In a one and a half page expose seemingly designed to emphasize the trials and tribulations of Mayor Bradley since being found responsible for the harassment and bullying of three former employees of our City, and the present CAO, I find the article lacking in substance considering that there has been no input provided by three of the targets of Bradley’s bullying/harassment, nor the councilors involved. The Observer, through reporter Tyler Kula, somehow found it prudent to interview mayor Bradley, resurrecting the results of financial penalties and other sanctions placed on the Mayor regarding the two investigations, the results of the investigations having been public for months. It would seem from the context of the article however that the Mayor has been provided another venue from which to cast aspersions on those women who brought complaints against him.
To encapsulate, Mayor Bradley had been charged by four department heads of City Hall of bullying and harassment. The four ladies at the heart of the complaints were Beth Gignac, former Parks and Recreation Director, Jane Cooper, former Planning Director, Nancy Wright-Laking, former City Clerk, and Margaret Misek-Evans, the Current CAO. As a result of an investigation by Lauren Bernardi, founder of Bernardi Human Resource Law, a lady investigating and reporting on Workplace Harassment for some twenty years, Bradley was found at fault of the charges against him. Those findings resulted in City Council imposing sanctions on the Mayor. Arising out of the same charges, it is known that at least two statements of claim were submitted to the City, although any financial settlements made have not been made public to date. (It should be noted that Mayor Bradley was also found guilty by Robert Swayze, the Integrity Commissioner, of Code of Conduct violations, for which the Mayor received a 90 day dockage of his pay.) A portion of the Integrity Commissioner report also dealt with charges of bullying and harassment of two of the four members of staff named above, and findings that Mayor Bradley had been creating a “toxic workplace” in City Hall.
In the one-sided article referenced above ( September 16th issue of the Observer), Bradley discusses his loss of certain “rights” if you will, such as overseeing of the Agendas brought to council and any reports from staff to Council being provided to him first. Bradley also insinuates that the hiring of Gignac, Cooper and Nancy-Wright Laking by City Manager Marg Misek-Evans resulted in the women “wanting control”, and that “there was a lack of respect for the office of the mayor.”
Both the IC Report, and that of Ms. Bernardi found that Mayor Bradley had caused injury to the four ladies mentioned above, so much so that three of them resigned from their positions and at least two law suits have resulted. Margaret Misek-Evans has remained at her position as City Manager.
It needs to be understood that it was his actions as Mayor that precipitated the four women previously named to submit their concerns to the Integrity Commissioner and/or have those same concerns investigated by Ms. Bernardi. They did so because they suffered bullying and harassment by Bradley. Due to the findings of the investigations, it was determined that the Mayor was at fault. Council took the actions on sanctions and penalty that they were required to do by law.
This entire exercise has divided our city. Yet throughout the entire procedure of charges, investigations and penalties, the Mayor has retained his allies. One would think that he, the Mayor, was the injured party here. There have been inane theories of collusion, suggestions that all four women lied when laying their complaints, and members of council have been subjected to disgraceful personal attacks due to their decisions as to how they handled the outcomes of the two reports even though they were given legal advice, and could have been subjected to fines and/or jail time if acceptable actions were not taken to address the findings against Bradley. They did their job.
In all of this, the effects of Bradley’s actions on the four women seems to have been forgotten. Bullying and harassment is not permitted in the workplace. The lack of support given to the four women by the media stands out, and as such one questions the press objectivity when it comes to issues involving Mayor Bradley, a Mayor whose actions may well have caused years of psychological damage to four women trying to do their jobs, and whose plights have all but been lost through unusual and unwarranted support for the perpetrator of their problems.
To be sure, the women who were found to have been victimized by the mayor, the councilors who have been unfairly castigated for their imposition of penalties on the Mayor, and the citizens of Sarnia seem to be poorly served by a press bent on maintaining a questionable and biased support for a mayor who, quite clearly, has exercised authority through the usage of an “iron fist.”
Let us be clear…the costs of the investigations, the penalties assessed against the Mayor, the restructuring of the City Hall, and the costs incurred resultant of the law suits filed are the result of one thing and one thing only…Mayor Bradley’s treatment of the women. No one else is to blame here. To suggest otherwise is to place blame on the injured parties. And no one can possibly understand the sometimes physical and definitively emotional and psychological scars that can be so debilitating to the bullied. Damages inflicted by the aggressor can run deep, and be never-ending.
Bradley is not the victim here. Unfortunately for those having been clearly on the wrong side of his unprofessional behavior, The Observer has minimized the damage meted out by the Mayor on four women trying to do their jobs, and councilors that did theirs.
Contrary to what Bradley seems to think, Sarnia is not all about him.