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Integrity commissioner to review ‘bullying’ complaint against member of Council

October 27, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville’s integrity commissioner Guy Giorno has confirmed he is investigating allegations that a member of Council has interfered with or unduly influenced municipal staff in the performance of their duties, as well as breaching the duty to treat members of staff appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation.

It has been a strange few weeks where Orangeville’s integrity commissioner is concerned. Back on Aug. 21, Council voted unanimously to renew Mr. Giorno’s appointment until July 21, 2021. The issue was then brought back before Council on Sept. 25, where a vote to confirm the renewal of Mr. Giorno’s appointment failed on a 3-3 tie vote.

It was assumed at the time that Orangeville would have to vote again on the issue of Mr. Giorno’s appointment, or find themselves a new integrity commissioner. In a report submitted to Council, Mr. Giorno stated that, as far as he was concerned, the vote that took place on Aug. 21 was binding.

That is important to note because, in his report, Mr. Giorno states that the Council member currently under investigation is challenging the validity of the integrity commissioner’s reappointment and as such is arguing that no such investigation should take place until the implications of the seemingly redundant Sept. 25 vote are made clear.

In the circumstances, Mr. Giorno is still Orangeville’s integrity commissioner. Coun. Scott Wilson put forth a motion on Monday (Oct. 16) that a letter be sent to Mr. Giorno confirming that fact, which was passed in a 5-2 vote. Only Coun. Nick Garisto and Mayor Jeremy Williams opposed.

Details regarding the integrity commissioner’s ongoing investigation are scarce. The identity of the complainant, a member of Orangeville’s staff, has not been disclosed. So, too, is the identity of the Council member, although it is implied in Mr. Giorno’s interim report that the individual voted against his reappointment on Sept. 25. During that meeting, Mayor Williams and councillors Garisto and Don Kidd voted against the integrity commissioner’s reappointment.

The initial complaint was submitted to Mr. Giorno on Aug. 1, alleging that the member had violated 13 sections of the Code of Conduct for Council, Local Boards and Committees. Mr. Giorno noted this is the first Code of Conduct complaint ever filed by an Orangeville employee against a Council member.

On Aug. 24, Mr. Giorno notified the member of the complaint. A week went by without any response, so Mr. Giorno sent out another notification via courier. On Sept. 2, the member in question emailed Mr. Giorno asking for more time to respond. Mr. Giorno gave the member an extension, expecting a response no later than Sept. 18.

Shortly before midnight on Sept. 18, the member sent an email to Mr. Giorno saying more time is needed to review the allegations. Following another email exchange with Mr. Giorno, the member committed, on Sept. 19, to reviewing the documents that week, promising to reply as soon as they were able. On Sept. 25, the second vote regarding Mr. Giorno’s future as Orangeville’s integrity commissioner took place, resulting in the 3-3 tie.

Having not heard from the member for nine days, Mr. Giorno sent an email on Sept. 28 inquiring about the status of the member’s response to the allegations. The member, in reply, questioned Mr. Giorno’s authority to investigate in wake of the Sept. 25 vote. Mr. Giorno pointed to the Aug. 21 vote, which confirmed his reappointment as integrity commissioner. The two communicated back and forth and the member eventually agreed to respond, but maintained the position that Mr. Giorno lacked the authority to investigate. A response was eventually received just before midnight on Oct. 5.

An investigation into 10 of the 13 alleged violations is currently ongoing. Mr. Giorno states he will endeavour to complete the investigation “as soon as possible”, but could not give an estimate  as to when his final report will be issued.

         

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