Editor’s note: City council sanctioned Mayor Mike Bradley last week after Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze found he violated Sarnia’s Code of Conduct by harassing senior staff. Below is the mayor’s response.
The last five months have been very difficult personally.
I would like to thank the citizens of Sarnia for their overwhelming support and many emails and calls, reflected by the large turnout at the special council meeting on June 28.
Like anyone else, I have made my share of mistakes, and, if I have offended anyone when carrying out the people’s business of behalf of Sarnians, I am sorry.
I have spent time reflecting on the Integrity Commissioner’s report and believe it fails on three counts.
1 - It was Unnecessary. There is a workplace policy in place to address issues when they occur, in a timely manner with a positive approach of resolution. Those who supported the punitive approach of the Integrity Commissioner are accountable for the $60,000-plus cost of the report.
In early January of 2016 I asked the City Manager for a meeting with the Human Resources Department to deal with issues in the workplace. I have not received a response.
2 - It was Unfair. Because the report did not consider people and material that might have painted a different picture, it violated my right to fundamental fairness and due process. That should be a concern to any elected person in the same circumstances.
3 - It is Unhelpful. By threatening to launch further investigations, the report hurts the city in its efforts to move on. The issues that precipitated the investigation, unfortunately, will still remain. And suggesting an ‘Executive Council’ as a way of moving forward is ludicrous. The citizens of Sarnia elected a Mayor in 2014 to lead them, not an Executive Council.
I am greatly concerned about the direction of the City, and will continue in the months ahead to be the public’s watchdog on spending and services.
Sarnia had the largest budget increase in memory in 2015, and I’m very concerned about the 2016 budget. Our aggressive debt-reduction plan, which would have made us one of the few debt-free cities in Canada in a few years, has stalled. There has been additional hiring for non-essential positions, adding to taxpayer costs, while essential services like fire positions are eliminated.
Poor labour relations, the ongoing Centennial Park saga, these and other issues I will continue to raise on behalf of the public.
In public life, compromise and collaboration are essential. I disagree with the findings of the report, and the process that led to them. I trust the judgment of the people of Sarnia to determine its value.
Nevertheless, I think it is time to move on. No individual or group is bigger than this city. The challenges we face as a community require our full attention.
For Sarnia to be what it has the potential to be, the work we do as a council must be done in good faith. We must be willing to set aside our competing interests and put the needs of the people of Sarnia first.
We must see the best in each of us.
Mike Bradley has been the mayor of Sarnia for 28 years