Tag Archives: Brideau

Blogging Frank 607

You may have noticed the “Roy Brideau Packs Up” headline on the cover of the latest Frank magazine. This refers to a small subtle piece on the Brideau Affair.

At Frankland presstime, chatter at the Wolfville Tim Horton’s suggests outgoing CAO Roy Brideau’s humble abode is mere days away from making its MLS debut ….Of course Roy has probably been too busy relaxing under the hot Florida sun to spruce up his Kings County home which his critics love to point out lies just outside Wolfville Town Limits…. Sometime after April 15, the pension rich Roy (I’m advised by town sources he authored his own Cadillac pension plan in Wolfville) will be starting his new job as McKenzie County  cao, which obviously Roy must have applied for before his extended Florida vacation.”

Who is asking what and when did the mayor know? Why was and is he so generous to Brideau? Why was Council in the dark? Who is going to blow the whistle a la HRM?

Other items of interest in this ish are;

  • A spotlight on Leslie Ann Conrad’s murder – 1570days without an arrest. Will this spur the pony police to move on the Conrad case? The Gallant family thanks Frank Magazine in this issue with keeping the Paula Gallant murder case in the public eye and a letter from a reader states ” I was more than a little disappointed that the Chronicle Herald neglected to mention Frank Magazine’s relentless campaign… As a newcomer to Nova Scotia, I was unaware of the issue until I started reading Frank. I wonder if any progress would have been made without Frank’s “xxxnumber of days without an arrest” campaign. ” There is a two page spread on the Gallant sentence.
  • Two mentions of Ramona Jennex. A protest from Clair Rankin, Ramona’s EA over the hypocrisy charge made by Frank in the last issue was countered by Dan Walsh with “partisanship is partisanship. Period.”  The second bit  is in the letters section titled “Someone get Ramona an abacus“. The letter starts “ I think dunce-cap minister Romano Jennex gets an F for her math on the school board cuts.” Her projected teacher retirement numbers don’t make sense.

 

Blogging Frank 606

It’s been a while since we blogged Frank. How could we resist this time when the Franklanders have devoted almost a full page to the Wolfville CAO vacation/resignation debacle in their latest issue.

For those saving up to pay their taxes and unable to meet the cover price we offer a lengthy excerpt here.

“What a way to say goodbye!”

For the record, Roy Brideau did not take a Trudeau-esque walk in the snow before his February 9 resignation as Wolfville CAO. But he may have enjoyed a thoughtful stroll along a sunny beach.

The Royster was hanging his Tilley hat in Florida when he submitted his Farewell John letter to mayor Bob Stead and Co. , 12 days into a vacation originally scheduled to last nine weeks. Nine friggin weeks! …

According to the long-abandoned Roy Brideau answering machine inside the always secretive Wolfville town hall [wasn't the acting CAO answering the phone? Ww], the senior municipal official responsible for a $7 million annual budget is “on leave” and “returning April 4 “

[or March 28  - or April 15. They can't get their story straight. Ww]

On January 24, four days before Roy departed for the Sunshine State, MacKenzie County [Alberta] Council passed a motion to begin contract negotiations with its selected CAO candidate.

Niether Roy nor Mayor Bob has returned my call, so I can’t say for sure whether Roy actually had the job in the bag all those weeks ago but I can tell you that the town is paying Roy full salary during his Florida sojourn, and he is even interrupting his holiday to toil two days a week … on town business.

Wolfville, which prides itself on its fair-trade policies, awards Roy a Cadillac pension plan that is even more generous than the one enjoyed by our MLAs.

While MLAs put 10% of their earnings into a retirement pot, Roy antes up 18% ( about $18,000-per) , a sum that is now entirely funded by the town. (Frank 590) [Emph ours]

A town council source tells me Roy gave absolutely no signs he wanted a change of scenery… He adds the CAO’s extended absence should not impact budget talks [!] since a small-town budget “is not that complex.” [That councillor should tell us again then, why we need a CAO that costs $100,400!!! Ww]

An executive headhunter is now scouring the nation’s finest country clubs and executive golf courses to bag a brand new Roy … [Wonder whether the new CAO will be spotted golfing at KenWo 4 afternoons a week too!Ww]

A companion piece also refers to Brideau.

