A Regional District of Central Okanagan director was given a temporary reprieve from facing censure and sanction penalties imposed by her fellow board members.
At a special meeting Thursday, Patty Hanson, the Central Okanagan East area director, was to get an opportunity to defend herself against an accusation she divulged confidential information from the board’s strategic planning workshop held in May.
But the meeting came to an abrupt end, and was ultimately postponed because Hanson did not have her lawyer present.
According to a report by board chairperson Gail Given, despite the workshop facilitator gaining consensus from those attending, including Hanson, that what was said at the workshop would remain confidential and Given reminding participants of that three times over the two-day workshop, Hanson allegedly told Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland that the board did not see the value of the commission.
In a subsequent letter from Summerland to RDCO chief administrative officer Brian Reardon, Summerland said he feared for his livelihood after hearing from Hanson because he sensed funding for the commission could be cut in 2016.
On Thursday, Given said the information Summerland relayed in his letter about what he said Hanson told him was not only confidential but incorrect.
Thursday’s special board meeting, despite being billed as open, was quickly closed to the public and the media following receipt of a letter from Hanson’s lawyer just 20 minutes before the board sat down to hear from Hanson and Summerland.
An hour later, when the meeting was re-opened to the public and the media, the content of Hanson’s lawyer’s letter was not revealed but she was asked if she wanted a lawyer present.
At first non-committal, saying she had come to the meeting prepared to participate without a lawyer, Hanson decided at the meeting she would feel more comfortable with her lawyer present.
It was then that West Kelowna director Doug Findlater moved to have the meeting postponed until lawyers for both RDCO and Hanson could be present. He said he was doing so for “procedural fairness.”
After the meeting, Hanson immediately met behind closed doors with Central Okanagan West director Wayne Carson and told an RDCO representative to tell reporters waiting outside she would not be making any comment on what had just transpired.
The outcome of the meeting, weeks in planning, left other board members frustrated, including Kelowna director Colin Basran, who asked Hanson directly why she did not bring her lawyer with her.
Her response was “no comment.”
“This process has completely gone off the rails,” said an exasperated Basran.
Given admitted the workshop held in May was not a formally constituted in-camera meeting.
That could be why Hanson felt free to talk to Summerland about what was said, but until she speaks publicly, it is not known what her reasoning was.
Summerland, who was also at Thursday’s RDCO special board meeting, left quickly, refusing to speak to the media.
Hanson had at least one supporter on the board who was willing to speak. Carson said he was “disappointed the issue has come to this point.”
Carson argued it should have been dealt with by Given in a meeting with Hanson and Summerland.
Later, Given said she did not deal with it alone because the board felt it should deal with the matter as a group.
If the board rules now that Hanson did divulge confidential information, in addition to publicly censuring her, the sanctions could include ordering her to publicly apologize to Summerland and removing her from her board representations for 12 months.