Acting mayor Kerry Reay gave a prepared presentation for her verbal report at yesterday’s council meeting (Feb 22, 2016).
In her closing comments, she stated that she wished to “provide better context and clarity to the community of Sooke.” Given that most of the community of Sooke was not at the meeting (though the audience was about 30 strong), Sooke PocketNews is sharing her statement, verbatim.
Please note that while we requested a copy of the presentation, we did not receive any response from the acting mayor, so any typing and editing errors are fully the fault of Sooke PocketNews.
Following is her the mayor’s verbal report. If you’re following along in the video (which you can see here), she begins at about 38:30.
-Acting mayor Kerry Reay, verbal report, council meeting Feb 22 2016
I’d like to take a few moments to talk about social media and the comments that have been made over the past couple of months.
There are very few things we can control in our lives. We certainly cannot control world events, economics, and with technology today we cannot control social media. But my integrity is one of the few things in life that I do have control of. I’ve worked hard all of my life, in my personal life and with family and friends, my professional career as a probation officer, officer of the court, peace officer, and in my role as a councillor for the people of Sooke.
I strive for due process, fairness, kindness, compassion, and honesty, and I tell the whole story even if it doesn’t go in my favour. I take responsibility for when I make mistakes. I own up to them. I don’t try to hide them under the carpet, and hope it will go away.
As a Councillor my role is always to do what the citizens of Sooke want. It’s hard to find the balance sometimes between special interest groups and the quiet majority. When there have been decisions that have been high profile in the community, and I have taken a position to not support a motion, I can spend hours crafting my reasons to ensure the community understands my thinking, what I considered, and why I did not support it.
I believe that this commitment to due process and fairness is why I was elected to a second term. Not only re-elected but topping the polls with 56 per cent of the vote.
I also believe I am respectful to all of the citizens of Sooke, regardless of whether they support me or not.
So I’m quite at a loss that after four years of serving as a Councillor that all of a sudden my integrity has been called into question on social media. Is it personal? Is it political? Or is it just because that the people who post don’t actually fully understand the issue?
I am taken back by the meanness and negativity that has transpired on many social media sites, inaccuracy in articles, and comments that encourage and promote more innuendo. Posts that don’t give the whole story, people being selective of what they post, distorting the truth.
Mayor Tait and I have had a number of discussions on this over the last couple of years. What does one do? How does one respond? How do you correct the misinformation and the things that are incorrect? You worry if you respond. Will it just create more questions? Can you answer them? Some people say, don’t say anything. And others, you have to say something.
So as Mayor Tait once commented, I’m going to take a leap of faith, and I’m going to provide information this evening, to hopefully give some context, and to some things I cannot comment about because the law says I cannot.
Firstly, the transparency of the hiring of the CAO. A hiring committee was struck with Councillor Pearson, Councillor Kasper and myself as the Chair. As the Chair, my only responsibility was to lead the process between August and November. I would say that I spent at least somewhere between 35 and 40 hours, over and above my full time job and council duties. There’s no extra pay for any of us sitting on this committee. The CAO posting was posted in two career ad sections in the Times Colonist and the Vancouver Sun and was also posted on four internet sites: Workopolis, Indeed, Civic Info BC, and of course the District of Sooke website.
There are only two pieces of legislation that guides municipalities and their work: The Local Government Act and the Community Charter. So, to be very clear, I did not hire the CAO. The hiring committee did not hire the CAO. Council hired the CAO. And I’m not sure if everyone is aware, given the posts on social media, that the way council works: One person, one vote.
So again for the record, Council hired Ms. Sullivan.
After the hiring of the CAO, social media reported the story on the standards of conduct of the BC Public Service Agency which had oversight for municipalities. This is totally incorrect. The BC Public Service Agency is an arm of the Provincial Government to oversee the some 30,000 employees that work for the Provincial Government. This Agency has absolutely no responsibility or role in Municipal Government.
District of Sooke Staffing. There can be no discussion here. In 1993, the Province of British Columbia brought in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which outlines what information, can be disclosed and what can not be disclosed. There has been a huge push on social media, demanding that council or staff release information that relates to the personal information that is clearly protected under this legislation.
Section 74.1 outlines the privacy protection offences, and under section 74.1.5.c it reads: “A person who commits and offence under this section is liable, and in the case of a corporation” which the District of Sooke is, “to a fine up to $500,000.” Should anyone with the District of Sooke, council or staff, provide any information to anyone, the District of Sooke faces that $500,000 penalty, and that is $500,000 of your taxpayers money.
On top of that, the person whose personal information was divulged could sue the District of Sooke as well.
Finally, the District of Sooke procedural bylaw. This procedural bylaw was last amended in 2009. So, I didn’t write it, as I said earlier, I didn’t vote on it, I didn’t pass it. It’s my job to follow it. And stands as the legislation that sets out exactly how the business of the business of council is to be conducted in its meetings. Social media has been vicious towards me on my positions that 1. Speakers must speak to items on the agenda only, including agendas of the Committee of the Whole. And 2. Vague application to speak as a Delegation required clarity to ensure that the topics under the jurisdiction of this council.
Starting with the second one first, it’s very clear in the procedural bylaw that all matters coming before council must be within the jurisdiction of the council. It is incumbent of the Chair of the meeting to ensure that that rule is followed. To not do so is in violation of our procedures bylaw.
There were some comments about best practices. Best practices don’t apply to the law. The law is the law whether we agree with it or not.
There was also comment on social media that the District does not refuse Delegations. That is also incorrect. As acting mayor, I signed a letter to an applicant refusing them to appear as a Delegation in mid January of this year. The decision to refuse the Delegation came from the Corporate Officer’s desk.
Now on the first piece that speakers must speak to items on the agenda only, today [Lidstone and Company], the District’s lawyers, confirmed my position on this to be correct. That individuals can only speak to those items on the agenda of all committees of council. And that includes both regular council meetings and the Committee of the Whole.
I hope this helps provide better context and clarity to the community of Sooke. As council, we want to make sure that the rules are applied fairly and appropriately. But I do think what it does ask this council is, if this procedural bylaw is not in the interest of the District of Sooke, then we need to take a look at it.
While SPN cannot respond on behalf of social media at large, for ease of research purposed, we provide this list of articles that may or may not have been referenced in the above verbal report. Here are the latest posts we have prepared covering the District of Sooke.