‘Millionaire’ Hamilton councillor faces docked pay for the 2nd time

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Published June 17, 2022 at 8:45 pm

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead will have his pay docked for the second time in less than a year — for 45 days this time.

The report from Principles Integrity that imposes another salary suspension will be presented a Hamilton city council meeting on Wednesday (June 22). Principles’ findings are that Whitehead, within the first week he returned to work after taking a medical leave for most of 2021, tried to intimidate the city clerk and executive director of human resources in regard to the previous complaint against him that led to his pay being suspended for 30 days for bullying city staff. (Whitehead has made a judicial review application in regard to that matter.)

This past winter, Whitehead made “aggressive and threatening” comments to Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge in an online chat that have given her “anxiety and stress about returning to ‘in person’ attendance at City Hall, given that her office is located directly across from Councillor Whitehead’s.” The city HR department brought the complaint on behalf of Partridge.

“Having previously found complaints of harassment and bullying to be substantiated, and having previously, only 6 months ago, imposed a 30-day suspension of pay for such behaviours, and recognizing the principles of proportionality, deterrence and progressive discipline, we impose the sanction of suspension of Councillor Whitehead’s remuneration for a period of 45 days commencing with the next pay period,” reads the report.

All three complaints against Whitehead involve his behaviour toward women. While not named, Andrea Holland is the city clerk. Lora Fontana is the executive director of human resources.

Whitehead did not attend any meetings during the first 10 months of last year. In March, he explained via a statement that he had gone on medical leave while he “contended with several personal and family health-related challenges.” Fellow councillors extended his leave in late July. Otherwise, his seat would have been vacated.

“Although not within our authority to impose, we strongly urge the Councillor to seek support which may be available to assist him in wrestling with the personal health challenges which burden him,” adds Principles Integrity, which has served as the city’s integrity commissioner since 2018.

Whitehead returned to work on last Nov. 1. The integrity commissioner found that on Nov. 4, he threatened the city clerk who processed the prior complaint, and made an “implied threat” against the executive director of human resources over voicemail on Nov. 5

The report recommending 30 days’ docked pay was accepted by council on Nov. 10. It also spelled out limits on which city staff Whitehead could interact with.

‘Having fun’ since he is ‘a millionaire’

Whitehead provided the integrity commissioner with an audio recording from Nov. 4, when he entered the office of the city clerk unannounced.

Per Principles, “He advised that he was ‘having fun’ because now he is ‘a millionaire’ and that he is ‘holding staff accountable for screwing up on a report…and staff should start looking, and reviewing what they did here.’

“… He proceeded to chastise and berate the Clerk about placing the Report on the Council agenda for the following week, despite the Clerk pointing out that she had no discretion under the by-law to do anything other than place it on the next Council agenda.”

Nov. 4 was a Thursday. Typically, agendas for upcoming public meetings are posted toward the end of the week prior.

The report finds that, “Knowing that the Council Agenda would be made public the following day, (Coun. Whitehead’s) unannounced and unexpected visit can be seen as a pre-emptive strike to preclude the Clerk from fulfilling her obligation.”

A day later, Whitehead left a voice message with the top executive in human resources stating “you were instrumental in the process” of sanctioning him and, ” I have to do what I have to do.”

The complaint brought on behalf of Partridge stems from a meeting on Feb. 9. During an online chat, Whitehead said to Partridge, “throwing mud is not productive and certainly something you might want to rethink on some one that has nothing to lose!!!!!!!”

Principles’ report labelled those comments “aggresssive and threatening.”

Whitehead has been on council since 2003. He represented Ward 8 for 15 years. Following a boundary realignment before the 2018 elections, he was elected in Ward 14, on the central Mountain.

The 19-year councillor recently told a Hamilton newspaper that he intends to run for re-election in October. He has not  filed nomination papers, but the deadline to do so is not until Aug. 19.

Kojo Damptey and Brian Lewis have filed to run in Ward 14.

Damptey is the executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. Lewis, who has a background in the logistics field, was a founding member of the mayor’s race relations committee and has also served on Hamilton’s status of women subcommittee.

Lewis is a first-time candidate. Another man who has the same name ran in Ward 1 in 2014, finishing fifth.

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