Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag At City Hall

In-Camera drama finally boils over onto the public stage

The April 4th City Council meeting didn't promise to offer anything out of the ordinary based on the agenda posted last Tuesday. However, providing council with the new Council Spending and Amenities Policy and Governance Protocol Policy and next steps turned out to be the flash point for the most open/honest Council meeting I have ever witnessed.

One delegation to council, challenging council giving themselves a $1200 raise made reference to the drama recently going on at city hall. That was the starting point for discussion that occupied the next 2 - 2½ hours of no-holds-barred, bare knuckled discourse, finally taking the lid off the animosity between the majority of this council and Mayor McKay.

Councillor Yoachim led off by expressing his frustration at being unable to previously bring matters out into the open. He referenced being personally threatened with legal action if he discussed certain matters in public.He went on to list a number of issues which supported his view that Mayor McKay should resign from his office. He made reference to the fact that his frustration had boiled over to the point, he threw a chair against a wall at an in-camera meeting. He said he hated going in-camera and that he wanted this whole affair brought out into the open.

Councillors Kipp and Fuller also cited their many reasons for also calling for the Mayor's resignation. It is clear there are far more reasons than the four officially listed on the statement from the City from two weeks ago. 

Mayor McKay raises his own issues

The Mayor asked some questions as to how some of the new policies would be implemented, in particular how his own expenses would now require approval of council.  In what appeared to be an attempt to discredit the conduct of other members of council he made several accusations that he claimed were proof that councillors were acting illegally by conducting business among themselves. He quoted an incident where he had dates and locations which he was presenting as making his case.

He cited a meeting of four councillors on a certain date, where they had met at a restaurant. Another example was his claim that seven councillors had met with the CAO in her office to discuss city business. No explanation was given as to his source of information, nor how he arrived at his conclusions.

On the matter of four councillors meeting for lunch at a south end restaurant, Councillor Hong said the meeting had nothing to do with city business. Rather the discussion centred around how they might raise funds to assist Douglas White whose four year old son is undergoing treatment for cancer in Vancouver once a week. This fact brought an emotional, tear-filled response from Councillor Yoachim who was extremely upset that a meeting to help his nephew was being suggested as some illegal meeting of city council.

The accusation that seven councillors had met privately with the CAO in her office brought an adamant denial from Ms Samra who warned the Mayor his comments were defamatory, and she asked him to withdraw them. He refused, and she clearly denied the charge once again, to which the Mayor commented he wondered if an independent investigator would support her denial. (At this point I wasn't really sure, I had just witnessed, what my tired ears were hearing). We basically had the CEO and the CAO calling each other liars.

Councillor Yoachim later commented on the accusation by saying that Councillors had in fact gone into Ms Samra's office, not as a group as suggested by McKay, but individually to console Ms Samra who apparently had left an in-camera meeting in tears, as the result of comments or actions of the Mayor.

This is but a brief thumbnail sketch of what transpired and I would encourage anyone interested in the machinations at city hall to visit the city website and view the video of this meeting. You can find the video HERE, but it won't likely be available until Tues. morning sometime.



  1. I was lucky to be there ... better entertainment than anything on television or the internet. I only wish there was popcorn. Seriously though, I feel sorry for the seven councillors and our new CAO. All this is reminiscent of the reign of Alison Redford, except she resigned in the end.

  2. I also watched the meeting and can't decide if I was blown away or so disappointed in our "elected officials" that I was on the verge of tears. In my humble opinion last nights meeting was nothing short of an example of who is on council to advance the City and who is there to advance themselves. The Mayor appears to lack any insight into his own behaviour or how his behaviour reflects so poorly on Nanaimo. Any potential business investments that may have watched that meeting certainly wouldn't be entices to invest here. His mud slinging was not indicative of a mature, intelligent individual with the betterment of the community in mind but more of a school yard kid having their control over the sandbox challenged by the rest of the class. One thing for certain there was absolutely no "class" shown by Mayor McKay!

  3. Well after the earnest and fair speaking delegate raised his points and the drama word was mentioned it began flying for real. I was more saddened than entertained because I had hoped that the whole of council would remain trust worthy transparent and professional. But I still feel speckles of mud from the free sling on me and I wasn't there was watching from home! Never boring, but sometimes decisive and always pointing to the same culprit. One we don't want to waste dollars defending either. I had hoped
    like Ian Thorpe before him some sincere apology and healing could begin with a mayor who gets how far he has strayed from the wishes of those who voted him in.

    1. Apologies have been asked for many times to no avail. It's too late now. It is unfortunate we do not have a recall process at the municipal level.

  4. Mayor Ruttan is looking pretty, pretty good right now. Damn, Brunie Brunie is probably looking pretty good right now. As everyone can see, sometimes change is not good. As a Nanaimo voter and taxpayer, I hope this situation gets resolved quickly, and with minimal costs. I don't want to see the Mayor receiving a fat severance package on our dime, for example.


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