The District of Sechelt government is facing some public scrutiny this week over a decision that has us scratching our heads.
A terse statement released to the local media Monday afternoon said, "Council resolved to remove Coun. Alice Lutes from her appointments to District committees, other than committee of the whole, and from her position as the District representative at the board of directors of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, effective immediately."
No further explanation has come from council, and when pressed for answers during a media briefing at the District Tuesday, Mayor John Henderson cited personal privacy issues and would not elaborate further. Late Wednesday night a further statement was received with, again, little or no explanation, just a commitment to keep the public informed.
Lutes was the only councillor present at Tuesday's media briefing, and when asked to comment, said she could not until she spoke to her legal counsel and would then provide the media with a statement.
Tuesday afternoon, we received her statement. Lutes said she feels the decision was "manifestly unfair and a politically-motivated attack on her reputation."
Because the decision was made in-camera by council, she is not legally permitted to say anything further unless council agrees to release the information to the public.
Lutes is asking, if not begging, in her statement for council to release all the facts. And we could not agree more with her.
The optics of how this decision has been handled does not sit well with us.
Does council not remember that they were elected and given the right to represent us in government? It's our taxpaying money that pays for government. It is our same taxpayers' rights to get an understanding of why this decision was made.
Council can make changes to its committee structure and has a right to make those changes, but they also owe it to the public to explain why they made those decisions.
By putting out press releases with no substance and offering no reason why, one could assume that Coun. Lutes did something wrong. Her reputation is at stake, but considering that she herself is pushing for council to release the details from in-camera, it leads us to believe that there are other factors at play here. We could be wrong, but how can we assume otherwise when questions are being left unanswered?
We can understand council protecting privacy concerns, but if the person you are supposedly protecting wants that information released and the air cleared, then whose privacy are you really trying to protect?
We urge Sechelt council to explain their actions. They owe it to the people who elected them to do so.
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