Tuesday, January 26, 2016

More Nanaimo City Hall Intrigue?

Or Should That Be Integrity Intrigue?

Near the end of the Special City Council Meeting last night some questions were raised about a $20,000 expense apparently Mayor McKay took on 'his own initiative'. Going just by memory I do recall something being said last year about the Mayor hiring a consultant (the amount I remember was $50,000) to help his council learn to 'get along'.

It appears that the Mayor hired this consultant on his own, without Council approval and after expending at least $20,000 the contract was cancelled by Council?

It was also revealed that our City Manager got a call from a provincial ministry making inquiries about this contract. The City Manager was clearly uncomfortable with council discussing this matter in an open meeting, but it does raise some interesting questions about what is actually going on behind closed doors during some of these infamous in-camera meetings.

During question period, Robert Fuller asked a question or two about this consulting contract and was told he would have to address his questions to Mayor McKay.

Those answers won't be addressed I assume until sometime next week when the Mayor is expected to return after being absent now from three consecutive meetings.

Porosity Of Council In-Camera Meetings Needs Addressing
Whoever is disclosing in-camera confidential information should be removed from office

This matter with a provincial minister phoning to inquire about a civic matter which was dealt with in-camera, and also the apparent release some time ago of information designed to cast a shadow on the hiring of our interim city manager; needs to be dealt with and those responsible held to account.

You might recall that two Councillors were going to make a public apology for disclosing in-camera information with regards the hiring of interim City Manager Tracy Samra. At that council meeting, Councillor Thorpe made his apology and the expected apology from Councillor Brennan was not forthcoming with the Mayor saying Brennan was seeking legal advice and would make her statement at the next council meeting.

That statement has not been forthcoming which would lead one to assume that she is no longer willing to apologize for disclosing in-camera information to local businessman Don Bonner.

Bonner along with someone named Shaunna Morgan have been relentless in a social media campaign to cast doubt on the hiring process which saw Samra offered the position of interim city manager. Morgan appeared before Council asking them to conduct an investigation into the hiring of Samra and also asking for a provincial minister to oversee the hiring of a permanent city manager. She claims to be just a concerned taxpayer who wants to be assured the best person is hired for the job and said she did not have confidence in this council to complete the task, hence requesting third party oversight. When asked if her concern for the recent appointments at the RDN were of equal concern, she didn't seem to know what Councillors were asking her.

Both she and Bonner seem to have little concern for the confidence-shattering actions of Councillors who will disclose confidential information apparently because they were at odds with a decision made by the majority of Council.

Acting Mayor Kipp responding to some of Morgan's claims about the hiring process said they had received four legal opinions, three in writing declaring the hiring process was not flawed as Morgan was claiming.



  1. Is there real democracy in Nanaimo or is Mr Fassbenders office in the habit of phoning City Managers to ask about City business? Here is a copy of my letter sent to Doug Routley this a.m.
    Cliff Marcil
    Dear Mr Routley,
    During yesterday evening’s Special Open Council Meeting it was reported by the City Manager that Mr Fassbender’s office had contacted her to ask for details concerning a consulting contract that had been cancelled by our City Council at an incamera session.
    Can you please follow up with this Minister to ask why they would feel it within their auspices to make such an inquiry? Surely there is a more formal process that must be followed to establish some substance behind a complaint before the Ministers office starts calling City Managers? As a taxpayer I am very concerned with the process and how it appears that folks are possibly reacting in a kneejerk fashion to what I can only describe as complaints by disgruntled members of our local government. In short we want reassurance that there is indeed real democracy in Nanaimo and that unfounded and unsubstantiated complaints are not being acted on in a chaotic manner.
    I invite you to watch the video starting at 6:56 of the meeting I refer to found at the link below:
    I trust you will seek clarification as to what the heck is going on.
    Thank you.
    Cliff Marcil

  2. You're NOT getting a city gov't job or contract Morgan and Bonner, so stop cow-towing to a couple of your council compatriots.

    Where do you two live anyway? Outside city of Nanaimo taxpayer boundaries?

  3. When Mr. Bonner spoke at an earlier council meeting he gave his residency as Coombs!

    Monday night Ms. Morgan, who works for Mr. Bonner, gave her address as 1000 Terminal Avenue - which is actually where she and Bonner work.

    Do either pay property taxes in Nanaimo or are they just outside agitators budding into city affairs?

  4. Councillor Bestwicke gave a good account of what that hiring process was, and it sounded good to me. Shaunna Morgan is I think out of her depth in these matters. She speaks of doing "research" but by that she seems to mean she read the newspaper. - Madeline Bruce

  5. Is the Mayor the complainer to the Ministry? When I sent repeated letters to Fassbender and the premiere about bullying and name calling by the former SD68 Chairman Brennan, the provincial government never called me for more details.

    Mr McKay's job description is set out under legislation, to represent the majority of council. Maybe he should clean up his own backyard before complaining about others. Has MCkay given the citizens an update in his mayors report about Brennan's promise to apologize for releasing in camera information.
    Is the MINIster having a problem with a majority of council running the city? Certainly the MINIster doesn't think it should be run by the minority whiners.

  6. In answer to Cliff's letter, normally, of course, I would not address in public a letter sent to me. I feel that since he posted the letter here, it is appropriate to answer that letter's question in the same forum. I will immediately inquire with the minister's office.

