At the meeting of council, Oct. 24, in the agenda package, were the legal costs incurred by council through their CAO (Evan Parliament), who under Bylaw 474, was given full authority to contact legal counsel or to give authority to contact legal counsel, in October 2010.
Our legal fees have increased steadily, starting at around $40,000 in 2008 and now over $170,000. It was interesting to note that the council did not know of any of these costs and weren’t even consulted, not unlike the five-year contract for the excessive advertising on the benches and garbage cans was negotiated and signed for by the CAO. Councillor Haldane has asked for the bylaw to come back to council and to remove the responsibility from the CAO. I believe the CAO has too much power in his hands and removes the control from council. Council stands to lose perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue as we could have sold advertising on classy Sooke-built benches and, as well, used the monies in the approved budget to put up shelters over the benches instead of using the budget to collect the garbage.
The hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees alleged by the mayor which she says was spent to deal with questions from four local citizens, is nowhere to be found in the legal fees. There aren’t even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fees and also they are reconciled with Special Projects, councillor questions and regular business of the day.
The mayor owes an apology and a retraction to all those affected by her defaming comments. Councillor Bennett also owes an apology to all those citizens which signed the counter petition sewer bylaw, for the vile comments he made about over 20 per cent of Sooke citizens, exercising their democratic rights. Council’s code of ethics says the following, Members and appointees shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of each other, District of Sooke officers and employees and yes, the public.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.