“Inside Job,” although long overdue, is a thoroughly investigative document that provides shocking insight, and damning conclusions, into the inner workings of the last term of Council.
We now know that the hiring of our most senior public official, at a salary of $230,000 per year, was “unreasonable, unjust and wrong.” We can also confirm with certainty that the hiring process was tainted by the “improper disclosure of confidential information” including a release of the interview questions, the provision of suggested answers and disclosure of biographical information about other candidates.
In other words, a concerted effort was made by a handful of individuals to manipulate what should have been a fair and impartial process, to the benefit of a select few.
If this doesn’t make you angry, it should.
Our public institutions are the custodian’s of the public’s trust. They must uphold basic principles such as fairness, transparency, honesty, integrity, and accountability. And yet these principles were noticeably absent. We deserve better from our government.
This week Council was tasked with considering the report and the important decision of determining next steps.
Myself and the rest of Council received a myriad of emails and phone calls overwhelming requesting that we refer this matter for investigation. Council unanimously voted to refer the report to the police. They can determine if it is a criminal matter and how to proceed in that regard.
Council also passed a motion to examine what civil options are available to us arising from the findings of the report.
And finally, Council has also voted to adopt all sixteen of the recommendations contained within the report. Some of these recommendations include policies and protocols around the role of staff within the Chair’s office, code of conduct, hiring practices, the handling of confidential information etc. All of these recommendations, as well as the report, are available online for everyone to read should you wish to review them in detail.
All three of these responses were adopted unanimously. I had no doubt that this would be how we would proceed. The more difficult task ahead is how do we ensure this can never happen again? In reality, it could.
We already have a number of the policies and practices in place outlined by the Ombudsman’s recommendations. The policies did not prevent this from happening. Should a group of people decide to align themselves to manipulate our public policies and processes again, they could.
Council has a role in preventing this. However, the public does as well.
It’s important to be engaged in our municipal government. It’s important to be part of the political discourse, to be informed and have an opinion. Pay attention. Take us to task on tough issues. Be part of the conversation. Get out and vote!
What is evident is that we all have an active role to play in upholding the integrity of our public institutions. Every one of us.
I believe we’re able to now close a door on a dark chapter in our Region’s history because of the active engagement of a select number of Regional Councillors, staff and the public who stood up for our institution and demanded better. Thought their actions this report was made possible. They took on the difficult task of fighting for accountability and transparency in our government, and our institution will be the better for it.