There has been quite a kerfuffle here in Sarnia the last few months. A motion was put forward by Councillor Stark to make some requests of Bluewater Power. The vote passed 5-3.
A few days later we received an e-mail from the solicitor claiming technical glitches which resulted in Councillor Boushy’s vote being misheard. Therefore, apparently, the motion that was carried by the mayor in the meeting was apparently wrong and the minutes were changed to reflect a 4-4 vote, which resulted in the motion failing. I asked the Chair “for a ruling on the legality of attempting to change a member’s vote after adjournment.” The mayor admitted to ignoring this later because he wanted to stay out of it.
Despite my best efforts to call this into question, asking the mayor to prevent this illegal vote change, and challenging the premise on why a vote could be changed, the minutes were presented to us the next meeting showing a 4-4 vote.
This resulted in a deadlock where my motion to amend the minutes to reflect the meeting was defeated 4-4, and then the motion to accept the minutes were defeated 4-4 as well. Finally I was able to get a motion in to recommend that we send this for a third party review, and that was passed.
$1580 later, the review which has been made public came a few weeks later, you can view it here. The review confirms that we were in fact correct and there was some serious negligence by both staff and council members.
There are four quotes worth noting from this review.
By review of the e-mails provided and video recording by Mayor Bradley, all Members of Council, including the Mayor were made aware of these discrepancies prior to the minutes being presented at the June 22nd meeting. Anticipating that this matter would bring controversy to the Council table and disagreement amongst the Members of Council, the Chair may have circumvented the discrepancies of the meeting of June 22nd, by taking one of two steps.
1) Speaking with the Chief Administrative Officer, Clerk, and Deputy Clerk indicating that the minutes reflect the actual events of the meeting; and/or
2) Speaking with Members of his Council prior to the meeting, clarifying and supporting parliamentary process to a proposed amendment to reflect the actual adoption of the motion passed at its June 1st meeting within the minutes presented to Council.
Notwithstanding the Deputy Clerk’s reasoning, at no time does a Recording Secretary have the authority to change the decisions of council. These are decisions made by the Council as a whole and amended through a duly passed motion, again by the Council as a whole.
When the Chair puts the question to a vote, it is the right of any member to re-verify the vote count if there is any doubt as to the result or how any member voted. This may be done at any time, prior to the next question being made. Once the next question has been placed before the Assembly, it is too late to request a vote reverification, and the vote stands as announced, and should be recorded accordingly in the minutes.
It is always good practice for the Recording Secretary or any Member of the Council, to request clarification by the Chair if there is doubt of the motion or the vote taken, prior to moving to the next item of business. Once the business has been dealt with and the Chair moves to the next item of business, it is too late to reconsider a vote.
The big question here is why do we have four councilors that were adamantly trying to circumvent rules of order and open/transparent government?