Former Roddickton-Bide Arm councillor speaks out
Former Roddickton-Bide Arm councilor Shanna Randell feels like she was bullied out of her position on council.
She was one of two councillors to receive a letter, on April 5, stating their seats have been automatically vacated because they missed the last three meetings.
The other councillor dismissed was Kevin Cassell, who didn’t want to comment.
According to the Municipalities Act, the office of a councillor becomes vacant when he or she does not attend regular public meetings of the council for three successive months.
The dismissal occurred six months before the next municipal election, and neither one is permitted to run in the upcoming race.
According to the Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 2001, Chapter M-20.2, section 15. (3), “A person is not qualified to be nominated as a candidate for councillor in an election where, (a) he or she was dismissed as a councillor or his or her seat as a councillor has been vacated under paragraphs 206(1)(b) or (e) or subparagraph 206(1)(f)(iii) of the Municipalities Act, 1999; or (b) his or her seat as a councillor was declared vacant under subsection 20(2) of the City of Corner Brook Act or the City of Mount Pearl Act, subsection 206(2) of the Municipalities Act, 1999 or section 11 of the City of St. John’s Act, where that election is held not more than 2 years after the date on which that person was dismissed as a councillor or his or her seat was vacated or declared vacant.”
Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Ray Norman declined comment, as the town would not be speaking to the issue until after its next council meeting, later this month.
Randell, who actively sat on six different committees as a councillor, isn’t disputing she missed the meetings, but argues that when due diligence is practiced exceptions can be made.
She said business commitments and health issues are prime examples of exceptions.
The first meeting missed was in January; work commitments took her out of town to a tradeshow.
“I let council know I wouldn’t be attending the meeting,” Randell said. “I did ask the for the meeting to be rescheduled, but it went ahead as is. The mayor offered to step into my place on the finance committee because I was going to be gone.”
In February, she had to attend a conference in St. John’s. Randell said council was informed that because of work commitments she wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting.
In March there were rescheduling issues.
“The meeting was scheduled for a Monday night. I was home, I was available,” she said. “The meeting got rescheduled to Thursday night, when I wasn’t available. I let the clerk know I wasn’t able to make the meeting on Thursday night, but the meeting went ahead.”
Because of that, Randell said, those three missed meetings could have been overlooked.
Also, she said, there have been a lot of inconsistencies with the scheduling of the public meetings held.
As a rule of thumb, she said, Roddickton-Bide Arm council tries to meet on the third Monday of every month.
According to the Roddickton-Bide Arm minutes from January 2012 to March 2013 there were 13 meetings of council. Of those meetings five took place on Monday, with only one taking place on the third Monday of the month.
“Our meetings were more regularly rescheduled than actually occurring on time,” she said. “That creates a lot of scheduling conflict for councillors. In March for example, I reworked my schedule to attend on Monday, but it didn’t happen.”
At one point, last year, council had Randell investigated for fraud.
In her interview with the Northern Pen, Randell shed some light on the situation.
In planning for this year’s Come Home Year celebration, the organizing committee was conducting fundraising.
A part of that fundraising would require a special events license for the sale of alcohol.
The request was brought to council, and because of a tie vote, it was automatically defeated.
Randell, who was sitting on the organizing committee, said she contacted the liquor corporation and was informed the license didn’t require a motion for council to approve the license.
“All the liquor corporation requires is the signature of one council member, so I signed it, as I was completely in my right to do so,” Randell said.
She said, it didn’t sit well with certain members of council and the RCMP was contacted.
From the initial investigation, she said, the RCMP found no wrongdoing.
In a December 2012 meeting of council, Randell informed council of the RCMP’s findings and asked for an apology.
No apology was given, and Randell was told it would be brought to the attention of Municipal Affairs.
But she still maintains it was the right thing to do.
“Other events in town have been Bring Your Own Booze (BYOB) and that’s completely illegal under the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation Act,” she said. “I, as an individual approving something like that, could be liable should something happen.
“I was trying to have something good for the committee and the town, legally.”
Randell feels the special events license investigation was the start of having her removed from council because she wasn’t afraid to take an opposing stance on issues when warranted.
She feels targeted.
“You can understand something like this happening when councillors aren’t involved, but I’m actively involved with council and taking part in the discussions,” she said.
“I’m a good volunteer and you shouldn’t have to fight to be a volunteer in your community.”
Randell had intended on running in the September municipal election.
She encourages residents to get involved and be informed about what’s happening with council.
“Question what council is doing, attend the public meetings and ask for copies of the minutes, because it’s all within their rights,” she said. “It’s your money and it’s your town, so make yourself aware.”
When it comes to automatic vacancies, Municipal Affairs advises due process and the rules of natural justice that follow.
“In a privileged meeting of council, the accused councillor(s) should have the opportunity to offer their side of the story,” a Municipal Affairs representative said.