Central Elgin Council Rejects Integrity Commissioner’s Report on Mayor’s Misconduct

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Laura Dean, the Integrity Commissioner (IC), expressed her shock and disappointment when the council of Central Elgin unexpectedly chose to dismiss her report. Dean stated that during her tenure, she has never before witnessed a council do this.

The vote to reject the report, which deemed Mayor Andrew Sloan in violation of the code of conduct on three separate instances, was passed 4-2, with Mayor Sloan abstaining from making a decision. Council members Norm Watson, Michelle Graham, David Connors, and Deputy Mayor Todd Noble sided against accepting the results of the investigation; only council members Morgaine Halpin and David Baughman supported the IC’s findings.

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Baughman registered his surprise at this turn of events: “The integrity commissioner’s report has caught me completely off guard,” he admitted.

Deputy Mayor Todd Noble elected not to comment when media outlets reached out for his perspective on the council’s resolution. Council members Watson, on the other hand, defended his voting choice because he believes the Mayor has committed commendable acts, including maintaining taxes at zero percent and promoting a promising relationship with Volkswagen. He further criticized the IC for nitpicking on procedural discrepancies — a charge he deems unfair to the Mayor.

Michelle Graham and David Connors delivered a joint statement decrying the IC’s failure to interview every possible witness – an omission they noted as a “significant oversight”. Their statement highlighted the council’s unanimous decisions regarding the national anthem, hiring a consultant, and the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Their argument was that the Mayor’s decisions were collectively agreed upon by the council and therefore should not be dismissed.

Laura Dean stands by her report, asserting that the findings are clear. According to her, the council’s decision not to even deal with the report—which verified transgressions on the part of the mayor—is surprising. She points out that such decisions undermine the integrity and transparency of the council, suggesting a lack of respect for the statutory framework designed to keep civic bodies accountable.

The report found Mayor Sloan culpable of violating the code in two principal ways – first, by overstepping his authority in directing staff, and second, by executing a non-disclosure agreement without the council’s authorization.

Voicing his view on the issue, political science professor Joseph Lyons, pointed out that this sort of “strong-mayor” system, now prevalent across 49 municipalities, is a growing concern for many, who worry about autocratic dynamics seeping into mayoral leadership.

Although Central Elgin Chief Administrative Officer Robin Greenall could not disclose the cost of the IC’s report, he suggested it could exceed $80,000.

The council’s attitude and rejection of the report have sparked frustration among Central Elgin residents, who feel that tax money has been wasted and the principles of transparency and accountability overlooked. Some alluded to a voting block free to act without consequence. The sentiment among residents can be summed up in Baughman’s words: “I’d hate to say it’s carte blanche, but there seems to be a lack of respect for our rules here.”

Watson voiced hope for more unity and less petty discord on the council to facilitate functional progression. “If we can prevent this petty discord, we can spare more resources by eliminating the need for an integrity commissioner and achieve more through cooperation,” he said.