The politicians make the laws, but they must stay out of the enforcement of those laws and the adjudication of alleged offenses. The reason is obvious. You can’t have some politician sheltering his friends from the law, and you can’t have some politician using the police to neutralize his critics.
This tenet of our society is set down in the Criminal Code as section 139 (2), that section called “Obstructing Justice”.
On Thursday October 18th TSBP Mayor John Close was charged with Obstruction of Justice, (summons and affidavit of service on: http://www.saublesewer.com/Documents/20121012%20Close%20Summons.pdf), allegedly for instructing by-law enforcement officers, including the OPP, not to enforce the Dynamic Beach By-law section 4.1 (which prohibits cars on the beach at Sauble).
The story is on Bayshore Broadcasting:
and is also in the Owen Sound Sun Times October 23rd print edition.
To me this is a fitting turn of events for a mayor who issued a press release in May of 2011 falsely accusing bloggers of being “criminals”, and calling on the citizens of TSBP to go vigilante and turn the bloggers in. (The plea failed except for one councillor who turned in stolen information.)
Enforcement of the dynamic beach by-law was discussed in the October 16th closed session of council. John Close declared a conflict of interest and did not participate in the discussion. Several have asked me what the “conflict” was that prompted his declaration.
I believe that in fact there was no conflict.
The press release, issued October 17, 2012, said:
“Council had given direction to staff earlier in 2012 that the Dynamic Beach By-Law would not be enforced on private property until such time a second legal opinion was received.”
The statement is a lie. Council never gave that direction, not even orally.
I believe that before the October 16th meeting Mayor John Close and his accomplices prepared the falsehood-laden press release in order to shift blame by making it look like council, not the mayor, had done the criminal obstruction of justice in the spring and summer. I believe that John Close declared a conflict and sat out the discussion so that he would be less associated with the blame-shifting press release on the subject, and for no other reason.
The trick won’t work. The people of TSBP are on to John Close’s tricks, and the courts will quickly catch on too.
I believe that the next part of the press release was also made to try to shift the blame from John to council.
It said that:
“Council … will not be enforcing the Dynamic Beach By-Law on private property [between fifth and sixth] at Sauble Beach.”
This is a clear signal to the enforcement people not to enforce the by-law going forward. It appears to be in and of itself obstruction of justice by council. I believe that it is nothing less than a second attempt by John Close to make it look like council is committing the (alleged) crime and not John Close.
It gets even more interesting. Council did not see, and did not hear, and did not know of, the two quotes from the press release above. And council did not vet the press release. Only deputy chair Karen Klages saw the release and the quotes above.
So instead of tricking council into admitting to criminal obstruction of justice, John and his accomplices have only succeeded in tricking Karen Klages into admitting to criminal obstruction of justice.
Either way John’s tricks won’t work. Again the people won’t be duped and neither will the courts.
It’s possible that Karen Klages will be charged, but in my view not likely. In my view she is guilty of being easily duped, but not of obstruction.
I understand that some councillors are not amused by the Mayor’s diabolical tricks, and being falsely blamed for his (alleged) criminal actions.
The big surprise for me is that a few residents (besides his accomplices) are actually defending the mayor, saying he has a right to interfere with law enforcement, or even that he has a duty to interfere.
One person even said that the Mayor has a duty to intervene because it’s a Sauble Beach issue and those radical Sauble people need to be straightened out anyway.
It’s true that this particular alleged criminal obstruction of justice really does affect mostly Sauble people. But that’s not relevant. What’s relevant is that John Close (allegedly) committed a crime against all the people. And anyway the next obstruction may be John directing the law enforcement people not to enforce the noise by-law in Allenford, or the property standards by-law in Wiarton, or the fireworks by-law in Oliphant, or all of those by-laws all over the town.
Obstruction of justice should be a concern for everyone.
I look forward to your comments.