Forum
Register Calendar Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #1 


Councillor MacKay's response to the Gazette editorial on pecuniary interest violations crystallizes the debate over whether Councillors legal fees for pecuniary interest lawsuits should be covered by the City's liability insurance.

On one hand, Klenke (the City's lawyer) suggests that if Councillors legal fees are not paid for by the City's Insurer, Councillors "may be far more inclined to recuse themselves." That is, they may not vote on matters where technically they have no conflict of interests out of an abundance of caution. MacKay argues that if Councillors had to pay their own legal costs and then be re-imbursed if they are not ordered to vacate their seat this would cause elected officials to exercise due care and would put an end to councillors recklesslly disregarding the pecuniary interest provisions.

Essentially this is an argument about deterrants. Klenke says that if Councillors had to pay their own legal fees they would be overly deterred while MacKay argues that if they had to pay their own legal fees this would act as an effective deterrant and prevent violations of the law. Klenke is arguing to maintain the status quo: MacKay is arguing for a change to the status quo. Therefore since we should "not fix what ain't broke", an examination of the status quo to see its performance record would appear to be in order.

If a council member knew that they had to pay the legal fees out of their own pocket if a pecuniary interest application was made against them .... do you think they would stay in meetings or do you think they would recuse themselves?

I suggest the answer is obvious which, in turn, suggests that the status quo is not functioning effectively and should be changed. Maybe the Council should do what the Municipal Government Act contemplated namely let Councillors pay their own legal fees on pecuniary interest matters and reimburse them if the Court does not order them to vacate their seat.

Of course, this Motion was not nearly as critical as the backyard chicken motion, or the backyard beehive motion, or the motion to allow uninsured RV's be parked on the street. However, considering the fact that this Council is operating with a willful disregard to the provisions of the Municipal Government Act, maybe MacKay's motion wasn't such a waste of time.

EDITED: Post contained direct allegations that are before the courts and as yet unproven. Removed until such time as the court renders a decision. - HH

0
EnoughAllready

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 388
Reply with quote  #2 
You are not giving chickens and bees their due.

The importance of having chickens and bees to legitimize this smart city as one that has responsible, transparent leaders should not be overlooked.

Priorities are important!
0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #3 

Unfortunately (for the discussion at hand), Councillor MacKay decided not to bring forward the motion that is being discussed. It was only a notice motion.

I do agree that the Gazette “jumped the gun” slightly in the way they described this as a motion.  There were two motions that day that Councillor MacKay had intended to move.

The first motion, he actually read into the record, but was not accepted by the deputy mayor:

“I move that the City of St. Albert provide full cooperation to both sides in the Nolan Crouse pecuniary interest matter.”

The second was not brought forward, but the notice of motion as planned from the minutes of the November 21, 2016 council meeting and the admin backgrounder for the January 23, 2017 meeting agenda, show:

“I move that Council directs the insurance company providing coverage to cease coverage for any pecuniary interest matter and have these items funded by the individuals involved. Furthermore section 179 and the repayment provisions outlined in the MGA be approved and form part of any future code of conduct policy.”

Both of these motions involved already ongoing matters that were before the courts. 

Given the information above and below, it appears that it was Councillors MacKay’s full intent to interfere with or affect ongoing legal proceedings.

In a previous council matter Councillor MacKay made a motion to limit/cease the funding being supplied to the City Manager of the day for a lawsuit that Council had agreed upon. Councillor Russell at the time made multiple comments during discussion and debate about the legalities of this idea/motion. It was an ongoing/in process legal matter.

It is my opinion after watching interactions in chambers, after personal talks with Councillor MacKay, and with the introduction of these two notices of motion that this was more about the issues between Councillor Mackay and Mayor Crouse than it was about trying to do something good for the city.

In Councillor MacKay’s letter to the editor, he states, “It is my understanding that in other jurisdictions, it is common to have the politician pay for his/her own legal fees regarding pecuniary interest violations and these costs are only repaid if declared innocent“. What jurisdictions are these? How many of them actually exist in Alberta?