I skype, U skype, lol

Roy fled winter in Wolfville and escaped to Florida, while David [ NSCAD Prezzie David B. Smith] took flight from frigid Halifax to sojourn in sunny South Africa. That both men could enjoy extended jaunts away from Jack Frost, and still be gainfully employed, is thanks entirely to the marvel of modern technology known as Skype. … As I reported in Frank 604, the golden-hued David is an avid Skyper, using the new technology to keep in constant touch with his cash-strapped bohemian arts college. Roy appears to be more selective… On February 9, Wolfville town council held a special meeting which began at 5:07 p.m. when computer geek Jeff Hensahw explained to all the hippy Ludites in attendance how Skype allowed Roy to be present here, even though he was actually there, down in the Sunshine State.

At 6:05, the minutes record the following gem:” Roy Brideau, Chief Administrative Officer, had left the meeting and did not return.” …

So there’s the story, Frank style.

It’s a wonder there aren’t marches in the streets over this scandal. One can’t find a much clearer indication of bad governance.

We hope we have inspired you to pick up a copy of Frank . The Brideau article is on page 15 and there is other stuff of interest –  like the article on Ramona Jennex on page 21 [Frank has her new executive assistant - not from her constituency - on the hypocrite of the year list]

CAO says ciao!

The news is all over town so you have probably already heard that the CAO, Roy Brideau has resigned and the Town has “reluctantly” accepted his resignation.

It must have been something of a shock to Mayor and Council having just “approved” [if that is the right word] an unusual 8 week paid leave based on this year’s and next year’s employment!

The bombshell was revealed to councillors, we presume, at an in camera meeting which took place earlier the same night that residents gathered to give input on budget priorities for the coming year.  Secrecy was a big concern we hear. The Advertiser was given the press release denying Ww the chance of a scoop!

That’s okay – the real news is yet to come as there are lots of questions yet to be answered.

  • Can paid leave, once “authorised” [if it was!] be taken back given that it is based on vacation days to be earned by employment  – this year and next- which will now go unfulfilled?
  • Does Mr. Brideau’s overly generous contract also allow for severance even if he resigns before his contract expires?
  • If so, should councillors have accepted his resignation? Were councillors aware of all financial ramifications before making that decision?

We wonder if what’s his name, the new financial director, is thinking he should check the silver drawer and count the spoons.

Becker’s back

Here is a missive from Lutz Becker. He may have stopped editing the Mud Creek News but he hasn’t stopped fighting Town Hall. We post it as received.

Stead violates conditions of Brideau’s employment contract, again?

Lutz E. Becker / Feb. 03, 2011

With the infamous and at least legally suspect letter of Stead, dated Feb. 15, 2007, he had provided his long-time buddy CAO Brideau four years in advance with out of order salary increases and out of order retirement contribution increases. This letter never made it to the Council table in 2007. Now again Stead has amended the provisions of Brideau’s employment contract. As from reliable information sources Stead passed an email to Councillors and out of the public’s view allowing Brideau to have eight weeks vacation in violation of his original employment contract.

(By the way, the “illegal” conditions in Stead’s letter passed the Council table two years later in 2009 when the “old gang” covered up for Stead and only after I had taken Stead and the Town to Court about this letter. At present and up to the 31st of March this year Brideau makes $100,403.00 yearly and tax payers have to come up with an outrageous 18% of this amount ($18,072.54) in addition for his retirement plan.) [The CAO makes no contributions now to his pension himself - it's all on the taxpayers dime Ww]

I have been informed by people familiar with the situation that Brideau has taken off for two months (eight weeks) vacation in Florida already. Stead and Brideau are both obviously under the very interesting but outraging impression that Brideau’s presence will not be necessary during the Town’s most critical and very demanding discussion and creation period of the budget 2011/2012.

