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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Is there a political will to support a fellow Councillor?

Open letter to my fellow Councilors regarding the complaint against me

On May 24th, 2016, I was surprised when the Mayor served me with a complaint, without any previous discussion with me, that he received regarding alleged actions and behaviors. It was clear in his letter to me that he decided (but was required under the old Code) to commence a “formal” but secretive investigation (without Council knowing) against me on behalf of the CAO (“Speck”) and unknown Town staff.

The Mayor further advised me that he had personally contracted a Human Resources Lawyer hired by Mr. Speck and who was already on retainer to him without Council approval, to assist with this investigation.

He further advised that the HR lawyer, hired by Mr. Speck, would hire an independent investigator (so now a second lawyer) to conduct a fact finding mission. I was strongly advised by the Mayor not to discuss this secret investigation, including with Council, or I would be dealt with thru “formal sanctions”, whatever that threat means.

You all had a chance to read the complaint filed by Mr. Speck, on behalf of unknown staff, alleging that I violated the Town’s Code of Conduct for members of Council and the Town’s Workplace Harassment Program. As I have already indicated, you were not supposed to see this secret complaint. For your information, there was a baseless threat against my lawyer for breaching the Mayor’s imposed confidentiality.

In a letter sent via email to each member of Council dated June 16th, 2016, my retained lawyer advised you of the following:

1)        That he had not received, and still has not received, any information suggesting that your HR lawyer, or anyone else, had been retained by the Council as legal counsel authorized to act or speak on behalf of the Town. Since I’m not an employee, as clearly stated in Speck’s email to me regarding, what I perceived to be, a harassment email sent by a STA Operator, I wonder why Speck is using Human Resources’ legal funds to support his broad-base complaint against me, a non-employee, without Council approval. Additionally, I think that Council is entitled to and should request a complete audit and provide full disclosure of all legal costs expended by him on behalf of the Town Council in my case. This information should also be used to assist council in determining the need to change the code. As three lawyers/consultants were used in my case, he should also have the Finance Department explain which accounts were used to make these unnecessary payments.

2)        That the Mayor was acting without authority or legal powers granted by the Town Council or otherwise by law, to carry out an investigation. My lawyer continuously pointed out to the Mayor and the HR lawyer that an Integrity Commissioner would be required to carry out any investigation of me and that the power to appoint an Integrity Commissioner is conferred by law upon Council and not one which Council should delegate. Because there had been no consideration or decision-making by Council to appoint an Integrity Commissioner, I was advised not to respond to the Mayor or participate in any interview/investigation by the HR’s chosen lawyer.

3)        That  the complaint or campaign against me was, in his legal opinion, a witch-hunt and a broadside attack by the CAO, on behalf of unknown staff, and an attempt to interfere with my ability to fulfill my duties of office and function as a Councilor.

Based on the foregoing, it should be clear to you that I have taken the CAO’s defamatory remarks and attacks very seriously, hence the reason I hired my own lawyer currently at my own expense. It should also be very clear to you that the CAO has driven a wedge between the Town staff and me. I will no longer have any direct correspondence or discussions with them outside of Council meetings for fear of being falsely charged by the CAO with harassment.

It also appears that that the CAO has driven a wedge between me and certain Council members, creating a greater divide amongst us, which is sad and which is becoming increasingly obvious to the public.

Because of my refusal to participate in the Mayor’s investigation, it would appear that the Town found it necessary to hire a third and more qualified municipal lawyer from Aird Berlis, who basically advised you that my lawyer was absolutely correct in his advice, that you are required under the Municipal Act to hire an Integrity Commissioner to deal with any complaints against Council or Board members. As such, he was also correct in stating that the Mayor acted without authority and approval of Council.

Without getting into more details of the frivolous allegations against me (which I would gladly share with you individually), I consider this complaint against me as an action of defamation by the CAO. The broadside list of accusations has forced me to incur, and continue to incur, considerable personal expense to respond while the CAO uses the public purse without being accountable to both Council and the taxpayer.

Since you have now changed the Code of Conduct and are in compliance with the Municipal Act, my lawyer advises me that the existing complaint against me no longer has merit without prejudice.

Because of this illegal and unauthorized ordeal against me, I have suffered financial consequences to me and my family in order to protect my character and reputation. I respectively request that Council consider paying my legal expenses in the amount of approximately $10,000 (the final amount to be verified by receipts) in order to be fair to me and accord me the respect that I am due as a Councilor.

Allowing the CAO to continue his witch-hunt (that is to file another broad-base complaint against me) while using the public purse to fund such activities and not being made accountable, could lead to further legal action. I can assure you that nothing good will come from this decision. Failure of the Town to reimburse my legal expenses will force me to advise my constituents that I lack support on this Council, which will greatly hinder the ability to fulfill my duties in office and function as their municipal representative.