During a re-scheduled Regular Council Meeting of Brudenell Lyndoch and Raglan Township (BLR) on Oct.27, Mayor Sheldon Keller used a claim of “harassment” to abruptly stop questions related to municipal fraud raised by Councillors Trevor Lidtkie and Andrea Budarick. It happened during a discussion about responding to the Township’s auditors’ letter to Council prior to conducting its annual audit. Above: Mayor Keller opens the meeting. Photo: YouTube/Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch & Raglan
The discussion related to the following questions raised by auditors MacKillican and Associates:
When the subject arose, Councillor Lidtkie directed Council’s attention to that section and asked, “How do we deal with this?” Councillor Budarick chimed in to state that as she was unfamiliar with the document, she was unhappy about signing it with spaces left blank, which is what it appeared the Mayor and the Acting Clerk-Treasurer, Valerie Jahn, were proposing. She said, “I would just like to see the responses to these questions before anyone was asked to sign it, no?”
Budarick followed up by asking if a copy of last year’s letter could be obtained for comparison. This prompted Keller to have a conversation with Jahn, following which he said, “You’re exactly right, Valerie…. Well basically as far as we are concerned you are committing harassment.” To which Budarick, who attended the meeting by telephone replied, “Pardon me?” A visibly frustrated Keller then proceeded to the next agenda item.
When asked by The Current for comment, Budarick said, “Harassment is a very serious allegation; I do not take it lightly. The video speaks for itself, and I am very glad that BLR now records its meetings so that we have clear records. I believe it is clear to any person who reviews it that no harassment occurred. I am committed to BLR ratepayers and I want to focus on that job.”
BLR still under OPP investigation
The normally routine municipal audits have come under increased scrutiny for BLR Township when in November 2020 the same auditors identified “significant deficiencies” and that “the procurement By-Law for the tender process was not followed.” These concerns were in relation to a $75,000 non-tendered sole source contract for gravel to a local company. In 2020, in response to a complaint of procurement fraud, the Ontario Provincial Police commenced a wide-ranging investigation pertaining to potential criminal code offences breach of public trust, municipal corruption and influencing a municipal official. The Current has recently confirmed that this investigation remains ongoing.
Fire Chief caught on camera “flipping off” Councillor
During the same exchange, the zoom meeting caught BLR Fire Chief/Recreation Manager Jordan Genrick, apparently unaware he was on camera, making a crude hand gesture dismissing Councillor Budarick while she addressed Council. As previously reported by The Current, in 2019 following a complaint to the Ontario Fire Marshall, Genrick was the subject of a professional misconduct investigation into allegations that he consumed alcohol on the job, drove municipal vehicles after consuming alcohol and abused his authority as fire chief by targeting Councillor Budarick’s son with excessive fines. Despite requests to do so, the Township has not released the report following the independent investigation, although the fines levelled against Budarick’s son were eventually reduced substantially.
Councillor seeks public apology
Lidtkie, who saw the gesture when he reviewed the zoom meeting after he was contacted by a constituent, said, “This is really unprofessional behaviour from an employee of the Township towards Council. The Mayor needs to address this and I think a public apology to Councillor Budarick is in order.”