As reported by The Current, at the Council meeting on March 21 2018 the Mayor took umbrage at my opinion piece entitled “MV is not a CAO-friendly environment!” (Click HERE to read it.) She took particular offence, and indeed described as “defamatory”, the following passage in that opinion piece:
“Yet according to the statement made by the Mayor at yesterday’s meeting, the same Councillors sat in judgment on him and found him wanting.”
Note that this makes it clear that this was an opinion I arrived at based on a statement made by the Mayor. Because of the events that preceded it (listed below), this conclusion was inevitable as the Mayor put up a veritable signpost pointing to it.
Feb. 21 Minutes of the Special Council Meeting record that the following matter was discussed:
“1. CAO/Clerk – Performance Appraisal.”
Feb. 21 CAO Robertson’s last day of employment.
Feb. 28 As reported by The Current on March 1, at the Finance & Administration Committee Meeting held on February 28, the Mayor stated: “Mr. Robertson is no longer with the municipality. I will be providing an update to the citizens and taxpayers of the Madawaska Valley at the Regular Council meeting on March 5th. Until then, I have no comment.”
Mar. 5 The Mayor said: “At the Special Council Meeting on February 21st (i.e. the CAO/Clerk’s Performance Appraisal) the probationary employment of Mr. Robertson, CAO/Clerk, came to an end.” (emphasis mine) She then went on to invite “members of the public and press who may have questions regarding general employment practices at the Township to review the municipality’s corporate policies and procedures.”
Mar. 5 The Current published the Mayor’s statement as well as the following extract from the Township’s policies that she invited us to inspect: “Permanent appointment as an employee of the Township of Madawaska Valley is conditional upon satisfactory performance during the formal probationary period.” (emphasis mine)
The Mayor’s reference to Robertson’s “probationary employment” in the context of discussing why he was no longer an employee was clearly intentional. Equally clearly, she was steering interested parties to the relevant policy reproduced above. All that Love needed to have said to avoid inaccurate conclusions (if such be the case) was that Robertson’s employment with the Township had ended; no more, no less.
Love also objected to my opinion that “an arguable case can be made that the township has in fact been headless since the current council was elected”. Readers can make up their own minds by reading minutes, or listening to recordings, of meetings. However, I was reliably informed that it was not long before township staff started referring to committee meetings as “committee beatings” – enough said.
It is a pity that the Mayor did not respond to the overriding theme of my opinion piece. Although I have no doubt that she, as she stated, has worked very hard, that misses the point. Many would prefer that she worked very hard at being the CEO of a council which limits itself to the role proscribed for it in the Municipal Act.
For these reasons, The Current does not accept that there is justification for any retraction or apology as demanded by the Mayor. Unfortunately she also used her statement to question the journalistic standards which The Current has espoused. As publisher, I do not accept this but rather view it as confirmation that Council had become spoiled by the less incisive media coverage that it had enjoyed prior to our arrival on the scene.
Roger Paul, Publisher
March 29 2018