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In Parry Sound it seems you are out with a single strike, even if you didn’t swing and it’s a called strike.

The article in the North Star yesterday added more information to the ongoing saga concerning the removal of the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association’s (DBA) chairperson. It seems to provide more evidence that calls into question the credibility of the Town’s ‘reason’ for Ms. McWalter’s removal.

The quote from the North Star ascribed to Mayor McGarvey was, “There are proper procedures for the taking of minutes that weren’t followed”. “Nobody can change the minutes taken by the administrator, only the board can.”

Agreed, approved minutes should not be altered without the full approval of a board or committee. But in this case I understand from credible sources that the issue concerns draft minutes. Yes, draft minutes that are then presented to the board or committee for review, editing and final approval. I have sat on enough boards and committees to know that if I feel there is any discrepancy between what went on in the meeting and what is in the draft minutes I have the right to raise the issue and have the minutes revised.

I also know that ‘administrators’, or ‘minute takers’, regularly make mistakes in the draft minutes that range from typos to errors of fact. Too often corrections need to be made to the spelling of names, who actually was present at the meeting, and who moved or seconded a motion. Stuff like that, which embarrasses the organization. I would welcome having a second set of eyes editing the minutes before they reach me, especially if they are only circulated at the meeting, or the day before, and our memories of trivial meeting details held a month earlier are hazy at best.

So they tossed out Ms. McWalter for editing draft minutes. Actually ‘they’ didn’t throw her out, it was four members of Council. Three members of Council obviously felt this was not an issue that warranted removing her from office.

But does anyone else feel that any sense of ‘process’ was missing? If Council felt that the minutes were not being properly managed it would have taken a short discussion with the chair to make sure that any errors in procedure would be rectified going forward. Was this the case? Apparently not.

It really seems like a case of one strike and you’re out, even if there wasn’t an obvious swing.

I look south to Cow Town and see a mayor that participated in a discussion and voted on an issue in which he had a pecuniary interest for which he was not initially censored by his Council, much less asked to resign. It took the efforts of a private individual to raise the issue to a point that it received the attention it deserved.

So how does Council rationalize turfing out a volunteer that has contributed so much to the Town? It would have been simple for them to ask Ms. McWalter to follow the proscribed procedures. Or they could have waited until the end of the current term of council and not reappointed her to the DBA. But perhaps the end of the current term of council wasn’t soon enough.

Perhaps Ms. McWalter represented a serious enough political threat to certain members of Parry Sound Council they felt it was necessary to take action to forestall any risk of a reelection upset. McKellar saw an outsider elected to the position of Reeve, and in the process upset enough people that he faced attacks from the township’s establishment. If I remember correctly they tried to nail him for having business cards printed without appropriate approval. Sound familiar? But he had process and procedures to save him.

Closer to home Mayor Wilf Sabourin was elected Mayor of Parry Sound even though he had not served on council. A longshot? Perhaps not if you are competent, caring, and have the support and trust of the community.

Is there a better ‘legal’ way to eliminate a potential political threat than embarrass them by removing them from a very visible community board? It’s not clear that Ms. McWalter represented any type of real threat to run for mayor or council. Perhaps the risk was that she carried sufficient influence in the community that her support for another candidate might have jeopardized the reelection of one or more members of Council.

I’m still amazed that this happened. I have seen too many elected officials and employees get second, third, fourth, fifth and more opportunities to ‘get with the program’ and/or move into compliance with policies and procedures. But a volunteer gets one meeting with Town Staff and within days is booted off by a split vote of Council? Rob Ford you are soooo lucky you don’t serve as a volunteer on a Parry Sound board.

This is a volunteer position folks! If you can’t reach agreement, allow the individual to resign. But that perhaps wouldn’t inflict the same political damage.

And on the issue of better oversight of boards and committees promised by the Mayor, Council doesn’t have much work ahead of them. Most committees no longer exist in Parry Sound, largely I’m told, because of the interference of the appointed Council members.

Rescind Resolution 2014 – 056, and let’s address the situation with the professionalism I have come to expect from Parry Sound Council and Staff.

Who Ya’ Gonna Call? (Parry Sound in Mostly Black & White)

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