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Election can’t come soon enough for some

by Chris Daponte

There is so much wrong with what transpired at last week’s Erin council meeting it’s hard to know where to begin.

In case you missed it, for the second time in eight months an integrity commissioner found Mayor Lou Maieron “repeatedly” violated town council’s code of ethics.

But for some strange reason, councillors John Brennan and Josie Wintersinger joined Maieron to defeat a motion accepting the report and its recommendations, which included suspending the mayor’s pay for one month.

The most obvious question that arises is why was Maieron voting on a matter in which he has a clear pecuniary interest?

This is certainly not the first time Maieron has skirted the rules of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act,  but chairing a discussion - and also voting - on a resolution to withhold his pay is the most egregious violation of the act we have seen in years (other than when he did the same thing eight months ago, of course).

Fellow councillors even suggested at last week’s meeting that the mayor may have a conflict, but stubbornly he carried on, attacking every aspect of the report for upwards of 23 minutes.

One also has to wonder why anyone would side with the mayor, when the report so clearly laid out Maieron’s repeated and flagrant violations of the town’s code of ethics.

Last year, perhaps Maieron’s most serious violation of the code was his treatment of town staff, which previous integrity commissioner John Craig determined was “disrespectful, intimidating, demeaning and/or impugned upon [their]  professional or ethical reputation.” Those were serious transgressions indeed, but comparatively, his violations this time around could be considered far worse.

Maieron was found to have shared confidential information from a closed session, which shows clear disregard for basic principles that should govern all municipal councillors. To make matters worse, it was suggested the information was used to help a town resident with a court case involving another councillor.

As integrity commissioner Robert Williams wrote in his report, “disregarding established protocol around ... in-camera meetings of council to distribute confidential information - whatever the alleged public good being served - is unacceptable.”

The head of a municipality should always govern himself according to what is best for the corporation, not sink so low as to share confidential information in an attempt to besmirch a fellow councillor.

Sadly, Erin residents are all too familiar with the absurd conduct, grandstanding, shameless politicking and poor treatment of others that has come to characterize Maieron’s term as mayor.

What may come as a surprise, however, is the unwillingness of some Erin councillors to hold him to account for his despicable behaviour.

It was shocking that Wintersinger and Brennan allowed themselves to be bullied into rejecting the latest integrity commissioner’s report and its recommendations. Both councillors owe Erin residents an explanation for their stance, particularly Brennan, who has twice sided with Maieron despite glaring evidence the mayor was out of line.

In the past Brennan has stated that imposing sanctions on the mayor would be akin to pouring “gasoline on a fire” and it would mean that “for the rest of this term of council, there’s going to be a war going on.”

Yet for those of us who have followed Erin council, it is painfully obvious this “fire” has raged out of control for some time and council has basically been “at war” for the better part of four years, thanks largely to a one-man wrecking crew.

Platitudes have solved nothing. It is time for some meaningful action.

Then again, Maieron lost a month’s pay last year due to violations of the code of ethics and that clearly did nothing to stop him. And judging by his ongoing reprehensible behaviour, it doesn’t appear Maieron ever completed the leadership training course recommended last year by the previous integrity commissioner.

Perhaps true reprieve from this train wreck will only come after the Oct. 27 election.

Erin residents can only hope.

August 1, 2014


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