Wednesday , December 8 2021

Farkas is dismissed from council chamber over "unpleasant" Facebook mail



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Coun. Jeromy Farkas was expelled from Council of Commons by a vote of his colleagues on Monday to violate the Council's Code of Conduct.

The Council voted 14-1 for sending out Farkas for comments he made on social media about a failed move on the members' salary.

Farkas published on Facebook that the council stood to see a 2.3 percent run in 2019 – contradictory statements made by the City's Chief Financial Officer that members would likely see a slight decrease.

"What we have here in this Facebook post is not just spinning, it's actually wrong," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Nenshi said that Farka's comments violated the Council's Code of Conduct and ordered him to apologize and cancel the statement.

Farkas refused and a move was made to expel him from the Chamber during Monday's meeting. Farkas was the only vote against the proposal.

Earlier this afternoon, a proposal to freeze members' wages led a confused debate in the chambers of the Council.

The city council debated passionately for almost an hour over a message about movement from Coun. Ward Sutherland tries to freeze council wages by 2019, before finally voting to hold the status quo.

"During the debate it became apparent that, given the slowdown in the economy, we would probably have frozen or reduced our salary anyway," said Nenshi. "Then the whole thing became a part."

Council's salary is linked to Albert's economy, with annual adjustments that take place automatically based on a twelve-month average of Alberta's weekly earnings.

A final figure for the 2019 salary adjustment is expected to be available on December 20th. City financial director Carla Male suggested that it is likely to mean a decrease of less than one percent.

The Council finally voted 9-6 against the freezing, which means that the council will see the automatic adjustment to its salary in January.

Councilmen Jyoti Gondek, Ray Jones, Evan Woolley, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Farkas and Druh Farrell voted for the freezing. The remaining nine councilors, including Sutherland, voted against.

After being sent out of camps on Monday night, Farkas held that his Facebook post was based on information that he was awarded by the city's HR department in November.

He also doubled on the claim that the council will see a pay injury in 2019.

"I think it's unfair and unemocratic for the Council to wipe me out for what is basically a political reason or just a disagreement," told Farkas for reporters.

Nenshi emerged from Council Chambers shortly afterwards with the whole council behind him in a unified demonstration of support for Farka's ejection.

"Citizens deserve better, citizens do not deserve to get riled up by false information and things that are just not true," said Nenshi.

"Each of us comes here not to steal from the public portfolio." Each one of us comes to work to try and make this community better every day. "

A letter to the city's Integrity Commissioner, who calls for a survey of Farka's social media, has been signed by his 14 council colleagues.

There have been no councilors from a meeting for at least the eight years.

However, Farkas came close to being expelled from a April meeting for a similar violation of the Council's Code of Conduct.

At that time, Farka's views on social media were accused of the "hundreds of secret meetings of the Council" to serve to undermine the elected officials' work in the town hall.

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Twitter: @mpotkins

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