Skakun apologizes, council decides not to censure
As far as council is concerned, the Brian Skakun affair is finished.
Acting mayor Shari Green, chaired a special council meeting at city hall Friday, called to discuss the results of the court action taken by Skakun to stop council from imposing censure and sanctions on him at least until after his appeal is heard, and to request neither Coun. Debora Munoz nor Mayor Dan Rogers be part of the censure/sanction procedure. Skakun was found guilty of contravening the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act when he leaked a confidential report to the media.
Both Munoz and Rogers recused themselves from whatever hearing would take place, removing one roadblock.
Then the judgment handed down from the bench allowed council to proceed. A staff report summing up the matter to date was accepted by council at the meeting. It listed three possible avvenues council could take, including not proceeding at this time, proceeding with consideration of censure or proceeding with consideration of censure and sanctions.
If the second or third step was taken, several matters would have to be cleared up leading to a hearing for Skakun before council.
However, Green didn't think any of the choices provided were appropriate. Instead she wanted a document that avoided censure and sanctions while ending the matter completely.
"They didn't allow for an opportunity to conclude the matter before the election. I saw it as an impossibility to proceed and not conclude the matter," she said.
In response to this, Green prepared a short statement she shared with council before the meeting, giving them a chance to consider it. The statement goes over Skakun's actions and expresses disappointment over the choice he made to share a confidential document.It also explained the city could have been liable for a financial penalty of up to $500,000, and therefore council instructed the mayor and administration to investigate the matter. The matter was passed to the RCMP and eventually charges against Skakun were recommended to crown counsel.
"City council regrets that Coun. Skakun unlawfully released personal information. We acknowledge that Coun. Skakun has endured a lengthy legal process as a result," a portion of the statement said, finishing with, "With the issuance of this statement, city council concludes city business concerning this matter."
Skakun also had the opportunity to make a brief statement to council before leaving chambers. It included an apology to council and administration.
"I don't think there has been a day in the last three years that I don't look back and think there had to have been a better way to get this information out, but at the time I did not think there were any other options," he said.
Each councillor who attended the meeting spoke on the matter, supporting the statement put together by Green.
"Thank you for the leadership on this issue," Coun. Murry Krause said, adding the whole thing has been very divisive for the community. "I would like to see closure. I believe Coun. Skakun probably did these things because he thought they were right."
Coun. Dave Wilbur said though he supported censure and sanctions previously, several matters changed his mind, including what he believes to be Skakun's sincere apology.
"Coun. Skakun has paid the price," he said.
Coun. Cameron Stolz agreed that Skakun had paid the price over the years, but so had council. He said through the whole matter, everyone acted in good faith, from city council to administration and to Skakun.
"This has not been a witch hunt. Just due diligence," he said. "We need to get beyond this now. It shouldn't be around to affect a third council. We need to resolve this because it's our mess."
Coun. Garth Frizzell added that when Skakun apologized it showed remorse and said he, too, would support the statement.
Following a vote, the Skakun affair, which has been dogging city hall for years, was finally laid to rest.
However, Skakun said the appeal in supreme court will continue. And though he regrets how he acted, he still believes it's important the public has access to more information.
"I would have done everything I could have internally," he said but added he does believe there needs to be a mechanism in place so important information is shared appropriately.
Working towards that may be a slow process, but he intends to keep at it.But for now, this portion of the journey is over and Skakun is as happy as everyone else to see it end.
"It feels good to be over," he said. "It's been extremely difficult for myself and council. I appreciate the people I work with, the people on council. And the new council didn't need to inherit any of this."