Coun. Sushil Thapar has been formally reprimanded by city council.
At a special meeting in late June, council made a motion to censure Thapar following what they deemed a series of events and comments “that negatively affected a number of city employees.”
A motion of censure is a formal statement that council is reprimanding one of its members for conduct it feels unacceptable.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Thapar said.
“It’s all made up, she’s [Mayor Mary Sjostrom] hiding behind staff.”
Thapar has been requesting a number of council expense documents through the Freedom of Information Act since early this year after he found issue with a fellow counselor.
Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg exceeded her 2010 allotted travel expense budget. The counselor was compensated by acting city manager Jack Marsh for $1,100 for travel costs, despite having already used the $4,000 budget allocated to each city councillor.
Since then council has adopted a travel policy.
“I’m just asking the questions, seeking information,” Thapar said, alluding his FOI requests are behind the motion of censure.
But Sjostrom says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The censure has nothing to do with Thapar’s request for information on travel, budget and/or finances,” she said.
Sjostrom added the city welcomes discussion on how council invests tax dollars and reiterated the motion deals with “a number of events and statements having a negative effect on staff in city hall, at meetings and on media.”
“We are obligated to provide a harassment-free and respectful work place,” she said.
Sjostrom added she couldn’t comment on specific instances as they are an internal human resource issue.
However, Thapar maintains his innocence, stating the censure was simply a tactic to “muddy the waters.”
“But I will not stop,” he said.
“I will keep asking the questions and if someone is offended by the questions I ask, I will not apologize.”
Sjostrom pointed to the amount of information requested and the fact “it’s all information we would have had, he’s finance chair.”
But Thapar maintains all his requests have not yet been met.
“I’m still waiting on information,” he said.
“If it had been provided in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this situation. She’s [Sjostrom] creating all the roadblocks.”
For her part, Sjostrom says she’s not quite sure what Thapar’s goal is – except an early election campaign.
“He’s trying to discredit me,” she said.
“He’s trying to build a case and there’s nothing there. I have nothing to hide. I’m just trying to work.
“He says I’m hiding? That is so false. This city and council is accountable, open and transparent.”