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REPORTING · 11th November 2011
Walter McFarlane
Councillor Randy Halyk made a motion at the Regular Meeting of Council on November 7th. His motion was to have the three consultants reports on council behaviour made public. Halyk stated Kitimat had spent thousands of dollars for Council to determine the best way to conduct their business.

“I want to explain some information about these reports without speaking to them. I’m going to use public knowledge, generally, to speak to this,” said Halyk

He asked rhetorically why Council needed to hire consultants claiming it was because the community was losing respect for Council members. “The Mayor is obligated to respect Council and keep Council informed yet on numerous occasions, Council was not informed or she could not tell as had she had agreed with whomever, she would not,” said Halyk.

He explained the information not forthcoming to Council is a violation of the Mayor’s responsibilities. By meeting with people from industry or government on the sly, discussing information deemed to be ‘In Camera’ with non government groups and not communicating with Council on important matters.

“Teamwork is an important element in any organization, the abilities to form a team. A Mayor, as a part of Council, should promote teamwork and yet has not happened in the last three years. The mayor has never engaged Council to establish a plan, a crucial part of any endeavour, through Council, and though has requested an opportunity many times it has been refused to even facilitate a meeting,” said Halyk.

He explained the reason for opening the reports is to allow them to secure the conflict of interpretation. He explained the reason the public reports have not been acted upon in Council is because they are open to interpretation. He said the reports are clear and to the point.

“High paid consultants are not prone to flowery prose. They have a reputation to uphold and want to be hired again. So they try their best to ferret out the crux of the issues and report as concisely as possible. I welcome and am not embarrassed by these reports. They speak to the issues and in many cases, recite local government acts to support their arguments,” said Halyk.

He said the reports exposed short comings and recommend how they should be dealt with. They also detail the roles of Mayor and Council. When Council wanted to adopt the recommendations, they were unsuccessful. Others were softened and they were not passed.

“The cost of subsequent reports could have been saved and the issues at Council would have been solved had the recommendations of the first report been adopted. This cannot go on. Mayor and Council must be accountable to the public and when those affected by the recommendations refuse to allow expensive reports to be acted upon to protect their narrow minded political aspirations and narcissistic insensitivities, it becomes a travesty of democratic process. By not acting on the recommendations, the whole community believes Council is dysfunctional,” said Halyk. “Open these reports to the public, lets show Kitimat that the real reason why Council has been perceived to be dysfunctional. Council has taken the hit for one person, too long.”

He also expressed concern that an invoice is outstanding. He said it puts Administrations ethics into question. It has to be resolved.

Monaghan wished to make a few comments; she did not step down from the chair to do so.

“Whenever I was asked to have confidentiality when any industry came to me or anything, I kept that,” said Monaghan.

Halyk interrupted her asking for a point of order. This was not what was being discussed.

“I’m answering a few questions and you charged me with a couple of things and I’m answering those charges,” said Monaghan.

“I’m just trying to move that the reports be made public,” said Halyk.

“That’s great but I’m just trying to answer some of the charges you gave to me sir,” said Monaghan.

“On confidentiality, if the industry asked me to be confidential, I did so. I do not ever remember, and perhaps you could jog my memory, when I signed a letter of intent that no one knew about. I’d also like to know if I did something on the sly, and we did have a plan. The plan of our council, I believe, was to make Kitimat the best place that we possibly could for it’s citizens. I never refused to have a meeting and the invoice that was not paid, I believe, was to Mr. Cuff and that was a conference call that we had and I don’t think he invoiced us for that. I think that’s what happened to that one. That’s all I have to say. Anyone else?”

Councillor Gerd Gottschling stepped to the plate. He said he has taken issues with her confidentiality. He said the consultants told them a Mayor should never hold anything confidential from the Councillors.

“If she couldn’t do that, then she should kindly tell the companies that she couldn’t have the meetings. We were even told that by the Mayor in Terrace when we had a united meeting. You were aware that this is common policy and you never… never allowed Council to be a part of the decision making. I believe this is a team effort, we are a team. You are our leader and when we have to make decisions, we need to know those decisions so we can make good decisions,” said Gottschling.

He reminded her when they were trying to see a cabinet minister who was coming to Kitimat they had previously established relationships at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. When they asked to be a part of the meeting, she refused it.

Councillor Corrine Scott called for a point of order because they were breaking away from the main motion. She wanted to deal with the motion. “This business of accusations pertaining to pretending that it’s coming out is absolutely ludicrous. The whole presentation had half of it not anything to do with making the reports public, it was accusations and I want to deal with just the motion.

Monaghan called for a point of order. Gottschling interrupted asking to be allowed to continue speaking as this was one of the issues. “If I’m not allowed to express myself, if I’m always being short changed, can I at least explain? If we can’t talk about things openly and let the community understand, then this motion is futile. The community needs to understand what the issue is about. They need to understand the rules of engagement,” said Gottschling.

He pointed out the community could get the information under the freedom of information act.

Monaghan said she had no problem with this being released, she just wanted to say. She tried to remind Council about the time when Lekstrom was in town. This time, Scott cut her off.

