Transparency lacking in council’s conflict escapade

To the Editor,

Re: City covering a portion of Bestwick’s legal fees, Jan. 20.

In their wisdom, the majority of our elected municipal leaders decided to reimburse Coun. Bill Bestwick $10,000 of the $14,000-plus he incurred in obtaining legal advice from two law firms, with respect to an allegation of conflict of interest. So why hasn’t the identity of the individuals who made the allegation been disclosed to us?

Last year, we were advised by the city that it had sought a legal opinion on behalf of its citizens, the cost of which was apparently $2,800.

According to the rumour mill, the allegation of conflict was brought to the city’s attention by a group of citizens, and even though the politicians decided not to apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial ruling on the highly controversial matter, it appears they did see fit to hold the taxpayers responsible for a $10,000 liability, which arose due to the actions of individuals whose identity appears to have been protected.

As events in this matter unfolded, surely our elected officials and staff were aware that in the circumstances, the complainants (with the statutory requirement of 10 or more electors of the municipality), could have had the matter resolved by exercising their right under the Community Charter to apply to the court for a declaration of disqualification.

Why weren’t the complainants held accountable for the significant role they played in the escapade, instead of Jane and Joe taxpayer? What a complex web and glaring lack of transparency.

Janet Irvine

Nanaimo