Agenda Item 8.10 on the March 4 agenda is: ADM08-2014 By-Law for Delegation of Authority During “Lame Duck” Status
On September 12, 2014 this council will become a “lame duck” council. That means that pursuant to the Municipal Act they will not be able to spend over $50,000 on items not in the approved budget, and they will not be able to dispose of any asset worth over $50,000.
The lame-duck law is there so that councils at the end of their term and for which a majority will not be coming back can’t give their friends huge bonuses and contracts, or sell town assets to their friends (such as the old Wiarton high school) at a fraction of the value. The law is there to protect the residents and their assets from unscrupulous elected officials.
Administrator Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence is proposing a detour around the Provincial lame duck law. The Administrator is proposing a by-law that delegates authority to a staff member to do exactly the things that the lame duck council cannot.
And who is the Administrator proposing that this power be delegated to? The administrator is proposing that the power be delegated to …. TSBP Adminstrator Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence!
With this by-law Administrator Farrow-Lawrence and CFO Humble will be able to:
· Sign a $100 million contract with Genivar to put sewers in at Sauble
· Sell our share of the airport to their friends for $1
· Sign a $2 million contract to repair the airport runways
· Give our beach to first Nations
· Sign a $3 million contract to expand the wiarton sewage treatment plant
· Anything else they want to do.
And all of this she will be able to do without any council input, without Environmental Assessments, without any public input, without any control whatsoever.
This could bankrupt the town, and all the residents too.
It is council’s role and it is only council’s role to make policy decisions. Delegating spending and giveaway authority to Farrow-Lawrence and Humble puts decision making and policy making in their hands. Delegating authority to Farrow-Lawrence and Humble to go on a spending spree or on a giveaway spree with our money defeats the purpose of the lame-duck provision of the Municipal Act (section 275), and is contradictory to the Act.
In her report Farrow-Lawrence said:
“By-laws respecting delegation of authority during “lame duck” status were referenced from smaller and/or regional municipalities (Town of Arnprior, Town of Collingwood, Township of Russell, Municipality of Red Lake, Municipality of Meaford) as well as larger municipalities in which the wording was likely vetted through a municipal solicitor (City of Oshawa, City of Hamilton, City of Greater Sudbury). (emphasis added by CG)
Translation: No solicitor has reviewed the proposed TSBP by-law for legality.
Because the proposed by-law is contrary to section 275 of the Municipal Act, it is illegal.
Will the illegal by-law be used improperly?
The proper rule is that Farrow-Lawrence takes direction from council as a whole. No one council member, including the Mayor, is permitted to give instructions without the express consent of council.
Is the rule followed in practice?
It appears to me that Farrow-Lawrence completely ignores the rule, and treats Mayor Close as her boss, and not council.
This makes the proposed by-law even more of a concern. Because if the by-law is passed, John Close will be able to get his previously opposed pet projects carried out just by giving Farrow-Lawrence instructions to proceed.
I do not know who thought up this by-law, but I would be interested in readers’ theories. If you have a theory please go onto http://craiggammieblog.com and share your theory with other readers.
The proposed by-law is just another in a long series of manoeuvres designed to get around the few council members who are there to serve the residents, and to protect the residents. The proposed by-law ranks right up there with the illegal indemnification by-law, and the illegal resident code of conduct provisions in the procedural by-law, and the new defamation rules, and all the other illegal by-laws passed by council.
The proposed lame-duck by-law must be defeated.