Metropolis councillors in Pembroke, Ont., voted Tuesday night time to delay reconsidering its decades-old contract with the town’s solicitor — a lawyer at Sheppard & Gervais, the regulation agency the mayor at the moment works at.
The relationship between Mayor Ron Gervais, the agency, and metropolis solicitor Robert Sheppard has been beneath scrutiny after some residents raised questions on perceived and attainable conflicts of curiosity in current media protection.
Gervais has been an elected official on council for greater than a decade, and served as deputy mayor earlier than changing into mayor final November. The town has been paying Sheppard & Gervais for authorized providers all through that point.
The town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) David Unrau has instructed CBC that authorized providers are exempt from Pembroke’s procurement coverage beneath its bylaws, that means the town does not must undergo a bidding course of to rent its attorneys.
Unrau added that Mayor Gervais is an worker at Sheppard & Gervais, not a associate.
At Tuesday’s council assembly, Coun. Troy Purcell introduced ahead a movement to rethink the town’s contract with Sheppard, which dates again to 2002. The movement requested the CAO to place out a request for proposal (RFP) — an open request for bids — for the providers Sheppard is at the moment offering.
Mayor Gervais was not a part of the dialogue; he left council chambers after declaring he had a “perceived pecuniary curiosity” within the matter.
Introducing his movement, Purcell stated he has “vital issues relating to the dearth of transparency and accountability of this council.”
Purcell went on to say that he is perplexed as to why this procurement movement “has triggered such a stir with council, with some lobbying … behind the scenes to strike down this movement.”
He stated councillors acquired an e mail from Unrau evaluating Sheppard’s price with what different municipalities are paying for authorized providers.
“The cost price is in the course of the charges supplied, main me to imagine there could also be a possibility for decreased prices,” Purcell stated.
CBC has contacted Unrau a number of occasions since March, asking for info on the town’s finances for authorized providers and the whole prices paid to Sheppard & Gervais, however has not but acquired a response.
The town’s treasurer referred CBC again to the CAO’s workplace.
Councillors ask CAO to prep modification to bylaw
Coun. Ian Kuehl stated council members performed “procedural chess” over the past couple of days in anticipation of the Tuesday movement.
Each Kuehl and Purcell instructed that the 2 councillors who have been away — Patricia Lafreniere, who was attending through video, and Brian Abdallah, who was at a convention as a part of a metropolis delegation — had tried to alter their plans to attend the council assembly through video final minute with a view to “assist defeat this explicit movement.”
“We had a fairly vital breakthrough late this afternoon,” Kuehl continued, saying councillors got here to a “settlement” regardless of disagreeing on the preliminary movement to overview the contract.
Kuehl then moved a movement to desk Purcell’s movement for now, and as an alternative ask the CAO to organize an modification to the town’s procurement bylaw and convey it to council. That modification would see skilled contracts, together with authorized providers, be reviewed after 5 years.
“In all honesty, I believe what you are suggesting is true,” stated Coun. Ed Jacyno, who had defended the town’s use of Sheppard for his long-term expertise on the April 4 council assembly.
“People ought to come ahead and be capable to bid on that course of.”
All 5 councillors current voted in favour of Kuehl’s movement.
Lafreniere, who’s on trip, addressed her video attendance on the finish of the assembly.
“It was talked about earlier tonight that perhaps I used to be right here on one agenda tonight, and that was to oppose one thing that was coming ahead. That could be so however there’s different points,” she stated, including that she was additionally attending due to her work on different enterprise mentioned Tuesday.
“I used to be right here to make sure that the most effective curiosity of the ratepayers was represented,” she continued, including that she was contacted by different authorized corporations this week, voicing their opinions on the town’s contract for authorized providers.
CBC contacted Abdallah late Tuesday night time, and he stated he’d overview the assembly earlier than commenting.
Purcell gave discover that he’ll introduce one other movement on the subsequent council assembly to replace Pembroke’s procurement bylaw, and to revise a number of others just like the procedural, accountability and transparency, and code of conduct bylaws.