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Taxpayers are outraged, Council and administration are indifferent

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 11:48 -- Chris Cooke

So, here is the question.

How is a City manager that is suing her employer allowed to stay employed?

That was the question posed to me by two coffee drinkers at the Coffee Lodge on Exmouth Street.

The manager in question of course is Margaret Misek–Evans, the City Manager of Sarnia who is paid $181,000.00 and who is seeking compensation suspected to be $400,000.00

Although unconfirmed the two coffee drinkers claim the $400,000.00 figure is “out there”.  Furthermore, they claim the City has retained the services of a lawyer to “negotiate” for Council.

It is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the City manager and her harassment and bullying claim against Mayor Mike Bradley. A saga that has already involved Robert Swayze, an Integrity Commissioner and an harassment lawyer from Mississauga that have invoiced upward of $400,000.00.

And so it continues.

I explain that I’m aware Misek–Evans is seeking compensation and thanks to an enchanting dinner with Councillor Matt Mitro at Olive’s Restaurant last fall I’m aware that Council ended her probation, made her employment permanent and provided a $25,000.00 raise without explanation.

And Council granted this knowing the number of employees at City Hall under Misek–Evans has ballooned from 412 in 2013, when she arrived to 437 this year.

As for the City manager’s request for damages, I’ve heard rumour and speculation but it is just that rumour and speculation.

The desire of Misek-Evans to be separated from Mayor Mike has been well documented and at lease $74,000.00 is being spent creating a Berlin Wall and offices with key cards and access codes on the second floor of City Hall. Mayor Mike is stuffed in the back corner without key cards and access codes.

All of this is supposedly for the protection of the City manager and her comrades. The $74,000.00 was not in the 2017 budget and has been lifted from reserves.

David Boushy feels sorry for Sarnia taxpayers. “I lose sleep thinking about how we are wasting money. The public hasn’t any idea what is going on at City Hall. It is pretty scary stuff”. He adds, “we can’t afford to operate Jackson Pool but we can build a wall at City Hall?”

Which brings me to Cindy Scholten-Holt. For two months she has been demanding an apology from First Monday for reported comments Boushy made at a closed-door meeting. She insists Boushy violated the integrity of Council when he proclaimed, “Council is stabbing the mayor in the back”. Boushy also rejected a proposal to have the mayor’s secretary report to the City Clerk and said so publicly.

Scholten - Holt insisted the Integrity Commissioner investigate. He did and ruled that while Boushy was out of line the misdemeanor was so minor, so trivial that it wasn’t worth considering.

But what was worth considering was Robert Swayze’s bill.

The Integrity Commissioner is a lawyer and sent the City an invoice for three paragraphs of comment. I’ve heard it was eye popping.

For Scholten-Holt it is neither an apology nor a retraction. It is a clarification.

I hope she is pleased because I can assure you Sarnia taxpayers are anything but.

And then there is Centennial Park, an $11 million debacle that could cause logistical problems for the annual Bluewater Salmon Derby in late April. The City can’t seem to get a handle on it.

The park’s costs have spiraled out of control, money is pouring out of reserves, there aren’t any docks and the community is outraged.

And the City’s administration remains barricaded behind a wall on the second floor of City Hall.

I can assure you the public, like the Mayor doesn’t have key cards or access codes.

What is happening in this City, with this administration and this Council at this time is ridiculous.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

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