Integrity commissioner lambasts mayor for unprofessional conduct

Sarnia City Hall

George Mathewson

Mike Bradley is an “autocratic” mayor who has lost the support of city council and should be stripped of 90 days salary for breaching Sarnia’s Code of Conduct, the city’s integrity commissioner says.

Mike Bradley

Mike Bradley

In a blistering report released today, Robert Swayze said Bradley’s personal and inappropriate attacks on staff led directly to the resignation of former city clerk Nancy Wright-Laking and former planning director Jane Cooper.

Their complaints under the Code of Conduct and Swayze’s recommendation to suspend Bradley’s pay will be dealt with at a special meeting of council on Tuesday, June 28.

If approved, the mayor’s salary would be transferred to the city’s general funds.

Swayze said Wright-Laking and Cooper, who resigned in December and January respectively, were experienced, competent managers who left as a result of Bradley’s negative behaviour toward senior staff, including the city manager and parks and recreation director.

Bradley breached sections of the code that prohibit “intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding, or influencing” any staff member, Swayze said.

And if he doesn’t change his ways there could be future resignations because of the “incredibly bad” workplace environment the mayor has created, he said.

“I took no pleasure in writing this report but feel that the Mayor’s relationship with staff is damaging to the City and must be publicly disclosed and addressed.”

“He has been the Mayor for 28 years and I have found no hint in my investigation, that he has ever taken any private advantage out of his position. I also believe that he is hard working and sincerely devoted to the City. However, he is misguided in his perception of his powers as Mayor and applies them aggressively. Successful Mayors, in my experience, skillfully bring Councils together and show professional respect for staff.”

Swayze’s second recommendation is for council to rescind its request of Feb. 29 that he investigate the mayor under the Workplace Harassment Policy.

Swayze said it is his understanding that “an extensive workplace harassment investigation by a Human Resources Consultant is underway …”

In preparing his report, Swayze interviewed the complainants, the mayor, six other members of council and a number of city staff members.

His recommendation to suspend Bradley’s salary for 90 days is the maximum penalty allowed under the Municipal Act.

“And if I receive another valid complaint in the future, that the Mayor has attempted to interfere with the staff chain of command, I will recommend further sanctions against him,” he wrote.

City manager Margaret Misek-Evans has sought her own legal advice regarding her relationship with the mayor.

The meeting to consider the report is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in city hall council chambers.