Finally a post: Scandal or embarrassment?

Finally a topic worthy enough to shake the publisher out of his cynicism, apathy, lethargy and general indifference to things political.

At the next Regular Cobourg Council Meeting a notice of motion penned by the Mayor will be put forward and moved into the next CoW meeting. This unusual move has prompted the BR to do a bit of digging and leads to a lot of speculation.

The motion basically says that someone has been blabbing about a closed session meeting that took place on June 3rd 2019, and the Mayor wants do something about it. Read the motion here.

A snippet of the agenda of that June 3rd meeting is shown on the right and it clearly discusses a proposed contract employee/company to be hired to do something for the Town. Presumably, and this is where it gets sticky is that in those discussions there would have been a discussion about how much to pay the proposed contract employee.

Back to the motion, it directs an investigation into the disclosure and the last part reads: “Now therefore be it resolved that a fulsome investigation be initiated on the June 3, 2019 Closed Session of Council by the Town’s Integrity Commissioner to determine the source or sources of the breach of trust and the disclosed Closed Session information, and that those findings as well as recommendations for penalties if warranted of the offender(s) be shared, with Council as well as the Public.”.

So speculation abounds: who was the contract employee/company, who was the blabbermouth, and what was said outside of the meeting about the discussion? Well the Integrity Commissioner has been set on the case, if the motion passes In that case we will have an answer in months and the issue will be forgotten about, until it comes back. When it does come back it will reignite the issue and more discussion, is this what we really want – to wash our dirty laundry in public?

It should be an interesting discussion at Council, on Tuesday evening, if it has proceeded to this stage!

The big question here is why the need for this motion, if the process, as we understand it, was followed, the  information would have been in the public domain by now. If a contract person was hired as a result of a closed session discussion a statement should have been made that a decision was made, after the meeting by the Chair, and a motion made to direct the CAO to complete the hiring process. Public money pays this employee and the public should know how much. Privacy laws prohibit the actual disclosure of employees wages but the public is entitled to know the salary range that is used to pay the wage. Also if the contract is one between a contract Company and the Town how can the Council discuss a contract in secret and then not ratify it in a Council meeting? After all no motions can be made in a closed session, and the signing of a contract would be overstepping the rules when Council directs the CAO to do something that was discussed in a closed session.

It looks as though the motive for the notice of motion is unclear. The disclosure process was not followed and the proper information was not released as it should have been; so why do we need an investigation to see who released the information. Have the Mayor follow procedure and introduce a statement telling us what went on in the closed session.

Hmm so many questions so few answers!

 

  4 comments for “Finally a post: Scandal or embarrassment?

  1. Bryan
    July 8, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Ben,

    Given that the only ones in attendance at the closed meeting (reasonable assumption) were the Mayor, DM, 5 Councillors, the CAO and the Clerk. Perhaps Dir Hustwick was also there as this “hiring” is in his division.

    With 9-10 people involved, how hard would it be for the Mayor to conduct his own “fulsome” investigation. Perhaps he wants this investigation to have the appearance of being “judicial and independent, rather than a “witch-hunt”. This investigation has authority over a limited population: Council and staff(?). Members of the public are not and if involved may well decline to participate.

    I think that the Mayor should tread carefully. Other issues may come to light that the Mayor would have preferred to keep under wraps:

    was this a “legal” closed session,

    was procedure followed,

    did the “hire” follow Town’s HR hiring procedure,

    if a “consultant” was engaged, were the Town’s procurement procedures followed,

    were the results of the meeting publicly disclosed after the meeting,

    and many more questions as Ben noted

  2. Deb OConnor
    July 8, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    For some reason when “the Creative Arts” are involved, normal procedures and rules fly out the window. Sounds like a staffer or three needs to be taken to the wood shed on this one.

  3. Deb OConnor
    July 8, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Maybe even a Councillor or two…

  4. Ben Burd
    July 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    This post was written a week ago and more information has come to light leading to the next post – this Sunday’s.

    As the hiring of the concert hall consultant had taken place in the week preceding, the closed meeting was presumably held to allow Councillors, who had no idea that the hiring was going to take place, to discuss the hiring protocol and whether the right person had been hired. Obviously more than one Councillor had concerns so the Mayor allowed a discussion to clear the air. One of the participants at the meeting obviously decide to tell someone, who was not entitled to the information, something. The Mayor heard about the info release and proceeded to initiate an investigation. This decision will debated on Aug 12th. Perhaps the Mayor will explain why he chose to take this route at that meeting.

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