Kamloops city council strips mayor of communications duties, tightens reins on signing requirements

Mayor stripped of duties

Kamloops city council is excluding Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson from important city business, now directing all levels of government and other agencies to communicate with them rather than him.

A resolution passed in a closed meeting Tuesday also gave Hamer-Jackson 48 hours to sign documents, following his alleged recent refusal to sign a letter council voted to send to the Agricultural Land Commission.

“Whether it be the Braun report, whether it be privacy breaches, whether it be conflict of interest breaches, whether it be code of conduct violations — where do you want me to stop? — there’s a laundry list of challenges that we have had with this mayor,” Coun. Kelly Hall told Castanet Kamloops on Wednesday morning, not long after he sent out a news release on council’s behalf announcing the measures.

“For whatever reason — maybe he doesn’t have the capacity to understand the severity of what is happening and the challenges his actions present not only to council, but to the city — it’s important that we take these steps.”

While Hamer-Jackson is being removed as official spokesperson for the city, Hall said he is also being pushed out of the mayor’s role as point person on important dialogues that happen behind the scenes between city hall and various levels of government and other non-government agencies.

“What we’re saying is, if you want to communicate with the City of Kamloops, your communication comes to the deputy mayor and we will communicate openly, transparently on whatever your needs are,” Hall said.

“If it’s a grand opening, if it’s ministers coming to the community, if it’s anything to do with the city’s corporate business, you’ll be dealing with the deputy mayor.”

Questions about mayor's 'skill set'

The resolution relies extensively on the Braun report — a report prepared and presented publicly earlier this month by municipal advisor Henry Braun — citing Braun’s findings regarding Hamer-Jackson’s behaviour and actions at city hall, including a stubborn refusal to understand his role, take advice or “build bridges."

Hall pointed to a recent incident in which he said the mayor refused to sign a document council voted to send to the Agricultural Land Commission.

“It’s making sure that things are done in a timely manner,” he said.

“This corporation is a business, and the business needs to be run appropriately. I just harken back to the fact that I don’t think the mayor has the skill set to operate the particular business of the corporation.”

Council voted on April 23 to send the letter to the ALC.

“Here it is, end of May, and we’re just getting that letter signed,” he said. “Is that timely? I don’t think so.”

Hamer-Jackson didn't like letter

Hamer-Jackson said he disputes Hall’s version of events when it comes to the ALC letter, which was inviting representatives from the commission to a future council meeting.

He said he didn’t like the way the letter was written and he wanted to make changes.

“They send me this document with my name on the bottom of it, and to me it’s just very rude,” the mayor told Castanet.

“To me, that’s not the way I would invite somebody to come to council. I wanted to make it more inviting."

Hamer-Jackson accused Hall and council of attempting to subvert him as mayor. He also began to litigate past grudges with CAO David Trawin and some city councillors.

“Oh, they want to get rid of me,” he said. “Do you think any one of them collectively voted for me? Since Day 1, they’ve had an agenda.”

Mayor stormed out of meeting?

Hamer-Jackson hadn’t read the resolution when he spoke to Castanet. He walked out of Tuesday’s meeting when Hall began to read it aloud.

“I called a point of order and he kept reading, and I called a point of order and he kept reading,” Hamer-Jackson said.

“I asked that I wanted legal representation and he wouldn’t listen to me. He kept talking, so I actually left — that’s all I know of it.”

Once again, the mayor’s version of events differs from that of council.

“We wanted to apprise the mayor on everything that was going on, and just as I was getting into reading the letter that would be going out, he recused himself and said he needed to go get legal advice,” Hall said.

“He stormed off from the council chambers, which was really unusual because I wanted to give him the opportunity to understand and hear what council is doing.”

Hamer-Jackson demands proof

Hamer-Jackson kept repeating the same thing in his interview with Castanet — that he wanted to see proof of bullying and harassment allegations levelled against him by people inside city hall.

“It’s like I’ve said to [Hall] in the past, ‘Do you have any proof or any evidence of me bullying and harassing any staff members?’” the mayor said, imploring Castanet to write a story about that topic.

“Not hearsay, because hearsay doesn’t go very far in a courtroom. If you had to get on a witness stand, if you’re up there, what would you say?”

When told that the resolution does not include the words “bullying" or “harassment," Hamer-Jackson doubled down and dug deeper into his chest of grudges.

“What would it be about? Facts, proof and evidence is what’s needed, not hearsay,” he said.

“You don’t think that the day I got elected, that Kelly Hall wanted Dieter Dudy to be the mayor? Come on, a lot of people see that this has been happening since Day 1.”

Hamer-Jackson said he would phone Castanet’s newsroom once he had read the resolution. This story will be updated if more information becomes known.

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