In-camera a curious creature

As we wait with bated breath for the results of Saturday’s vote, time for some house cleaning here.

As we wait with bated breath for the results of Saturday’s vote, time for some house cleaning here.

Readers will recall that back in what was laughingly called summer, councillor Gerd Gottschling revealed at a council meeting that the vote to hire Ron Poole as the new municipal manager was not unanimous.

In fact, he said, “several” councillors had been opposed.

As a consequence I filed a freedom of information request with the city asking how the mayor and each councillor had voted.

Not suprisingly, it declined to release that info on the grounds it was a personnel matter.

So I appealed to the commission, arguing that since the councillor had spilled some of the beans, the public should get to see the rest.

Some weeks back I got an answer: although I could go the whole route on my appeal, the weight of previous decisions made it highly unlikely I would be successful.

Fair enough, but it was worth a try.

Fast forward to the all-candidates meeting and the question to the mayoral candidates from Tony Brady on how they squared making spending cuts because of the Eurocan closure with handing the outgoing municipal manager a quarter million plus dollars when there was no legal reason to do so.

Randy Halyk, quite rightly, pointed out that it was an in-camera decision so he couldn’t say much about it.

However, his lips were not entirely sealed. He added he wished he could say something “because I think you would find out that I would be on your side.”

Leaving the clear impression he was opposed to the severance.

Again, in-camera is sort of breached but we’ll never know the full details.

Then there’s the case of the earlier question to council candidates on the fate of MK Bay Marina.

It turned out that not only had council been talking to the Kitimat-Stikine regional district about the marina, it had even written a letter expressing interest in taking it over.

Clearly, that had been one of the myriad “land item” topics that pepper in-camera meetings. But councillors had no problem breaking confidentiality at the forum.

I am not arguing the need for items to go in-camera, just noting the occasionally uneven application of the confidentiality principle.


Malcolm Baxter