In order to clear up the misinformation, rumours and outright lies about the OPP investigation, spreading on social media by some candidates and among the angry bloggers, let me set the record straight.
Here’s what we know:
- Approximately eighteen months ago, someone local went to the police and and filed a formal complaint. The police opened an investigation.
- The police have not interviewed the Mayor, Deputy mayor, Councillors Lloyd, Cunningham, West, Edwards or myself in that time.
- After more than 18 months, no one has been charged with anything. No one has gone to jail. No one has been in court.
- The police have not made any public statements about the details of the investigation.
- The police are competent enough to know when dirty politics are presented to them.
Here’s what we don’t know:
- What the police are or were investigating (the police refuse to divulge this information).
- Who the police are or were investigating (the police refuse to divulge this information).
- What allegations have been made (the police refuse to divulge this information).
- When the police will issue a public report on the investigation.*
Those are the facts. Period. All the rest is rumour, gossip and allegation. Mostly malicious.
The CBC reporter who first broadcast this did not confirm any of these details with the OPP, simply broadcast allegations.
The CBC reported that one person on council went to the police. That person was not named in the broadcast. No one on council admitted to doing so. That remains an unproven allegation.
The EB asked each member of council if that was him or her who went to the police. All but one member replied, “no.” The other member refused to comment, allegedly because of legal advice.
When or if the police formally provide any results or publicly say the investigation is closed, there will be several FOI requests filed to get the name of the person who filed the complaint.
It has been more than 18 months since the complaint was filed, and to date nothing has happened. Nor is anything expected to happen, outside of a statement of closure. If anyone had done something illegal, he or she would have been charged by now. Instead, this council has been able to continue doing ‘business as usual.’
And here’s the final thing: no one on council did anything wrong. There is no basis for any charge of any sort. Simply because someone doesn’t like what council does, simply because someone doesn’t like the way a decision was made, or the way a vote went doesn’t mean it was wrong, illegal, immoral or improper.
Everything done by this council has been aboveboard, open and transparent, completely legal and democratic.
* Update: OPP Sergeant Peter Leon stated on Sept. 23, four days after this post had been written, that the investigation is still ongoing and the OPP will release a statement when the investigation is finished. He did not speculate on when that would be.
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All very interesting, BUT:
1. Why wouldn’t you name the only councillor to refuse to answer?
2. I don’t know, but I suspect that the allegation of wrongdoing was to do with the offer to buy the terminals. That entire transaction was , and still is, clouded in secrecy. We still have no idea who thought of buying it, or the purpose they intended, or what happened that caused the prospective buyer to withdraw their offer. Nor is it clear if the property is still on the market, and if the water lots are still in play.
3. Concerning the Sprung Structures, there was absolutely something really rotten about that process. Council went from commission of a study to a signed contract and cheque signed, for a single sourced deal, in just 6 weeks. We can only hope that a new council will at least launch an enquiry into the process behind that decision, to try to find who managed that deal behind the scenes, even if we’re now stuck with the Sprung structures, and the attendant overhead, for the foreseeable future.
1. My intent is not to cast aspersions on anyone, simply to clear the air from misinformation and gossip. I’ll leave the aspersions and innuendo to the bloggers. You can read the information in the EB article linked above.
2. According to the Municipal Act, discussions about the purchase or sale of municipal property can be held in camera. The so-called secrecy is not merely legal, it avoids some issues of liability.
The property was put on sale by our real estate agents in an open, MLS real estate listing and still is listed there. No secrecy about that. It’s just like any home sale listing: open and public. The real estate agents speak to clients, provide information and accept their offers for council to consider.
What gets discussed in camera are the offers and the names/companies of those bidders are kept secret until one is accepted. This is the same process used in tenders, RFPs and RFQs. However,unlike those methods, this one allows bidders to approach staff or even members of council, and discuss the property. Just like approaching a homeowner to ask about a house they have for sale.
The MLS listing is just for the property shown in the public assessment – anything else is open to negotiation and will be discussed in camera if the property is municipally owned. You can get or see a copy of the assessment at town hall and read what the value is. It is up to the bidder to decide how much to offer, just like it is when negotiating to buy a house.
Bidders can withdraw their offer, make counter offers, negotiate for additional property as they wish, just as they can with any home listing. It’s an MLS listing on the public market. Their decisions and reasons are their own and thus private until an agreement is made that leads to a contact – just as it is when you are bidding on a house.
3. The staff report presented about the use of Sprung structures was thorough and comprehensive, as was the presentation made at that open and public council meeting. Nothing rotten about it. Simply because someone doesn’t like a decision or because it didn’t meet their expectations, does not mean it was made improperly, illegally or immorally.
Council made a decision quickly and effectively. Councils in the past have been criticized for delaying, deferring and not deciding and getting nothing done.
Are you upset because council was decisive?
The single source option is allowed in the procurement bylaw (therefore legal), as was explained in the meeting, when there are no equivalent options or the product is considered unique. Staff researched and investigated this for many weeks, and came back with the conclusion they qualified for the single-source option. That was presented clearly during the meeting.
The structures were rated by staff in the report higher on energy conservation, speed on installation, costs, design time and other categories than traditional brick-and-steel structures. They have a 25-year life for the covering, equivalent to or better than most roofs,
Are you upset because council accepted and followed a well-researched and clearly-presented staff recommendation?
After 20-plus years of wrangling over the need for additional recreational facilities, this council acted. We have them now. Had we not done so, we would still be debating and arguing and we would not have anything. I prefer the option we chose.
The choice was not between a $35-million-plus traditional structure and the Sprung buildings. It was between the Sprung structures and nothing. It was between responding to the community’s identified and long-recognized need for more ice and water time, and doing nothing. Council chose to act rather than do what other councils in the past have done.
Are you upset because we refused to follow that tradition and didn’t ignore the community’s needs?
Our decisions and our actions, our responsibilities, authority and liabilities and are restrained by provincial law, and by our own procedural bylaw and code of ethics. We have excellent staff who guide and inform us and ensure we do everything in the most open, democratic and accountable manner. We have experienced legal advisers to ensure we do everything legally and properly. We have had our actions, our decisions and our discussions in these matters examined by our lawyers who assure us nothing was done illegally.
Every election you have the opportunity to select a new council. If you prefer a council less decisive, more likely to ignore staff recommendations, and more willing to ignore the community’s needs, then I expect there are candidates who will be good choices. For myself, I believe this council made the right decisions in the proper manner and in the best interests of the community as a whole.
An astute reader pointed out to me that the MLS listing for the terminals may have expired. However, the property is still listed online. For example here:
Keeping the MLS listing active is the responsibility of the town’s real estate agents, of course, not council or staff. The property is still listed as surplus by the town because that bylaw was never repealed.
You can also read the public notice about the sale here:
In November, 2013, my motion referred the question of the sale of the terminals to the 2014 budget. That discussion left the property surplus, therefore still for sale. Update: the clerk confirmed this in an email this week.
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