Jun 8, 2017 @ 11:57
At last night’s meeting, Council and the Public were made aware of the costs that the Municipality of Wawa has incurred beginning in November 2015, when Councillor Tamara Liddle and her husband, Gerry Liddle initiated a series of complaints and legal actions against municipal staff and the Municipality of Wawa.
The Municipality of Wawa went to court to defend themselves from a Notice of Application (from Gerald ‘Gerry’ Liddle and Tamara Liddle) in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday, July 7th, 2016. At that time, Justice Gareau inferred that the allegations of impropriety were unfounded, ruling that the Liddles pay $17,696.47, forthwith.” The Liddles withdrew the day before (improperly) and didn’t show up for the court date.
Those costs have not been paid, 11 months later.
On August 9th, 2016 Council made public that Norpro Security and Investigations (Norpro) had investigated the complaint filed by the Liddle’s, and found no evidence to support the complaints made by the Liddles. The investigation reviewed documents, policies, correspondence, and interviewed 17 witnesses, noting that Gerry Liddle, Tamara Liddle and Paul Prosperi from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing refused to participate.
The investigation revealed that both Liddle’s did harass CAO Chris Wray in an effort to obtain a personal benefit; to avoid paying municipal taxes/avoid enforcement of their municipal tax arrears. The investigation also revealed that Gerry Liddle used his position as Chair of the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee “in order to obtain information unethically and improperly to obtain information for his own personal use to create a job for himself to repair or rebuild the Wawa Goose.”.
At that meeting, Council took measures by resolution to protect the Municipality and its Staff, defining how the Liddles could communicate with the Municipality and other measures.
On April 4th, 2017, Mayor and Council passed a resolution directing the Deputy Treasurer to prepare a report on the financial costs of the harassing behaviour of Gerry Liddle and Councillor Tamara Liddle.
On May 5th, 2017, the Integrity Commissioner Ben J. Pascuzzi’s report dealing with two main themes workplace harassment and conflict of interest. The findings were that the behaviour and actions of Councillor Liddle towards CAO Chris Wray violated numerous provisions of the Code of Conduct and that the harassment has been ongoing over a considerable period of time.
Last night the report dealing with the financial costs of the harassing behaviour of Gerry Liddle and Councillor Tamara Liddle was received by Council. Beginning the discussion, Councillor Weitzel asked of CAO Chris Wray, “can you explain a little bit, give us an analogy of what this money would have paid for? The $280,000 so far, today.”
CAO Wray deferred the question to Manuela Batovanja, Deputy Treasurer; but then answered the question making the comparison that $280,000 equals, almost the cost of a new Goose; or a little over a 5% tax levy increase.
Councillor Weitzel questioned, “All of this is because you are constantly defending, basically, swatting off flies ‘litigants’, one of them who happens to be a Councillor. We’ve had no choice.”
CAO Wray explained, “Council has followed their legal obligations with respect to the defense of their employees, and their own legal defense, and in response to legal actions.”
Councillor Weitzel commented, “we have four properties, two of them here are homes here. I’m outraged that there’s absolutely nothing, there’s nothing of benefit to the taxpayers. There has been no result, except for any decisions in favour of the Municipality and Municipal Employees; and yet, we have no recourse. We must defend ourselves as a Municipal Government. So every single thing that comes up, we are forced to defend it, put out more money, and we still have a Councillor that is legally able to sit here, and not face the music, and that Councillor is not here tonight. I think that; I just find it so outrageous that nobody is up in arms. That people are not saying ‘Hey, that’s my tax money!’ because this is my tax money. There is only a few people here from the public here tonight. I just don’t understand why voters aren’t saying ‘What, what is happening? I think it is time that Municipalities start lobbying the Provincial Government to enable Councils to do something about this, instead of having to endure this over and over. We have no recourse, we can take away some pay,we can take away some privileges. But, I for one, as a Councillor think that this is just too much for Council to endure, for Wawa to endure. You guys (public) should be outraged.”
Mayor Rody shared Councillor Weitzel’s concerns. “I share your concerns and frustrations. Certainly, I think we all agree that the Municipality’s money and the time of our Staff and Council would have been better spent on other things. There is a financial cost, but there has also been a human cost, in terms of individuals, and it hasn’t been a very pleasant year and half.”
The report was accepted by Council. Councillor Besner was not present, and Councillor Liddle was absent citing ‘regrets’.
The Municipality of Wawa has incurred costs of $280,005 to date in dealing with the allegations and Notice of Application brought forward by Councillor Liddle and her husband, Gerry. This does not include the $17,696.47 as awarded by Justice Gareau eleven months ago.
MB 2017-01- Legal Expenses - Liddle
- Municipal Council Takes Action against Councillor Tamara & Gerry Liddle
- Municipality is Awarded Costs of $17,696.47 in Liddle’s Notice of Application
- Municipal Council Receives Integrity Commissioner’s Report