“I know you’re trying to reply to the accusations. Again, we’re getting off the topic of whether we’re going to allow the ‘In Camera’ reports to be made public,” said Scott.

Monaghan tried to cut her off. Scott spoke firmly. “If an accusation is made to me, I’m going to refute it and then let’s not make any more accusations today. I won’t accept that.”

Monaghan stated Lekstrom wanted to meet with just her and the Manager. Council wanted to get into the meeting. Monaghan asked, Lekstrom said yes.

Gottschling said he asked Lekstrom if the meeting was supposed to be entirely the Mayor and the Manager and he told him ‘no.’ “So please, somewhere along the line, there is something not correct,” said Gottschling.

“I think so too, so let’s call the question,” said Monaghan.

Feldhoff was opposed to the motion. “Many things are said about being narrow minded and narcissistic and very good team building kind of comments and the discussion about Council taking the heat for one person, the reports that are represented made recommendations for all, surely they made recommendations for the Mayor, they made recommendations for others and I think the intent of the information was to help us, help us in our conversations with one another and we’re going in exactly the opposite direction of the intent of those right now,” said Feldhoff.

He explained they had already decided the release of this report could hurt the community let alone two weeks before an election. Councillor Rob Goffinet said he re-read all three reports. They committed themselves to read them and follow the instructions.

“At any time from May 2009 to today, this motion could have come in front of us, been discussed. These were basically done for us, internally, In Camera, without prejudice to any single member of Council. Why? We wanted to come together. None of these reports single one individual out, they hold us all responsible,” said Goffinet.

He made it clear these were internal reports for Council. “I would respectfully say that two years of reports and commitments, to be all of a sudden discussed to be put out in front of the community one or two weeks before an election is, number 1, something that we have to look at and discuss. I can see no value in this except to have on the table, basically the issues and the statements that drove us apart. The reports were meant to bring us together. I don’t think we wanted these reports to be used at a strategic time to drive us apart. It was meant over years to bring us together,” said Goffinet.

He suggested editing these to make sure there were no reference to an identifiable person.

Gottschling was given another chance to speak. He said there should be nothing to fear in the information, they should release it. Referring to the forum he stated there were individuals who were ambushing the meeting. He also heard there were people who did not like certain things and caused a disturbance.

He added he thought it was time for the community to know what the requirements of each Councillor should be, what is expected of the Mayor, and what the rules of engagement should be. He pointed out the Mayor should be leading the Council as a team.

Gottschling said they would not be transparent if they covered it up. Scott reminded Council these reports were In Camera; meant for the Council. The community and the people running for office could learn the role of the Council easier as it is covered in the many documents.

Feldhoff expressed he felt ambushed by a Councillor who had stated he was in conflict on the Shames Mountain after the staff had already ruled on it and the councillor did not contact him on it.

Councillor Bob Corless said he could see no problem in releasing the reports as they basically told Council what they were expected to do. He explained council was seven different people with seven different personalities.

Halyk was given a chance to close debate. “My whole point was to bring these reports out so the public can actually make their own decision. It’s been a challenge for all of Council and I have to speak for all of Council because Council was, firstly the Council were the people who decided to hire these consultants,” said Halyk. “I remember it very clearly, there was a deep concern about trust and the way to go forward and we needed to find a way to determine what was right for Council.”

“We were also hoping this meeting would turn into a workshop to form some kind of a plan, which never ever happened. There was no plan ever put forward by this Council. This Council sits here running by the seat of their pants and have for three years,” said Halyk.

He explained he is running for Mayor because he does not want to see Council go on without a plan.

”This is the kind of thing that Council has asked to do, and yet we haven’t acted on those proposals. I say, let’s get it out to the public, let’s have the public look at these proposals, look at what was shown, make there own decisions. Maybe the public will find that I was wrong, or any of the other Councillors were wrong, or the Mayor was wrong, or whether it be wrong or right isn’t the point, it’s how we come to a position where Council actually does something,” said Halyk.

The motion was called and carried. Only Councillor Mario Feldhoff was opposed. The reports were released with the City Council package on November 10th. We at the Kitimat Daily have looked it over. Our report will go up tomorrow.
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 11th November 2011
What the hell is going on here, Who is in charge of this mayhem! If the mayor cannot control her meeting and has obviously lost the confidence of most of her council SHE SHOULD RESIGN! Secret meetings, disclosures only to certain individuals, this is the stuff of Spy Novels, meanwhile we the taxpayers sit here dumbfounded over this total lack of decorum and respect! Nothing is being accomplished and our tax dollars are going to waste! What a KASCHMAUZLE!!
Wasteful Spending
Comment by VIRGIL VALES on 11th November 2011
I would agree that these reports were made for in in camera,if it was only one report to correct a problem of a splintered council,but to spend tax dollars on three different consultants reports, to come up with the same conclusion and not act on the resolutions,worries me.We have many seasoned councilor's on council who should have been able to enact those resolutions especially when some claim to personally know Mr. Cuff who is very well known. I personally look forward to viewing the report myself and have requested the report.