Moving forward, I fully expect (and will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen) that Councillor MacKay will bring a new motion forward to attempt to change this process. I fully support Councillor MacKay’s right to do this, after all he does need to attempt to prove that the City interests are what is important and not his ongoing personal disagreements with Mayor Crouse.


__________________
 
0
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #4 

Kevin: Could you explain how determining who pays the lawyer "interferes with or affects the on going legal proceedings." Normally who pays the piper has nothing to do with the "legal proceedings" if that word is given its ordinary meaning. After all, there are literally hundreds of cases in which the payee is changed from the individual to another as the case progresses. Does this constitute "interference with the legal proceedings?"

Secondly, assuming there is animosity between Crouse and MacKay, how does that affect the merits of the proposed motion?

0
Willy

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 225
Reply with quote  #5 
So it seems, to me, that Mr. Klenke is more a spin doctor than a legal advisor in this situation.  I suspect he is taking his direction from someone who is in the midst of a pecuniary interest issue.  Cam MacKays letter to the editor is bang on.  A councilor is entitled to reimbursement once he/she has been cleared of any wrong doing.  Mr. Klenke is saying that a councilor really might not know if he or she is in a conflict of interest and therefore needs insurance?  Really?  Its easy - Will this affect me for my own personal gain?  ____Yes, ____ No. 

Thats like saying "I know there's laws against robbing banks, but, I dont know if robbing that bank is illegal. I need insurance to cover my legal bills in case I rob the wrong bank"

Where is the accountability, ethically, morally or legally if someone knows they can get away with anything they want because they have insurance specifically for said unethical, immoral, illegal activities?  Boy, that just plays right into a certain Mayors situation doesn't it?  Did Mayor Crouse recuse himself and leave Chambers while Klenke was discussing this? Did Mayor Crouse recuse himself for Cam MAcKays motion and discussion?  Even in this discussion Crouse is in a conflict of interest as he is in the middle of conflict of interest proceedings that may just cost him his job.

Would the insurance co. or the City go after someone found guilty to recover their costs?
0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskeptic
Does this constitute "interference with the legal proceedings?"


Maybe, maybe not, but the original statement was "interfere or affect". This motion would change the rules of the game, mid session. If you don't believe that it has an affect on the situation that is your right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theskeptic
Secondly, assuming there is animosity between Crouse and MacKay, how does that affect the merits of the proposed motion?


Again if you don't believe a motion stating that the "City of St. Albert provide full cooperation" isn't an attempt at affecting a law suit, you have a right to that opinion. I believe different.

I already stated I would like to see the motion brought forward again. If Councillor MacKay can argue it successfully going forward it won't be an issue.





__________________
 
0
Head Honcho

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 1,170
Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin


Maybe, maybe not, but the original statement was "interfere or affect". This motion would change the rules of the game, mid session. If you don't believe that it has an affect on the situation that is your right.

Again if you don't believe a motion stating that the "City of St. Albert provide full cooperation" isn't an attempt at affecting a law suit, you have a right to that opinion. I believe different.

I already stated I would like to see the motion brought forward again. If Councillor MacKay can argue it successfully going forward it won't be an issue.



It is my opinion that these statements show a pronounced bias against councillor MacKay.

Interpreting the words 'full cooperation' in logical terms, is simply a desire by MacKay to offer the identical support and right to city information to a citizen (Stone) as well as to the mayor in this case.

Why should the city favour the mayor against a citizen who is exercising his legal right to have the courts adjudicate the behaviour of the mayor?

That motion equals the playing field for both parties as is only proper for the city to do, as it has obligations to both individuals. Perhaps even more to a taxpayer than an elected member of council who stands accused by the taxpayer of improper actions in carrying out his duties.

0
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #8 

Of course, Kevin is attempting to deflect from the motion which is in issue to the second motion so let's get back to the actual motion ... which was to reduced the scope of the City's liability insurance.  Dealing with Klenke's opinion and that motion the following conclusions seem appropriate.

