Council needs to hold fewer in-camera meetings

Concerns and questions should not be addressed in camera, where there is no public participation, but out in the open

When I asked the mayor and council at the July 15 council meeting certain questions I was told by Mayor Alice Finall that she would not hear my questions unless I put them in writing. Council would address them, but only in camera, with me in attendance.

I firmly believe the following concerns and questions should not be addressed  in camera, where there is no public participation, but out in the open. We were promised transparent government, make it so.

I have two areas of concern and questions related to them. As a regular attendee at council meetings, I have observed the following: Our CAO, who is the highest paid CAO on the Peninsula, has been frequently absent.

When the CAO is absent, other senior staff become acting CAO. Council, in May and June, passed two motions unanimously, authorizing the release of CTQ Consultants’ Housing Strategy report and all communications between staff, council, mayor and the consultant.

My questions: Is our CAO attending UVic in pursuit of a PhD and if so, does he receive full pay of approximately $14,000 a month plus full benefits while in attendance there? In particular, how much time has the CAO been absent from his post during the period October 2012 to the present? Is a stipend paid to other senior staffers who must take over as acting CAO in his absence?

If so, what is the total of all stipends paid?

What is the benefit to North Saanich taxpayers of such generosity?

Lastly, who negotiated the terms and conditions of the CAO’s contract?

When questioned, the mayor said she had received the housing strategy report in early June, but had as of July 15, only read part of the executive summary. Are we expected to believe that the mayor, a highly trained lawyer, sitting as mayor of a community sharply divided over the future of housing, has not read a $40,000 report?

The CAO, who evidently has read the report, stated that it might not meet the terms of reference. However, neither those statements, nor those of the CAO, are just cause for not releasing all documents immediately as called for by the two aforementioned council motions.

The mayor has often referred to transparency in government.

I must point out that ignoring council motions and keeping expensive employment contracts for a public employee in camera, is not transparency.

An invitation by the mayor to me to speak about the above issues at an in camera meeting indicates she is prepared to address these issues, but not publicly. Again, that is not transparency and I am calling on the mayor to address my concerns and questions, immediately and publicly.

John Upward

North Saanich

 

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