While I often disagree with Councillor Peter Poole, I have nothing but sympathy for him in the matter outlined in your lead article last Thursday (Dec. 12).
Unless the matter has been badly reported, which would be most unusual for Ms. Cathy Ellis, the council members condemning Mr. Poole’s diligent followup of questions arising during souncil’s review of this autumn’s Municipal Committee Appointments did not cite specific contraventions of either the Town’s Committee Appointments Policy (C019-9) or the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RSA 2000, Ch.F-25).
I challenge them to do so.
Your article’s account of Mr. Poole’s actions and my personal review of the provincial legislation and of Policy C019-9 did not disclose grounds for impugning those actions.
However, in the course of my reading I reviewed the Town’s online Council Policy Handbook (updated Aug. 12, 2019) which lists a plethora (more than 50) of policies dealing with everything from flag protocols to sidewalk maintenance.
While these policies provide guidance for administration and, I am sure, some comforting assurance of consensus for council members in a variety of situations, they are just that, policies, not having any legal effect on the actions or obligations of council members.
To the extent that they subordinate the initiative and judgment of individual council members to guidelines expressing general objectives for administration, they are to be condemned as an afront to representative government.
Politics, particularly local politics, are and should be messy; council is where local controversies and decisions go to be settled by the representatives we have elected.
Such public business, with few very limited exceptions, should be done in public. Councillor Poole recognizes this better than most and should be commended for his diligence in pursuing his duties in respect of this important annual committee appointment process.