First, it is rather astonishing for him to suggest that if a Councillor has to pay his own legal fees relating to allegations of misconduct, that somehow they "may be far more inclined to recuse themselves.". That is analagous to saying that if insurance companies refuse to cover motor vehicle accidents in which the driver has consumed alcohol over .08 people may be cautious and not take that last drink even though it won't put them over 0.08. Of course, in actuality, motor vehicle insurance is void if a driver is convicted of being over .08 because the decision to drink is not an error or omission it is a deliberate choice. In like manner the decision to contravene the pecuniary interest provisions is a deliberate act since every councillor is fully aware of their own personal financial interests.

Secondly, Klenke's opinion seems to ignore this question of comparative social costs. That is, if a Councillor recused him/herself from a matter through a misapplication of the pecuniary interest laws, what is the social cost? The answer is that is is almost nothing... the rest of council will make the decision and matters will move on. If on the other hand, Councillors are covered under the liability insurance for pecuniary interest violations .. what is the social cost?. The answer to that is obvious as you watch Crouse repeatedly involving himself in matters of which he has a personal financial interest.

Thirdly, if you read section 179 of the MGA it is clear that the Legislature intended that councillors pay their own legal costs and be reimbursed in certain situations. Therefore the question arises ... Should St. Albert follow a different and conflicting policy? In essence the lawyers who drafted the MGA were of the opinion that a councillor should pay his/her legal fees and be reimbursed in certain situations as this would act as a deterrant. Since Klenke is of a different view, I assume he thinks he knows better than the legal experts who drafted the Act in the first place.

0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willy
Did Mayor Crouse recuse himself and leave Chambers while Klenke was discussing this?


Sort of, he had already recused himself for Councillor MacKay's motion when the discussion with Mr. Klenke was taken in camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willy
Did Mayor Crouse recuse himself for Cam MAcKays motion and discussion?


As noted above, yes he did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willy
Even in this discussion Crouse is in a conflict of interest as he is in the middle of conflict of interest proceedings that may just cost him his job.


As he recused himself for these two motions, he is not in a conflict of interest. Also, it is a pecuniary interest proceeding, there is no provision in the MGA to recuse yourself for a conflict of interest. 

__________________
 
1
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #10 

Kevin: You seem rather reticent to explain how the fact that a councillor pays his own legal fees rather than having them paid for by the City's Insurance company interferes of affects the lawsuit. Given that the Court will never know whether or not Denton & Co. gets a cheque from Crouse or the Insurance Co. it is a bit of a stretch to suggest MacKay's motion would "interfere or affect" the lawsuit. We await your explanation.

Secondly, dealing with the second motion, (which, of course, has nothing to do with the Gazette editorial or MacKay's response) it would be a travesty if the City acted in an impartial manner between one of its citizen/taxpayers and the Mayor. The motion, if passed, would merely facilitate the discovery of documents and avoid a series of costly applications by Stone or Crouse to examine documents in the possession of the City. That, obviously is a bad thing as it produces a level playing field and assists in the pursuit of justice. It is probably better, as you imply, for the City to jump into Crouse's camp, use the public resources to help protect him because he is more important than a mere taxpayer.  Further, that would exemplify the siege mentality which seems to pervade the Crouse Administration.

0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Honcho


It is my opinion that these statements show a pronounced bias against councillor MacKay.



I am not sure about the use of "pronounced", but yes there is a bias that I admit to in this post.

Funny how you don't comment on the bias against Mayor Crouse, Councillor Heron or any of the other council members in other posts.

__________________
 
0
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin


Sort of, he had already recused himself for Councillor MacKay's motion when the discussion with Mr. Klenke was taken in camera.

As noted above, yes he did.

As he recused himself for these two motions, he is not in a conflict of interest. Also, it is a pecuniary interest proceeding, there is no provision in the MGA to recuse yourself for a conflict of interest. 


Of course, the problem with the foregoing is that recusing yourself is only one aspect of the requirements under the act when you are in a pecuniary interest situation.  A councillor is also required not to talk about the matter to other councillors since they are not to influence the decision.  Possibly Kevin should ask Cathy whether or not Crouse talked to other councillors about MacKay's motion. 

