Decision on Skakun sanctions delayed
Council voted to proceed with looking at applying censures and sanctions against Coun. Brian Skakun following him being found guilty of breaching the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act after releasing a confidential report considered by council during a closed session.
The proceedings against Skakun by council are two part. In the first discussion, held at Monday’s session, councillors had to decide whether or not they would proceed with considering sanctions. If so, they then had to decide exactly which sanctions could be imposed, then set a date amenable with both sides for the second phase of the proceedings.
Skakun recused himself from council Monday when the matter came up. Hs lawyer, Jon Duncan, spoke on his behalf.
Duncan questioned council on whether or not it was appropriate to go ahead and consider sanctions at this point in time when there is an appeal pending, one likely to be heard by the Supreme Court in late fall or early winter.
Duncan also questioned the implementation of the process.
He said there is no precedent he is aware of in B.C. pertaining to this sort of issue and said Skakun had to be given time to prepare evidence and witnesses if council intended to proceed. He added that an issue also exists with other councillors, some who were witnesses in Skakun’s proceedings in Provincial Court, now acting as his judge.
“Who among members of council can sit as a judge of their colleague? Some councillors served as witnesses during the trial regarding their views of Skakun’s conduct.”
He went on to suggest an independent fair tribunal judge the matter and mentioned, in particular, credibility issues between Skakun and Coun. Debora Munoz.
In summary, he said, he wanted council to either wait until the appeal was dealt with to proceed or strike a committee to set up rules, present the ‘charges’ and allow Skakun to prepare a case.
Mayor Dan Rogers explained that council is guided by the community charter and part of the point of the night’s proceedings was establishing the direction council would take.
A motion was made to take the proceedings to the next step and discuss sanctions.
“I think we need to get on with it. It is delaying the responsibility of this body not to act now,” Coun. Dave Wilbur said.
Coun. Cameron Stolz said Skakun had admitted to releasing the private document.
“Council has a responsibility to do something at this point,” he said.
After that it was a matter of ensuring all the possible sanctions were stated openly and worded as council wanted them to be.
Sanctions include removing Skakun from the rotating position of acting mayor, removing him from the rotating position of chair of the committee as a whole, removing him from any appointments to official boards, removing him from council committees, removing him from any appointments to municipal committees, and restricting his travel to out of town local government events.
The mayor will also bring the matter forward once again, with the possibility the sanctions they choose to impose remain in place following the next election, should Skakun choose to run for council again and win his position.
Skakun and his representative were asked to choose a date sometime between Aug. 15 and Sept. 14 for the next part of the proceeding.