"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Enclosed

The letter below was delivered to the Town Hall yesterday evening.

My understanding of town business which may be discussed behind closed doors and why, is quite clear.It's not an extensive list.

Strategy by a group of councillors against a single councillor is not within the definition

A correction is needed in the letter below. Mr. Mascarin's report was twenty-three pages not thirty-eight as stated. The number is significant .

I received the Mayor's letter on Tuesday at a Joint Council Fire Committee. An arm came from behind and placed three items on the table before me ; a copy of the contract signed on June 18th with Mr. Nitkin the Town's Integrity Commissioner (requested by me); a bookmark promoting the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast; an envelope of the Mayor's stationery marked "Confidential". The letter was not so marked.

There have been many "firsts" during this term of office. Council retaining legal counsel for purposes separate from the corporation for example:

There was a two year unsuccessful effort to hang a crime on the former Mayor.Letters were exchanged but not shared with Council and there was finally a conference with one of the lawyers retained for that issue.

There was an unproven issue of a leak from an in-camera meeting

Then the question of whether or not the municipality should hold a by-election to fill a vacancy.
It apparently required the assistance of lawyer Mascarin to adroitly shepherd it through the council debate and decision-making process.

An understanding of the phrase "the process was tainted" proved difficult for the Mayor and co-horts to comprehend and required a solicitor to advise and eventually conference with Council.

Further down the road , the question of whether or not a town management team of three had authority to approve payment to a contractor for corrective work he carried out promptly and efficiently to the ARC complex bulkhead;

Now this; a political strategy to discredit a council colleague.

That's just the stuff I know for sure about.

When I asked for a statement of the account for the first matter, it was provided promptly. The amount was $16,200. The Mayor indicated further assistance was provided later by the same solicitor so that account was obviously interim.

In June of 2008, I requested legal costs incurred by the Mayor's office, since the beginning of the term. I received invoices for corporate legal costs from Jan 1st to May's end of 2008. None for specific costs incurred by the Mayor's office.

Being aware of the environment it seemed to me, staff were caught between a rock and a hard place. I decided to await an opportunity which would not compromise staff security. I am
currently assured the information on costs in 2007/8/9 are forthcoming.

Meanwhile, I examined the last invoice I received to see what might be gleaned. It was a Weir and Foulds batch dealing with the proposed Westhill golf course/town house development proposal.

Phone calls are listed by the minute. E-mails by the batch and minutes calculated accordingly .
Mileage and a variety of other interesting details were there.

I found a flat $5k charge for each conference with council. Fifty minute phone "conferences" with the Mayor. An e-mail from Susan Walmer and multiple e-mails from the Mayor. And all the to and fro and back and forth between relevant staff and other parties.

I haven't attempted a calculation. It was after all but a brief glimpse of an issue which has occupied thousands of hours of legal and other expertise in various fields as well as the Mayor and friend Susan Walmer.

If I recall correctly, the 2008 budget included a $250k reserve for legal services. At close of year, the department budget had been fully expended and the reserve went with it.

We are not talking about nickels and dimes . We are talking factors of millions.

Today, I was informed a single page of legal documentation costs $1k

We already know a conference with council costs $5k.

You do the math.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for telling it like it is Evelyn!