Lansdowne – In a raucous meeting on Tuesday, testy council members loudly traded insults and interjections over their choice 4 months ago to discipline 4 employees of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.
Wags on social media had billed the meeting as the “Rumble in TLTI, Part II,” and prompted homeowners to come out to see “the very best program in TLTI.” The jam-packed gallery of about 50 people was there to watch ill-tempered exchanges in between the primary lead characters, Councilor John Paul Jackson and Mayor Joe Baptista, with councilors Vicki Leakey and Gerry Last tossing jabs.
Throughout the 3 1/2- hour meeting:
* Jackson called Baptista a “phony” for stating that he didn’t send out an e-mail that Jackson claims was sent out;
* Baptista required an apology from Jackson for implicating him of an “abuse of power.” Jackson declined;
* Jackson desired a stability commissioner to check out texts and emails from Last that “discussed my body parts,” and teased Jackson’s hearing loss and his lip-reading capabilities;
* Jackson implicated Last of calling his spouse “childish” for challenging the “negative and horrible” emails from Last;
* Jackson stated Leakey sent him an e-mail message questioning his drinking practices, the frame of mind and recommending that Jackson get addiction counseling;
* Leakey responded that she wanted to accept any criticism from a stability commissioner, but included that she hoped that the commissioner would look at both sides of the e-mail exchanges. She would say sorry to Jackson if required, and Jackson ought to do the exact same. She stated the council has “severe personal problems” that will not disappear;
* Jackson implicated the mayor of making faces and smirking while Jackson was speaking, which Councillor Liz Huff was also making “insulting” faces and hand gestures.
The reason for the discord in between Jackson and the other council members– the in-camera May choice to discipline 4 areas staffers– appeared to obtain lost in the middle of the chaos.
As the meeting began, Baptista eliminated of order Jackson’s movement that council members be admitted to the complete legal representatives’ report that resulted in the disciplinary action versus the staffers. The report concluded that the 4 had made fake and destructive harassment accusations versus another staffer, and advised disciplinary action. Jackson states councilors have revealed just a summary of the legal representatives’ report when they made their choice in May and he has doggedly attempted to get the complete report ever since. He stated that just Baptista and the personnel’s department have seen the complete legal representatives’ report, thus his charges of “abuse of power” because he states the mayor will not share the file.
His movement was ruled out of order, Jackson had 2 other associated movements in his quiver.
The very first movement was a require the area to embrace whistleblower legislation to safeguard staff or council members who reveal “misdeed or viewed misdeed.” Jackson’s movement desired guidelines to protect whistleblowing staff and councilors from reprisals.
Baptista, Huff, and Leakey stated the provincial federal government was looking at putting whistleblower securities in the Municipal Act, which Queen’s Park was the correct level to generate the law. Baptista stated that the provincial ombudsman also uses a place for whistleblowing problems.
In the end, council accepted back the need for a false claims act whistleblower law on the provincial level and to lobby the province for the law with the help of other towns and local associations.
Jackson’s 2nd movement required a visit of a stability commissioner to hear his grievances versus Baptista, Leakey, and Last.
It was the source of much of the discord. Agitated by Baptista, Jackson revealed his problems about his associates, consisting of the “harassing” emails from Last and Leakey.
Council voted to fast-track its earlier movement to employ a stability commissioner, rather of contracting an interim detective to hear Jackson’s problems.
Even a relatively basic movement by Jackson to increase the quantity of the allowance for town employees to purchase security boots triggered stress at the council table. Jackson desired the $150 allowance for boots to be increased to $250 for the 7 impacted employees.
When other council members questioned why this boot issue was being raised by Jackson rather of coming through appropriate staff channels, Jackson stated an area employee raised it with him because the employee feared being fired if he raised it at the municipality workplaces.
” The factor that staff isn’t really going to management is because they are afraid of management,” Jackson stated. “So, they concerned me, recognized the issue, and I brought it forward,” he stated. “That’s the reality and I’m not going to call the people because they fear reprisals.”.
Baptista questioned Jackson’s assertion that the employees would not request for more boot money for worry of losing their tasks; Jackson stated the mayor was implicating him of lying and provided to swear on a Bible.