The findings of an independent investigation into a second conduct code complaint against a council member weren’t accepted by the majority on council — but the report will still cost taxpayers $20,000 or more.
Councillor Lawrence Lee, who was selected to be spokesperson on this matter, said the final costing tally has not yet been received on this second investigation into a Council Conduct Code alleged violation.
But he believes this latest investigation will likely cost at least as much as the previous one against Coun. Buck Buchanan, which cost taxpayers $20,000.
This one could even cost more, said Lee.
“I get it,” he added, about how “the timing sucks” right before an election.
Lee also understands why many Red Deerians will be angry: “I have received at least seven emails and about three phone calls on this… People are upset.”
Taxpayers are wondering why they must still pay for an independent investigation when the majority of councillors found the report lacking.
They also question, why, when council commissioned the independent investigation against an undisclosed council member, did the majority of councillors vote against accepting this report on Oct. 7?
Only councillors Buck Buchanan and Dianne Wyntjes were in favour of it.
Voting against it were Lee, Ken Johnston, Tanya Handley, Vesna Higham and Frank Wong.
Coun. Michael Dawe and Mayor Tara Veer initially attending the meeting but left before the vote was taken.
Lee said the independent investigator did the required work, so must be paid, although some information turned up “after the fact” that put some of the report’s findings into question.
“Some additional information was presented in the end that blows it all up,” he added. “It is our duty to uphold procedural fairness.”
To ensure this same situation doesn’t reoccur, city council will be asking the city manager to prepare a confidential memorandum outlining “lessons learned” from this experience.
The memorandum, to be brought back to council in the first quarter of 2022, should make recommendations on the integration of the mayor and council’s office with that of administration.
The province requires all Alberta municipalities to have a Code of Conduct bylaw, as well as a review and investigation process if there are complaints that the code was broken.