By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Despite calls from the public for a discussion regarding a report from the city solicitor on confidential documents, council has remained mum on the topic and carried a recommendation that leaves the documents in the dark, pointing to ongoing legal concerns.
The report at issue was one from city solicitor David Potts, which contained his recommendation as it related to the release of confidential attachments to report AG-13-09, the bombshell report from former auditor general Ron Foster, relating to the purchase of 199 Wentworth St. E.
The majority of Foster’s report is in the public realm, save for three attachments, which have been kept secret since the report hit council in 2013.
In the aftermath from the report’s release, council carried a motion in March 2014 to have Potts look into the legal implications of releasing the confidential attachments.
By this time, the majority of confidential information regarding the acquisition of 199 Wentworth, the home of the city’s new works depot, had been released following a motion of council in June 2013. However, due to AG-13-09 still being before council at the time, with independent investigator George Rust-D’Eye looking into Foster’s allegations, it was not included under the motions’s scope.
Prior to a closed meeting of council on Monday afternoon, Oshawa activists David Conway and Jeff Davis both appeared before councillors, asking them to have a public discussion on the release of the documents, their reasoning being that the solicitor’s report was to deal with the legal implications of releasing the attachments and not the contents of the attachments themselves.
“There is no reason why these options have to be discussed in a closed session of council,” Conway said.
However, following the delegations, the item received no discussion by councillors and the item passed with the staff recommendation to approve “Option 1.”
No further information was provided to the public and Potts declined to comment for The Express.
However, when The Express asked for copies of the attachments, the request was denied.
When asked about keeping the items confidential, Mayor John Henry cited that matters relating to the acquisition of 199 Wentworth are still before the courts.
“You’re asking a question about an ongoing legal issue and disclosing an ongoing legal issue is not in the best interest of the city,” Henry said. “So sometimes, trying to deal with an issue that relates to ongoing legal issues needs to be left where it should be.”
The legal matter in question relates to an ongoing lawsuit by former city staffer Chris Harper who was dismissed during the acquisition process of 199 Wentworth. Following his departure from the city, an email from then city manager Bob Duignan was leaked and ended up on Facebook. Harper is now suing the city and former councillor Tito Dante-Marimpietri, the identified source of the leak.