To the Editor,
Re: Two councillors resign from Lantzville district, April 30.
The B.C. Community Charter, after stating that the mayor is the “head and chief executive officer of the municipality” describes the additional responsibilities of a mayor. The phrases “on behalf of the council” and “reflect the will of the council” make it clear that the mayor is the spokesperson of council and does not have independent authority.
The November 2014 election brought back Colin Haime as mayor, with two councillors who could be expected to support him – one of the two is his wife Denise.
Suddenly, six months into the term, came an open memo from all five senior district managers, complaining of harassment and public humiliation and asking for improved council meetings. Maintaining decorum, a standard of civilized behavior, is the mayor’s responsibility. This tells us that, in the opinion of senior employees, the mayor is failing in his duty.
Shortly thereafter, a flyer signed by four councillors was circulated to all residents. It set a special meeting at which three motions were to be heard: remove the mayor from his appointment to the Regional District of Nanaimo, replace him with someone else, and begin immediately to resolve the complaint from the managers. This tells us that a majority of councillors were convinced that they could not effect change without desperate measures because they resorted to using one of the few items councilors have control over: appointments to outside bodies made by public vote.
Subsequent actions destroyed the purpose of that special meeting. One of the four who had signed the flyer changed his vote and moved to rescind the motions. Proper procedure was violated – special meetings are supposed to adhere to the reasons for which the meeting was publicly called.
Shortly thereafter, two councillors, highly valued by the community as expressed in election votes, resigned rather than sit through three and a half more years of what they see as high-handed usurpation of the powers of the council.
There are two stories that emerge from all this. One story tells us that the mayor, backed by a majority of members of council, intends to continue as he has begun and all hope for improvement is lost until 2018.
The other story tells us that the mayor and his supporters have no idea what the problem is.
At this point, there is no middle ground. Residents of Lantzville who care about how their council is run must make personal, moral judgments about whom to believe.
Talk of mediation and arbitration displays lack of knowledge of these two processes. Mediation fails if one side refuses to acknowledge fault. Either process is corrupt if the accused chooses the facilitator.
The ministry responsible for municipal affairs will not intervene at this time.
What kind of person will want to run in the coming byelection in Lantzville?