A sec­ond twist

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

from page 3

There are two points of in­ter­est wor­thy of men­tion. The 25k deal it­self was dis­cussed and agreed upon be­hind closed doors in a coun­cil work meet­ing. Tra­di­tion­ally the writ­ten agen­das for these work meet­ings are the ba­sis for the fi­nal­ized meet­ing agen­das given to the pub­lic at town coun­cil meet­ings. Fur­ther­more, confidential doc­u­ments han­dled by town coun­cil are typ­i­cally stamped with a con­fi­den­tial­ity seal, alert­ing those who read it that the con­tents are not to be shared out­side coun­cil. In the cur­rent in­stance, the work meet­ing took place re­cently, but mem­bers knew that Stratton was not in at­ten­dance for the first hour. It was dur­ing this hour that the deal was ironed out and agreed upon by coun­cil, re­quir­ing only the for­mal­ity of a vote at the up­com­ing town coun­cil meet­ing. When Stratton ar­rived later at the meet­ing he was in­formed of the deal and given a copy of the agenda, which he was never ad­vised was confidential. He voiced his ob­jec­tions to the deal at that time, stat­ing he would vote against it at the coun­cil meet­ing.

At some point be­tween the work meet­ing and the town coun­cil meet­ing of this past Mon­day, Stratton spoke of the deal to a mem­ber of a lo­cal hockey as­so­ci­a­tion. That party was present at Mon­day`s town coun­cil meet­ing. When Du­til re­peat­edly asked Stratton where he got his in­for­ma­tion that he shared with this party, he ad­mit­ted it was from the work meet­ing notes. He re­peated that the notes were not marked confidential, nor was he present dur­ing the meet­ing so had no knowl­edge of whether coun­cil was told to keep it pri­vate. Fast for­ward to the pub­lic meet­ing where Stratton is now pub­li­cally cited for breach of con­fi­den­tial­ity and ad­vised he will face sanc­tions.

The sec­ond twist to the story is that the third party with whom Stratton shared the in­for­ma­tion stated to peo­ple present at the mu­nic­i­pal meet­ing that Mayor Du­til also men­tioned the ex­is­tence of the deal to him prior to it be­ing made pub­lic. He stated he did not want to go on record with this in­for­ma­tion in a pub­lic fo­rum. Mayor Du­til was not told of this al­le­ga­tion and sub­se­quently had no op­por­tu­nity to re­spond. The party in ques­tion did have is­sues with the deal and was in at­ten­dance at the town meet­ing in prepa­ra­tion of dis­cussing the deal prior to the vote.

There is a point to con­sider in re­gard to the threat­ened sanc­tions. When James Runci­men, the pre­vi­ous Fire Chief, was fired I was told the grounds sur­round­ing his sus­pen­sion were confidential. I was told no al­leged, or founded; of­fence com­mit­ted by a pub­lic em­ployee can be legally di­vulged to an out­side party. So it was with great sur­prise that I wit­nessed the mayor cit­ing a pub­lic em­ployee for al­leged breaches of coun­cil pro­to­col in a pub­lic fo­rum. Per­haps it is le­gal, but I ques­tion whether it was good po­lit­i­cal form, as it could have been ad­dressed pri­vately or in a closed coun­cil meet­ing. Given the fact Stratton was the only coun­cil­lor crit­i­ciz­ing the 25k deal in a pub­lic fo­rum, the mayor`s pub­lic ci­ta­tion for breach of con­fi­den­tial­ity may have ap­peared to some to be more of a bul­ly­ing tac­tic than a jus­ti­fied pro­to­col vi­o­la­tion.

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