Linda Williamson, director of communications for Ombudsman Andre Marin, said councillors could release the report immediately, wait until the next council meeting in September, or choose another time to release it.
“But yes, that’s how it normally works,” Williamson said. “We don’t release the reports directly.”
Marin tweeted Aug. 29 that the report had gone through all the review processes and was finalized.
“Report on its way to council,” Marin tweeted. “They’re free to make it public anytime.”
Shannon Dowling, who works in the city’s communications department, said Aug. 29 she didn’t know when the report would be made public, but would try to find out.
The investigation centred on four private meetings held in late 2011: one each on Oct. 3, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 14. Someone filed a complaint in February regarding those meetings, alleging they should not have been held ‘in camera,’ the technical term for closed-door meetings.
Under provincial law, city council can only go in camera for certain reasons, such as to get legal advice from their lawyer, sell land or to discuss a personnel matter when the employee involved will be identified. All meetings must be open unless a reason acceptable under provincial legislation is given.
In a June press release, the city said the meetings dealt with “personnel matters regarding an identifiable individual (which) were discussed in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001, 239(2)(b).
“Since being contacted in February 2012, the City of Greater Sudbury has fully co-operated and has provided all requested written documentation, within the timelines set forth,” the release said.
The last time the ombudsman investigated Sudbury city council was spring 2011, in connection to closed-door meetings held with Auditor General Brian Bigger over problems at Sudbury Transit.
Before that was the 2008 investigation of the Elton John ticket scandal that rocked the previous mayor and council in 2008. A member of the public complained that councillors met in private to discuss whether to return the dozens of tickets they bought before they went on sale to the public.
At that meeting, they decided to return as many tickets as possible, eventually handing back 71.
“In that case, the city did not violate the rules,” Williamson said, in an earlier interview.
Even if city council is found to have broken the rules, the ombudsman has no power to punish anyone. The worst they face is a report pointing out what rules they broke and detailing the best practices that should be followed in future.
Complaints to the ombudsman are up by 27 per cent in 2012 compared to a year earlier. In all, the office handled 18,500 complaints.