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How much councillors stole will not remain secret

(JL2112) Councillors Paul Collard, Don Lubberts, John Hill and Bob Steckley – Fort Erie’s gang of four public service vandals – reached into your pocket to save themselves from a pile of trouble.

They ripped you off for a large chunk of money to pay off Heather Salter whom they canned as the Town’s in-house lawyer and director of legal and legislative services.

The decision – in a series of 4-3 votes – to gas Salter came after she leveled a complaint of harassment by an unknown councillor or councillors.

They gave this disgusting task to the acting CAO Ron Tripp, whose reward for this is to be passed over for the permanent position. That decision was also made in a 4-3 vote.

To save themselves from personal liability in a wrongful dismissal suit, a claim of harassment and perhaps a defamation action, Collard, Lubberts, Hill and Steckley stole some money from the public treasury to make their problems go away.

How much does it cost to tell a staff lawyer to take a hike? That’s not known but the $100,000 cost of compliance audits likely pales in comparison.

If this ethically challenged group of morons can’t be implored to voluntarily release this information, there may be a few ways to get around it.

First of all, Salter’s settlement is an unbudgeted expense and the budget will have to be adjusted. All budget matters are 100 per cent public. There can be no closed door session, no redaction of a financial statement.

Secondly, there’s the old standby of a freedom of information request. That usually nets at least something.

Thankfully, these councillors, who couldn’t recognize a policy decision if it buried them in hot-mix asphalt, set an astounding precedent on Feb. 27 when it waived the Town’s information policy to direct Salter, no less, to hand over to Lubberts his much bally-hooed Municipal Survey Number 751.

The Town solicitor had told the councillor for Crystal Beach he would be required to file a freedom of information request. He complained at a council meeting, and the rest is policy history.

Failing that, someone with more money than brains – like our litigious American friends – can sue. That’s a longshot, of course, because the people who care about this have more brains than money.

Lastly, a page can be taken from the book written by the same bunch of foreign tourists who don’t rely on a robust local economy to put food on the table. Relentless, shrill and undeviating harassment.

Troubles on this front for councillors Collard, Lubberts, Hill and Steckley did not end when they picked your pocket. They just started.

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  1. Lesley North | Nov 7, 2012 | Reply

    We have confirmation that 2 record exist with regard to the former town lawyer filing at least one complait against at least one member of council. If that member had not voted there is a good chance the the vote to dismiss her would have been 3 – 3 and therefore failed. The member of council that the complaint was filed against, I beleive had a conflict of interest and therefore should not have taken part in the vote.
    The FOI appeal is in the Toronto going though the Appeal Process. Currently it is in the mediation process. I have little hope of this step working because it would take the co-operation of both sides. If this fails then the next step is adjudication stage. This is where we apear to be headed. When it reaches this stage the adjudicator conduct an inquiry. We are a ways off from getting the information released but good thing come to those who wait. I am very optimistic that we will get this information in the next three months.

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