A pair of special meetings have been called at City Hall to discuss accusations leveled against the city manager’s office by the outgoing Chair of the London Police Services Board.
It’s already been made public, but Paul Paolatto’s letter will be formally received on Friday by city politicians meeting at the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, followed immediately by full council.
The document details the board’s frustrations with the budget process which pushed them to go to “negotiate through the media” in late June.
“To be clear, it was never the intention of the Negotiating Committee to seek remedy of our budget dispute with Council through the media,” Paolatto writes.
“However, when a potential compromise inexplicably failed to reach the Council floor for your consideration in late February, and the CAO’s Office began to exhibit a concerning level of indifference to our Board, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, and the Appeal process; the Committee felt it necessary to seek an alternative means of communicating directly with Council.”
Council endorsed a $2.7-million settlement last week but the board has said a compromise floated in February would have saved taxpayers over $1-million.
In addition to the letter, the document includes a chronology of interactions between the City, London Police Services Board, and Ontario Civilian Police Commission, which includes eight instances where Paolatto alleges the city manager’s office failed to respond to communications.
“Unfortunately, the Board’s Negotiating Committee still has some concerns over its working relationship with the CAO’s Office,” Paolatto writes.
“We also suspect that Council will first want to conduct its own due diligence into this matter before considering what then might be the best approach for both parties to move forward in the best interests of the City.”
While Paolatto’s frustration has been directed at Art Zuidema’s office, Councillor Jesse Helmer says council has the final say.
“As council, we’re the ones making decisions on what is going to happen with the City of London especially around these big, important matters. As much as it’s sort of unusual, I would say the frustration should be directed at council as a whole. I don’t know why you want to focus on one person and say ‘it’s that person’s fault’. I’m not sure that that’s really helpful and I think it’s avoiding the fact that ultimately, we’re the ones making the decisions.”
Helmer tells AM980 he’s interested in discussing the letter with his Council colleagues but stresses the need to move forward.
“As much as we can look back in retrospect and recognize where we may have made mistakes personally, where we think other people may have made mistakes in the whole process, I think we got to look forward in the future and say ‘how are we going to work together here’ so that we can have a good budget for the city, for the Police Services Board, that’s going to work for Londoners.”
Friday’s city committee meeting starts at 4 o’clock.
With files from Natalie Lovie.