In­ves­ti­ga­tion launched

South Stor­mont hires in­tegrity com­mis­sioner af­ter Oct. 31 com­plaint

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - ALAN S. HALE ahale@post­media.com twit­ter.com/alan_s_hale

LONG SAULT — Some­one on South Stor­mont Town­ship coun­cil is the sub­ject of an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but coun­cil­lors and town­ship staff mem­bers are be­ing tightlipped about who that per­son is, and what the na­ture of the com­plaint is against her or him.

At the town hall on Tues­day, coun­cil held a spe­cial meet­ing specif­i­cally so it could hire a tem­po­rary in­tegrity com­mis­sioner to in­ves­ti­gate an ethics com­plaint that was lodged with the town­ship on Oct. 31.

The town­ship doesn’t have an in­tegrity com­mis­sioner though, at least not yet. South Stor­mont’s plan is to hire a per­ma­nent com­mis­sioner this March, but the com­plaint was ev­i­dently se­ri­ous enough that it was nec­es­sary to ap­point an in­terim com­mis­sioner to in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaint right away.

De­tails about the na­ture of the com­plaint are very sparse. Doc­u­ments from the spe­cial meet­ing show that an out­side party re­ported a po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est to the town­ship and rec­om­mended it be in­ves­ti­gated by an in­tegrity com­mis­sioner.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing sought in ac­cor­dance with the Town­ship Code of Con­duct for Mem­bers of Coun­cil, mean­ing the per­son be­ing in­ves­ti­gated is a coun­cil­lor. The only oth­ers who could be sub­ject to such a com­plaint are mem­bers of any com­mit­tees or boards that re­port to coun­cil.

The Stan­dard-Free­holder spent Thurs­day and Fri­day in­quir­ing about the na­ture of the com­plaint and who had lodged it, but calls to the sit­ting coun­cil­lors and mayor were not re­turned, and the town­ship clerk’s of­fice would only pro­vide a link to the pub­lic meet­ing doc­u­ments.

At­tor­ney Wil­liam R. Hunter of the law firm Vice and Hunter LLP was the per­son cho­sen to be the in­terim in­tegrity com­mis­sioner and in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaint. Reached by phone on Fri­day, Hunter said he can­not legally share any in­for­ma­tion about the com­plaint, but ev­ery­thing he finds dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be given as a re­port to the coun­cil.

“I can’t talk about the com­plaint or in­di­cate any peo­ple,” he said. “The law says that I or any in­tegrity com­mis­sioner can’t do that.”

Hunter has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence do­ing th­ese kinds of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, hav­ing acted as an in­tegrity com­mis­sioner for mul­ti­ple other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Although he has no timetable for get­ting the in­ves­ti­ga­tion done, he says he in­tends to be­gin work soon.

“I’ve done this be­fore, and I gen­er­ally try to get it done as quickly as I pos­si­bly can,” he said.

Hunter’s re­port on his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, when com­plete, is to be de­liv­ered to coun­cil and dealt with by coun­cil in open ses­sion.

If you know the na­ture of the com­plaint, or are even the per­son who lodged it, please con­tact our re­porter Alan S. Hale by email at ahale@post­media.com.

LOIS ANN BAKER/CORN­WALL STAN­DARD-FREE­HOLDER

The 2014-18 South Stor­mont coun­cil: Coun. Donna Primeau, Mayor Jim Ban­croft, Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart, Couns. David Smith and Richard Wal­droff out­side of the Town­ship of South Stor­mont of­fices in 2016.

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