After 28 years it boils down to this.
Mike Bradley is an intimidating, out of control tyrant who treats Sarnia City Hall like a third world dictatorship and he is the dictator.
That’s the conclusion of the City’s Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze in a condemning 14-page report. Swayze chastises the mayor for belittling City staff, controlling the flow of public information and privately meeting with union presidents to the potential detriment of the municipality.
Personally, I found the bulk of complaints from former clerk Nancy Wright – Laking and former planning director Jane Cooper to be minor and basically a bitch fest by a couple of disgruntled former employees.
I said that when they left and I say that now.
Wright – Laking and Cooper wouldn’t last five minutes in my work environment. I operate a successful business but it’s intense, demanding and we have expectations of people operating at senior levels of management. Hell, we have expectations of people operating at all levels.
Treat customers with respect, give them what they want and produce.
Any manager who can’t stand the heat gets out of the kitchen.
Wright – Laking and Cooper got out of the kitchen but now they won’t shut up.
And they have a guy like Swayze with a title that wanders around at $280.00 an hour gathering gossip and innuendo in search of a target and found it.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not a Mayor Mike fan. The last time I endorsed him was in 1988 when I owned a publication called Inside Sarnia. Back then Bradley was the best of the worst and I endorsed him in a weak moment, a brain cramp if you will.
Over the past 28 years there have been better candidates but idiot voters keep re-electing him. They seem to forget how good Marceil Saddy, Andy Brandt and Ron Gordon were.
All three were strong willed businessmen who had an uncanny ability to steer the administration, steer Council and steer their opinions.
Which brings me back to Swayze, a bureaucrat with a position who gets to judge other bureaucrats and politicians. Throw enough gossip and innuendo at the wall and eventually something sticks.
In this case a mayor who forgot he is the political head of a public corporation not a private one. As Bradley is about to discover you can’t call people incompetent in public even if you believe they are.
That is fireside chat behind closed-door stuff. That’s when you bring the City manager into your office, close the door and outline why you think Nancy Wright – Laking “is incompetent” and ask her to do better.
If, as mayor you think Jane Cooper is “flippant, arrogant and lacks customer service” discuss it with the City manager don’t blurt it out in public.
Nancy Wright – Laking viewed the mayor’s behaviour toward her as “insulting and abusive”. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. It boils down to he said, she said.
Cooper told Swayze “the mayor fosters and promotes a poisoned work environment where fear is the corporate culture”. Maybe if the planning director had been less flippant, customer oriented and better at her job she wouldn’t have gotten into the mayor’s sightline.
But who am I to know?
The issue is not one of petty politics at Sarnia City Hall but a mayor who after 28 years is out of touch with reality. A mayor who fails to understand that he can’t do what he used to do and get away with it any longer.
A mayor who controls the agenda, the talking points on every issue, panders to the media, especially local radio and chats with union bosses behind closed doors.
That’s the real issue.
Does he harass bureaucrats?
Does he have a temper?
Is he an enforcer?
Is he incorrigible?
The fact he is hardworking and devoted to the City isn’t sufficient to overcome his misguided perception of his powers. The mayor is the political head of the City not the administrative head. There is a middle line and he crosses over it. He uses his outside voice when he should use his inside voice.
Thanks to a recommendation from Swayze the mayor’s meager pay will be docked for 90 days.
This will end up being a slap on the wrist with more to come.
Watch for it.
Former Toronto mayor, the late Rob Ford had his powers stripped after his bout with drugs and relationships with prostitutes and criminals. A deputy mayor replaced him.
If Swayze has his way an executive committee of Sarnia Council will interface with the city manager leaving mayor Mike powerless and penniless.
I’d spot him a few bucks until he gets back on his feet but I suspect the union bosses will look after him.