Carleton Place Mayor Louis Antonakos, the subject of a number of integrity commissioner complaints during his term in office, abruptly walked out of the council chamber without explanation just before an Oct. 24 discussion about renewing the commissioner’s contract with the town.
“The mayor just left the room,” said councillor Teresa Fritz as Antonakos’ footsteps could be heard hurriedly ascending a nearby stairway.
“That’s up to him,” replied policy review committee chair Brian Doucett, who carried on facilitating a discussion focused on the acceptability of higher hourly rates for the commissioner, Robert Swayze.
During past fractious debates at council when there might be a perceived conflict of interest, Antonakos has sometimes excused himself to go and sit in the public gallery. But on Oct. 24, he was absent for the remainder of the discussion, as well as a unanimous vote from the remaining councillors to renew Swayze’s contract for an additional five years.
Swayze has produced a number of reports criticizing the mayor’s behavior, including a finding earlier this year documenting “a toxic relationship between the Mayor and Councillor [Doug] Black. It is clearly beyond constructive rivalry and is damaging to the Town.”
Swayze’s most recent finding, released at a packed public meeting last May, concluded that in 2012, then councillor Antonakos committed “the most egregious disclosure of confidential information I have ever encountered in nine years serving as an Integrity Commissioner. In my opinion, it should be dealt with severely.”
Despite calls for the mayor to resign, Antonakos has consistently declared that he’s done no wrong. But comments Antonakos made at the May public meeting regarding former Carleton Place mayor Paul Dulmage are now the subject of yet another integrity commissioner complaint. (Antonakos has failed for over two weeks to respond to a request by Hometown News to comment on the newest complaint).
Despite the fact that the commissioner’s findings have at times been difficult to swallow, councillors agreed that he plays a vital role in ensuring public accountability.
“Carleton Place has been a leader establishing its own integrity commissioner,” Fritz said. “I think there’s value in having someone who’s been involved with the community for the past five years. There’s value in consistency.”
Antonakos eventually returned to the committee meeting to take part in 2018 budget consultations.