LETTER – Do we want accountability in our civic government?

City councillors at news conference. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

I was lucky to be able to ask some questions at council’s April 11th public meeting. Council’s new rules for public inquiry are quite stringent; people are only allowed to speak to council if their concern relates to something already on the meeting agenda.

The council agenda included the minutes of the March 21st special council meeting about the mayor’s standing committee appointments. I thought the councillors’ media event in council chambers March 17th, when they complained about the mayor and his standing committees, directly led to the March 21st meeting.

Those special meeting minutes only covered the standing committee complaints. I was wondering if there would be another meeting to address the announcement’s unexplained defamation of the mayor. I thought the councillors should clarify their vague accusations, which at this point could be anything from imagined slights to sexual harassment.

No matter if you’re for or against the mayor, there needs to be accountability, I figured. The public has a right to know the truth.

But city Corporate Officer Maria Mazzotta headed me off: my query had no standing because the March 21st special meeting was already booked on March 16th, the day before the March 17th announcement.

Then why hold the March 17th media event at all? The meeting on standing committees was already going to happen in a few days. The councillors could air their grievances then: why be in such a hurry? Instead, six council members left an important TNRD strategic planning session to meet the other two in council chambers for an unnecessary and defamatory grandstanding exercise.

The councillors should have been too busy for this. Their reason for not allowing media questions at their March 17th event was they were already too hard at work doing councillor stuff to explain their claims and had to “get right back to it.”

So at this point it’s possible slander unless proven otherwise. I was hoping they would clear the air publicly. After all, how can they now cite confidentiality concerns after making their harmful insinuations so public?

Luckily, even without proper standing I was allowed to ask my questions. Here are city hall’s answers:

The councillors’ media announcement was not ‘official’ even though held in council chambers;

There is and will be no civic record of the councillors’ claims aside from media reports;

Since it’s been declared unofficial, any issues raised by the announcement will never be on a council agenda (though I hope they change their minds about this);

The councillors’ unproven allegations pose no consequences for the city because according to CAO Trawin, “councillors are not members of the municipal corporation.”

It seems there’s no legal indemnity for the city regarding anything councillors say.

Which is good, since I sure wouldn’t want my taxes paying every time a council member mouths off and gets sued. At the same time, it’s bad, because it means city admin has no legal interest and doesn’t care if justice is served.

But if there’s no liability to the city for a council member’s statements, then why was everyone at city hall so uptight about what the mayor might have said to a security guy? And why did the councillors hold long, closed meetings about ASK’s sabre-rattling letters sent to city hall and released to the media?

Administrators are supposed to make sure council keeps to protocol and law, so why allow this questionable use of council chambers? I suppose it’s possible the administrator responsible didn’t know about the announcement’s shocking subject matter and once they heard, distanced themselves and the city by declaring it unofficial. Or maybe there’s some other loophole.

Do we want accountability in our civic government? If this conduct is actually legal, I don’t believe it’s ethical and it’s certainly not professional.


About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on LETTER – Do we want accountability in our civic government?

  1. Not very comforting to see this kind of behavior.

  2. John Noakes // April 14, 2023 at 7:01 AM // Reply

    This is quite the waltz of words.
    In my foggy memory, wasn’t there an instance of not having too many councillors being together at one time lest it constituted an official council meeting?
    6 people, who happened to be Kamloops City councillors were officially at a TNRD strategic planning meeting. Those same 6 people went AWOL, unofficially joined 2 other people in public council chambers and held an unofficial press conference to have one of the people deliver an unofficial press release about which they could make no further comment.

    Could ANY 8 people from the general public use City council chambers to hold an unofficial press conference, Ms. Mazzotta?

    It seems, as usual, although some folks might seem something went on here, officially, nothing happened.

    Quite the waltz of words, Mr. Trawin. Who, by the way, was leading and who was following?

  3. We sure need accountability but how did we ended up with even less? How can the mostly erudite general population seemingly cannot realize that campaign “promises” is just blabbering? I remember really liking most of Bass writings, her consistent critique of the lack of accountability from managers and (previous) elected members of the community was sharp and insightful, even inspiring. Then she got on council and then, what happened? Is the bureaucracy of Trawin et al that powerful?

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