"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

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Letter To The Mayor

Madam Mayor,

I acknowledge your letter of Tuesday June 30th, 2009 and respond herewith:

I note six signatures appended and three pages of content ending with formal demands to be met by a deadline of 4:30pm on July 4th, 2009.

The document presents as an “informal” complaint under the Code of Conduct.

Yet once again a solicitor has been retained at a cost of thousands of dollars to provide political justification for your relentless endeavor to pursue the objective that no negative comment or criticism shall be permitted to emanate from a councillor to reflect against decisions made by this council during your term of office.

Three council members including you were delegated to meet with lawyer John Mascarin to instruct him on precise requirements expected.

He was provided with DVDs of council meetings, blog posts, letters to the editor and comments to the Aurora Citizen blog to be examined and report on how my statements may have contravened the Code of Conduct and the Town's Procedural Bylaw.

I have read the thirty-eight page report submitted by Mr. Mascarin. I find it to be without substance. No definitive findings are articulated

Assertions are qualified by the phrase “appears to mean”. No facts are thereby established.

He further asserts that “many” of my statements are “factually incorrect”. Such non-specific references lead to no conclusions.

My sense of propriety suggests, if I provided evidence of your action to a solicitor, there is a distinct possibility, Madam Mayor, that having a councillor investigated in this fashion is not within your authority and is in fact quite outrageous.

At the heart of it, I view the matter as an attack on my right to free expression as a citizen and as a Councillor to communicate with the people I serve. The electorate's right to be informed of my position on issues that come before council is paramount on my list of priorities.

Using public funds to have an elected official investigated to support an issue of strictly political significance is in my view a gross abuse of public resources.

The Code of Conduct and the requirement for each member of council to sign the document by deadline is once again referenced in your letter.

An opinion previously provided to Council by Ms Virginia McLean, acting town solicitor, has advised the requirement cannot be enforced. Therefore it has no validity.

I regard specific wording in the Code as an attempt to restrict freedom and the responsibility of a councillor to disagree or critique the actions of Council for better understanding within the community.

A refusal on my part to accept a staff recommendation on occasion does not signify disrespect. It is my duty to exercise judgment in issues that come before Council and cast my vote accordingly. There is no requirement to provide a rationale yet I regularly do so for the better understanding of the community we both serve.

My appreciation for the role of staff in the daily operation of the corporation and provision of services to the community has been honed by many years of experience.

My ethics are secure.

Onn the other hand,treatment afforded staff by you, Councillors MacEachern, Gaertner, Granger, Gallo and Wilson during this term, does not persuade me I have anything to learn from your perception of the basic principle of fairness.

I do not accept the Corporation can be or is damaged by frank and free exchange of views. Even if a minority of one on occasion, as part of the Corporation. my views are entitled to register.

At considerable expense, and to my mind - questionable purpose, the services of Mr. George Rust-D’Eye were retained early in the term. He recommended the Code of Conduct and an Integrity Commissioner be retained.

In October of 2008 an appointment was made and a Commissioner has been on retainer for the past eight months. On June 18th a contract was signed. Previous offers to provide educational workshops met with opposition and refusal by three members of council including you.

The Commissioner has indicated the Code is in need of review.

I note the expression of frustration made by a Councillor during the meeting with Mr. Mascarin, about how “awkward” it was to be planning strategy against a Councillor with said Councillor present. Incredibly, acknowledgment of what was taking place alerted none of the parties to the unseemliness of the process.

Madam Mayor, given that our political principles are a canyon width apart, it is not exceptional we might find ourselves at odds on many issues.

I submit there is nothing untoward in the situation. Except that your reluctance to accept the reality of politics creates an additional and unnecessary tension within Council.

Continued expenditures for legal services to pound a councillor into submission might be justified if you were using your own resources. It would not likely be more successful.

The day a Councillor of the Town of Aurora is not free to speak and write her mind, is the day I shall lose interest in participating in the governing process.

I shall go down fighting before that happens.

Sadly, the climate you have created within the Administration is tortuous in the extreme. My sympathies are with staff. There can be little professional satisfaction in the obligation to be silent witnesses to regular and degrading public demonstrations of hostility and gamesmanship at the council table.

Or to know their inevitable fate, if they fail to accede to your direction.

You have set the precedent.

In conclusion,I find nothing of merit in your complaint. If nothing changes, regrettably. things will remain the same.



William Cobbett said...

Bravo, Cllr Buck! You may feel that you are standing alone in this fight but please be assured that you have the support of many.

"Except that your reluctance to accept the reality of politics creates an additional and unnecessary tension within Council."

I think this point that you made is at the crux of many of the problems with this mayor. She and her supporters (elected and otherwise) don't seem to grasp the importance of criticism and dissent in the political process.

Whether they are thin-skinned, have issues with self-esteem or are politically naive, they will brook no dissent. They need to realise that not everyone will 'sing from the same hymn book' - nor should they in a healthy democracy.

Folks, this ain't Pollyanna-stopping-to-smell-the-roses-while-she-looks-at-a-rainbow-through-rose-coloured-glasses time!

Keep fighting the good fight, Cllr Buck.

Anonymous said...

So what kind of response did you get?

Something Fishy in Aurora said...

Thank you Councillor.

Thank you for asking the questions that should be asked.

I’m still waiting to see the apology you requested from the Mayor on camera in council. I’m guessing it will never come. She as usual; has gone on the offensive to cover up an “assumed attack” on her.

I would like to see how much of the towns’ money she has wasted on legal fees to meet her political needs.

Something Fishy in Aurora said...

Great, how much more is this going to cost us?


"Mayor Phyllis Morris said she was limited in what she could say about the letter and Ms Buck’s response, adding she needed legal advice prior to discussing the matter in detail or to release the initial letter. "

Anonymous said...

"she needed legal advice prior to discussing the matter in detail"

So, the Mayor gets the majority of council to sign the letter (who didn't sign it? I'm betting McRoberts and Collins-Mrakas), I bet the GOS all signed. Why wouldnt' they?

Now the Mayor can't talk about the letter till she gets some legal advice. I wonder just how far she intends this cart of hers to drag her horse? Gosh!

Did she obtain legal advice BEFORE she asked everyone to sign a letter?

Jennifer Strange said...

My father would be so proud, Evelyn. Keep your spirits up and hold your head with pride. You are doing the job to which you were elected and executing it extremely well despite the undeserved persecution.

Anonymous said...

I congratulate you on having the guts to put the truth out there. Given that we are supposed to be governed by a democracy as long as your facts are correct, I see nothing offensive about them. In fact, I would like to know if my hard earned dollars are being misspent so that I can take corrective action at the next election.

This is my first visit to your blog, but the sheer stupidity (not to mention disrespect for the hard earned dollars of the Aurora tax payer) of the Mayor / council to run a 1/2 page ad in the Banner about this issue encouraged me to read your blog!

Keep up the good work!