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TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016

VOL. 27, NO. 90

Councillors all receive portfolios

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RESTRUCTURING TIED to turmoil at city hall after councillors voice non-confidence in mayor. BY TaMaRa CUNNINgHaM THE NEwS BULLETiN

CHRIS BUSH/THe NewS BUlleTIN

Siblings Harper Rouse, 7, left, Sterling, 4, and Marina, 2, pause to ponder the daffodils and Coming Soon, an art installation at Maffeo Sutton Park, this past Friday afternoon. Spring was officially unboxed for 2016 on Sunday.

City finance department to look into mayor’s legal costs Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay billed the municipality just over $3,000 in legal fees last year, a move allowed if authorized by council or covered under the city’s conflict of interest policy. In this case, it was neither, but the City of Nanaimo paid the bill anyway. McKay spent $3,068 on legal costs in 2015, a Freedom of Information request shows. According to city staff members,

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expense was for, calling it privileged, but said the expense is allowed and referred to the community charter. “The mayor is the CEO of the organization, has a responsibility to the community and can seek legal advice as required,” he said. According to Tracy Samra, city manager, the mayor has unique duties under the charter and in order to carry those out he may need to get legal advice, but he has to get a motion to authorize and he has to share that legal advice.

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the mayor and councillors can spend money on legal fees in two ways: through a policy that allows politicians to seek legal advice on potential conflict of interest or with the authorization of council. The mayor, however, does not recall using the conflict of interest fund in 2015 and said council did not authorize the expense. City staff have no record of council authorization for the expense, and there’s been confirmation the legal expenditure was not for conflict of interest legal fees. McKay would not say what the legal

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A new portfolio system for politicians will help ensure Nanaimo city hall doesn’t come to a grinding halt, according to Coun. Wendy Pratt. City politicians have been assigned to nine different departments as part of a new portfolio system, now in effect. The system was announced last week on the heels of a letter of non-confidence in Mayor Bill McKay by the majority of city council and a call for his resignation over allegations that include poor attendance at council meetings. The change means better decisions and better support for staff in day-today operations, said Pratt, who added that normally the mayor and chief administrative officer would

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work together, but at the moment and as everybody understands, they are not. “Certainly you’ve already been well aware of what’s going on at city hall right now; we’re trying to fix that,” said Pratt. “The portfolio system is part of what we are trying to introduce to make sure that the council stays strong and is able to deal with all the day-today stuff through the CAO.” According to Pratt, there is a perception that work at city hall has ground to a halt when it hasn’t and the portfolio system is one way councillors are making sure that it doesn’t, regardless whether the mayor comes to the table and works collaboratively with councillors. See ‘CITY’ /4

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Nanaimo News Bulletin, March 22, 2016  

March 22, 2016 edition of the Nanaimo News Bulletin

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