3 City Councillors Sanctioned
Three members of Moose Jaw City Council who were also board members at the Downtown Facility and Field House (DFFH), commonly known as Mosaic Place and Yara Center, had their fates decided by the three remaining members of Council on Monday night.
All three chose to recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest, as all three were under investigation for breaching Bylaw 5530, The Elected Officials Code of Ethics Bylaw. None publicly defended the accusations at council.
Councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese found themselves sanctioned, each to a differing degree, for their actions while serving as DFFH Interim Board members.
Bylaw 5530 is required under the Cities Act and outlines basic ethical standards and values for members of Council. Standards and Values listed are - Honesty, Objectivity, Respect, Transparency and Accountability, Confidentiality, Leadership and Public Interest and Responsibility.
Speaking before making the decision, Mayor Frasier Tolmie said “the nature of the personnel matter required immediate action.”
A third party had been brought in and made three recommendations when the issue first came to light they were:
-To further investigate
-Suspend or disband the DFFH board. This would allow witnesses to freely speak.
-Alternative Option by appointing City Manager Jim Puffalt in charge of the facilities.
Mayor Tolmie did state that the personnel “issues were prior to the appointment of the Board,” later adding the “findings were conclusive.”
The Mayor described Coun Froese as being “forthcoming”, Coun McMann was at a SUMA (Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association) meeting and responded by telephone and Coun Swanson appeared with his lawyer Ken Cornea.
Although the report never does state exactly what the exact nature of the personnel matter was, former DFFH General Manager Graham Edge appears extensively throughout the investigation.
In a previous interview he conducted with MJ Independent, on the day his termination was made public, Edge gave this publication details of what the personnel matter was.
Edge said he had investigated claims of sexual harassment against female staff members and had approached the Interim Board with his findings. He claimed he contemplated going to the Moose Jaw Police Services and refused to identify the employee who had been accused.
The former GM also questioned why he had been hired because he was not being allowed to do his job by the Board.
“I want nothing more to do with those people,” Edge replied to further questions. He did, however, state his wish that MJ Independent do well in our investigation and he "hoped" we nailed them.
According to the report to Council on July 5, 2018 an unidentified third party submitted a complaint which contained information from former GM Graham Edge. After the July 9th Executive Committee meeting Joe Dosenberger was hired to investigate the complaint. MJ Independent knows the identity of this third party but has decided not to reveal it as it has no hearing on the final report.
On July 28, 2018 Dosenberger wrote City Solicitor Myron Gulka-Tiechko that “There is a very strong prima facia case” that complaints raised in January and investigated by Edge “were valid.”
“He also concluded that the DFFH Board did not exercise the necessary due diligence to ensure the investigation was properly conducted and reported to them in a timely manner, but they did not suppress the investigation as alleged.”
In his interview with MJ Independent, Edge claimed he had taken his findings to the DFFH Board and they had been suppressed. His claim was Coun Froese was livid about it but in the end the Board buried it. The report to Council dismisses that allegation.
Councillor Chris Warren called it “one of the most challenging decisions made in my public and private life…all resources were used....both to be fair and protect the privacy of those involved.”
Coun Warren stated he was “in support of these sanctions but willing to work with all members of Council.”
Councillor Dawn Luhning said “this had been a very difficult couple of months.”
Coun Luhning added that she was “proud” the “very serious personnel matter” was dealt with very quickly.
“It is not easy to take the position that we have but it is necessary for the individuals involved and any other fall out would have happened if not dissolving the DFFH Board at this time,” she said.
The report delved deeper into the actual operations of the DFFH and indicated "multiple failures by and concerns with the management and governance of the DFFH, including a dysfunctional workplace and failures by both management and the Board, indicating a lack of competence.”
The report spoke about Edge being handcuffed in proceeding with his investigation.
“One reason Mr Edge went to the Board on February 8, 2018 was because the Board Chair (Coun Swanson) had made it clear that Mr Edge was not to act on major issues without Board input,” the report stated, adding “On hearing the initial concern and over the ensuing two months the Board failed to give definitive direction to Mr Edge on how the matter was to be handled, yet did not signal a willingness to allow Mr Edge to conclude the matter himself.”
Coun Swanson was pointed out in the report as not understanding his role and responsibility “in taking the investigative files home after Mr Edge was terminated and then giving it to his private lawyer shows a profound misunderstanding of his role and responsibility.”
Edge said that when asked for proof and any files to back up his allegations, in an interview with MJ Independent, that “unfortunately they were all locked in my desk drawer” when he was terminated. Making it almost impossible to do a story on the issue until sufficient proof was found as Edge’s comments lacked detailed allegations.
The report to Council concluded though “on review of the reports received, and considering the personal statements of elected members. Executive Committee has concluded that three members of Council who had constituted the DFFH Board failed in their duty to deal with a serious personnel matter at the DFFH...the sanctions recommended to Council are adjusted to reflect the individual responsibilities of the members."
The sanctions are as follows:
-Not receive direct access to confidential reports. Confidential reports of Executive Committee, Personnel Committee, Budget or any other Committee of City Council will be available at the City Clerk's Office.
-Will not hold position of Deputy Mayor, Chair or Vice Chair of any standing committee.
-Not allowed to sit on third party boards or Advisory Committees associated with the City of Moose Jaw.
-Sanctions end at the Council’s term.
-Will not hold position of Deputy Mayor, Chair or Vice Chair of any Standing Committees or Advisory Committees
-Sanctions end December 31, 2019.
-Will not hold the position of Deputy Mayor, Chair or Vice Chair of Standing Committees, Third Party Boards or Advisory Committees
-Sanctions in effect until August 31, 2019