Nina Bifolchi

News – A First For Everything

November 2015

After being on council for nine years with what I believe has been a great working relationship with all staff, I received a workplace harassment warning letter to change my behaviour. I will not share the complainants name nor give specific details that would identify them as that would be totally inappropriate. However, I share this situation with you because I have nothing to hide. Far too often things like this get brushed under the rug and I’m not prepared to do that.

The complainant didn’t like it when I pointed out legislative requirements. They didn’t like a reminder of the purpose of certain meetings and how they are to be conducted. The complainant felt that it would be more appropriate for me to meet with them privately, have a private phone call or send them a private email… but don’t ask or say things in public that they don’t want asked or said. And when I did send some comments by email and copied the appropriate people that upset them too.

I believe in transparency not just by council members but also by staff. Town business belongs at the council table, not in private correspondence or behind a closed door. Had I done what this individual would have preferred and dealt with these issues privately, there is a possibility that I may have still received a letter. These private interactions could be seen as me overstepping my boundaries as one member of council trying to direct staff which is not permitted.

I share this with you because the world is changing. No longer can we ask someone point blank why they behaved in a certain manner, did a certain thing or point out when an error has been made. We now have to ask in a soothing voice for them to help us understand why they did what they did.

So what’s next? When in a meeting if I look at someone too long will I be accused of trying to intimidate them? If I look down at my papers, am I ignoring them? If I look off into the distance, am I rolling my eyes? Quite frankly sometimes you just can’t win. That is why I share this recent situation publicly as who knows what my facials and body language will say to the next person sitting across the table from me.

I intend to continue to ask questions and to represent the residents of this community the best I can because that’s my job! If people are going to take offence because I expect the rules to be followed there really is nothing I can do to change that.

Anyone who knows me knows that I get to the point in a very short time frame (except for this very long newsroom article ). I don’t candy coat things and surround them with rainbows and sunshine and I expect the same back. I ask direct questions and expect direct answers. If I am led down a long path to an answer that goes nowhere you can be assured I’m not going to just wander away. My question will be asked again in a more blunt fashion so there is no confusion as to what I’m asking.

The Town of Wasaga Beach has fantastic staff. Just because one individual in nine years does not appreciate me doing my job it is NOT a reflection of the others. In fact I feel very fortunate to work with the staff that I do whose commitment to this community is seen daily.

Thanks Staff!