By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - South Stormont Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart found herself in the crossfire of council and integrity commissioner Robert Swayze - again.
© Adam Brazeau
South Stormont Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart.
South Stormont Council approved a four-week pay freeze on Hart in support of a recommendation from Swayze at their monthly meeting Wednesday night.
Her wages will be suspended starting on the next pay period after May 14.
"I certainly don't agree with it," said Hart.
Swayze's report stated that the deputy mayor violated the code of conduct for the third time by completely misrepresenting council's plans to fund a new media publication.
The integrity commissioner noted that Hart came across as an intelligent and articulate person who has failed to grasp that she has been elected to an important position as a member of the board of directors of a corporation.
"Councilâs beloved integrity commissioner once again scolded me and this time penalized me by removing four weeksâ salary. So be it," she said. "Anyone who knows me knows that I stand by my convictions and I will always do my utmost to make sure any expenditure will benefit the majority of taxpayers, not one or two."
Councillor Richard Waldroff questioned the impact of reducing Hart's wages.
"I think four weeks is an acceptable number. My concern is I'm really not sure what it's going to accomplish. Is four weeks going to stop the release of untrue and unfounded information? Where are we going here?" said Waldroff.
Hart asked South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis if council could move forward.
"Mr. Mayor, I would like to put this behind me right now. I realize this has caused a lot of disturbances. I think I made my point quite clear and I'm willing to draw a conclusion," she said.
McGillis expressed his willingness to achieve a common goal.
"Once a decision is made by council let's work together. I'm glad you said that and am willing to give you another chance," said McGillis.
Swayze's report stated his main concern is "she will never be a team player."
"Iâve also been told that Iâm not a team player, will let me say this: when the 'team' always has a four to one vote against any of my concerns, itâs pretty hard to get anything moving in another direction once the 'team' has made up their minds," said Hart. "Yes, I find it difficult. And yes, I would like things to change."
McGillis reassured her that it's not a personal attack.
"I don't think anybody doesn't think you're not passionate about the community, that you're not working for the ratepayer," he said. "The only thing we're concerned about is the action you take in terms of not following protocol in the procedural bylaw.
"It's not four against one. I hope you don't portray it that way. We want to see everyone act accordingly to the code of conduct. There's right and there's wrong - and this time the integrity commissioner said 'this is wrong.' So let's work together and move on."
Hart remains adamant in her lack of support for the new media project, but is stepping back from the ordeal. Swayze's report stated that Hart's next suspension will be eight weeks of pay.
"I feel that the funds that have been allocated to a new newspaper in South Stormont could be utilized much more effectively in our community for badly needed infrastructure. I think council made the wrong decision by going with a new newspaper when in fact we put $21,000 into a revised website," she said.
The deputy mayor had plenty of supporters at the meeting. A long round of applause followed her closing statement.
"I would like to start by thanking everyone who has supported me through this very difficult process. Because of the support shown it has allowed me the sustenance to not give up and I thank each and every one of you," she said. "Itâs not a nice situation to be put in and I hope that no one else ever has to endure what I have just been put through these last several weeks."
Click here to read the full report.