Councillor wants answers on probe

Councillor wants answers on probe

Anonymous letter leaks details of workplace harassment complaint

By Kent Spencer, The Province January 9, 2013
Councillor wants answers on probe

Coquitlam Coun. Lou Sekora plans to ask city staff about an investigation he says has cost ‘tens of thousands’ of taxpayers’ dollars that council knew nothing about.

Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG , The Province

Coquitlam municipal employees have launched a workplace harassment complaint and the city is hushing up a lengthy investigation costing “tens of thousands” of dollars, says a city councillor.

Coun. Lou Sekora said Tuesday that he intends to ask city staff about the expenditures and the complaint, which the city’s union says occurred at the Pinetree Community Centre.

“How loose is our own budget when we can fund an investigation costing tens of thousands without council members knowing about it?” Sekora said.

“They’re spending some serious taxpayers’ money. Every dollar should be accounted for.”

The matter was leaked to Coquitlam councillors and The Province on Jan. 4 in an anonymous letter.

So far Sekora has been the only councillor to respond publicly to the letter’s allegations.

“It bothers me that you find out something like this through an anonymous letter, rather than (from) the city manager or the mayor,” Sekora said.

“One councillor said she will throw the letter in the garbage.

“How stupid is that?”

In the course of his efforts to verify the letter’s contents, Sekora said he confirmed a “personnel issue” involving “several people” was involved. He said it has been ongoing since last April.

Ken Landgraff, president of CUPE Local 386, which represents city workers, said the complaint concerns the city’s harassment in the workplace policy.

“The city has retained an external investigator, Anita Braha, to complete a formal process as set out by the city’s policy. The union is challenging the process and has filed a grievance,” Landgraff said in an email.

Mayor Richard Stewart was tight-lipped.

“We have a great program to make sure staff are incredibly well-treated, but when there’s conflicts among staff we can’t talk about them,” Stewart said.

“The personnel department is dealing with the issue. I can’t speak to specifics.”

Personnel matters are usually dealt with behind closed doors. Sekora said he will ask questions at the city’s next in-camera meeting on Jan. 14.

“I want to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

This doesn’t  surpise me one bit:

“How loose is our own budget when we can fund an investigation costing tens of thousands without council members knowing about it?” Sekora said.

“They’re spending some serious taxpayers’ money. Every dollar should be accounted for.”

This is not rocket science. Simply stated, that illusion we call democracy can be summarized as “technically” lasting about the FIVE seconds it takes you to mark a ” X” on you ballot on Election Day. Then,….  between elections, …you live under a dictatorship, you have effectively let the inmates run the Gov’t asylum .( Inmates = Elected Officials and Civil Servants )

The only questions are  ….(i) are the Elected Officials  in charge of the Civil Service?……or (ii) do they share power with the Civil Service?…(iii)or is the Civil Service is in CHARGE?.

My answer?  is (iii) = the Civil Service in charge

If you recall, Richmond had a long drawn out case where a City Works yard employee claimed workplace harassment, ie racial slurs , etc. etc. I recall this went to the Supreme Court after years and ultimately a settlement was reached. Unfortunately  this total TAXPAYER money  “used = wasted”, which must have cost hundreds of thousands of TAX Dollars  is not revealed under those twisted spaghetti- logic things called privacy laws bastardized under client solicitor  privilege etc. However the settlement was advertised in the higher 6 figures, and probably many other costly  details . I recall there was approx (6 ) parties (City Workers) involved , and none of them were fired.In the Private sector, I am sure that this would have been settled much more quickly and heads would roll.

Local Gov’ts are empowered and guided by Provincial Legislation. How is this slipping through the cracks?. If there is a rack….At the stroke of a pen it can be remedied, perhaps even by the Local Gov’t’s themselves ?

For all we know, these inmates in the asylum know full well that their Councillors have no brains or balls, and can even create a phony / rigged/  bogus situation ie Party “X” pretends to harrass Party “Y”….cash out …and NO heads roll. Taxpayer shafted AGAIN.

Mr Sekora should be thanked for having the balls to expose this. However exposure versus seeing that it never happens again, at least that council be informed , is another thing.

Otherwise, a shiver should run down the spine of each and every taxpayer as they work their asses off to pay these asylum inmates and their dysfunctional Gov’t workplace which seems more like an expensive   zoo.   They don’t deserve our trust nor our  respect.

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