Questions and answers about Councillor and staff involvement in another Member’s ward, donations to community events and Council member-organized community events.
A citizen in my Ward has asked me to act as reference on his behalf for a position that the citizen is seeking with the City. I presented him with a plaque at a Residents’ Association Awards evening and we chatted briefly afterwards. Apart from that, I have no other knowledge of the person.
In terms of the policy on Members’ providing references for those seeking positions with the City, this is not a relevant relationship. Do not agree to the request.
Do the obligations imposed on Staff by the December 2004 Staff Protocol for Notifying Councillors with respect to matters in another Member’s Ward apply to the staff of Members of Council?
A citizen has asked me to assist in an issue arising in another Member’s Ward. The local councillor is in effect assisting someone who has opposing interests to the citizen who has approached me. May I help that citizen? If I do, can I call upon City staff to attend a meeting in the Ward?
If the Ward Councillor will not assist for whatever reason, you may intervene provided you give the Ward Councillor a heads up and an opportunity to assist. City Staff may attend a meeting organized in the Ward but you cannot compel them to do so. They are obliged to consider the urgency of the request, the availability of personnel and other work programme priorities.
A Member has an application before a Committee of Adjustment relating to property that the Member owns in his Ward. How should the Member deal with constituents who have an interest in the application?
There is no explicit policy on this except the rules in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act with respect to declarations of interest and neither participating nor voting. However, a sensible course of action is to refer the matter to a neighbouring Ward Councillor and, thereafter, remain at arm’s length from both the constituents and the neighbouring Ward Councillor on the matter.
A services organization in my Ward is organizing an event and has asked me to support its approach to a business for an in-kind donation to the event. May I lend this kind of support?
There is no prohibition on Members’ approaching local businesses and encouraging them to lend this kind of support to community groups. However, you should not do so if there is any real danger that the business will see this as being in any way the cost of securing support from you for any form of permission or preference that business may be seeking from the City (or even as a payback for “past favours”).
A Councillor is organizing a community event and local businesses and developers offer assistance in the form of food, equipment, giveaways and financial support. May the Member accept?
Yes, subject to the terms of the 2008 Policy on Council Member-Organized Community Events. Note, however, that that Policy bans receipt of any form of assistance from both lobbyists and developers with pending applications. There are also reporting requirements and additional restrictions in an election year. Make sure to consult the Policy.
Questions and answers on hiring staff, acting as a reference, use of the office expense budget, City resources and improper influence.
Am I permitted to hire a relative of another Member of Council to work in my office?
No. The June 2000 Council policy on Members of Council hiring staff prevents Members of Council from hiring not only their own relatives (as defined) but also the relatives of other Members of Council.
May a Member of Council act as a reference for someone seeking a position with the City on the basis of work with that person on a community organization?
Yes, this is a “relevant relationship” in terms of the Council policy on members providing references for those seeking a position with the City.
May I use my expense budget to make a contribution towards the production of a newsletter by a community group?
Yes. It is a legitimate office expense. However, there is an annual limit of $500 per organization and it is inappropriate for your office to pay directly any bills associated with the newsletter.
A business has approached me with a request that I include an advertisement for the business in my next newsletter. They have offered to pay. I am not sure whether I want payment but am prepared in any event to do if for free as I believe this business is a great corporate citizen in my Ward. Please advise.
Do not agree irrespective of payment. To include the advertising free of charge would be using the resources of the City (your Expense Account which is paying for the newsletter) for other than the purposes of the Corporation: Article VI of the Code of Conduct. To accept payment, would involve an inappropriate receipt of a gift or benefit (Article IV) and worse if you still claim the whole cost of producing the newsletter from the City (Criminal Code). In any event, using your newsletter to promote a business, however worthy, is improper use of influence: Article VIII.
May a Member of Council use her or his City Hall Office, city-funded constituency office, or Council website to convey expressions of support for a candidate for an upcoming federal or provincial election?
No, this constitutes the use of the City’s property and facilities for other than the purposes of the Corporation: see Articles VI and VII of the Code of Conduct.