Two weeks after a raucous town hall meeting in which councillors and residents alike called on embattled Mayor Louis Antonakos to resign over the damning findings of an integrity commissioner’s report, members of council decided on May 23 to penalize the mayor with a 90-day suspension of income.
In addition, members of council voted to suspend 25 per cent of the mayor’s 2017 discretionary fund, with the combined savings directed towards the costs of integrity commissioner Robert Swayze’s report.
On May 9, Swayze took the unusual step of coming to Carleton Place to address the public and local representatives about his finding that the 2012 actions of then councillor Antonakos in “clandestinely recording and playing a tape of a closed session dealing with the sale of municipal land, for the person bidding on the land, is 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.”
The May 23 meeting was the first opportunity to respond to Swayze’s recommendation that Antonakos’ current pay be docked equivalent to what he would have earned as a councillor over 90 days in 2012.
In advance of a motion to suspend his pay, Antonakos stepped aside as chair of the meeting declaring a conflict of interest. Before walking to sit in the public gallery, however, he warned fellow councillors that “if they also have a conflict of interest or if they’ve been part of this process, that they also consider declaring a conflict of interest.”
Councillor Doug Black proceeded to move a motion that the council accept the integrity commissioner’s report with the exception of the original recommended penalty, suggesting instead that the suspension of income be based on 2017 rates of remuneration.
Before voting, however, town clerk Duncan Rogers distributed to all councillors a legal opinion that he and the deputy chief administrative officer had requested on the matter. After quietly reading the single page letter, which was not shared publicly, all councillors voted in favour of the motion.
Following the vote, Antonakos took the mayor’s chair once more, choosing not to comment on the motion. Instead, he launched into a series of public announcements for upcoming events while lauding the planned applications for several hundred housing units in Carleton Place.
During a break in the proceedings, Hometown News approached the mayor for comment on his suspended pay. Antonakos replied, “I’ve already made my statement, both publicly and at the last meeting as well.”