Sackville resident Les Hicks says he’s having a hard time understanding why Tantramar council dismissed his code of conduct complaint against Mayor Andrew Black.
“After waiting over eight weeks for a response to my complaint, I found it disappointing and troubling that in his letter to me, the deputy mayor simply stated that there had been no violation of the Code of Conduct bylaw, with no explanation as to why council reached that conclusion,” Hicks wrote in an e-mail yesterday to Warktimes.
He was referring to his formal complaint about Black’s actions in blocking the election of a deputy mayor at Tantramar council’s first meeting in January.
Both the old Sackville town bylaw and the new one for Tantramar require council to choose a deputy mayor at its first meeting, but it was not included on the agenda.
When Councillor Debbie Wiggins-Colwell made a motion to add it, her fellow councillors voted in favour, but Black voted no, thereby withholding the unanimous consent required to amend the agenda and putting off any decision until council’s next regular meeting in February.
When the vote was held then, Greg Martin defeated Wiggins-Colwell in a narrow 5-4 vote.
A brief letter dated October 6th from Deputy-Mayor Martin tells Hicks that council met to review and discuss his complaint.
“Council has determined that no violation of the Code of Conduct has been breached,” it adds without further explanation.
An accompanying letter from Mayor Black acknowledges that the election of the deputy mayor should have happened at council’s first meeting.
“I understand the error in this,” Black’s letter adds and promises to follow proper procedure from now on.
The mayor’s letter continues: “Our By-law does state that any modifications to the agenda must be approved by unanimous consent at the meeting, and the mayor does vote on every motion.”
It then suggests that nine months later, members of council and town administrators “now have a better understanding” of the bylaw “and will work together to ensure process is followed.”
To read Deputy-Mayor Martin’s letter, click here.
To read Mayor Black’s letter, click here.
In his e-mail to Warktimes, Hicks says he was disappointed in Black’s response because the mayor took no responsibility for violating the bylaw.
“The most troubling issue for me was that neither council nor Mayor Black addressed the important question of exactly why the election was excluded from the official agenda and who made that decision,” Hicks writes.
“Was it an error that occurred when preparing the agenda or was it excluded intentionally for some reason?”
In his formal response addressed to both Black and Martin, Hicks reiterates his complaint that the mayor voted against amending the agenda even after Wiggins-Colwell had pointed out that the bylaw requires the election of a deputy mayor at council’s first meeting.
Hicks argues that Black is required under Section 3.d of council’s Code of Conduct to “respect, and adhere to, the established policies, procedures and By-Laws of Tantramar.”
“The facts are very clear and I do not see how Mayor Black’s violation of these By-Laws can be denied by Council,” Hicks writes.
“This might seem like a trivial matter and it might appear that I am personally persecuting Mayor Black but I assure you this is not the case.
“I voted for Mayor Black because of the commitment he made to transparent and accountable governance and I expect him to adhere to this promise.”
To read Hicks’s response, click here.