EDITED: To remove unfounded accusation. Please no more. - HH
0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskeptic


Of course, the problem with the foregoing is that recusing yourself is only one aspect of the requirements under the act when you are in a pecuniary interest situation.  A councillor is also required not to talk about the matter to other councillors since they are not to influence the decision.  Possibly Kevin should ask Cathy whether or not Crouse talked to other councillors about MacKay's motion. 

EDITED: To remove unfounded accusation. Please no more. - HH


If this is of interest to you, I suggest you send an email, place a phone call or attempt in some other way to ask Councillor Heron this question. I am not sure when you appointed me as your admin assistant.

__________________
 
1
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #14 
It is interesting that Kevin is saying that Crouse "recused himself for these two motions and therefore is not in a conflict of interest." At the same time he is avoiding answering the question as to whether or not Crouse was lobbying other councillors on the matter.

To recuse oneself means by definition that you have withdrawn from a position of judging the matter at hand so as to avoid any semblance of partiality or bias.

Therefore if you are going to say "he recused himself from those two motions" you need to know that he was not lobbying other councillor." If you do not know whether or not he was lobbying other councillors you should not be declaring that he "recused himself."

0
Steve Stone

Member
Registered:
Posts: 39
Reply with quote  #15 

Re: Kevin’s Comment posted this morning (17.02.11): “Moving forward, I fully expect (and will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen) that Councillor MacKay will bring a new motion forward to attempt to change this process. I fully support Councillor MacKay’s right to do this, after all he does need to attempt to prove that the City interests are what is important and not his ongoing personal disagreements with Mayor Crouse.” (Bold print mine).

Kevin, with all due respect to you, I don’t know how Councillor MacKay could possibly demonstrate a deeper love for and service to St. Albert citizens; from day one, he has never done anything other than look out for the very best interests  of the citizens and residents of St. Albert.

I will correct you on your statementand not his ongoing personaldisagreements with Mayor Crouse. Councillor MacKay’s disagreements with Mayor Crouse are NOT personal. However, you should rephrase your statement to “ongoing disagreements between the two of them – Crouse/MacKay.” That for sure would be absolutely correct.

I will also remind you that this current disagreement issue is connected to the financial self-interest Lawsuit against Mr. Crouse. The concern you expressed Kevin, in “Personal Interest” is definitely the bedrock of this current disagreement – but I am pleased to observe, it is not on Councillor MacKay’s part. But rather, he is pursuing the right thing to do in justice for you and me – the tax-paying citizens. Hopefully, all on Council will support him on this in looking after the best interests of the citizens of St. Albert.  

 Having corrected you on that score, I will add some of my thoughts on this issue of the City funding Nolan Crouse’s legal costs in the Lawsuit against him, which I have brought to the Court. I have laid this case against Nolan Crouse – NOT Mayor Crouse. The City has no part to play in my Lawsuit – I have brought this to Court against an individual, who I believe has pursued his own financial interests on several occasions, at the expense of the City.

A few things to consider:

(1)   The City’s lawyer is “justifying” the City paying the Lawsuit for Mr. Crouse on the premise that if not funded it could “have the effect of subverting the fundamental governance of elected representatives who, faced with the prospect of incurring significant (upfront) legal fees, may be far more inclined to recuse themselves”.

(a)   What is wrong with elected representatives showing prudent restraint?

(b)   Why this “fear” of personal financial costs if you are guaranteed repayment if innocent?

(c)   Let’s turn the table around for a minute: Would this “fear” not also apply to the citizen who takes the action against the elected official? Would the citizen not show even more prudence than the elected official, since he has no hope of being reimbursed by the City?

(d)   Why support anyone if they are acting against the common good of those who elected them?

 (2)   The City Government is elected to serve the people; the City Lawyer is hired to serve the servant of the citizens - the elected officials and city staff. Why does the tax-paying citizen have to pay for the legal fees of someone who is acting against the common good?
For example: Just as an elected governing official is an “employee” of the citizens, I am a business owner with many employees. If I fired one of my employees for using his employment status as a means of promoting his own self-interest against the rules and to the detriment and interest of my company, and he subsequently takes me to Court for wrongful dismissal, must I pay for his legal fees? It will be a very cold day in hell before that happens. Yet, this is exactly what is happening with the City funding someone who is, or appears to be, working against the interest of the citizens/city.

