GRAVENHURST - Councillor Lola Bratty stunned her peers, staff and about 50 members of the public in chambers Sept. 4, revealing she had been the subject of one investigation of potential impropriety, is currently under a second for harassment of a staff member and a third is pending against council as a whole for how it has conducted closed-session meetings.
Coun. Lola Bratty under investigation.
Gravenhurst councillor Lola Bratty
During the debate on a proposed council code of conduct policy, Coun. Bratty made the revelations, reading a written statement in opposition of the draft.
Bratty was cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to events after the resignation of former revitalization coordinator Marilyn de Lang, the first investigation. De Lang’s letter of resignation noted conflicts with upper management and the accusation against Bratty was that the councillor had given information out publicly when it was to remain confidential correspondence.
The Banner did acquire a copy of the resignation letter and ran portions of it June 13 of this year, however, it was not gained through Bratty and she also said, “I did not share it outside of the confidentiality group.”
She expressed frustration that the issues brought out in de Lang’s letter had never been addressed in open forum by members of council and broached the issue as much as she could, again under her legal advice.
“Instead (of acting on de Lang’s comments), staff recommended the use of taxpayer resources for two investigations against me,” she said, adding she has been cleared on the first investigation. “The consequent municipal lawyers’ report recommends no action against me but has cost the taxpayers significant money.”
“I believe this investigation was unnecessary but successfully transferred the focus from the issues raised by Ms. De Lang to me,” she added.
She told the Banner that beyond the written statement, under legal advice, there was little she could expand on in terms of the investigations. She did confirm the harassment accusation was made by a staff member, but could not divulge who the accuser was nor the nature of the accusations against her.
“It is currently under investigation and it’s important that that play out,” she said. “I will categorically say that I did not harass anybody.”
She said because there is an impeding large legal expense to the town for the two actions against her, and the nature of the accusations, as much needed to be brought to the public light as possible. Although she said no specific meeting dates were named in the request, Bratty added that she has filed for an official ombudsman judicial review of how certain closed-door meetings had been called, recorded and reported on.
Although reported otherwise in the Sept. 7 Weekender, the cost of the ombudsman review is not borne by the municipality. The cost of the other two investigations against Bratty is not yet known, but will have to be paid for from municipal coffers.
“That’s the cost of democracy; democracy is expensive, but it’s the best system we’ve got and it works,” said CAO Frank Miele.
Once the second investigation is complete against Bratty, added Miele, a report will be created for council to consider in closed session. “That report will determine what action, if any at all, should be taken.”
“Everything I have said are facts and facts cannot be suppressed,” Bratty added, saying however, that she could not go much further in revealing information. “It’s been like hell; it’s been a terrible summer facing these accusations. But it’s a process and we have to go through it.”
Because the matters Bratty addressed had been dealt with only in closed forum, fellow members of council and staff were unwilling to discuss it further until the issue is dealt with. Mayor Paisley Donaldson said she could not comment on the investigations, but added that as of Sept. 11 the town had not received official notice from the ombudsman.