Confidentiality rules prohibit council from backing up allegations against mayor, Karpuk says

Council unable to give proof

Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson asked city councillors for proof after they alleged last week he has subjected them to "belittling" and disrespectful behaviour, but one councillor says discussing details would breach confidentiality rules.

Last week, councillors responded to Hamer-Jackson's sweeping changes of council's standing committees. Reading a statement on behalf of each of the city’s eight councillors, Coun. Katie Neustaeter said councillors have been dealing with a hostile work environment at city hall.

“While we as councillors have been subjected to repeated disrespect, violations of personal and professional boundaries, belittling and constantly disruptive behaviour by the mayor, we’ve been willing to absorb the impact in service to our community and in an attempt to have city business compromised as little as possible,” she said.

Hamer-Jackson has vehemently denied the allegations.

“You don't just say that about somebody,” Hamer-Jackson said, adding he thought the councillors’ response showed “a total lack of respect.”

The mayor has also demanded proof of the claims.

"What I'd really like to know is what personal and professional boundaries that I've crossed. With who? And what were they? Was it all council? Was an individual?" he asked.

"This is very damaging to me."

Coun. Stephen Karpuk told Castanet Kamloops most of the information the mayor is asking councillors to produce happened during an in-camera meeting, so councillors are not able to discuss the details.

"To bring it forward and identify it would be breaching confidentiality of a closed meeting, which would put every one of us at risk for being removed from office for breaching that," Karpuk said.

"Whether the mayor is intentionally doing that or he has some other agenda, or he's just ignorant to the fact that he doesn't remember what format and where these things occurred — but we are well aware and cognizant of the fact that they did occur largely in closed, non-public settings."

Karpuk said he's not sure whether Hamer-Jackson knows he's asking for something council cannot provide.

"In some ways you can shield yourself and do all these things and then ask that it come out — as he has," he said.

"And maybe he's doing it deliberate, maybe he's just not and he is just ignorant of when it happened. But there is no way in the world that any one of us is going to compromise our opportunity to serve our community that we fought so hard to get here by breaching the confidentiality. That's just something we're not going to do."

Hamer-Jackson said he didn't think councillors should have even referenced these allegations in their statement if they had happened in a closed meeting.

"Closed is not a closed of convenience," he said.

After Tuesday's special council meeting, Coun. Kelly Hall was asked for further details about the councillors' claims.

Hall pointed to recent media coverage, including a segment featuring the mayor on Kamloops This Week's YouTube show.

"Kamloops Last Week — he went at me pretty hard with belittling comments. Now, does that bother me? No it doesn't. But at the end of the day, should we be doing that as elected officials? No we shouldn't," Hall said.

"We have to work as a team. And if you've got somebody on your team out there, talking negatively about not only the council of the day, but what's happening within our community, that's tough."

Hall was asked if he feels like he's respected by the mayor.

"I think there is an element of respect there," he said. "I know I hold respect for him. I just wish that we could collaborate and come together as a group. I really do."

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