Stettler County council says one of its members was “careless, irresponsible and negligent” in his handling of a conflict of interest situation.
Coun. Ernie Gendre was formally censured by council on Wednesday. Censuring is a public condemnation of someone’s actions. It carries no other penalties.
Gendre fired back on Thursday after reading council’s three-page news release on the censuring for voting on a water line project that would later involve his son as a sub-contractor.
“They’re still blaming me for what I have done and I have not done anything wrong,” he said.
He angrily rebutted as “absolutely false” council’s findings that he had been contacted by a contractor to provide bids on the contentious water line project at the heart of the conflict of interest allegations.
“I have never included anything with Gendre Construction to do anything with the county since I have been on council,” he said.
Further, he did not refer contractors to his son as council claims, nor does he have any financial interest in his son’s company, Diablo Directional Boring Ltd., and had nothing to do with him being sub-contracted.
He has said that he loaned his son equipment, which council also seemed to take issue with.
Gendre said he’s not giving up the fight to defend himself. He wants council to retract the “false” conclusions that he was asked to bid on the project but instead passed the potential work on to his son.
Wallace McComish, owner of Wally’s Backhoe Services Ltd., the primary contractor on the water line project, says there was no conflict of interest on Gendre’s part. The sub-contract only went to Diablo because another company was suddenly unavailable.
“Ernie had no idea, and had no way of having any idea, that I was going to hire Diablo, his son’s company — because I didn’t know. I thought my brother-in-law was doing the job until four days before the day I wanted to do it.”
McComish said besides a brief conversation with county chief administrative officer Tim Fox at the very beginning of the controversy no one from the county approached him to ask any questions about the water line project.
“It’s such a farce, it just drives me crazy,” said McComish, who resents that council’s news release makes it look like he was involved in something improper.