The Brideau employment contract, dated May 27, 1996, states on pages 2 /3 that “Brideau is entitled to twenty (20) working days of paid vacation for each year of employment. This vacation may be taken during the year upon which it is based and vacation is taken at times mutually agreed upon by Roy Brideau and the Mayor of the Town.” “Unused vacation from each year may be carried over to the following year subject to:

(a) The carry over is limited to 50% of the original vacation time; and

(b) The carry over must be used in the year in which it is carried over or it is forfeited.”

Stead calculates the eight weeks in his email as follows:

  • · 2 weeks not taken(?) in 2010
  • · 4 weeks (yearly allowance) for 2011
  • · 2 weeks of 2012

To me, such a suggestion/decision is unheard of and favours buddy Brideau but violates his employment contract again. At the end of this January Brideau has just earned just 1/12 of his vacation allowance for 2011 or about 1.7 days. To provide Brideau with 2 more weeks from 2012 as well tops this kind of non-sense even more. Maybe, Stead has never heard of the common term “Unpaid Leave of Absence” for really important reasons only.

Some people suggested that Stead should provide Brideau for the benefit of the Town with 10 more months vacation in 2011 by taking allocations from future years after 2012.

Congratulations Stead for your decision and your very personal interpretation of the Brideau contract!

Wolfville covered

Almost a whole page [p. 19] of Atlantic Frank’s issue 582 is devoted to Wolfville’s CAO contract and Mr Becker’s attempts to get details of it. The first part is entitled Cloak and Dagger in Wolfville . An excerpt:

Lutz has once again opted to go the Supreme Court route to unlock Wolfville’s vault of many secrets … A sense of deja vue is overwhelming, as Lutz is suing the town for the second time round to force the release of a pristine, unedited copy of the (cue organ music – ed.) mythic Stead letter.  … You’ll recall Lutz first sued town officials after a fruitless 18 month quest for answers, via the misnamed Freedom of Information Act. In Frank 581 I reported Lutz settled his row with Mayor Bob and Roy at a cost to taxpayers, some suggest, that hit about $17,000 in legal fees. …Turns lot, Lutz had a premature notion of settlement. The town did not release the full Stead letter as Lutz expected and the contents of the Stead letter’s blacked out paragraph elude him to this day. What heinous mystery does this missing paragraph foretell?

And guess who is Wolfville’s FOIPOP officer? The CAO, the subject of the application!

The second article is titled Roy’s Sweet deal [by Mega Bucks] and outlines for Frank readers what many of us already know, that Mr. Brideau’s pay and pension packet is extremely generous for a town this size. Having started in the mid 50K range, it jumped in 07/08 to 91K and has climbed to 100K plus for this year (10/11).

We’re talking serious change in a town with a tax base the size of Wolfville’s. For comparison’s sake, Robert Thibault is making $125,000 – per as CAO of Richmond County, an area vastly larger with nearly 2.5 times the population. Wolfville’s pension contributions seem equally as outlandish, er, generous. In Year 1, the town contributes 12% to Roy’s pension plan to Roy’s 6%. By Year 4 [that's this year - Ww], Roy contributes nothing, while the town conribution maxes out to 18%. For contrast, our poor, beleaguered MLAs ante up 10% of their salaries for their cadillac pension plan, an amount the government, ie the taxpayer annually matches.

We guess that makes Brideau’s pension plan a Bugatti or a Ferrari pension plan!

Maybe Roy is worth every penny of his present and future take-home, I don’t know.

We know one thing.  Whether he is worth it or not, we can’t afford him and he should move on.

This Wolfville story is headlined on Frank’s cover, well,  at least on the Valley version shown below

Fighting Town Hall – part II

We are pleased to post here the second part of the submission from Mr. Becker on the Town’s secrecy concerning Mr. Brideau’s overly generous contract terms and the non-disclosure of the closing sentence of the “Stead letter”.

“The Town closed the barn doors after the horse got out.” (Part II)

Lutz E. Becker

(Please read Part I: “The court case: Lutz E. Becker vs. Robert A. Stead and the Town of Wolfville” first; hard copies were distributed throughout our Town and can be viewed on www.mud-creek-news.ca or Wolfville watch

If it was the intention of Stead’s letter to Brideau (“the Stead letter”), dated Feb. 15, 2007, to change a number of provisions of Brideau’s original employment contract by favoring him after a close and more than 10-year-working-relationship at Town Hall, he finally succeeded on Jan. 18, 2010.

