Dear Editor. The recent need for the Mission City Record to seek a “Freedom of Information” disclosure request, in order to provide citizens with entitled disclosure of the so-called “without cause severance” paid to terminated CAO Mr. Ken Bjorgaard, flies in the face of expected transparency and accountability we seem to have been lead to believe may be forthcoming, from our new white hat Council. Simply; why wasn’t our Manager Civic Engagement or Mayor upfront and honestly disclose these facts to the public earlier?
Mayor Hawes claims it was an incamera decision, as these matters are not made public, fair enough per se. But surely the citizens deserve to know, what prompted the motion, who made the motion, how Council voted on the motion for it to pass? Possibly we ought to be given some background facts why the need for such action was contemplated and who voted on such direction? How would Mr. Bjorgaard, a civil servant be able to change the new direction by Council, as he works for Council and knowing the individual, would have done his utmost to carry out Council direction, as in his past roles reporting to different councils? By the way, what is this new direction by Council as it is still a secret to the public. All we know is previous ongoing projects, like Downtown redevelopment well on its way, was summarily shelved.
It appears some past councils have come under scrutiny and criticism for too many incamera meetings and some questionable decision that emerged. Indeed, by some among us, who fail to be forthright or transparent with the public, sometimes for some personal reason, they will vehemently decry the need to be secretive and the public is held hostage to such ilk and to the chagrin of most, powerless to act, except possibly, as I am seeking to raise the veil a bit, to learn why the issue emerged and sniff out the vindictive motives often evident. Upon quick perusal, it seems most recent Meeting Agenda/Minutes all include a section to “exclude the public from attending, under the guise of stated exclusion permitted by the Community Charter”, that if so, this council may get the prize for most incamera meetings?
Often, lots of bad decisions are masked by justification – It was Council decision – whereas it may have been a 5 to 4 vote but regrettably, if perceived a bad decision, by the public, all Council become branded by, as alluded to by Mayor Hawes, the “royal council decision” and this is tantamount to being unfair, at best. This is particularly true when novice councillors prevail or a dominating Mayor or Councillor impose their will unchallenged.
So, we state the mayor cannot lay claim to all these public sentimental jargons to justify Council actions, as being elected to make decisions, use due diligence and consider all aspects and compromises available, to decide but no, you cannot expect the public to be influenced by alluding to the circumstantial incidents, claiming to be “taxpayers too, or caring about the environment and so forth stated in articles, as while admirable in nature, not in evidence by each person”. Too often decisions are not reached for ethical or sound reasons, as personalities, motives and judgment all come into play.
In my mind, this decision to terminate Mr. Bjorgaard was not made in good conscience or judgment and while we, the citizens and referred to as the public, have no facts at hand, no apparent recourse, must rely solely upon the published remarks or bafflegab of the Mayor and the final, in this case, very costly outcome, fall within our public trust of decision makers and that our best interests are being served. Sadly, I am not convinced, remain skeptical and I find this quite disconcerting, at best. Whereas, coming from a lengthy Senior Executive career and having personally witnessed countless incidents of this nature understand process and the crucial need for justification of one’s actions, not the least of which sound decisions when terminating otherwise dedicated employees deserving of fair employment practices, we must exude empathy for peoples feeling and not accept whims of leaders and certainly not hiding behind blanket incamera justifications for doing anything, even if untoward or right and I feel the public need greater transparency, accountability and forthright disclosure than we are being fed by the Mayor thus far, in order to trust our leaders.
George F. Evens