Three council members sanctioned over DFFH board actions Swanson, McMann, Froese hit with varying level of sanctions after failure to deal with personnel matter
Months of in-camera and secretive meetings dealing with a personnel matter within the Downtown Facility and Field House have resulted in a series of sanctions against three members of Moose Jaw city council.
Couns. Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese – all members of the DFFH board of directors when the matter was brought forward – were found to have failed in their duty to deal with the situation when it first arose at the beginning of the year.
The sanctions were brought forward after a third-party investigation by Joe Dosenberger of JD Solutions, conducted in mid-July.
The list of sanctions is as follows:
Coun. Swanson, who was the chairman of the DFFH board at the time of the matters being raised, a) will not receive direct access to confidential reports and will have to receive such reports at the city clerk’s office. b) will not hold the position of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any standing committee. c) will not be allowed to sit on third-party boards or advisory committees associated with the City of Moose Jaw.
All sanctions against Swanson are in effect to the end of his council term.
Coun. McMann will not hold any of the deputy mayor and chair positions, as well as not be allowed to sit on any third-party boards. His sanctions are in effect until Dec. 31, 2019. Coun. Froese will not hold any deputy mayor and chair positions until Aug. 31, 2019.
The sanctions were unveiled during the Sept. 24 meeting of city council, with all three involved councillors recusing themselves from the proceedings.
The genesis of the situation came in mid January when Graham Edge was hired as the new general manager of the DFFH. Within days of taking over the position, a series of personnel complaints from multiple employees began to filter in. Edge contacted the board of directors seeking a course of action, with conflicting direction or a lack of support from the board leaving the situation unresolved.
As a result, the employees didn’t receive a reply to their complaints, other than a DFFH staff meeting being called and an education program mandated for all employees.
On May 25, Edge was terminated as DFFH general manager, shortly after which Swanson removed originals and copies of confidential files from Edge’s former office, and later provided them to his personal lawyer.
The investigation began in earnest on July 5 when text messages were relayed to Mayor Fraser Tolmie regarding the unaddressed personnel concerns. On July 9, the first in-camera closed executive meeting took place, with the three councillors recusing themselves from the proceedings and continuing to do so for each executive and council meeting through the process.
Three days later, the third party investigator is brought on board and begins his work; he interviews the various parties involved, including the employees who made the original complaint, and also reviews the documents that were previously removed by Swanson. Dosenberger’s report was received by council on July 28, with his findings concluding there was a strong case that the personnel complaints were valid and that “the DFFH Board did not exercise the necessary due-diligence to ensure the investigation was properly conducted and reported to them in a timely manner, but they did not consciously suppress the investigation as alleged.” An executive committee meeting on Aug. 13 saw all three DFFH board members interviewed, with Froese open and forthcoming when it came to the board’s failures; Coun. McMann was attending SUMA meetings and offered his testimony by conference call; Coun. Swanson attended the meeting with personal counsel and spoke through his attorney.
Executive committee also retained legal advice from two external law firms. Once all reports had been received and personal statements given, the executive committee found that the DFFH board had failed in their duty to deal with the personnel matter and failed in their governance, with the degree in involvement of the three councillors varying.
Swanson’s mishandling of the confidential files was found to be the most aggravating circumstance and ‘showed a profound misunderstanding of his role and responsibility’, resulting in his sanctions being the heaviest of the three.
The estimated cost to the city to conduct the investigation was approximately $30,000.