Sarnia’s Acting City Manager has issued a “clarification” of comments referred to in a “Letter to the People of Sarnia” issued by Mayor Mike Bradley following the release of a report that asserts the Mayor bullied four members of City staff, including the current City Manager.
“It is not my intention to get into a debate with the Mayor,” wrote Andre Morin in a media release sent at 5:41 p.m. on Friday.
But Morin, who is also City Engineer and who was appointed Acting City Manager at the beginning of 2016, also wrote: “My silence on other points in no way should be taken as agreement.”
Morin outlined several areas where the facts appear to differ from Bradley’s claims.
The first is Bradley’s assertion that issues in both the most recent report and that issued in June 2016 by the City’s Integrity Commissioner are the same.
“I disagree,” wrote Morin. “Read the reports. Mr. [Robert] Swayze was concerned with the Code of Conduct—that is his expertise as Integrity Commissioner. Mr. Swayze expressly deferred to Ms. [Lauren] Bernardi in respect of issues of workplace harassment arising under the City’s policy and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.” Morin added that it “is plain” that both Jamie Knight and Bernardi are experts in that area of the law.
“It is also plain that workplace harassment is of great significance in Ontario’s workplaces, which are legally required to be civil and respectful,” Morin added.
Morin’s second point refers to Bradley’s claims that he was denied the opportunity to resolve the issue.
“I disagree,” Morin said in his media release. Again, he referred to the latest report. “This allegation is dealt with at pages 38 and 39.” As part of his rebuttal, Morin said it is “notable” that Bradley did not address these views to Council at either meeting on September 28 or October 6, 2016—”neither in person nor through his legal counsel, nor in writing.”
‘Three of the complainants—valuable and effective senior staff—have left employment because of Mayor Bradley’s actions and have issued demands that may yet translate into serious legal actions against the City. Staff morale is low and the City’s reputation has been harmed.’—Andre Morin, Acting City Manager.
A third point of disagreement outlined by Morin is Bradley’s challenge to the integrity and fairness of Bernardi’s investigation, with Morin quoting Bernardi’s report on page 2 as saying the opposite: “The Mayor and his legal counsel commented during the investigation that they appreciated the manner in which the investigation was conducted.”
Morin asserts in his media release that the Mayor’s comments (both recently and when the Integrity Commissioner’s report was issued) that it is “time to move on” and “we must be willing to set aside our competing interests” are inconsistent with the facts revealed by the investigation.
“The Mayor’s letter does exactly the opposite, especially when he renews damaging and hurtful attacks on pages 2 and 3 of his letter,” Morin wrote.
Bradley’s letter in response to the release of the report by Bernardi and Knight can be seen at bradley-letter-public.
Morin also pushes back on Bradley’s raising of the issue of costs. “Three of the complainants—valuable and effective senior staff—have left employment because of Mayor Bradley’s actions and have issued demands that may yet translate into serious legal actions against the City,” Morin writes. “Staff morale is low and the City’s reputation has been harmed.”
Morin also said the responsibility for the costs associated with an investigation that “I and my staff . . . were legally required to do and that Council has directed to do” lies with Bradley. “The best way to have avoided the costs in the first place was for Mayor Bradley to have conducted himself in accordance with the law and City policy.”