Last night’s meeting went pretty much as expected, everything put before Council was approved. A couple of things were notable:
The Town has decided to accept Parry Sound Bikes’ proposal for the Old Fire Hall to convert the building for use as a bike shop. The accepted bid price was $130,000. There were two strong proposals for the building, Maurizio’s proposal to reconfigure the building to a restaurant, and Parry Sound Bike’s proposal. I think it’s a win for the Town and a win for Parry Sound Bikes. It’s a shame we couldn’t have a bike shop and a restaurant.
The Mayor shared his concern that public officials are left with considerable legal expenses in situations where they are accused of code of conduct violations, and are eventually cleared of the charges. He felt that the individuals bringing forth the charges should be responsible for the legal expenses of the public official in cases where there were no violations. I have my own concerns about this suggestion
In Canada, the individual who is accused of a ’transgression’ can defend themselves, using whatever resources they feel necessary, and they can afford. For example, a person accused of abusing a child would be brought to court and would be required to mount their own defense. If cleared of the charge, I do not believe that the Crown would reimburse the individual’s expense related to their defense. Why should it be different in the case of a public official?
As noted by the Chief Administrative Officer, a public official who was found innocent of charges would have their legal expenses covered by the municipality’s insurance. If innocent, the Public Official accused of the code of conduct violation would not be out of pocket of their expense. Not stated, and presumably implied, the individual would be responsible for the expenses if found to be guilty. Yes, the process would be traumatic and distracting, but much less than for an innocent individual brought to trial for an unsubstantiated charge who would not have the support of a municipality and the promise of reimbursed legal expenses.
Council agreed to the Direction and suggested that the letter be directed to ‘vexatious’ claims against a public official. That seems reasonable in my opinion. I do wonder about the reason for this unscheduled raising of the issue. I suspect it relates to a matter elsewhere in the Province, but I wonder if it also relates to blow-back following public comments made by the Mayor a couple of years ago that seemed to disparage a member of the community.
I am reminded of the observation that we as individuals want to be judged by our intent and not our words or actions. As a blogger, I have learned that I need to be very careful with my words. I have come to realize that what you say, and write, is how you are judged. Intent, unless properly expressed with words, is too easily misunderstood. And when a mistake is made, one needs to be quick to correct the mistake and, as necessary, apologize.
Some people hate taking responsibility for a mistake and making the appropriate apology.
A final thought: we need to get the online council meeting process up and running as soon as possible. It is included in the approved 2017 Budget. Once again, Cogeco was unable to cover a meeting of Council. They have a reasonable excuse, the meeting was rescheduled. I believe that neither of this year’s council meetings has been recorded and made available on Cogeco. And none of the budget meetings were recorded. We need to do better if we are to keep people properly informed as to what is going on at council meetings and not depend on bloggers and the official media for their opinion, or lack of opinion, regarding issues before Council.
Woo-hoo! Sunny Days have Returned.