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Scott took concerns about City governance to Ombudsman

City of Hamilton councillor Larry Scott has revealed that he took his concerns about governance issues at City Hall to the Ombudsman.

Mr Scott says he blew the whistle to the Ombudsman because of a host of troubling issues, including the handling of the waterfront redevelopment project, that showed no sign of abating.

Mr Scott said he had advised against challenging the managers’ right to belong to a union and that some councillors, including Mayor Graeme Outerbridge would not consult with the managers and did not trust them.

“They specifically challenged the managers’ existence, and competence, the managers were walking on tender hooks and not being consulted. In fact if you ask the Mayor he will have to confirm that they kept the important documents from them as well because they did not trust even the managers,” Mr Scott said.

“In the end, management took a stand back attitude.”

Mr Scott also described attempts to ostracise him and keep key information away from him — even though he was an elected member of the council.

“Resigning is an easy way out. I was elected to serve with integrity, and was protected by the Good Governance Act,” Mr Scott continued.

“Also, I felt that I had to remain to protect the management team from being ostracised. Because the board forbade management from even sharing information with their union, or risk sanction.

“Well they could not then nor now sanction me, so I shared the information with the BPSU. And similarly when their actions persisted I went to the Ombudsman and complained.”

Mr Scott has already reported that only a handful of members of the City Council had full access to information and documents on the waterfront redevelopment project.

He claims the Mayor refused him access to key documents such as the lease. The Mayor has denied this, saying that he only insisted that the documents be viewed in the Mayor’s Parlour, adding that they could not be taken off the premises because they contained sensitive information.

The Mayor’s explanation is contradicted by Mr Scott who reported that he had also been told that the lease was off premises and in the possession of Councillor Keith Davis when he tried to access it on another occasion.

Yesterday, Mr Scott said that the Mayor told the City Secretary in his presence not to give the lease to him after he had requested to see it in the Council board room.

“I wanted to view it in the board room down the hall. But he didn’t want me to have sight of that lease unless he was present,” Mr Scott said.

“On one occasion, when I came to the Corporation of Hamilton, my way was blocked literally by the Mayor, who told me I was not to speak to his staff.

“I told him in words I can’t print here where to go.”

Ombudsman Arlene Brock announced in March that she would be launching an “own motion” systemic investigation into the City’s operations.

She cited allegations brought to her office including “lack of transparency, inadequate governance and lack of public consultation generally (eg operational decisions made beyond remit of the board) and particularly (regarding the proposed waterfront development project).”

We sent a series of questions to City Hall seeking the Mayor’s response to Mr Scott’s allegations but no response was received by press time last night.

City of Hamilton councillor Larry Scott
<B>Unanswered questions put to City Hall</B>

The following questions were submitted to the Mayor and City Hall’s communications manager, but no response was received.

n Was there a resolution passed by the Council approving the lease of the waterfront to the developers? If so, which of the members were present? When was this resolution passed?

n Were there any other resolutions passed concerning the waterfront project? If so, what were those resolutions and which members were present for each?

n We have been informed that the managers were not given access to documents pertaining to the waterfront. Could the Mayor please clarify this point? Is it true? Why? Were the managers fully consulted on the process ? Did the Mayor trust the managers as professionals?

n Who drafted the lease? Why was it not circulated to all the councillors prior to signing?

n It has been reported to us that Councillor Davies had the lease in his possession, ie outside of City Hall. This contradicts the Mayor’s earlier statement - “The refusal to give permission to remove sensitive information from City Hall, especially for a project such as the Hamilton waterfront, is not unprecedented.” Would the Mayor explain the contradiction, please?

n Why did Councillor Davis have the lease? How long was it in his possession?

n Mr Scott has stated that he had asked to view the lease in the Council Board room and the Mayor refused that request. He says the Mayor wanted to be present when he viewed the lease. He also reports that the Mayor at one point insisted he not speak to the staff. Would the Mayor kindly respond to these claims?

n Why would Councillor Davis be allowed to take the lease off premises and Councillor Scott not be allowed to view it in a room of his choosing on premises?

n Has the City now provided the documents such as the lease of the waterfront to the Government?

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Published May 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2013 at 10:26 pm)

Scott took concerns about City governance to Ombudsman

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