Not the best choice
The case of Spaniard’s Bay councillor Brenda Seymour’s dismissal from the fire department is a tangled one.
It was mapped out in great detail in the study completed by retired fire chief and former deputy mayor Gerald A. Hiscock. His credentials, given the case’s closeness to both the inner-workings of the fire department and the town council, were certainly there.
However, there’s one factor that allows people to question the findings of his report, which resulted in council reinstating Seymour.
“I have interacted with the people involved in this matter on both a personal and professional basis; they have been neighbours, colleagues and friends.”
That’s a statement Hiscock wrote in the preface of his study. Prior to that, he refers to the need to display absolute objectivity to ensure the study is both fair and accurate. Spot on. As a document, the report backs up its opinions and conclusions with lots of background information on the suspension and dismissal of Seymour.
But writing on a prickly situation involving colleagues, friends and neighbours is dicey, and even more so when considering who those friends may be.
An anonymous comment made regarding last week’s front-page story (Friction in the fire brigade) questioned whether the reporter should have looked more closely at the relations between those involved.
“Maybe then he would have found out that the author of the study commissioned by council, Mr. Gerald Hiscock, is also a close friend of Mrs. Seymour and her husband.”
First off, statements made anonymously are problematic. If a person’s convictions are strong enough about a statement he or she makes, they should feel confident signing their name to it. But The Compass’ policy is to accommodate them, in any event.
Whether or not Hiscock is a close friend of Coun. Seymour specifically, he himself admitted to being close to those involved in the case. In hindsight, it is logical to wonder whether it may have been wise for council to consider finding a qualified candidate with no connection to those parties involved with the matter.
The answer is obvious — yes, it would have. Had that been the case, there would be one less reason to question the findings of the study.