Now that Evan Parliament has resigned as CAO, is it appropriate for the citizens of Sooke to sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and declare all is right with the world? Evan Parliament was not the problem. He was a symptom of the problem. Since incorporation, Sooke has travelled like a ship without a master, with a crew that at times operates without adequate direction, and at other times, with an agenda foist upon them by elected and unelected persons.
Anyone who thinks that Evan Parliament acted on his own, and that no blame attaches elsewhere, should give their head a shake. The most trusted position in our hallowed halls is that of Director of Finance. It appears when one searches the records, that former Director of Finance, Dave Devana, was complicit with Evan Parliament in a scheme to finance their trip to China, using the District of Sooke Visa cards, creating an account receivable in each name, and paying the debt over a number of months, in effect using the taxpayers of Sooke as bankers for their caper.
Records clearly show that in July of 2009, both Parliament and Devana used DOS credit cards to forward $2,182.49 each, to the group in San Jose, who were the trip organizers. The use of DOS credit cards for personal expenditures is not allowed. This trip was not a business venture, but billed as a holiday. There is no record of any approval by the council of the day, for these two to set up an account, use the district funds to bankroll their trip, and pay the monies back over a period of months. It always comes down to the same questions: Who knew? What did they know? When did they know it?
There is no doubt that governance in Sooke is in disarray. It is hard to do an exact count, but staff turnover in this town is astounding. We will now be hiring our third CAO. We have had four Directors of Finance, and have just appointed our fifth. We have had at least five Directors of Engineering, and so many Directors of Planning it is impossible to count. The end result is an endless number of studies, plans, consultants reports, etc., gathering dust on shelves. There are untold dollars involved in these documents, and there is no doubt that under proper direction, our own residents could have done the job as volunteers, and done it with our community in mind.
Our town is broken and there is enough blame to go around. Some of it belongs to those of us who go to the ballot box and leave our brains at home. Some of it belongs to those who sit at the council table and vote without understanding the issues, or vote to satisfy a personal agenda, rather than consider the good of the community.
Without a doubt, much of it belongs to those who have done the hiring. It is not possible to hire efficiently, unless one understands the requirements of the position and how municipalities should work.