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LETTER: Charlton comments on his expulsion from council chambers

Dear editor,

My recent expulsion from a Rossland City Council meeting has been widely reported.  What wasn’t reported was the events leading to that situation or the inaccurate, unfounded, and misleading statements presented by Mayor Granstrom.

I commend RCMP Constable Scott Powell for the professionalism he displayed in handling the situation.  I was impressed by his knowledge of municipal law which seemed to exceed that of most, if not all, of the rest of Council.  He was obligated to carry out the request of Mayor Granstrom to have me removed whether or not Mayor Granstrom was acting within the law.  The issue of Mayor Granstrom’s abuse of power will be dealt with by other agencies in due course.

At the meeting, Mayor Granstrom refused to admit that he had any help in preparing his statement but he did take full responsibility for it.  He also admitted that he didn’t seek legal advice.  If he had it may have stopped him from making the ridiculous claims he did.

This issue dates back to March 2010 when the Parcel Tax Review Panel directed staff to make corrections to the Ophir Reservoir Parcel Tax Roll.  Administrator Kumar ignored the directive and no corrections were made.  Instead, Mr. Kumar wrote memos to Council saying the panel members “prejudiced their independence” and that “two members did not follow the procedures outlined in the Community Charter and the Assessment Act” and made other unsubstantiated accusations.  Yet in the same memo, Mr. Kumar acknowledges that legislation allows the Panel to take the actions we did.  Council subsequently appointed a new Panel which dutifully authenticated the Parcel Tax Roll proposed by staff.

Interestingly, the major developers in the Red Mountain area have just submitted a letter to the City in which they request the Ophir Reservoir Parcel Tax and the Local Area Service Bylaw be rescinded.  They claim the analysis prepared for justification of Ophir and allocation of costs was flawed in many areas.

The unwarranted and unfounded attack on the integrity of two members of Council by Mr. Kumar led to my Notice of Motion to terminate his contract with cause.   If Mr. Kumar can make groundless accusations about Councillors in public it is only appropriate that any response be made publicly.

I think the misleading and fear-mongering statements made by Mayor Granstrom were intended to persuade Council to take actions they had no authority to do.   As I was attempting to refute the baseless claims made by Mayor Granstrom, Mr. Kumar interjected, contrary to the provisions of the Procedure Bylaw, and encouraged the Mayor to have me expelled.  I was not allowed to continue my rebuttal and Mayor Granstrom acceded to Mr. Kumar’s obviously biased wishes.

Mayor Granstrom agreed it is appropriate for Council members to raise valid concerns about staff and even propose they be disciplined or dismissed.  That’s exactly what I did but Council chose not to take any further action.  No discussions about my motion took place in a public meeting.  The issue as far as Council was concerned should have been  over and done with in February.

Mayor Granstrom incorrectly claims my notice of motion contravenes the Community Charter but offers no explanation of how that contravention occurs.  This is not surprising because there was no such contravention.

If Mayor Granstrom believed my Notice of Motion was out of order, he could have made that ruling when I introduced the motion - but he did not.  If Mayor Granstrom and Mr. Kumar believed the motion should have been discussed at an in-camera meeting, they could have placed the motion on an in-camera agenda.  They didn’t - they placed it on a regular agenda for discussion in public as permitted by the Community Charter.  It’s strange, several months later, they now claim it should have been done in-camera.

Mayor Granstrom says the Notice of Motion potentially breached Mr. Kumar’s employment contract but offers no explanation how.  Again not surprising because there is no breach.  Contrary to Mayor Granstrom’s claim, Mr. Kumar is not entitled to any compensation and the mayor can’t provide justification for his claim.  Council can terminate Mr. Kumar’s contract at any time with or without cause.  If there is cause, no compensation is required.   Mayor Granstrom’s unsubstantiated assertions are simply fear-mongering.

Other documents support my position and demonstrate that Mayor Granstrom’s claims are baseless.  Unfortunately, the Corporate Officer refuses to provide them under my Freedom of Information request.  It will take some time before they are released with the assistance of the Freedom of Information Commissioner.

This incident is a sad commentary on the lack of leadership shown by Mayor Granstrom.  Council seems more interested in covering up screw-ups than dealing with real issues.