Shire President refuses to admit misconduct
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY Shire President Brian Rayner (left) has refused to publicly admit a finding of misconduct against him and Shire CEO Stan Scott for publishing “derogatory” statements in the shire’s ratepayer-funded Toodyay Community Newsletter.
Their breach of the Shire Code of Conduct occurred last year but was not revealed until the shire council’s January meeting when Mr Scott and President Rayner – backed by Crs Paula Greenway and Judy Dow – tried unsuccessfully to get it overturned.Read more
President Rayner tried again last month to prevent the official finding of misconduct against him and Mr Scott being placed on the official public record while the council decides whether to offer Mr Scott a new contract of employment.
The adverse finding was made by Deputy President Therese Chitty who ruled last August that President Rayner and Mr Scott had both breached the Shire Code of Conduct by publishing a “derogatory or improper” statement in Mr Scott’s ‘R U OK?’ article in the shire’s April 2018 newsletter.
“Breaches of this code harm our reputation, reduce public trust and disrupt the proper function of the shire,” the Shire Code of Conduct states.
It also breaches clause 4.1.8 of Mr Scott’s current contract of employment and Section 5.103 of the WA Local Government Act.
President Rayner declined to stand aside at last month’s council meeting while public questions were asked about the finding of misconduct against him and Mr Scott.
“I’ll hear the questions first and then decide,” President Rayner said.
The first question asked whether President Rayner had been found by a shire ruling to have breached the Shire Code of Conduct.
“I’ll take that question on notice,” President Rayner said, implying that he needed more time to get further information about the question before responding to it at the next council meeting on March 26.
It prompted the public gallery to erupt into loud guffaws of laughter, after which President Rayner was again asked to stand aside to allow the question to be answered.
Deputy President Chitty then took over question time from her seat at the side of the top table and said “yes” – a finding of misconduct had been made against President Rayner and Mr Scott last August.
When asked if Mr Scott (pictured below) had refused to apologise or withdraw his published statements, Deputy President Chitty said she had no power as the investigating officer to order an apology or retraction.
In answer to a third question about how the council had responded to the finding of misconduct, Deputy President Chitty said no action was taken.
When asked if the council intended to take any action at all, she said the question would be taken on notice and answered at the next council meeting on Tuesday March 26.
A special meeting of council is due to start two hours earlier on the same day to discuss whether Mr Scott should be offered a new contract of employment when his current contract expires on July 22.
It follows a similar special council meeting behind closed doors last month when Cr Bill Manning, seconded by Cr Rob Welburn moved to adjourn discussions on the CEO’s contract until 2pm on March 26.
Deputy President Chitty and Cr Eric Twine supported the 4-3 decision after agreeing that there was enough time before the council’s April 18 contract deadline to enable Crs Ben Bell and Craig Brook – who missed last month’s meeting – to attend.
This would allow all nine elected members to have a say and vote on what Cr Manning described at the council’s January meeting as “the most important decision any council can make”.
President Rayner and Crs Greenway and Dow voted against the adjournment.
Cr Bell said in January that he opposed offering Mr Scott a new contract of employment.