On Jan. 18, 2010 and during the official public Council meeting a drafted resolution regarding “the Stead letter“ with changes to salary and pension contribution benefits four years in advance was read aloud by Deputy Mayor Simpson; in part his prepared statement included a kind of introduction to the Resolution. The Resolution was then passed unanimously.

At a first glance this meant to me that “the Stead letter” of 2007 was made proper and “legal” retroactively in 2010.

The written introduction part of the Resolution shows some very interesting but questionable points regarding Stead’s and the Council’s perception on how the Town’s “improper” decisions in the past can be made legally binding.

This introduction/resolution was filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on Jan. 19, 2010. It reads under point 4 as follows:

“The amendments to the financial component of the CAO’s Employment Contract for the fiscal year 2007-2008 were included in and ratified by the Town’s annual budget for that year, approved by Resolution of Town Council on May 20, 2007.”

In the introduction/resolution points 5 and 6 are phrased similar to the above point 4. Except, they are made out for the fiscal years 2008-09 and 2009-10, approved by Resolutions of Town Council on May 20, 2008 and June 22, 2009.

It is interesting to note that this new Resolution does not refer to “the Stead letter” as a contract or amendment to Brideau’s employment contract, but as “amendments to the financial components”. The Town’s lawyers did not want the Court to view “the Stead letter” as a separate “contract” or “amendment to the contract”. By listening to Justice Warner’s comments it was clear that he was not buying this view. He kept on referring to “the Stead letter” as a “contract”.

To my court case this Resolution meant that the “ammunition” in my claims had been eliminated. What could I expect to get out of this court case now and under these newly changed circumstances? This Resolution now would help to “cure” all mistakes and “illegalities”. Regardless, it doesn’t change or erase the facts of what was done in the past. (“The Town closed the barn doors ……”)

I regard the legal arguments in the introduction/resolution as weak and non-winning in court to counter my claims against “the Stead letter” and the Council‘s actions or non-actions, but nevertheless they are prepared legal arguments.

The details about Brideau’s salary and pension plan increases can nowhere be found in the approved and published budgets and I doubt very much that these particular items were ever discussed and/or fully understood or questioned during the annual preparation sessions of the budget prior to Council’s approval.

And if such summarizing and generalized budget resolutions for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 will make improper decisions like “the Stead letter” legal, why was there a need for the Resolution on the Brideau issue as motioned to the Council and passed on Jan. 18, 2010?

These prepared legal arguments may have served as a short term gain in the pending court case to cover the “mistakes” of Stead and the Council, but in the long run they open up a huge can of worms.

What should Wolfville tax payers learn from the Town’s attitude and perception?

The yearly budget resolution is a most important one and we, the Wolfville tax payers, should ask for all the details, including the “hidden” binding contracts and agreements, covered up by a summarizing budget process before the Council should be allowed to pass it!

Fictively, Stead’s action and the Council’s attitude could create the following worst case scenario: The Mayor could sign a contract and/or agreement which never ever would be discussed and approved by Council directly but it would be binding for the Town and the Wolfville tax payers because it would be “included in and ratified by the Town’s annual budget for that year,” approved by Council in a summarized and generalized budget resolution. To me this paints a highly possible but unacceptable scenario.

Because of the approved Resolution I decided to offer a settlement. Even if I continued the case, even winning the case, nothing would have changed for Wolfville tax payers. By this Resolution the changes to Brideau’s employment contract remain as outlined in “the Stead letter”. Going on with the case could mean that tax payers might have to foot immense legal bills for almost nothing in return.  My offer was that each party should cover their own costs and in addition I wanted the blacked-out part in “the Stead letter” disclosed. My asking for this disclosure was opposed strongly by the Town‘s lawyers, which makes the whole issue even more suspicious.

