On Jan. 16 Mayor Peter Jones excluded Coun. Phil DiBattista from the Mayor’s Official Community Plan Advisory Committee “MOCPAC” while appointing other councillors to multiple sub-committees. Mayor Jones stated he was punishing Coun. DiBattista because he felt the councillor’s internal email of Dec. 8, 2022 was disrespectful. He noted that his views and those of Coun. DiBattista were diametrically opposed.
Coun. DiBattista’s email was his personal views on whether the mayor and councillors were staying within the parameters of good governance and what may occur to staff morale if they don’t. I do not consider it disrespectful. The public expects good governance from its elected officials. Mayor Jones has discretion to select the committee members. However, the exercise of discretion for the purpose of providing a punishment is never acceptable. It is an abuse of power.
Council must speak out when there are lapses in good governance and in particular, elements of bias, a lack of fairness, abuse of power, or conduct which may affect municipal staff morale. It’s early days for this council and not too late to correct governance errors. Nor is it too late for Mayor Jones to retract from an autocratic punitive approach, embrace open communications, learn to listen and respond to divergent views in a respectful manner, and ensure all councillors’ voices are included.