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Central Okanagan director censured, sanctioned and stripped of most duties

Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland speaks to the Central Okanagan Regional District Board of Directors prior to the board voting to censure and sanction director Patty Hanson.

KELOWNA - Regional politicians took a rare step today in censuring and sanctioning one of their own, demanding she write an apology and stripping her of the ability to represent her area on several committees.

All but three Central Okanagan Regional District directors voted to rebuke Central Okanagan East director Patty Hanson and have her provide a written apology to Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.

The regional directors staged a rare bit of political theatre in a quasi-judicial hearing of both Summerland and Hanson regarding an informal meeting the two had in August. Directors determined that Hanson disclosed confidential information, or at least was unauthorized to speak with Summerland on their behalf, and that she entirely misrepresented what board members discussed at a confidential retreat in West Kelowna in May.

Today's two-hour long meeting heard first from Summerland, who reiterated what he told board members in a letter: That Hanson visited him in August, a few months after the board’s strategic planning sessions and warned him his job was in jeopardy. She intimated that she was the only board member who supported him and the film commission, he said. Summerland reacted by telling board chair Gail Given about his worries for his own future and that set the board down the path to today’s decision.

Summerland said he asked Hanson specifically if Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater lost confidence in the commission. He told the board today she nodded her head they didn't support him. Basran and Findlater made special note today to say that did not represent their true wishes and beliefs.

Basran made his feelings certain today.

“(Hanson) freely admitted to taking information and formed an opinion and a wrong opinion that the board doesn’t know what (the film commissioner) does... and took it as a board opinion and then shared it with an outside source,” he said. “That is inappropriate and reckless.... (and) significantly damaged the credibility of the board to go through this (hearing).”

Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin and Central Okanagan West director Wayne Carson joined Hanson in voting against censure and the demand for apology. Directors Luke Stack and James Baker (Lake Country) voted against further sanctions by removing her from her positions on three committees including the film commission and the Economic Development Committee.

Hanson was represented by a lawyer, Matt Blow, but both refused to comment when the meeting ended. It’s not the first time Hanson, a veteran director first elected in 2002, has come under fire by board members and asked to apologize, but it’s the first time she has been censured and sanctioned.

She denied any wrongdoing in the matter and has not apologized for her actions. She told the board they were making too much of the exchange. She said as a strong supporter of the film commission and a former board member, she was 'coaching' Summerland on how best to convince board members of the value of the commission. She said she didn't disclose any confidential information, she simply gave him her opinion that he needed to do more work to convince the board. She also said she gave him her opinion that a change in funding formula was due because other regional districts weren't providing their fair share. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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