A week before what will likely be a dramatic public presentation of Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze’s report on a complaint levelled against Carleton Place Mayor Louis Antonakos, sparks flew at the town council’s May 2 gathering. Antonakos angrily accused councillors of improperly cancelling a May 9 meeting of the policy review committee as well as failing to inform him of the change.
“The meeting was cancelled with no reason, and it was cancelled outside of our policies and procedures,” Antonakos told the May 2 meeting of the planning and protection committee. “You can’t just cancel meetings without any kind of motion or explanation, and I certainly wasn’t made aware of the request to have this meeting cancelled.” (The policy review committee meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month immediately following meetings of the town council.)
Councillor Sean Redmond responded to Antonakos that “since I’ve been sitting on council, there’s been probably three to five occasions when [this committee’s] meetings were cancelled without any motions or anything else.”
The heated exchange grew out of a communication sent by Councillor Brian Doucett asking staff to cancel the committee meeting slated for May 9. While other councillors said they received the communication, Antonakos said he never saw it. In any event, councillors seemed to agree that clearing their plates for what may be a very controversial meeting seemed to make the most sense.
“We all know we have a big council meeting coming up on Tuesday night,” said Councillor Theresa Fritz. “We don’t have the report from the integrity commissioner yet, but I think we’re all going to be impacted, and I think the fact that Mr. Swayze is coming to talk to us speaks volumes in my mind. I think we need to be focused on that.”
Fritz says the May 9 meeting may be a large gathering that would shift council out of its regular space into the upstairs gallery at the historic town hall. “I think after that council meeting is over it will be a very good opportunity to talk to the people in the audience,” she added, noting that because the policy review committee meets twice monthly, anything that is urgent could be put over to a subsequent week.
“We’re not trying to evade our duties or hide anything from the public,” she concluded.
Antonakos said he was “astounded that our staff was asked by a member of this council to cancel a regularly scheduled meeting. We have all this talk about following our established processes within this chamber, and I’m hearing now that individual members of council have received correspondence that excludes, at the very least, myself.”
The embattled mayor asked if any councillors responded to the email announcing the committee meeting cancellation.
“I responded that I agreed, because I think it’s the best thing for this municipality to just have our council meeting on Tuesday night,” Fritz replied.
CUTLINE: Mayor Louis Antonakos (foreground) confronts Councillor Sean Redmond with a copy of an email that the embattled mayor says he never saw.