A second twist
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.