November 18, 2015 - 4:30 PM
ALLEGEDLY GAVE UNTRUE INFORMATION; FILM COMMISSIONER FEARED LOSS OF JOB
KELOWNA - A local politician is already in hot water with her colleagues, but tomorrow we should know exactly how much.
Patty Hanson, a veteran director at the Central Okanagan Regional District, faces what amounts to a disciplinary hearing by her colleagues on the board.
The Central Okanagan east director is accused of spilling confidential information from a board retreat. Worse, she is accused of distorting that information, making it inaccurate. Worse still, she is accused of telling the Okanagan Film Commissioner, who depends on funding from the regional district, that his job was in jeopardy.
Regional directors meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow to hear from both Hanson and film commissioner Jon Summerland to determine if it should censure or sanction Hanson. The board is considering either a strong rebuke about Hanson’s conduct or taking it another step and requiring Hanson to publicly apologize to Summerland and possibly even remove her from participating in nearly all of her committees.
Normally the only time council business is confidential is when councillors or board members deal with what’s known colloquially as ‘The Three Ls’: Land, legal or labour matters. Those are held in camera or behind closed doors because to do so publicly puts the corporation and, by extension taxpayers, at financial risk.
But this episode goes back to strategic planning sessions in May. Typically these are retreats where new councils or boards meet to determine priorities for the term.
Board chairperson Gail Given refused to speak specifically about the case before tomorrow’s hearing but agreed to speak generally about board confidences. She said strategic planning sessions are typically held in confidence because participants must feel free to discuss matters in a workshop setting.
All governing bodies do similar workshops.
According to the board report, Hanson was told several times the planning session was private and confidential. The three-term director was then privy to private questions, thoughts and concerns by her colleagues about various matters including the film commission.
Three months later, Hanson told Summerland in a meeting that based on what she heard at the strategic planning session, she was the only director who saw a future for the film commission, according to Summerland.
The board said not only was that potentially a breach of confidence and caused Summerland to be 'very concerned' about his job, it was also untrue.
The Local Government Act gives no power to boards or councils to remove individual councillors. They can only be disqualified from holding office for failing to attend meetings without excuse or for conflicts of interest.
Hanson agreed to return a phone call for this story but never did.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015