Peace on Earth and goodwill toward fellow councillors. With the holiday season upon us, our Christmas wish for Kings County councillors is to put recent disagreements and unrest behind them and start 2014 on the right foot.
There has been a lot of attention paid as of late to an alleged violation of the councillor code of conduct that has resulted in one councillor, Pauline Raven, taking the municipality to Supreme Court for a judicial review.
An argument could be made that more fuel was added to the fire when someone leaked a letter to the Kings County Advertiser. The letter was written by the warden to document the successful resolution of a code of conduct violation alleged against Raven by Coun. Kim MacQuarrie.
To date, no member of council has taken responsibility for the leaked letter. Circulated to council members through email, there are limited suspects.
One councillor, Emma VanRooyen, took action after she was named in the letter as a witness to the incident between Raven and MacQuarrie. Standing on a point of privilege at the Dec. 10 committee of the whole session, VanRooyen told her colleagues she would have refused to be referenced in this correspondence if given the chance.
Because she was not consulted beforehand, VanRooyen feels she was unwittingly implicated and misrepresented by what was written. She believes the letter has deepened divisions and caused unnecessary personal hurt to multiple people. VanRooyen said she would not be used as a tool of division and she wants to contribute to a functional council, not fracture it.
VanRooyen will be calling for an amendment to Bylaw 64 that would give a councillor the right to revise official county correspondence before circulation, if the correspondence claims to express the viewpoint or opinion of a councillor or refers to action taken by a councillor.
We applaud VanRooyen for showing leadership by taking a positive approach to dealing with a situation she didn’t agree with. Some people might feel this is perpetuating bad blood or drawing more undue attention to the situation. However, we agree with VanRooyen that councillors can only recognize mistakes, learn from them and move on with the business of governing the municipality.
We also wonder what the motive was for leaking the letter. Was it to embarrass Raven or an attempt to shed light on what has been transpiring behind closed doors at county council? Perhaps the answer to this question will remain a mystery.
We sincerely hope all council members can find the middle ground in 2014. Agree to disagree when necessary and return full focus to the day-to-day business of the municipality, not infighting or one-upmanship.