White Rock council has shot down a motion from Coun. Helen Fathers that sought to further examine the blocking of access to council email accounts last month.
Emails from five Peninsula residents were blocked from delivery to council and staff in May, apparently as the result of a request from Mayor Wayne Baldwin to staff to block the emails – which Baldwin termed “cyber-bullying” – from his own account.
Although Baldwin has said the mass blocking was a mistake due to “miscommunication” with staff, Father’s motion asked staff be instructed to “provide a detailed explanation of events leading up to the incident and subsequent reporting of it.”
Couns. Grant Meyer and Megan Knight spoke against against the motion at Monday’s council meeting; with Knight saying that the incident had been “fully explained – I hate wasting time on this.”
Most blistering comment came from Baldwin, who called the motion “an ill-conceived waste of time (showing) overwhelming zeal for petty politics.”
Coun. Dave Chesney sought to clarify that it had been “erroneously reported” that he had previously blocked emails from constituents, after Baldwin told PAN that Chesney, Fathers and Knight all blocked individuals.
“I would like it to be a matter of record that I have never blocked emails,” he said.
The motion was defeated with Meyer, Knight, Baldwin and. Lynne Sinclair and Bill Lawrence opposed.
Chesney was the focus of the adoption of a new council policy in a governance and legislation committee meeting earlier that evening.
The policy, 151, rules that council members must not use their official title in personal or business communications; for their own private advantage or personal gain (including gain by friends, family members and business associates); and are not to use their office to gain preferential treatment or influence decisions beyond normal conduct of duties.
Chesney, who has been perceived to be in conflict by using his official title in his online newspaper, whiterocksun.com, sought clarification from city administrator Dan Bottrill as to whether this would preclude him conducting his community conversation meetings or responding to media questions.
Bottrill said it was understood that both activities were done in the context of his official duties, and should not be a problem.