Nina Bifolchi

News – Six Month Review For Council

Council was very fortunate to have Mr. Fred Dean spend over four hours with us on Friday June 5, 2015. Mr. Dean is a municipal lawyer and coach, former Sudbury City Solicitor, Acts exclusively for municipalities and municipal associations, Chair of ROMA/OGRA (which is a municipal conference held yearly) question box panel, facilitator and trainer for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and carries out closed meeting investigations to name a few of the hats he wears. He is well respected by all and is the most well versed person in municipal politics you will ever meet.

Mr. Dean covered a number of topics with council that included powers of council, roles and responsibilities of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Council Members, Accountability and Transparency, Meetings, Procedure By-law and Conflicts.

This was such an informative day. Mr. Dean made it very clear on things such as one member of council has no authority to make decisions or direct staff because “we” as a council together make decisions and direct the CAO to carry out that direction with his staff. He made it very clear that Members of Council including the Mayor do NOT have management powers as that is the CAO’s job.

CLICK HERE to find the 2014 Municipal Councillor’s Guide that clearly speaks to council’s role.

I left the meeting feeling confident that council had just received some of the most important information that would allow us to move forward in a positive fashion, working in the best interest of the residents of our community while following the very important Municipal Act.

Unfortunately four days later at our Committee of the Whole meeting, where I thought it would be a slam dunk to approve Council’s Code of Conduct I was blindsided by a last minute motion by Councillor Anderson. He put a motion on the floor to add a clause to the Code of Conduct that would allow the Mayor to direct any and all staff on any issue. I asked for a recorded vote and I voted against the motion. Councillor Bray also voted against the motion however, Councillors Stockwell, Ego and Anderson voted in favor. Councillor Smith was absent from the meeting. Mayor Smith also voted in favor of giving himself this power/authority. This opens a huge can of worms that could question accountability and transparency. If we go against the Municipal Act on something as simple as council’s roles and responsibilities … what next?

I also have concerns for staff. How confusing if the Mayor has equal authority with the CAO over staff. If both the Mayor and CAO direct a staff member, with different direction, who are they to listen too? My own opinion … we should be adhering to the Municipal Act and follow it as we are meant to do!

On June 23rd, 2015, at our regular scheduled council meeting the recommendations from the above mentioned Committee of the Whole meeting will be confirmed and approved by Council. Please be aware of the decisions council is making.

If you have any questions be sure to contact council members to understand why they vote the way they do. However, please know that no one speaks for me or on my behalf.

If you want to know my opinion please call me direct!