living on St. Georges Street in Faubourg St. Jean, the lower town of Quebec City. Joseph was a carpenter and their building was one of only a few on that street without a number. By then, three of the children–Josephe-Angelique, Marie-Therese and their second son Joseph–could receive communion with their father.

Note: This is a non-fiction version of a previous story about Louise Thérèse’s life.

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Twenty South West Montreal Businesses to be Recognized at Unio 2012

Representatives from 20 companies—five from each of the Lachine, Lasalle, Sud-ouest and Verdun boroughs——will take home trophies from the Soirée Reconnaissance Unio 2012 next month.

Unio 2012 will be held at Salle Grimaldi on Lapierre Street in LaSalle on Thursday, February 16. A cocktail begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the award presentation at 7 p.m. and a “Replay The Beatles” show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $75.

“Unio is Latin for uniting our strengths to achieve a goal,” says Gilles Dubien, directeur-general of the Chamber of Commerce of South West Montreal (CCISOM), which organizes the event to recognize business excellence every two years. “We are not only awarding companies who are members of the chambers, we are awarding companies who have accomplished something important in their boroughs.”

While the CCISOM organizes the event every two years, it does not select the winners. That’s left to local partners: the Centre local de développement – CLD Lachine, the Centre local de développement de Verdun, Développement économique LaSalle and the Regroupement économique et social du Sud-Ouest (RESO).

In the past, the event was run as though it were a local version of the Quebec-wide Concours les Mercuriades, a contest operated by the Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce. To be considered, businesses in various categories had to submit proposals that registered how they achieved excellence in their field.

Dubien says that while this year’s version remained open to members and non-members alike, the process was “modified to make it more accessible for the enterprises.” Two key changes took place: the timing was changed from a traditional late November date to February and companies were nominated for particular achievement instead of within a particular category.

Then each local development council set up an internal selection process to choose seven or eight winners.

The final company submissions were turned over to a four-person jury: Jacques Fortin from Développement économique LaSalle, Marc Cloutier from the CLD Verdun, Marc Beausoleil from RESO and Ghislain Dufour from CLD Lachine. Winners could be selected based on providing employment, financial investments, sustainable development, protecting the environment or any other appropriate marker of excellence. Jury members met in a series of meetings between October and after the holidays. They handed in their selections in January.

“I’ve been involved from the beginning of this project and the format we had this year was much better than before,” said LaSalle’s Fortin. “It’s never perfect, of course, but in past years, we might have lots of companies that fit the same category and few entrants in another category. This time, we could be very flexible to choose the high performing enterprises in whatever categories we chose. We’re very satisfied that these winners reflect the best practices in each of our boroughs.”

(This story appeared on page 3 of the January 25, 2012 city edition of The Suburban.)

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Two More Days Scheduled for Eviction Case: OMHM versus Daniel Palladini

Thirteen of the almost 200 seniors living in the Manoir Roger-Bernard low-income residence in Pierrefonds spent another day at Quebec Rental Board hearings in the Olympic Village last Thursday. They are attending hearings because the Office Municipal d’Habitation de Montréal (OMHM) is trying to evict resident Danny Palladini.

Several tenants, including Palladini, said they suffer from health problems related to stress from participating in the tribunal process. “I’ve been here five times, with lack of sleep,” said Lynda Bernard, in her testimony. “With this case and your aggression, I’m starting to have heart problems.”

Despite the tenants’ frustrations, at least two more days are scheduled for the case, which is among 575 OMHM tried at the tribunal last year. Most of the hearings concern non-payment of rent, but in this one, OMHM lawyer Marc Charland is trying to prove that Palladini continues to “disturb the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants in the residence.”

The previous owners of the residence, the Societe Immobiliere Lac St-Louis, brought a similar case against Palladini in 2008, but Commissioner Hélène Chicoyne did not approve an eviction then. Suburban reporter Ian Howarth documented the series of incidents that led to that first hearing and subsequent police charges in an article dated March 11, 2009. That process led Palladini to sign a section 810 peace bond to avoid criminal prosecution.

The current hearing began last January. Palladini describes the case as the latest attempt to discredit him by housing officials trying to avoid third-party audit of building finances. “They don’t like us asking pesky questions about financial operations in the residence,” he said. “There are no consequences after $900 goes missing from the till, but people like me are evicted because we complain.”

Most OMHM eviction hearings don’t have many witnesses, but the hearing room last Thursday was packed. The interest is due in part to a new citizen action group called “Coalition against the Intimidation of Senior Citizens,” which has taken up Palladini’s cause. “Too many people want seniors to sit back and shut up,” said Enza Martuccelli, a co-founder of the new group and director of national programs for the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism. “There’s a cultural bias against seniors who can’t be easily dismissed. This gentleman did nothing more than ask for an accounting and look what they’re doing to him.”

