City of North Van Council Legitimacy Impaired by Disclosures (updated)

Following is a submission from former CNV Councillor Guy Heywood.  Link to Guy’s blog is here:   This was originally published by Bill Bell in North Van City News as:

Unethical…Majority of North Vancouver City Council breaks its own rules

A trail of dirty developer money leads to Mayor Mussatto, Keating, Buchanan and Back

Mayor and Council

City of North Vancouver  

At a Council Meeting on November 4th, 2013 when I was a Councillor, I introduced a Notice of Motion that stated:

“WHEREAS the appearance of a conflict of interest is created when developers and unions that make significant contributions to election campaigns of candidates for Council also have matters that come before Council and that whether or not these conflicts are permitted in law, they harm the reputation of Council and impair the legitimacy of its decisions;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT while this resolution does not have the force of law, the City of North Vancouver strongly urges all candidates for election to Council to abstain from accepting donations from developers with projects or potential projects before Council or from labour unions that represent employees of the City”

The motion passed by a 4:3 vote with the Mayor, Councillor Keating and Councillor Buchanan voting against it.

The motion was an encouragement and plea to those who would seek office to clear what is by conventional standards of good governance, a relatively low bar in terms of ethical, transparent and  unconflicted decision making.

After reviewing the election financing disclosures of the Mayor and the candidates with whom he shared donations and expenses, it is clear why the Mayor and Councillors Keating and Buchanan would not support the motion.

My analysis (summary attached) of the disclosures is by no means complete or exhaustive but it is sufficient to support the following observations.

The disclosures, as a group, have many inconsistencies, some of which are created by their submission as individual disclosures when in fact, because of the many shared donations and expenses, they should have been consolidated as a party.

In several individual cases as well as overall, revenues do not match expenses. While there is no requirement to distinguish ‘in-kind’ from monetary donations, they should be matched by entries in both revenue and expenses so that total revenue and expense is matched.

It appears that some donors were directed to write multiple cheques to what was in fact one slate. Shared  expenses are not always matched in the disclosures of the candidates they were shared with. There are many questions that would require considerable time and analysis of an auditor to pursue.

More disquieting is that the vast majority (I estimate 87%) of the funds raised for the campaign of the Mayor’s slate were from corporations, individuals and unions that have a direct and identifiable commercial or other financial interest to advance or protect with the City.

This raises the question of whether the donations to the campaign of the Mayor’s slate represented legitimate support or were raised by trading on the goodwill and authority of the City of North Vancouver to pay what would otherwise be personal costs.

City Council is voting on the final reading of the Official Community Plan Bylaw this evening. It will likely pass by a 4:3 vote.  As predicted in the November motion, I believe that the legitimacy of this decision, and all other decisions that rely on the votes of members of Council who ran on the Mayor’s slate, are impaired because of the appearance of a conflict of interest that has been created by the way in which they financed their election campaign.

Yours truly,

Guy Heywood

Copy of MayorsSlate2014DonorsAndInterests

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s