More the rule, than the exception

Dear Editor:

I would like to share with you some facts regarding my attempt to have council address my concern regarding the Morrin Chief Administrator Officer, CAO providing childcare in the Morrin Village office during regular business hours.
It is my contention that this practice is, among other things, using ratepayer facilities, equipment and personnel for personal use.
At the April 20, 2016 regular meeting of the Morrin Village council I presented a number of ratepayer concerns including the childcare concern (the other concerns will be addressed in a second submission to the Village lawyer).
Council did not respond to this concern at that time but stated they would get back to me at the May 19, 2016 rescheduled regular meeting.
I was given a place in the May 19 meeting and when I asked council about my concern I was told it was in legal hands and they would not be responding.
In due course I received a letter from the Village lawyer, dated June 15, 2016, highlighting the points in my ratepayer concerns submission from the April 20, 2016 meeting and stating I was to ‘cease and desist’ any further discussion of those matters other than through legal channels to council.
July 8, 2016 I prepared a response and submitted, as requested, to the Village lawyer for submission to Village council.
This letter concluded with this statement:  “In closing, I can substantiate all of the information in my April 20, 2016 presentation to council.  If they sincerely wish to address these issues I would ask them to invite me to a council meeting to show their good faith with an open and forthright discussion.   Going forward I will not go out of my way to discuss these concerns but will continue to share these facts with anyone who would like to be made aware of them”.
To date Village council has made no effort to respond.
The ‘offhand’ statement (“the CAO’s grandson is registered in Day Care”) by Mayor Lacher after adjournment of the July 20, 2016 meeting, in my view, could be considered a breach of trust as reference to a subject that was in “legal hands” was broached in public.
As Mayor Lacher had referenced the day care matter in public, I felt that I no longer should be bound by the ‘cease and desist’ request.  Therefore, on July 28, 2016, I contacted the CAO for a meeting with council and was informed this topic was, “as I well knew, in the hands of legal counsel”.
This statement indicates to me that the CAO was still under the impression that the issue was not out of legal purview until her December 29 statement to the contrary.
In October I met with my lawyer and determined my childcare concern could not be considered a legal issue as it was not highlighted in the ‘cease and desist’ request.
On Dec. 29 I contacted the CAO and requested a meeting with council on Jan. 18, 2017, explaining the meeting with my lawyer and the resultant determination.
After some email exchanges the CAO told me “the matter was resolved, as I well knew, at the July 20, 2016 meeting”.
Additionally, it was recorded in the July 28, 2016 publication of the ECA Review newspaper and, as well, referring to her grandson, “he goes to school during the day and in daycare on days off”.
Firstly, I do not feel that the ‘off hand’ statement by Mayor Lacher in public July 20 constitutes, by any standard, resolution of an issue by two parties.
Council had no problem discussing this matter with a newspaper reporter following the meeting, while leaving me out of the conversation.
I had attended the meeting but was not involved in or aware of the discussion following the meeting.  I had left after adjournment and hearing the Mayor’s statement.
Until Dec. 29 I was unaware that my concern, in the CAO’s view, had been resolved.  Secondly, the grandson continued to be in the Village office on school days and days off.
Consequently, I still felt I was entitled to an explanation from council as to why the CAO is allowed to care for her grandchild in the Village office during regular business hours, as the practice was still going on.
Jan. 13, 2017, I contacted CAO Plachner to request a meeting with council at the regular meeting, Jan. 18, 2017 to discuss her childcare during regular business hours.
CAO Plachner’s response (now number three) was “your request is denied as this is not a valid issue.  This is a public building and my grandson, by law, is allowed here in the office after school for half an hour to visit me.  Check with your attorney”.
To this I replied:  “That is great to hear!  I will publish your statement in the local papers and encourage other parents with children to have them come down and visit you after school for half an hour”.
CAO replied: (I would submit, no sense of humour!):  “I would like to bring to your attention that stalking is a criminal offense.  I know you were stalking the Village office, myself and my grandson from the United Church window for several days.  I have logged the days and times and have pictures of you entering and leaving the church and have therefore, for the safety of my grandson and myself have contacted the RCMP”.
As an aside, as a member of the Morrin United Church, I do maintenance on a volunteer basis and, as I am retired, have no set schedule when I attend to my duties.
In conclusion, I submit I am not an unreasonable person and appreciate, from time to time, due to unforeseen circumstances, that employees may have to care for family members in the workplace.  My concern is that this situation is ‘more the rule than the exception’.
Additionally, I am concerned and disappointed that council has chosen to use legal and evasive means rather than being open, respectful and transparent with me in dealing with this matter.
Respectfully submitted,
Howard Helton
Morrin, Ab.

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ECA Review