Tragedy has struck within the walls of our Sarnia City Hall. Tragedy that should not have occurred, save for the misguided allegiances formed with Mayor Bradley. Those alliances that had no basis for their existence. They were built on misleading and erroneous information about our staff and the then City Council.
For the past two to three years, those who were complicit in returning Mike Bradley to mayor status continued a narrative that Administration and Council were somehow, without merit, found to be incompetent, incapable of doing their respective jobs, and at times out to get the mayor. They ignored the findings of the two investigative reports that found the mayor broke the Code of Conduct and bullied and harassed City Hall staff. Sarnia must now endure another tenure of Bradley as the head of council.
Whether it was councilors Bill Dennis, Margaret Bird or David Boushy, or others, including the mayor who constantly sniped at the integrity of the council or our CAO Ms. Misek-Evans, none of the rhetoric they spewed was truthful nor logical. Mean, hateful innuendo designed to detract from the positives of both the council and Ms. Misek-Evans who worked to enhance the living standards of the residents of Sarnia. Even in the early days, with citizens assailing the folks in Sarnia government, had one taken the time to inquire, they would fast determine that all was good at City Hall, as a team existed headed up by the CAO to move Sarnia forward in many areas that had been let go fallow for many years.
And what has happened due to the hideous, hellacious, inaccurate musing about the Council and Staff will cost us much as we move into a new paradigm of councilors and remaining City Hall employees.
We have recently seen the resignations submitted by our Senior Solicitor Scott McEachran, Finance Director Lisa Armstrong, Director of Building and Bylaw Enforcement Allan Shaw, and of course CAO Margaret Misek-Evans, who clearly was the regular target of many asinine, belligerent and outrageous volleys of untruths one could imagine.
One would have to be naïve to suggest that there exists any other reason save for the harassment and bullying tactics attributed to the Mayor, and his oft-expressed desire to “reset” City Hall back to times before even the now-past council existed, and a new administration led by Misek-Evans was in place. In a recent quote Bradley suggests that the exodus of some of senior staff has nothing to do with him. The evidence would indicate quite the contrary. Bradley further insults the departing staff, saying that this is a time of opportunity.
As for Ms. Misek-Evans. One can only surmise what problems Mayor Bradley truly had with a lady that I spoke to often and found dedicated to Sarnia. Ms. Misek-Evans, who became City Manager on October 21, 2013, has a resume that reads as follows:
1. General Manager, Planning and Protective Services for the Capital Regional District (CRD) in Victoria, BC;
2. Corporate Manager of Community and Strategic Planning with Oxford County
3. Worked with the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, Deloitte and Touche Management Consultants, the University of Guelph and the Government of Prince Edward Island.
Marg holds a Master of Arts degree in Planning and Development, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and has recently completed leadership certification from Royal Roads University. She is a registered Planner with the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Planning.
Lisa Armstrong, our Finance Director has submitted her resignation as well, was hired in September of 2015. While her abilities regarding financial management have been questioned by one or two, her resume belies the assumption made by those in the Bradley regime. Ms. Armstrong at one time was in senior management with Ontario Power Generation, Lambton and Nanticoke operations. Lisa holds an MBA from Laurentian University, a Bachelor of Math from Waterloo University, and she is a Certified Professional Accountant. (Ms. Armstrong, while remaining with the City in order to facilitate Budget discussions, has said of her leaving that after witnessing the goings on of City Hall, she is of the knowledge that “this political environment is not for me.” She went on to say that she believes in progress and principles, and in order to maintain her credo, she decided her resignation was necessary.)
We have now lost seven upper-level people from City Hall. Those seven…Marg Misek-Evans (CAO), Lisa Armstrong (Finance Director), Allan Shaw (Director – Building and Bylaw Enforcement), Scott McEachran (Senior Solicitor), Nancy Wright-Laking (former City Clerk), Jane Cooper (former Planning Director), and Beth Gignac (former Parks and Recreation Director). The financial costs could well exceed $2 MILLION in total.
It is tragic what has taken place at our City Hall. Examples of the spurious, unjustified attacks on certain councilors, and the constant unsubstantiated vitriol towards Ms. Misek-Evans can be found within several of the more recent issues of First Monday, one disgusting statement suggesting the “the election result was clear, fire the CAO.”
We are without a team. Regardless of the insinuations of the mayor, there was only one logical reason for seven team members to move out of our City Hall. Those reasons can be found within the two reports, both of which outline in detail the actions of a mayor who treated so much of our staff so poorly and with disrespect for a period going on for years.
We are a City under siege by Mike Bradley, by his friends, by his supporters, all of whom have made a mockery of the truth for their own gains.
Seven people have left. Bradley remains. How sad for the City of Sarnia.