Assistant Deputy Minister Gary Sandberg’s “additional comments”

Assistant Deputy Minister Gary Sandberg’s “additional comments” – Impugn Council Publicly For Not Heeding Mysterious Legal Advice – MGA s 577(4)

Note: The speaking notes below were originally marked with bullets, numbers were added for ease of reference.

  • See the Podcast section of this website for the item titled: ADM Gary Sandberg Audio Dec. 8, 2015. Cue audio to 10:10 for the beginning of the “additional comments”. Line 23 below aligns with 10:10 of the audio.
  • Line 11 & 12 refer to a legal opinion demanded of council (contrary to MGA s 577(4)) in directive 4, regarding the pecuniary interest matter used to attack councillor Sisson. Please do not confuse this legal opinion for the “Mysterious Legal Advice” noted in the title of this post.
  • Grumetzka is the incorrect spelling of Grumetza.

A. Why would ADM Sandberg make allegations at a public council meeting, who provided the legal advice recommending speaking about these allegations at a public council meeting, who provided the legal advice recommending publishing these allegations in an affidavit?

B. How did municipal affairs acquire privileged “legal advice”?

C. Who provided the mysterious “legal advice” to municipal affairs?

D. MGA s 577(4) appears to convey a clear apprehension that municipal affairs is in possession of legal information contrary to the noted section. “(4) This section does not apply to documents that have been prepared or information acquired by a municipality that is subject to any type of legal privilege, including solicitor-client privilege.”

E. Which lawyer provided this mysterious “legal advice” to council and when?

F. As a councillor I do not recall receiving this mysterious “legal advice” and would like the opportunity to review it, especially when municipal affairs is using this privileged “legal advice” to publicly impugn councillors.

G. This affidavit information has been before several lawyers and the lawyers are not raising concerns as legal professionals.

H. We depend on lawyers for legal advice and they are not preventing problems. Rather they fail to prevent and mitigate problems that they are trained for.

Email from Gary Sandberg’s Affidavit of March 23, 2016; Exhibit “8”.

On Monday, December 07, 2015 11:00 AM, Gary Sandberg wrote:
To: Tim Seefeldt; Coral Murphy; Colin Doupe

Revised speaking notes for tomorrow – for your info and comment.

  1. Good morning, and thank you for making time on your agenda for us.
  2. My name is Gary Sandberg, and I am the Assistant Deputy Minister of Municipal
    Services and Legislation, with Alberta Municipal Affairs.
  3. With me are Colin Doupe, Director of Municipal Capacity Building, and Tim Seefeldt,
    Director of Communications with Municipal Affairs.
  4. We are here this morning on behalf of the Honourable Danielle Larivee, Minister of Municipal Affairs.
  5. Minister Larivee has asked me to convey to you that she is very concerned with the continuing dysfunction on Thorhild County Council.
  6. Recent decisions indicated that Council still has not grasped the serious nature of the Minister’s concerns, or the importance of complying with the spirit as well as the letter of the directives.
  7. It is time for council to focus on providing responsible and accountable governance to the community.
  8. To that end, Minister Larivee has issued two additional directives to council, which you are strongly encouraged to act on today, at this council meeting.
  9. (READ THE M.O. AND DIRECTIVES verbatim)
  10. The first directive requires a motion to direct administration to engage legal counsel to move forward with a court application to determine whether Councillor Sisson should be disqualified.
  11. The Ministry has reviewed the legal opinion received by council last week, and has determined that there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a court application.
  12. Council’s failure to act on this matter last week is not supported by the facts in the legal opinion, and therefore the Minister is directing council to take action now.
  13. Councillor Sisson is to refrain from discussion on this motion, and must leave council chambers while the discussion and the vote take place.
  14. Councillor Sisson is to be advised when the vote has been taken, and must return to council chambers for the subsequent discussion on the second directive.
  15. The second directive requires a motion to rescind the motion of last week regarding an application for disqualification of Councillors Hanasyk and Grumetzka.
  16. The inspection report presented to Council in September spoke very clearly to this matter, and found no reasonable evidence to support a court application.
  17. Council’s action in passing this motion last week is not supported by the facts and does not reflect good governance or responsible stewardship of local tax dollars.
  18. Councillors Hanasyk and Grumetzka are to refrain from discussion on this motion, and must leave council chambers while the discussion and vote take place.
  19. This will require Councillors Sisson, Croswell and Buryn to be present in order for quorum to exist.
  20. Failure to ensure quorum will result in failure to comply with the Minister’s directive.
  21. I want to stress that the consequence of failing to comply with a ministerial directive can be very severe, including the possibility that the Minister may disqualify any councillor who fails to comply with the directive.
  22. I will be remaining in council chambers to observe council’s action in responding to these directives, and will report back to the Minister on the outcome.
  23. I would like to briefly address two other matters before I close my comments:
  24. Firstly, the matter of judicial review:
  25. Last week, council also passed a motion to seek a judicial review of the inspector’s report and the Minister’s directives.
  26. The Minister and the department are confident that we have acted at all times within the legislative authority set out in the Municipal Government Act.
  27. I understand that council has also received legal advice that confirms this.
  28. The motion to continue to seek judicial review despite this legal advice again does not reflect either good governance or responsible stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars.
  29. Nonetheless, at this time, the Minister is NOT issuing a directive against this decision — Municipal Affairs has no desire to be seen to be preventing council from exercising its legal rights.
  30. However, we are very concerned about the frivolous use of taxpayers’ dollars, and so we will continue to monitor council decisions closely.
  31. To that end, the second item I want to raise for your awareness:
  32. Minister Larivee is currently considering the need to appoint an Official Administrator to supervise council.
  33. Appointment of an Official Administrator is an action we do not take lightly.
  34. We believe very strongly in the autonomy of councils to act in the best interests of their residents.
  35. However, the inspection report and council’s subsequent actions have clearly indicated that council continues to struggle to provide responsible leadership.
  36. So again, I note that we will be monitoring council’s actions very closely, and a decision on whether to appoint an Official Administrator will be made very soon.
  37. Mr. Chairman, I sincerely hope that the Minister’s directives, supplemented by these additional comments, help Council to fully understand the seriousness of this situation, and to recognize the need to move forward in a more productive and responsible manner.
  38. I now leave it in council’s hands to address the Minister’s directives – and I strongly recommend that you do this at your earliest opportunity today.