At Monday night’s Council meeting, the Nanaimo City Manager gave this speech:
“…it’s well known that certain councillors opposed my employment with the City even before Council made the decision to hire me. Councillor Brennan contacted the media [saying] that a group of them had a newsworthy story. She unilaterally decided to contact the media with confidential information in an open meeting via the Mayors report, to a social media Facebook administrator.
Council asked Brennan to apologise for leaking confidential information. Instead she chose to make legal demands to Mayor McKay, to suspend me from my position, and to launch an investigation into the interim hiring process.
Council asked for and received an opinion on the hiring process, [the lawyers] confirmed the hiring process was lawful.
Mayor McKay wrote to Brennan’s lawyer that the hiring process was lawful and that he had no grounds to suspend me at that time.
Subsequent to that Mayor McKay approached a different law firm and eventually made a complaint to Minister Fassbender about the interim hiring process and the Ministry contacted the City about these allegations. After the investigation and the review of the letter signed by 7 councillors, the Ministry advised that they would not intervene unless by a special motion by Council. The Ministry has held firm not to get involved unless mandated by council.
Mayor McKay also went to the ombudsperson with similar complaints but they haven’t initiated an investigation to my knowledge.
At the same time all of this was taking place I continued to carry out my duties as the interim City Manager and then council initiated the staffing competition for the permanent CAO.
Mayor McKay opposed the process and asked council to terminate it and investigate me and on various occasions accused me of being untrustworthy and particularly suggested that I lied about an investigation commenced by him and the former City Manager [Ted Swabey]. I was forced on each occasion to refute the allegations and did so completely.
When I was selected as the successful candidate in the search process, and after I was confirmed by a motion from council for the position, it was my expectation that the turmoil and attacks would cease. They did not.
Mayor McKay even went to Work Safe BC and even alleged that I didn’t create a safe work environment for staff. Work Safe BC conducted an investigation and decided to take no further action.
Councillor Brenan has added to the hostile work environment by openly challenging my decision-making in front of staff and most recently to the media. When asked to withdraw her demand to terminate me she has repeatedly refused.
I appreciate that council has made attempts both formally and informally to have both the Mayor and Councillor Brennan cease such conduct which is damaging to both the City and to me as well as impairing my ability to carry out my duties as CAO. Unfortunately, these steps by Council have not yielded any results. Nor has a cease and desist letter from my lawyer directed to the Mayor or legal advice from the City’s corporate lawyers about respectful workplace obligations of the employer.
It is my opinion that what they seek to create is an environment to make me resign as CAO and sue the City. I have no intentions of doing so.
Despite all of this, we have moved the City forward and I intend to continue as the CAO. We have made great progress on Council agenda. There is much work to be done on the core services review and I enjoy working with staff when I am actually given the opportunity to do so free from interference and harassment.
I am hoping that this public statement addresses the questions that will be raised from the release of in-camera motions and put some pressure on Councillor Brennan and Mayor McKay to treat me in a respectful and professional manner in the workplace and in the media as all employees deserve to be treated.
I personally extended an olive branch to the Mayor on Tuesday with the assistance of the Human Resources department with a plea that he set aside any concerns he has about me so that the Mayor and the CAO, two very important positions, can be seen to be working together by the public and by staff.
I know that I can do this I am asking the Mayor to make a statement that he will make this commitment too. It is time to set aside the past and move forward together and I look forward to the future of the City.”
Mayor McKay: “…that’s probably one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.”
Expanding Communication Department
The Nanaimo City Manager has given a communications contract to the former Nanaimo Daily News editor, Mark MacDonald. The position was not put out to tender.
This is the same editor who stood behind publishing racist letters against First Nations. Over 300 people protested in front of the newspaper office, including members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, but MacDonald would still not apologize.
This is also the same editor who stood beside Ezra Levant, a spokesman for the far right, at the Freedom Burger event.
It is curious that the City Manager who publically claims to not see eye to eye with the Mayor, would unilaterally make the decision to hire MacDonald who published many articles in McKay’s favour and supported his bid to become Mayor of Nanaimo.
Is the City Manager and the Mayor colluding against Councillor Brennan?
In her speech, the City Manager accused Councillor Brennan of ‘questioning her decision-making’ to the media. Why not? A councillor should question any decisions made by the Nanaimo City Manager.
All job openings at the City of Nanaimo should be advertised, even if they are short-term contracts. By hiring someone who is a friend of a friend, this is not a transparent process.
It speaks volumes to learn that the City is expanding its Communications department during a time of restraint, when there is a core services review underway. How is this new full-time position being funded and what will be the job description? Is this one of those public affairs positions to ‘monitor media’?