 (3)   The City Government cannot work against the common good of the citizens. They cannot set themselves up as the “lords” of the citizens. They are there only to serve the common good of the people - and nothing else. Malpractice must never be accepted or tolerated.

 (4)   Each and every single one of us as citizens, as members of the community, also have an individual and shared responsibility towards each other to work towards and participate in the common good. The common good of all citizens takes precedence over all other aspects of life in the city. The way we do that is a personal choice, but we must participate in one way or another with the unique gifts and talents we each have in sharing, promoting and protecting our common good.

 To end on a personal note, I have lived in St. Albert for 37 years, always very happy with the fine people here; however, the State of the City have taken a nose-dive especially over the past 5 years and must not be allowed to descend further into a hellhole. It seems like we have adopted some kind of perverted ethics, no longer interested in what’s good and right – just too much loss of respect for residents of several neighbourhoods, thoughtless and careless wastage of huge sums of money, special interest groups without the common good in mind – seems like a continuous bullying.

 Do what you can folks! As for me, as a citizen who feels grossly offended, I am taking Mr. Crouse to Court – at my expense – not fortunate enough for the City to pay my expenses. It ain’t cheap folks! It will cost me several thousands of dollars, but win or lose - it is worth it.

My sincere thanks to those fine individuals, who have already made a financial contribution towards my legal fees, and I would more than welcome yours. If you would like to support me in this, your contribution will very highly be appreciated and remain confidential.

 Call or text me at 780 257 1775

 Cheers,

Steve Stone

0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskeptic
It is interesting that Kevin is saying that Crouse "recused himself for these two motions and therefore is not in a conflict of interest." At the same time he is avoiding answering the question as to whether or not Crouse was lobbying other councillors on the matter.


Interesting how you continue to take things out of context and try to belittle people.

I am not avoiding anything but your arrogant statement that I am somehow responsible for determining if Mayor Crouse has talked to other council members.

 


__________________
 
1
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Stone
I will correct you on your statement 


Steve, please do not "correct me", you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.




__________________
 
1
theskeptic

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,484
Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin


Interesting how you continue to take things out of context and try to belittle people.

I am not avoiding anything but your arrogant statement that I am somehow responsible for determining if Mayor Crouse has talked to other council members.

 



Actually, it seems that it is you that may be taking things out of context since you chose to quote only a portion my post.  I was not attempting to belittle anyone .. as my comment was one relating to the logic and substance of your position as is evident when you examine my whole post which is as follows:

"It is interesting that Kevin is saying that Crouse "recused himself for these two motions and therefore is not in a conflict of interest." At the same time he is avoiding answering the question as to whether or not Crouse was lobbying other councillors on the matter.

To recuse oneself means by definition that you have withdrawn from a position of judging the matter at hand so as to avoid any semblance of partiality or bias.

Therefore if you are going to say "he recused himself from those two motions" you need to know that he was not lobbying other councillor." If you do not know whether or not he was lobbying other councillors you should not be declaring that he "recused himself."

0
Head Honcho

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 1,170
Reply with quote  #19 
This back and forth, over and over debate is getting not only boring, but no longer serves any real purpose that I can see. Time to agree to disagree fellas. Assuming one thing should happen to prove another is in my opinion a joust of words and nothing more.

Why don't you both take a break and go do something else this evening?

I bet more than me are tired of it all for today.

Thanks and have a nice night.
0
Kevin

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Honcho
This back and forth, over and over debate is getting not only boring, but no longer serves any real purpose that I can see. Time to agree to disagree fellas. Assuming one thing should happen to prove another is in my opinion a joust of words and nothing more.

Why don't you both take a break and go do something else this evening?

I bet more than me are tired of it all for today.

Thanks and have a nice night.


Will do Don,

You have a nice night as well. :-)

__________________
 
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.