    That said, I find it extremely unlikely that the minister would ever become directly involved in a personnel issue of any community. I do not believe that he did interfere, but I am certainly going to ask for an explanation. A simple offer of any required resources or technical consultation would be different, understandable and even welcomed, I imagine. If he did offer or attempt to influence, or even guide this process, I take exceptional offense and object on a number of levels.

    First, it would be an overwhelmingly heavy handed notion for the Provincial Government usurp or even impinge the independence of any community's local government management decisions in which it has no jurisdiction. I believe, on the other hand, that an issue like the Colliery Dams controversy actually required the provincial minister responsible's involvement, since it was a direct order from a provincial regulator that led to the issue in the first place. Other community's would see an action at this time as a threatening precedent and would likely react immediately.

    Second, it seems unbearably hypocritical, should Mr. Fassbender's government suggest they should interfere and offer advice, when they refused to interfere by allowing more time for planning the least intrusive solution to the Colliery Dams issue. This when it was the provincial regulator who demanded immediate action be taken based on inadequate, incomplete information. The minister refused my many pleas to become involved and attempt to resolve that multi-million dollar boondoggle. This from a government that recently granted itself a 20 year extension to an already 25 year long deadline to seismically remediate schools in BC at risk of collapse in even a moderate quake. We all know that there are hundreds of schools in BC that pose an immediate and even inevitable threat to the lives of students and staff.

    They give themselves this time because, in their words, they can't afford it. $236 million for the richest 1%. Billions on bridges, stadiums, useless, failed IT projects and massive cost over runs. A $5.6 million property in Coquitlam-Burke Mtn. sold to a BC Lib insider and donor for $150,000. The examples are so numerous, I would crash Jim's blog by attempting to list them.

    Now, as I said, I do not believe the Minister would directly interfere in the personnel issues of a community. I don't believe it, because it seems impossible and for the obvious hypocritical nature of such an act being taken in the context of the government's own chaos, law breaking and mismanagement. If that seems partisan, it is. If that seems excessive, it is not. It is the actual record. Two words: "Triple delete". The list of provincial debacles of infinitely larger proportions makes it impossible to overstate the irony of the very idea.

    OK, end rant here. I will immediately inquire with the Minister and post my letter to him (and any reply) here and on my Facebook page.

    Doug Routley MLA
    Nanaimo-North Cowichan

    1. As always, the voice of reason. Thank you Mr. Routley. - Madeline Bruce.

  7. If your statement of events is correct, by what authority did the Mayor make a $50,000 contract without the advise and consent of Council. If the did make such a contract, isn't he on his own in paying any monies expended before Council cancelled it?

    I also note that when Ms. Morgan gave her Nanaimo address as her place of employment and later withdrew it, she did not follow with her proper address. What is it?

  8. Thanks to Mr Routley's prompt action. Just to make sure that the issue is not misunderstood I followed up with the following letter by email this a.m.

    Hello Mr Routley,
    Thanks for the prompt response which was posted on the Nanaimo Info Blog comments section.
    Your response leads me to believe that the essence of my letter may have been missed somewhat. Note that it is not a personnel matter that led me to write but it was related to the discussion at the council meeting concerning the Integrity contract cancellation. As per my previous letter and the report by the City Manager it appears that the Minister’s office contacted the City Manager and asked for details. My questions are simply: Why would the Minister’s office contact the City Manager to enquire about details of a contract which had been duly cancelled by council? What prompted this phone call? Was it in response to a report from any member of council (and the Mayor) with information that was discussed and a vote held at incamera session? Is this not a breach of confidentiality and interference in local politics and city business? Does the Minister’s office routinely make these type of phone calls to city employees? Again I invite you to watch the video were this issue was discussed at length and in some detail.
    By way of further background info, it was also confirmed that the Mayor on his own initiative arranged for the contract with Integrity and that council (by a majority) did not want this service and cost to continue so they cancelled the contract. So who went and complained or asked the Minister to get involved in this? What the heck is going on????
    Cliff Marcil

  9. Thanks Cliff, I was actually addressing the comments made by a questioner at the end of the meeting. I will include your query as well.

  10. I have to wonder if Councillor Brennan realizes that the rules of governance do apply to her as well. Some of you may remember that on election day Nov 15, 2014 she was contacted by Elections BC regarding the rule of non-election related material on social media because of her election related tweets that went out on voting day. Now it appears she has shared information from an in-camera meeting. What part is she not getting, I wonder? Councillor Brennan has been around the political rodeo long enough to know what is legal and what is not. Has this sort of thing happened before and she just wasn't caught, or what? I think an investigation is needed and if it is found that confidential information was shared outside of an in-camera meeting, then termination of her role as councillor is needed. I think this would certainly send the message that this kind of action is not or will not be tolerated.

  11. Bottom Line....
    Some politicians get big heads when they are elected to office.
    Some councillors try to put crowns on their head when they become a mayor.
    The rules apply to all. But those same councillors and mayor only bring out the rules when it benefits them.
    We see this repeatedly here in Nanaimo by one female councillor (who appears to have lost her nodding back-up gal).
    I too say we have to have some investigations - into the repeated in-camera leaks to media, and now big brother in Victoria.
    While at it; let's bring back an investigation into the Colliery Dams, logs being given away, why money still sits in a stagnant account when there is no Port Theatre expansion, the smear-campaign against the interim city manager by a couple on council who are upset their pick did not get the job and a few outsiders who appear and lie about their home address and another who lives outside the city but feels they can yap about our city affairs.


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