I have just read the August 1 coverage by Hilary Thomson of the Merrickville-Wolford council meeting of July 23, wherein my letter to the public regarding the investigation into the former CAO’s activities was discussed and questioned. While Council and the staff are free to provide any new or additional information, my response to the various public questions was completely accurate and professional.
I was certainly not directing the public to not ask questions but indicated that Access To Information requests are both very time consuming and costly for the municipality and in my over 35 years of municipal experience often provide little if any new information. Open sharing of the information that can be released in advance is always the better route to go. In these types of situations the release is nearly always undertaken by the municipal solicitor. As this issue has already cost the taxpayers over $150,000, I believe my advice was prudent and the responses to the public questions helpful.
I strongly dispute Councillor MacInnis’s statement that he was not given sufficient opportunity to review the investigation report. As directed by our solicitor, I personally provided a copy of the investigation findings to the councillor at the next Closed Meeting of Council. The Councillor chose to not spend much time in reviewing the document and as required it was returned to me at the end of the Closed session and shredded. The Councillor has indicated in the past that he is a friend of the former CAO and he may have learned of the report’s conclusions elsewhere. No members of Council have a copy of the investigation report and none were allowed to view it outside of Closed session. This was done to protect all parties from unauthorized disclosure of the contents. At this point the former CAO has a copy and the municipality retains a single copy in a sealed personnel file. Other involved staff have not been given a copy nor seen the investigation report.
It was unfortunate that Councillor MacInnis was absent at the initial Closed meeting on May 14th, but all other members of Council attended and the investigator and municipal solicitor were available on the date in question. After four months, it was felt that the process needed to move forward and achieve closure. A month later the municipality issued a media release indicating that the CAO had resigned his employment effective May 21st.
It is my hope for the good people of Merrickville–Wolford that you can now move on.
Former Interim CAO/Clerk Merrickville-Wolford