Some things need to be cleared up as to why City Council approved this latest reprimand and sanction of Mayor Mike Bradley, as recommended by the Integrity Commissioner (IC).
It began when a resident e-mailed a request for a great many documents and reports. Many of these wouldn’t be able to be released due to solicitor-client privilege. Council doesn’t even get to see them.
The letter was addressed to the City Clerk and cc’d to Mayor and Council. Legislation mandates that all the decisions on information requests, and the approval and scheduling of delegations to Council, be done by the Clerk, no matter the addressee.
The request to appear before Council was premature, as the extensive work required would necessitate a Freedom of Information (FOI) application, as many of the documents would be unavailable or redacted.
The Clerk, Dianne Gould-Brown, determined there would be significant cost in staff time to assemble this FOI, and the resident was informed but chose not to move forward. The Mayor had opportunity before the meeting to ask why the Clerk made her determination, just as any member of Council can enquire of any senior staff member after reviewing the agenda. He did not do that.
During the meeting, the Mayor debated with the Clerk, after Coun. Dave Boushy enquired about the matter, and after it was explained by the Clerk and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
The Mayor knows staff members aren’t allowed to debate. However he persisted, not asking a question, but inferring it was done wrong, not once, but multiple times.
The Mayor is being held accountable for repeating the exact same behaviour he demonstrated toward former clerk Nancy Wright-Laking, resulting in her leaving Sarnia’s employ and triggering the original complaints against him to the IC.
Ms. Gould-Brown showed great fortitude and integrity in advancing this complaint, thereby signaling she will not tolerate the same unwarranted treatment her predecessor experienced, just for doing her job.
As I said at the May 29 meeting, I cannot sit idly by and allow this behaviour to continue, or go unpunished, as it is an egregious breach of our Code of Conduct and the rules of governance and not worthy of the leader of our Council.
If episodes like this one persist unchecked, Sarnia will lose more hardworking, capable professionals and be unable to attract high quality administrators.
Finally, Council has one employee, the CAO, guiding and monitoring Sarnia’s operations in keeping with its bylaws and Council’s direction, as legislated by the Municipal Act.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter if any of us, Mayor or Councillor, disagrees with staff; the CAO is legislatively responsible for city employees and their job performance. The CAO is accountable to Council, as a whole, for how the City functions overall.
Matt Mitro is a city councillor and businessman in Sarnia