Integrity front and centre at MV Council meeting

Guy Giorno, Integrity Commissioner

All ears were on MV’s Integrity Commissioner Guy Giorno at the Council Meeting on Monday August 13 as he delivered reports on three issues. Two of these were complaints he inherited from MV’s previous Integrity Commissioner, Jack Rosien, whose termination by the Township led to a wrongful dismissal suit and undisclosed settlement.

Councillor Maika apologizes

Giorno’s most detailed report contained his recommendations about a complaint made by former Lakeshore Tennis Club president Bev Moore against Councillor Shelley Maika. The complaint stemmed from comments about Moore by the Councillor at a meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee on November 3, 2016.

Giorno gave an abridged oral report to Council, but a complete written report was made available to The Current. This article is based on Giorno’s written report, his presentation, the follow-up questions and comments at the meeting, and an interview with Moore.

Moore’s complaint

Moore claimed the Councillor’s statements were wrong, damaged her reputation in the community, damaged the reputation of the Tennis Club and breached Council’s Code of Conduct. It arose from the following remarks made by Maika, which are reproduced in the report:

The problem here is that we have a woman who is going crazy buying and spending and we are paying for it.

and

The problem here is that Bev is going off on her own tangents and buying and doing and assuming that we are paying for it all. There is a budget; she was here when this budget was passed. I think that was quite clear.

Based on his investigation, IC Giorno made the following findings:

I find that the statements made about the Complainant were not accurate.

I find as a fact that the Complainant was not buying or spending on behalf of the Township. I find as a fact that the Complainant was not purporting to make spending decisions for the Township.

It follows, and I find, that the Complainant was not recklessly buying and spending and she was not going off tangent.

I find that the Complainant was a dedicated volunteer and motivated by public and not self-interest.

I find that the Complainant is transparent, forthcoming and committed to the cause of building up the club for the broader community.

At the conclusion of his report, Giorno recommended:

That Council apologize to Mrs. Beverley Moore for incorrect comments about her that were made during the November 3, 2016, meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee.

Maika’s apology

Following presentation of his report to Council on the Moore complaint, even though Giorno recommended Council as a whole apologize to Moore, Maika took the opportunity to do this herself and said the following:

I acknowledge that the report, the findings of the report and the comments that I made in the meeting in the fall of 2016 did not contravene the Code, but I would like to take this opportunity to offer my apologies to Ms. Moore if my comments caused her distress….

It was out of frustration, in the specific moment of this meeting, that I invariably could have used a better  choice of words that were more sensitive to Ms. Moore, and for that I do very much sincerely apologize.

Training recommended for members of Council

Giorno determined that Maika’s conduct fell outside Council’s existing Code of Conduct because the comments were made in the course of a council meeting. He said in his report:

Conduct at meetings is properly addressed under the Procedural By-law.

Having determined that that was the way Maika’s comments should have been dealt with at the time they were made, he made the following recommendations:

In future, should offensive or insulting comments be made at a Council meeting or a committee meeting, the matter should be addressed by the presiding officer under the authority of the Procedural By-law. I  recommend that Council Members be trained in the responsibilities of presiding officers.

That the Township provide training to all Council Members in the duties of presiding officers (under the Procedural By-law) to restrain Members within the rules of order and to enforce on all occasions the observance of order and decorum.

That, to provide greater clarity, the Code of Conduct be amended to make clear that conduct that is contrary to the Procedural By-law should be dealt with under the Procedural By-law and not as a Code of Conduct complaint.

Mayor Love, saying she had chaired thousands of hours of meetings, expressed concern that Giorno’s report could “be perceived that this is a finding that the presiding officer had an issue.” Giorno replied:

This should not be read as any finding about a committee chair or anything of that nature.

He quoted from the appendix to his report in reply to a question from Councillor Archer about order and decorum. This prompted Archer to say,

It is clear to me when I should as a committee chair move to ensure order and decorum at a meeting…. I am clear that those items you just read in your appendix are my responsibility if I chair a meeting.

Councillor Bromwich addresses “elephant in room”

Councillor Bromwich asked Giorno about what he called “the elephant in the room” – costs:

There’s an awful lot of people out there who would like to know, how much an Integrity Commissioner costs on an issue like this? … 2016-03, what would that case have cost us at this point?

The IC did not have specific costs for each complaint, but he did have totals for the last two years.

Giorno charges $300 per hour for his services. In 2017 he billed the municipality for 15.1 hours of work which totalled $4,530 plus HST and mileage. To date in 2018, he has already submitted bills for 45 hours of work or $13,500 for the five files he is investigating. He offered to provide the municipality with a breakdown of the costs for each file, and Love committed to making these costs public.

The Complainant’s response

The Current interviewed Moore following the delivery of the Integrity Commissioner’s report. She accepted the findings, but noted that reading of the complete document was important. A careful reading would reveal significant details.

Moore specifically mentioned page 3 where Giorno wrote:

On November 13, the Complainant [Moore] emailed the Respondent [Maika] outlining her disappointment with the comments and expressed concern about how they may damage her reputation, as well as that of the Club. She requested that the Respondent provide a full retraction at the next meeting of Council and in a future edition of The Valley Gazette. The Respondent never acknowledged or complied with this request.

Moore revealed that she sent three registered letters (not an email) on November 13 – one to Councillor Maika, one to Mayor Love and one to the local newspaper which had published the comments. In her letter to Maika she wrote:

I call upon you to submit for publication in The Valley Gazette in its next edition a full retraction of your above comments accompanied by an appropriate expression of regret.

In her letter to Love, Moore wrote:

I trust, therefore, that you will use your office to persuade her [Councillor Maika] that a public apology would be the least she could do.

When no replies or corrections were forthcoming, Moore contacted municipal staff on November 21 to explore next steps. She was advised to complain to the Integrity Commissioner by preparing a package and submitting it to the CAO who would then forward it to Rosien.

More concluded her comments with a simple statement.

I didn’t want any kind of battle with the Township. I wanted to play tennis.

Integrity Commissioner’s other reports

Interim Report re human rights complaint

Giorno submitted an Interim Report on File 2016-01 which is related to a human rights complaint. The Township’s solicitor had requested his file be closed after a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case was settled. He explained that Integrity Commissioners, because of the provisions of the Municipal Act, must be independent and the municipality, or its agents, cannot play any role in such investigations. He confirmed that he is continuing with that investigation.

Integrity Commissioner recommends amending Code of Conduct

In a Special Report, Giorno stated that

At least one individual who was or is party to a Code of Conduct investigation has brought to my attention a Township decision affecting the individual that is alleged to have been a reprisal for participation in a Code of Conduct process.

Giorno said that, unlike other municipalities, TMV’s Code of Conduct does not contain language giving him jurisdiction to address reprisals, so he recommended Council amend the Code by adding a section calledReprisal, Interference and Obstruction.”

 

Editor’s note: To read the full reports by the Integrity Commissioner, please click on the relevant link below.

Please click HERE to read Madawaska-Valley-Final-Report-2016-03-Integrity-Commissioner

Please click HERE to read Madawaska-Valley-Interim-Report-2016-01-Integrity-Commissioner

Please click HERE to read Madawaska-Valley-Special-Report-2018-08-09-Integrity-Commissioner

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