September 24, 2018 10:25 pm
Updated: September 26, 2018 7:44 am

3 Moose Jaw city councillors sanctioned following third-party investigation

WATCH ABOVE: Three Moose Jaw city councillors have been sanctioned following an investigation into a Downtown Facilities and Fieldhouse (DFFH) personnel matter. David Baxter reports.

A A

Three Moose Jaw city councillors have been sanctioned following an investigation into a Downtown Facilities and Fieldhouse (DFFH) personnel matter.

The city says a third-party investigation has found that Councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese failed in their duty as DFFH board members to deal with a “serious personnel matter”, violating the council’s code of ethics bylaw. The DFFH is responsible for managing operations at Mosaic Place and the Yara Centre.

Story continues below

Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie, along with councillors Dawn Luhning and Chris Warren, voted unanimously on the sanctions.

“This has been a challenging time,” Tolmie stated in a news release sent out Monday night. “But after performing due diligence on this matter with a third-party investigator, we were obligated to take corrective action.”

The three councillors have a range of sanctions levied against them:

Coun. Brian Swanson
– Will not receive direct access to confidential reports
– Will not hold the position of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any standing committees
– Will not be allowed to sit on third-party boards or advisory committees associated with the city
– Will have sanctions in place until the end of the council term

Coun. Scott McMann
– Will not hold the position of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any standing committee or advisory committee
– Will not be allowed to sit on third-party boards associated with the city
– Will have sanctions in place until Dec. 31, 2019.

Coun. Crystal Froese
– Will not hold the position of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any standing committee or advisory committee
– Will have sanctions in place until Aug. 31, 2019.

“All sanctions are in accordance with the degree of involvement and responsibility each councillor carried in the matter,” Tolmie said.

“We, as council, have an obligation to all employees and residents to make the right decisions and follow policies that are in place to help us resolve any issue. In this case, the DFFH board did not follow proper procedure, but we will work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Moose Jaw city council is made up of six councillors and the mayor. This means the four other members will be taking on additional responsibilities while the sanctions are in place.

“This impacts everybody. When these sanctions came forward they were not made lightly. We understood that it would impact everybody, but there was a couple of issues we found that were of concern to council and the rest of the citizens of Moose Jaw,” Tolmie said.

The city manager will also be overseeing the responsibilities of the DFFH board in the interim. He will complete a report on recommendations for future DFFH governance, but not timeline for that report has been set.

Chronology of Events

According to the city report, the DFFH began to experience financial challenges due to low event attendance in 2015.

In August 2016 accounting firm MNP submitted a report on the DFFH to the city. The report found serious problems with poor morale stemming from the board and management. Fourteen recommendations were presented to the city, including a revision of the budget process and board renewal.

On Sept. 9, 2016, the DFFH board was removed and the city decided to make a three person, council appointed board. Doug Campbell is named new DFFH general manager.
Swanson, McMann and Froese are appointed as the DFFH board on Nov. 28, 2016.

Doug Campbell resigned as general manager in April, 2017. The board operated without a GM for the remainder of the year and became more focused on operational aspects of the DFFH.

Graham Edge was appointed as the new general manager on Jan. 15, 2018. The report says that he received a number of personnel complaints from multiple employees within days of his posting.

The reports says that Edge sought advice from the city’s human resource department on how to proceed, brought the concerns to the board and suggested a course of action.

“There is either conflicting direction or lack of support from the Board resulting in no clear path being outlined,” the reports says.

Over the next two months there was ongoing discussion about personnel complaints with the board. The reports says these discussions either happened informally during meetings where no written reports or minutes were taken.

According to the report, Froese did talk to human resources about what to do and an external investigation was suggested. However, the board did not pursue that course of action. As a result, employees did not receive responses to their complaints.

Edge is terminated as DFFH general manager on May 25, 2018. At this point, the report indicates Swanson took originals and copies of confidential files from Edge’s office.

On July 5, text messages from Edge were relayed to Mayor Tolmie about the unaddressed personnel concerns.

An in-camera council meeting was called on July 9 to discuss the matter. Swanson, McMann and Froese all recused themselves from this discuss and further talks due to their direct involvement.

Three days later, an external investigation is ordered and headed by Joe Dosenberger of JD Solutions. The goal of the investigation is to determine whether or not the board handled personnel matters properly.

Dosenberger conducted interviews with the three board members and personnel associated with the complaints on July 18. Personnel files removed from the general manager’s office are released to Dosenberger from Swanson’s lawyer as well.

Dosenberger concluded that the board had not used necessary due diligence to ensure that a proper investigation into the complaints happened in a timely manner. He submitted his report to the city solicitor on July 28.

During an Aug. 13 executive committee meeting, all three board members were given the opportunity to respond to the Dosenberger report.

Two days later, city council dissolved the DFFH board and authorized the city manager oversee the DFFH. Further investigation into the personnel complaints was ordered by the city solicitor. ​Mayor Tolmie said the personnel issue has been resolved.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Global News