CEO slams ‘scurrilous and dishonest public campaign’ to drive him out
FORMER Toodyay Shire Cr Di Granger says she quit her council seat last month after facing aggression and behaviour that diminished her professional standing, and because she was harangued, belittled and thwarted by “those who should know better”.
Shire CEO Stan Scott had earlier accused “some councillors” – including Ms Granger – of “jumping on the bandwagon” of a “scurrilous and dishonest public campaign to drive me out of my job and potentially destroy my career in local government”.Read more
Ms Granger – who served less than five months as a councillor – is a consultant in organisational development in government and corporate sectors, and is currently contracted to provide professional services to the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum.
She ran for office on a platform of “communication, leadership and governance” and defeated former shire president David Dow in last October’s shire elctions.
Ms Granger said she was made to feel unwelcome from her first day on council.
Soon after, she and fellow new Cr Ben Bell were accused of leaking confidential shire information about legal costs after details were published in the December Herald.
The same information had already appeared in a publicised submission to the State Government well before the shire elections.
Cr Bell was also accused of breaching the council’s code of conduct and showing lack of respect by “adversely reflecting” on council meetings on his Facebook page.
Former Cr Granger said the “last straw” was an email copied to all councillors from Shire CEO Stan Scott on Saturday March 10 in which he claimed Cr Granger lacked experience and had a “very limited understanding” of local government.
“Really, how would you know what was unusual behaviour in local government?” Mr Scott wrote.
“I expect that council leadership will immediately jump on inappropriate and ill-informed criticism such as that contained in your latest email.”
Cr Granger had asked Shire President Brian Rayner and Deputy President Therese Chitty that councillors be kept informed of the “to and fro” between the CEO and WA Local Government Department, which in January placed the shire on notice of possible “further action” over concerns about shire operations and affairs, which the department said it was monitoring.
“I am appealing to you as leaders of this community and would like to understand why this communication is not readily available to elected members, those that oversee and govern the capability of the shire administration,” she wrote.
“It is confusing and not usual practice for a CEO of government or business to not keep his council or board informed.
“This is really unusual behaviour and one that needs to be addressed and remedied sooner than later.
“I wish to strongly voice my concern with the actions of the leadership at both admin and council regarding the handling of this matter.”
Although Cr Granger’s email was copied to Mr Scott and not addressed directly to him, he responded directly to her the following Saturday afternoon and claimed that he was being bullied.
“I would like to strongly voice my concern that in the face of a scurrilous and dishonest public campaign to drive me out of my job and potentially destroy my career in local government that some councillors are jumping on the bandwagon of this bullying campaign,” Mr Scott wrote.
“What I expect is that I will have a safe working environment free from bullying.
‘Not an all-in brawl’
“CEO performance management is based in the processes set out in the (Local Government) Act and my contract – it is not a rolling maul or an all-in brawl where everyone should feel free to share their ill-considered opinions on a whim.
“Perhaps before denigrating me or the council leadership, you should first take some advice from that leadership about what is and is not appropriate.”
Ms Granger said she was taking legal advice on further action.
Meanwhile, Cr Bell has lodged a public Freedom Of Information request asking the shire to release copies of all emails between councillors and the CEO that refer to former Cr Granger’s March 9 email and a Local Government Department letter in January that raised concerns about the shire’s operations and affairs.
The request – which is published online at righttoknow.org.au – includes “the email from Cr (Paula) Greenway, which was not sent to all councillors, which was sent following Cr Granger’s March 9 email”.
Shire President Brian Rayner said Mr Scott “shouldn’t have played it so strong” in his email to former Cr Granger.
“He was upset because he felt that Cr Granger was trying to run administration,” President Rayner said.
President Rayner said Mr Scott had not consulted him before sending his weekend email to Ms Granger, and he was surprised to read it the following Monday morning.
He then arranged a private mediation meeting between Mr Scott and the remaining councillors, and more meetings would be held this month.
“There are ongoing differences between the CEO and councillors, and we are trying to work through that,” President Rayner said.
“We have laid out a process and everyone has agreed to take part.”
Toodyay Shire CEO Stan Scott responded with the following comment which was emailed by him to the Herald at 9.07am on Wednesday, April 4 (too late for print publication) and was received two hours before the paper appeared on the street and was posted online. Tuesday, April 3 was not a Public Holiday.
“In my view the correspondence in question is confidential communication which was never intended for publication.
If former Cr Granger has indeed passed on copies of the correspondence to you or for that matter, to anyone else with the intention of causing me detriment or to embarrass the Shire, I believe this is an offense (sic) of Section 5.93 of the Local Government Act 1995. I cannot assume that because you quote the date of correspondence that you actually have copies, and I will continue to respect the confidentiality of that correspondence.
I would also point out that the Shire President offered mediation through an independent professional mediator, an offer that former Cr Granger declined prior to her resignation.”
Local Government Act 1995
Improper use of information
A person who is a council member, a committee member or an employee must not make improper use of any information acquired in the performance by the person of any of his or her functions under this Act or any other written law –
(a) to gain directly or indirectly an advantage for the person or any other person; or
(b) to cause detriment to the local government or any other person.
Penalty: $10,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
See also Editorial