Hudson facing ethics investigation
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost has vowed renewed resolve in protecting his reputation following the ethics complaint launched against him with Ministère des Affaires Municipales et de l’Occupation du Territoire (MAMOT) by an unnamed individual.
In his opening remarks at the beginning of the town council meeting Monday December 7, Mayor Ed Prévost said a formal ethics complaint had been filed against him with the Ministère des Affaires Municipales et de l’Occupation du Territoire (MAMOT). Prévost said the action came to light in a La Presse article published Monday, November 2. The mayor said the complaint was filed by an undisclosed individual or individuals and had resulted in a negative impact on himself, his family and friends.
“I cannot identify the accusers even though I know who they are nor can I dismiss all of the allegations because ongoing legal proceedings could be compromised,” he said, insisting the accusations have no substance. “I assure you that all of these insinuations will be proven to be what they are: malicious attempts to smear the town, the council and yours truly,” said Prévost.
The mayor alluded to the possibility of a conspiracy referring to a list of complaints, some of which were inherited from previous administrations, and some of more recent vintage. He said the legal issues have absorbed the energy and finances of the town that should have been dedicated to building Hudson’s future.
“My kids told me to give it up,” said Prévost, “However, now that I know who the conspirators are, I will not back down.” The mayor went on to quote the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, “Just watch me.”
In an interview on Wednesday December 9, Prévost confirmed that Councillor Robert Spencer had signed but not read the original ethics complaint filed with MAMOT. “I have heard since that Mr. Spencer is telling people that he is the source of the complaint,” said the mayor adding, “I’m told that he signed it but never read it.”
Prévost also said in his council meeting remarks that the current Director General Jean-Pierre Roy, as well his predecessor Duncan Campbell, have met on a regular basis with MAMOT and have established a good relationship.
Legal costs published in the list of payments available at the meeting caught the eye of resident Frank Hicks. In reference to the $95,438.15 paid for legal fees, with approximately $67,462 of that amount spent on legal battles with former Director General Catherine Haulard case, Hicks asked if and when the hemorrhaging of money would stop.
“We have no choice. We have to defend ourselves,” responded the mayor adding the town is trying to resolve issues out of court where possible. Haulard left her position in February of this year, following a two-week suspension. She has subsequently launched a wrongful dismissal suit against the town which is currently before the Commission des relations du travail (CRT).
Further legal costs to the town have been accrued from action taken by Como Gardens Street resident Giuseppe Valente. In legal documents obtained by Your Local Journal, Valente is seeking damages for what he alleges is inaction on the part of the Town of Hudson in resolving disputes with his immediate neighbour over landscaping issues that have left his property flooded and which have created an “aesthetically debilitating” view due to the presence of large boulders. The case is scheduled to be heard early in 2016.
Councillors Natalie Best of District 6 and Robert Spencer were absent from the Monday evening meeting. The mayor reported Best was not well and that Spencer had not attended recent caucus meetings. “We haven’t heard from him in quite some time,” said Prévost.
A resolution passed by council mandating legal proceedings against the defamation of Town of Hudson employees also raised a question regarding costs. “It’s shameful that we have to put something like this in our minutes,” said District 3 Councillor Nicole Durand who read the article into the minutes. “We have to protect our employees from false allegations on social media,” she added. Eva McCartney pointed out that the town could go bankrupt paying legal costs pursuing those who make comments on social media.
In other business, council passed three Notices of Motion. The first, for By-Law 668-2015 concerns the establishment of taxes, compensations and tariffs for 2016. The second and third notices are for loan by-laws, the first for $800,000 for the buy-out of fire fighting vehicles currently being rented. The second loan by-law for $1.5 million is for the resurfacing of roads plan.
Under the heading of Management and Human Resources, Council passed a resolution in accordance with Section 81 of the Cities and Towns Act permitting the Town to pursue a former unnamed employee for the retrieval of a computer and files followed by a resolution permitting a third party claim against Catherine Haulard in the Sheehan versus the Town of Hudson lawsuit.
The mayor confirmed on Wednesday that both resolutions are aimed at Haulard the latter having been sent a legal letter by the town for the return of a computer and files she allegedly had taken with her. “By law, when you leave an employment you must return whatever belongs to the town or the employer with thirty days,” explained Prévost noting that the town had not received a response to their letter.
The Notice of Motion for the purchase of the fire vehicles was questioned by resident Marcus Owen. “We were told by the previous administration that the way to go was to lease them, now we are told we can save money by buying them. What’s happened to change this?” asked Owen. “We hired a new treasurer,” responded the mayor with a smile.
Mayor Prévost announced that the 2016 Budget presentation would take place Tuesday, December 15, at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre at 7 p.m.