After a Special Council Meeting (in camera) I accepted the following one-sentence settlement: “It is ordered that the within application is hereby dismissed without costs to either party.”

During the Special Council Meeting on Feb. 10, 2010 and during discussions about the budget 2010-11 Stead stated that “the concluding costs” of this Judicial Review of Mr. Becker would be “about 17 grand”. He then said: “And so we should keep those kinds of things in mind when we deal with what might be considered by some vexatious or frivolous.”

Stead would be very well advised to stop making statements like this in public. Whoever considers my case vexatious or frivolous is totally wrong and should better listen on the Court’s audio-CD what Justice Warner said during the preliminary proceedings about possible merits of my case or read his quoted comments in this year’s No. 2 edition of the Mud Creek News.

Trying to shift the blame does not eliminate the fact that the Town wasted tax payers’ money. My court case would not have been filed if Stead and the Council would have reacted in a different way. All Town officials knew about this problem since May 2008. All chose to ignore all questions raised by me and Mr. David A. Daniels even during a Council meeting and in writing and distributed to the public at the Wolfville Post Office as well.

Why this Resolution was not done in 2008, after I revealed that there was a problem, could be called either sloppiness, or stupidity, or refusal to admit “mistakes” made by Stead and the Council, or a combination of all three.

What a farce to believe that Stead and the Councillors understand the meaning of accountability, transparency and public participation and who should govern and how to govern our municipality! They seem to thrive on secrecy and how to waste tax payers’ money and not their own.

It is a pity that the next election is about 2.5 years away.

We wonder if this issue came up at the retreat which the mayor and Council were on this weekend, where it is said they went to mull over what to do about the Wolfville school issue(s). Now that they are presumably back from their getaway perhaps they will be ready to explain why they have been, and continue to be, so generous to Mr. Brideau and what is so secret in that last sentence that it must be kept from taxpayers’ eyes at all costs.

An interview with a pamphleteer

Mr. Becker, that Teutonic thorn in the side of certain factions in the Wolfville Town administration,  has found a new  audience. His views have had an airing recently by way of  The Atheneum. The first article titled “Tyranny in Wolfville”, was last month, and concisely summarized Mr. Becker’s 4 concerns voiced in one of his blog posts which we also noted and summarized here at Ww at the time. The mayor declined the Ath’s offer of a response. [Guess he would decline our request too. Good thing we didn't ask.]

The Athenaeum invited Mayor Stead to an interview to discuss these allegations, point by point, but the Mayor declined in his e-mail correspondence. Mayor Stead did see fit to comment though. He stated that the issues Becker brought up in the blog and pamphlet were “…largely a repeat of communications directed to the Town of Wolfville and it’s officers and elected officials over the past several months.” Mayor Stead went on to say that, “This town does not have the resources to assign to issues that are so destructively critical and without substance or foundation. We prefer to deal with constructive criticism that make us better at what we do for the people who elect or hire us.”

We think Mr. Becker’s criticism is very constructive, and not without substance either. We think that the the mayor doesn’t like criticism at all, constructive or otherwise. We hope that the mayor has returned refreshed from his sojourn in a warm clime (Cuba wasn’t it?) and ready to face more of the same, but to get back to Mr. Becker.

Mr. Becker was apparently delighted to be asked for an interview (we assume he was asked- maybe he offered it himself)  and so The Ath has done another article ” Mr. Becker speaks”. This one concentrates on the Brideau contract issue. After another concise summary of the details of Lutz’s case, it concludes:

Becker stresses that he has not called the Mayor a tyrant, but instead only posed a question. If you go to the municipal government act it states clearly that the municipality is governed by council,” says Becker. “In this council he [the mayor] has one vote, just like all the others.”

“They run the town as if it were a business,” laments Becker. Mr. Becker has stated that his next course of action might potentially be to gather a few of his main questions, and bring them forth at a Town Council meeting; a course of action that Becker says his lawyer has advised him to consider. If Becker does eventually decide to do this, then municipal politics are about to get a lot more interesting

Although the article isn’t news to us in terms of content, it is interesting that some students are taking an interest in the Town and how it is run. That’s good news we think.