Mayor’s direct communication with City staff now cut off

Bradley allowed to communicate directly only with executive assistant and secretary to Police Services Board

Two Sarnia City Council decisions coming out of an October 6, 2016 in camera meeting have now been fully implemented with Mayor Mike Bradley essentially forbidden to have any direct communication with City staff, excluding the Mayor’s executive assistant and the secretary of the Sarnia Police Services Board, which Bradley chairs.

An e-mail sent to D’Arcy Bell, Bradley’s lawyer, outlines the restrictions. The e-mail was forwarded to media by Bradley on Wednesday morning.

Jamie Knight the City’s lawyer on the formal investigation that found Bradley guilty of workplace harassment and of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act, was sent to the Mayor’s lawyer, D’Arcy Bell.

In that communication, Knight referred to the October meeting of Council, at which Council appointed Councillor Anne Marie Gillis as “intermediary.” Gillis is now to be the conduit for any communications coming from or going to the Mayor through staff.

‘Our obligation is to protect staff. The only way to do that is by taking the steps that we took.’—Councillor Anne Marie Gillis.

Knight also said in the e-mail to Bradley’s lawyer that Andre Morin, who is now acting City Manager dealing with issues related to the investigation and the aftermath, should be copied on any communications being funnelled through Gillis.

“If the Mayor communicates directly with staff, the staff member should respectfully request that he should do so through Councillor Gillis and the staff member should promptly notify Mr. Morin,” Knight added, who said staff are being notified of this Council direction this week.

It is not yet clear whether the Mayor intends to attend next Monday’s meeting. If he does not, Councillor Cindy Scholten-Holt is in line to chair the meeting.

Council is expected to deal with various actions that came out of the October 6, 2016 in camera meeting under “routine business” as part of Monday’s meeting.

The two “immediate” steps that were taken—restricting the access of the Mayor to City Hall offices to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday (office hours) and restricting his communication with staff—were described by Councillor Gillis as “obligations” that the City had following a guilty finding under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“Our obligation is to protect staff,” Gillis said. “The only way to do that is by taking the steps that we took.”