Councillor says new Board of Police Commissioners appointments violate city bylaws

A Prince Albert city councillor says the city violated its own procedure and police commission bylaws with their recent appointments to the Board of Police Commissioners.

The city introduced the new board at a press conference on Dec. 6, but did not officially approve the candidates until the last regular council meeting on Dec. 10.

Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha took issue with that process during Monday’s meeting, calling the decision a “substantial breach of policy, procedure and applicable bylaws.” Botha said that council had not received any presentations on the three new civilian police board members, and argued that council may be missing out on more qualified individuals as a result.

Botha didn’t shy away from that position during an interview on Tuesday.

“Ultimately the mayor makes recommendations, but the council as a whole gets to ratify and vote on those recommendations,” he said. “With a press conference with all the pomp and ceremony that took place last week, which I did not attend out of principle, we don’t have time to debate or discuss any of these proposals.”

At issue are Section 9 in the city’s police board bylaw and Section 73 in the city’s procedure bylaw. The first governs how appointments are made to the positions of police board chair and vice-chair. The second focuses on how appointments are made for committees.

Botha said he had no issue with Janet Carriere, Sheryl Kimbley or Darcy Sander, the three new members appointed to the board. However, he argued that those bylaws show council should have had more time to review those appointments. He also said the new board should appoint a chair when it meets for the first time in 2019.

“These are supposed to be recommendations only, not official appointments as was covered in the media or was communicated by email,” he said during the meeting. “In this instance, there are more qualified and experienced individuals that have experienced their applications who may have been overlooked.”

Mayor Greg Dionne took exception to Botha’s remarks, kicking off a 20-minute debate during Monday’s meeting. Dionne started by talking about two-year terms before Botha interrupted him and asked the mayor to answer the question. Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick then rose on a point of order, asking why one particular councillor was being allowed to grandstand in violation of the rules of assembly.

“I am appalled at what’s happening in this chamber, and how people are treating … the office of mayor and members of this chambers,” he argued. “We need to follow procedures, and that’s what I’m asking.”

The three new appointments were ultimately approved by a 6-3 margin following the intervention of Prince Albert City Clerk Sherry Person who told council proper procedure had been followed. However, there were significant concerns, specifically from Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky, that other strong candidates were not being given a fair hearing.

When asked about the discussion during a media scrum, Mayor Greg Dionne said they only decided to introduce the new board at a press conference because the names of the new appointees were already public.

“Procedure was followed,” Dionne said on Monday. “Council ratified it as they did today and, as I said in the press conference when I introduced the board, there was still two more steps. One is tonight. Now that’s done. In January, the board will vote on the positions.”

Dionne also argued that appointments to boards and committees were more open now than they when he first started on council. He said the complaints about proper procedure were simply “sour grapes.”

Section 73.2 of the city’s procedure bylaw reads, “the Clerk shall provide all applications received and attendance record to the Council Committees to which appointments are to be made to the Mayor who shall present his recommendations to City Council for consideration.”

Section 9 of the Board of Police Commission Bylaw reads, “the Board shall appoint one of its Board members to be Chairperson and another Board member to be Vice-Chairperson.”

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