North­ern Arm mayor and five coun­cil­lors re­sign

In­abil­ity to work with deputy mayor citied as rea­son­ing

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

What has been de­scribed as a “toxic” work en­vi­ron­ment brought about the res­ig­na­tion of North­ern Arm Mayor Lloyd Hunter on Sept. 22, fol­lowed days later by five of six town coun­cil­lors.

A state­ment is­sued on be­half of the five coun­cil­lors by Fred But­ler – one of the five to re­sign – in­di­cated the de­par­ture from coun­cil, ef­fec­tive Sept. 25, stemmed from an in­abil­ity to work with the town’s deputy mayor, Michael Trem­blett.

In an in­ter­view with The Cen­tral Voice, But­ler in­di­cated this had been an on­go­ing mat­ter for some time.

“There has been nit pick­ing and grand­stand­ing (from the deputy mayor) re­sult­ing in a very toxic work en­vi­ron­ment, mi­nor is­sues blown com­pletely out of pro­por­tion,” said But­ler. “Nei­ther one of us felt very happy about this, be­cause it was only a year into the term, but the stress that was be­ing caused in coun­cil meet­ings, and the fact that we had not ac­com­plished any­thing, we felt when the mayor stepped down things we’re only go­ing to get worse.

“That’s when we de­cided, rather re­luc­tantly, to re­sign.”

The prover­bial straw that broke the camel’s back came a few weeks ago, when the deputy mayor filed a con­flict of in­ter­est claim against the mayor.

Trem­blett filed a com­plaint with the De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, sug­gest­ing Hunter was in con­flict sur­round­ing a mat­ter that in­volved his wife – the town clerk man­ager –in June. Trem­blett claimed the mayor was a part of dis­cus­sions and vote, sur­round­ing the town clerk man­ager’s em­ploy­ment.

The other coun­cil­lors re­fute those al­le­ga­tions.

In their joint state­ment this week, the coun­cilors say dis­cus­sions sur­round­ing the con­tract of the town man­ager was car­ried out, along with sev­eral other con­tracts, by six mem­bers of coun­cil on April 16 in a joint meet­ing of Fi­nance and Hu­man Re­sources.

They say the mayor ex­cused him­self from the town clerk man­ager dis­cus­sions.

When pre­sented to coun­cil for rat­i­fi­ca­tion, June 19, the state­ment points out an in-cam­era dis­cus­sion was held, and mayor Hunter left the room.

Upon his re­turn, a vote took place, with Hunter ab­stain­ing from the con­tract vote for his wife, the state­ment reads.

The joint state­ment is a re­flected in the adopted min­utes of the coun­cil meet­ings, copies of which were pro­vided to The Cen­tral Voice.

“Mayor Hunter was go­ing to leave the room for the vote; but, it was sug­gested by a coun­cil­lor that it wasn’t nec­es­sary be­cause we had thor­oughly dis­cussed the con­tract; and, no­body present ob­jected to the coun­cil­lor’s sug­ges­tion,” read the state­ment.

But­ler main­tains that coun­cil did noth­ing wrong.

“(Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs) who we are an­swer­able to as a coun­cil, are well aware of all the back­ground in­for­ma­tion that is nec­es­sary, and if we had done any­thing wrong I’m sure it would have been pointed out to us,” he said. “But we were never told any such thing.

“We de­cided to re­sign and put this back in the lap of (Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs) to try and rec­tify the prob­lem and get the town back on even keel,” But­ler said.

“To see this coun­cil go down the tube be­cause of one per­son… is a bit much.” - North­ern Arm Mayor, Lloyd Hunter

Mayor stands by min­utes

Hunter, who has re­signed as mayor, said the min­utes re­flect how things un­folded and clears him of wrong­do­ing.

But, ul­ti­mately, he de­cided to step down.

“My de­sire . . . to vol­un­teer my ser­vice to coun­cil had di­min­ished to the point where I de­cided to re­sign,” Hunter said. “I felt I was the ob­sta­cle in the chair that the deputy mayor was try­ing to get at.”

He too claimed Trem­blett had been coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to mu­nic­i­pal op­er­a­tions, and was sad­dened to hear it had led to so many res­ig­na­tions.

“It’s a crime that we had to go this route,” said Hunter. “We had some young blood and good ideas, but we’ve been the last year bat­tling with is­sues from the deputy mayor. We were all new, and (knew) there (would be) lit­tle glitches, but if it was noted and brought for­ward, we will deal with it.

“To see this coun­cil go down the tube be­cause of one per­son… is a bit much.”

Hunter didn’t say if he would run for coun­cil again, but stated he still has an in­ter­est in see­ing the town mov­ing for­ward.

Lone coun­cil­lor

It now leaves Trem­blett as the lone coun­cil­lor.

He said the res­ig­na­tions are the pre­rog­a­tive of those who stepped down, but he didn’t agree with the state­ment that his in­volve­ment has been harm­ful to coun­cil.

“I’m one, there are five other coun­cil­lors and a mayor,” he said. “They have six votes to my one, re­gard­less of what I say and what I do, they still con­trol the agenda and what goes on in coun­cil.”

And con­trary to the state­ment of other coun­cil­lors and the re­flec­tion

“I’m one, there are five other coun­cil­lors and a mayor. They have six votes to my one, re­gard­less of what I say and what I do, they still con­trol the agenda and what goes on in coun­cil.” - Deputy mayor, Michael Trem­blett

of the min­utes, Trem­blett main­tains con­flict of in­ter­est took place, and that the res­ig­na­tions are sim­ply an at­tempt to “white­wash” the sit­u­a­tion.

Trem­blett feels the res­ig­na­tions caused more harm than good.

“What was gained? ab­so­lutely noth­ing. All it did was harm the com­mu­nity,” he said, adding the mu­nic­i­pal­ity needs to op­er­ate and a de­funct coun­cil slows progress.

Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs

Re­gard­less of how things played out, it leaves the town with­out a coun­cil that can reach quo­rum.

The De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment has given Trem­blett ap­proval, upon the con­di­tion that he pro­ceed im­me­di­ately, to carry out the func­tions of con­ven­ing a meet­ing to call a by-elec­tion.

The lone coun­cil­lor also has the au­thor­ity to ap­prove pay­ment of ac­counts payable for the town.

“This will be in ef­fect un­til such time that a quo­rum of coun­cil­lors is elected or ap­pointed,” Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs stated in a pre­pared press re­lease.

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