Three coun­cil mem­bers sanc­tioned over DFFH board ac­tions Swan­son, McMann, Froese hit with vary­ing level of sanc­tions af­ter fail­ure to deal with per­son­nel mat­ter

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

Months of in-cam­era and se­cre­tive meet­ings deal­ing with a per­son­nel mat­ter within the Down­town Fa­cil­ity and Field House have re­sulted in a se­ries of sanc­tions against three mem­bers of Moose Jaw city coun­cil.

Couns. Brian Swan­son, Scott McMann and Crys­tal Froese – all mem­bers of the DFFH board of direc­tors when the mat­ter was brought for­ward – were found to have failed in their duty to deal with the sit­u­a­tion when it first arose at the be­gin­ning of the year.

The sanc­tions were brought for­ward af­ter a third-party in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Joe Dosen­berger of JD So­lu­tions, con­ducted in mid-July.

The list of sanc­tions is as fol­lows:

Coun. Swan­son, who was the chair­man of the DFFH board at the time of the mat­ters be­ing raised, a) will not re­ceive di­rect ac­cess to con­fi­den­tial re­ports and will have to re­ceive such re­ports at the city clerk’s of­fice. b) will not hold the po­si­tion of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any stand­ing com­mit­tee. c) will not be al­lowed to sit on third-party boards or ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees as­so­ci­ated with the City of Moose Jaw.

All sanc­tions against Swan­son are in ef­fect to the end of his coun­cil term.

Coun. McMann will not hold any of the deputy mayor and chair po­si­tions, as well as not be al­lowed to sit on any third-party boards. His sanc­tions are in ef­fect un­til Dec. 31, 2019. Coun. Froese will not hold any deputy mayor and chair po­si­tions un­til Aug. 31, 2019.

The sanc­tions were un­veiled dur­ing the Sept. 24 meet­ing of city coun­cil, with all three in­volved coun­cil­lors re­cus­ing them­selves from the pro­ceed­ings.

The gen­e­sis of the sit­u­a­tion came in mid Jan­uary when Gra­ham Edge was hired as the new gen­eral man­ager of the DFFH. Within days of tak­ing over the po­si­tion, a se­ries of per­son­nel com­plaints from mul­ti­ple em­ploy­ees be­gan to fil­ter in. Edge con­tacted the board of direc­tors seek­ing a course of ac­tion, with con­flict­ing di­rec­tion or a lack of sup­port from the board leav­ing the sit­u­a­tion un­re­solved.

As a re­sult, the em­ploy­ees didn’t re­ceive a re­ply to their com­plaints, other than a DFFH staff meet­ing be­ing called and an ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram man­dated for all em­ploy­ees.

On May 25, Edge was ter­mi­nated as DFFH gen­eral man­ager, shortly af­ter which Swan­son re­moved orig­i­nals and copies of con­fi­den­tial files from Edge’s for­mer of­fice, and later pro­vided them to his per­sonal lawyer.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in earnest on July 5 when text mes­sages were re­layed to Mayor Fraser Tolmie re­gard­ing the un­ad­dressed per­son­nel con­cerns. On July 9, the first in-cam­era closed ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing took place, with the three coun­cil­lors re­cus­ing them­selves from the pro­ceed­ings and con­tin­u­ing to do so for each ex­ec­u­tive and coun­cil meet­ing through the process.

Three days later, the third party in­ves­ti­ga­tor is brought on board and be­gins his work; he in­ter­views the var­i­ous par­ties in­volved, in­clud­ing the em­ploy­ees who made the orig­i­nal com­plaint, and also re­views the doc­u­ments that were pre­vi­ously re­moved by Swan­son. Dosen­berger’s re­port was re­ceived by coun­cil on July 28, with his find­ings con­clud­ing there was a strong case that the per­son­nel com­plaints were valid and that “the DFFH Board did not ex­er­cise the nec­es­sary due-dili­gence to en­sure the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was prop­erly con­ducted and re­ported to them in a timely man­ner, but they did not con­sciously sup­press the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as al­leged.” An ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing on Aug. 13 saw all three DFFH board mem­bers in­ter­viewed, with Froese open and forth­com­ing when it came to the board’s fail­ures; Coun. McMann was at­tend­ing SUMA meet­ings and of­fered his tes­ti­mony by con­fer­ence call; Coun. Swan­son at­tended the meet­ing with per­sonal coun­sel and spoke through his at­tor­ney.

Ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee also re­tained le­gal ad­vice from two ex­ter­nal law firms. Once all re­ports had been re­ceived and per­sonal state­ments given, the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee found that the DFFH board had failed in their duty to deal with the per­son­nel mat­ter and failed in their gover­nance, with the de­gree in in­volve­ment of the three coun­cil­lors vary­ing.

Swan­son’s mis­han­dling of the con­fi­den­tial files was found to be the most ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stance and ‘showed a pro­found mis­un­der­stand­ing of his role and re­spon­si­bil­ity’, re­sult­ing in his sanc­tions be­ing the heav­i­est of the three.

The es­ti­mated cost to the city to con­duct the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ap­prox­i­mately $30,000.

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