Council rejects Dep. Mayor’s bid for Town code of conduct

December 17, 2014   ·   0 Comments

A special Orangeville council meeting, held Monday night to complete an agenda left unfinished at the council’s first official meeting last week, addressed a number of issues brought forward by both councillors and residents hoping to see changes made over this term of council.

A motion to produce a Code of Conduct for those engaged in municipal proceedings failed. Presented by Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock, the resolution called for the implementation of a Code of Conduct for members of both Council and local boards of the municipality.

“The establishment of a Code of Conduct for Members of Council is consistent with the principles of a transparent and accountable government,” said the resolution. “The elected officials of the Town of Orangeville have and continue to recognize their obligation to serve their constituents in a conscientious and diligent manner, recognizing that as leaders of the community they are held to a higher standard of behaviour and conduct.”

The resolution went on to address the fact that both ethics and integrity are at the core of public confidence in government and the political process.

Despite promises by Mayor Jeremy Williams and other members of council during the fall election campaign that they would ensure more transparency, as well as promises to operate with integrity in the best interests of the Town, the deputy mayor’s motion failed on a show of hands. It made some in the public gallery wonder why such a resolution would be shot down without any discussion on whether it was worth considering.

Councillor Sylvia Bradley then put forward a motion to have an outside source provide a review of the use by members of council of personally purchased laptop computers, and whether they should be reimbursed for not selecting ones provided by the Town.

“Information on the computer used for Town business should be under the custody and control of the Town,” said Councillor Bradley. “The Town of Orangeville has no custody or control over a personally owned computer in possession of any Council member, and if any investigation is required on the computer, the Town would not be able to access the information.”

She specifically cited Mr. Williams, who as a councillor had chosen to purchase a Macbook computer and be reimbursed by the town (which is the current policy), rather than a town-provided one, which meant the town could not monitor the personal uses and personal email.

“Now that he’s Mayor, it’s even more important that the Mayor’s dealings are open, transparent and accountable, and that simply cannot happen when he is off the grid,” she said. “As council, it is our responsibility to ensure that the Town of Orangeville is protected from any scandals, improprieties, liabilities, breach of security and litigation.”

She contended that this was not an attack on the Mayor, but she was just utilizing him as an example to what she was speaking. The resolution called for an outside consultant to review both the matters of security and liability that could potentially face the Town by continuing to allow members to have their own, personal computers instead of Town provided ones.

Some issues with the proposed report that were brought up included the expected cost of such a review, which Councillor Bradley was unable to provide at the time.

“Here we are again looking for another consultation,” said Councillor Nick Garisto. “I cannot support this motion without having those numbers. It’s very irresponsible to support this motion.”

Councillor Don Kidd also disputed the motion, citing that, while he personally chose to accept a Town laptop due to their provision of IT help, he didn’t feel there was a legitimate concern.

“I will not be supporting this motion, because I think that everyone has to put a certain degree of respect and trust into the Mayor and members of Council,” said Councillor Kidd. “He was elected by the majority of voters in this town, who support him, therefore I will not support this motion.”

He also asked Deputy Police Chief Wayne Kalinski, who was in attendance, of the possibility of the police force looking into the contents of activities on a personal computer if required.

“We would only get involved if there was a complaint made by a citizen in regards to a criminal offence,” said Deputy Chief Kalinski.

The motion, seconded by Councillor Wilson, failed in a recorded vote of 3-3, with only Councillors Wilson and Bradley and Deputy Mayor Maycock in support. Councillor Gail Campbell was not present at the meeting.

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