Group member Murray Levine, the founder of the Philanthopic Athletes Foundation, has set up a blog (http://whyevictdanny.wordpress.com/) to help build support for Palladini’s attempt to stay in his home.

On the blog, Francis Dupré, the son of former tenant Camille, wrote that it was clear from his father’s hearing years ago that Palladini would be targeted for eviction next. Rental board records confirm that Palladini did indeed serve as a witness for Camille Dupré in an eviction hearing on February 15, 2007. Dupré was evicted and died a year later.

(Note: This story appeared in the West Island and city editions of the Suburban yesterday.)

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Was LaSalle owner taxed twice during basement survey?

The LaSalle property owner who complained about being charged for a non-existent apartment last month now believes he was double-billed him for water and garbage as well. Ioan Ruxanda now wants his money back, but so far no one from Montreal’s tax department has returned his calls.

Patricia Lowe, an agent with Montreal’s communications department, assured us he was not charged twice.

“Mr. Ruxanda is definitely not being billed twice,” she wrote in emails prior to the holidays and again last Friday. “He does not need to worry on that account. The Finance department and the LaSalle borough have worked hard to correct the misunderstanding. Mr. Ruxanda is not being billed twice. He will not be billed for the non-existent apartment. The tax account has been corrected.”

Lowe says that the employee from the tax department handling Ruxanda’s file was on vacation last week, but will call him by the end of this week to explain everything.

Ruxanda’s problems come from begin among 2000 people who were identified as possible tax evaders in a basement survey last summer. He and several of the others got their letters in the fall; others will be billed in February as the operation continues.

“Over the summer, inspectors looked at properties that might possibly house a basement apartment,” explained Lowe. “When they found what seemed to be an apartment, whether or not it had a civic address, a finance employee would call the owner for more information. If the information indicated that there was a bathroom and kitchen, or a kitchenette in the unit, only then was a letter sent out to the taxpayer.”

Ruxanda’s letter arrived with two bills in a brown envelope that made the package look like a normal tax invoice. He could either pay $280 ($140 for his own home and another $140 for the basement apartment) or he could visit the borough of LaSalle and pay $5 to sign an affidavit.

According to Salle communications officer Pierre Dupuis “since the Service des Finances started this update operation in July, we have had around 350 owner-occupants come to the LaSalle borough hall service counter to fill in an affidavit, so as to get the exemption because they use the bachelor for their own purposes.”

Ruxanda did not have a basement appartment at all, so he searched for a way to remove the charge from his account permanently. The package contained no contact name, and though it did have an email address and a fax number, it had no phone number. A phone number within the contents was always busy and couldn’t be identified by 311 operators.

After many useless phone calls, Ruxanda complained directly to Mayor Manon Barbe at the borough council meeting. He also decided to pay the $140 tax to cover water and garbage services for his own home prior to the December 19 due date.

A few days later, a borough inspector arrived to confirm that Ruxanda’s building does not have a third unit. When he asked why water and garbage taxes came in November when they’re usually sent in April, the property owner started searching for his April invoices, which he eventually found. Now Ruxanda’s waiting for an explanation.

He doesn’t think he’s alone. “If I got the same $140 bill for water and garbage service in April and then again in November, the same thing probably happened to all those other people too,” he said. “No one’s taking responsibility to make sure citizens are treated fairly.”

December 31, 2012

Resident receives extra tax bill for non-existent basement apartment

A LaSalle resident attended the borough meeting on December 3 to complain that he received a tax bill for a basement apartment that doesn’t exist.

“Thank you for the gift of this extra number 1319A, but I don’t have a basement apartment,” said Ioan Ruxanda. “My taxes doubled. Who invented this situation?”

The situation stems from an administrative desire to find people with unofficial apartments, said Mayor Manon Barbe. Officials decided to hire inspectors—some of whom were students—to travel around various neighbourhoods and find them. “We’re only discovering that this happened now as taxpayers like you complain,” she said. “You just need to visit the borough and sign an affidavit confirming that you don’t rent out a basement apartment.”

That message had already been explained to Ruxanda by borough officials, he said, but filling out that form would cost $5.

“I’m not paying $5 or anything else,” said Ruxanda. “I’m not paying anything. This is your problem. You fix it. This extra $5 fee is just theft.”

The problem may already be fixed. When Montreal’s finance department was contacted about the situation, they couldn’t find any extra bill in the resident’s property account. The only bill Montreal sent was in January 2012, and no basement apartment appears on that bill.

Meanwhile, at the borough level, officials compounded the resident’s frustration first by telling him that fixing the error would cost him $5, then by refusing to let him speak to Manon Barbe to tell her about the problem personally.

“I voted for you,” he said. “I’ve lived here for ten years and I always pay my taxes. I’ve lived in Canada for thirty years. Who is this woman who won’t let me speak to you? So I don’t have a mayor; police officers assume that I’m lying. Who’s working for me?”

Note: This article appeared in the Suburban on Wednesday, December 19.

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