The fireworks began when Deputy Reeve Schule asked for the removal of a notice of motion from the agenda. The motion, from Councillors Hanson, Kissel, and Wright, directed Administration to prepare a best-practices policy for hiring future CAOs. It followed the well-established procedures for such motions, which are there to provide councillors the ability to raise issues of concern.
Schule wanted the motion removed because it was “redundant”. Reeve Boehlke supported its removal for the same reason and because of what he called “allegations of breached confidentiality”.
Redundancy has never stopped a notice of motion before. On March 12th, Councillor McKylor’s motion on governance of the County’s recreation boards was approved despite the CAO pointing out that work was already underway on just such a policy. In that instance, redundancy was seen as a reason to support her motion, not reject it. The only apparent difference is that, unlike the councillors who brought forward this notice of motion, McKylor is part of the tied-at-the-hip majority.
In our opinion, any concerns about confidentiality lack credibility. All notices of motion are approved by Legislative Services, the Executive Director of Corporate Services, and the CAO. It is difficult to believe that they all missed a “breach of confidentiality.” The agenda is then approved by the Reeve and Deputy Reeve. Why would they approve the agenda if they thought there might be breaches of confidentiality? Furthermore, if confidentiality was a legitimate concern, why did Boehlke reject the suggestion to deal with it as an in-camera item?
Notices of motion from councillors have had a mixed record of success. But, never have they been treated so disrespectfully. Shutting down debate before it even happens should be inconceivable. Unfortunately, this is no longer true in Rocky View.
In response to the information that Administration was already working on a CAO hiring policy, Wright asked for clarification since no formal request to do so had been made by Council. Boehlke advised that he provided the direction. When she pointed out that individual councillors, including the Reeve, are not supposed to direct Administration, Boehlke abruptly terminated all discussion and called the vote, which supported removing the notice of motion from the agenda by a vote of 6 – 3. Surprisingly, Councillor Gautreau supported the majority in removing the motion from the agenda. He had objected to the recent CAO hiring process and had spoken eloquently about the need to follow best practices. What changed?
So, why did the majority want this motion off the agenda? Were they concerned it might be interpreted as an admission of fault around the original process? Or, is it as simple as the fact that their need to be right is more important than doing what’s right?
Perhaps we need to look no further than the Reeve’s comments that “we could have, not a policy, but a procedure that we can hand off to the next council.” He appears completely confident that the current majority will hold and continue to support his choice of CAO for the length of their term. Since he was the driving force behind the irregular process that hired Al Hoggan, he is at least being consistent.
Whatever the reason, it is obvious that we have a rogue majority on council. A majority who will stop at nothing to shut down those who disagree with them.