Code needs revisiting

Former Chatham-Kent Coun. Derek Robertson talks to the media following an interview before the municipality’s integrity commissioner Paul Watson last month.

The recent decision of the Chatham-Kent municipal integrity commissioner that stated a former councilor contravened the municipal Code of Conduct by going to senior management with a concern from a constituent seems confusing and contradictory.

One would think the very purpose of a council member is to bring concerns from constituents to the attention of municipal staff in order to determine if a solution can be found that is reasonable and legal for both parties. How is that against a Code of Conduct?

The investigation into the complaint by former Mayor Randy Hope against former councilor Derek Robertson seems to have been mishandled from start to finish. Why is someone allowed to make a complaint after an election result? If Hope was so concerned about how the chief building official was treated, why did he wait until after the election to file it?

If the report the commissioner, Paul Watson, sent to Robertson wasn’t the final report – before he was interviewed – why did the conclusion state that Robertson was guilty on two counts and have recommendations to council regarding sanctions? That sounds like a final report.

How is it that the chief building official was interviewed about how he felt, yet Robertson – who the complaint was against – was talked about in the first report by Watson as someone who didn’t need to be interviewed?

The final confusing aspect of the investigation is that Robertson’s concerns turned out to be well-founded and a court of law sided with Brent DeNure over his building permit and damages from the municipality.

If the proper procedure for councillors isn’t to take concerns to CEO Don Shropshire regarding action taken by staff members for resolution, how are councillors expected to represent their constituents? Is there to be no oversight of staff except by the CEO?

We elect councilors to be our eyes and ears at council and our advocate around that horseshoe. This whole mess of a Code of Conduct needs to be revised to give councilors the right to ask questions and expect proper action and reaction if an employee’s conduct is called into question.

Anything less than that makes council redundant and our municipality a dictatorship, and is not what democracy is all about.


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