More questions for Pitt councillors

Residents ask if others have contracts with city

Coun. John Becker works as a full-time lawyer and will be seeking the mayor's seat in the November civic election.

Coun. John Becker works as a full-time lawyer and will be seeking the mayor's seat in the November civic election.

Questions about contracts councillors may have with the City of Pitt Meadows continue to surface weeks after it was revealed that the mayor’s business was insuring the municipal vehicle fleet.

In an email, Jo Vella asked city council to “initiate specific inquiries” regarding any business transactions or monies paid by the City of Pitt Meadows to Coun. John Becker, his wife, or to any associates of his law firm.

“I think we should clean house there,” said Vella, who wants records checked from the time Becker was first elected to office in 2002.

“They are all downplaying it because there is an election coming up. They don’t want to step on anybody’s toe or overturn any rocks.”

Similar questions were also raised by other city residents during a televised council meeting on June 21.

Mayor Don MacLean’s business – Sharpe’s Agency Ltd. – won the latest contract to insure 32 municipal vehicles, including pickup trucks, backhoes, bobcats and fire engines, in 2009.

Since the contract totalled more than $25,000 this year, for the first time the mayor’s business had to be identified in a city financial statement, to the surprise of several councillors who claim they were unaware of the agreement.

Coun. Becker, however, is in a unique position as a lawyer, as Law Society of B.C. rules forbid him from revealing his client list.

“If this has some traction to it, I will have to waste some more time on this non-issue and get some direction from the law society and the rather Alice In Wonderland world of local politics to see what I can do,” Becker said.

“What I can say is – I have complied with all my disclosure obligations. It’s sort of a backhanded way of answering the question without getting into trouble with the law society.”

The B.C. Community Charter that requires council members to disclose any contracts they enter into with the city “as soon as reasonably practicable at a council meeting that is open to the public.”

Section 168 also requires any contracts with council members to be listed in a report, including a general description of their nature, at least once a year.

As well, civic politicians take an oath of office that requires them to disclose any direct or indirect pecuniary interests.

The city’s finance department checked if there were any business transactions between current councillors and the city, but found none.

“I am not aware of any working relations between any councillor and the city,” said chief administrative officer Jake Rudolph.

“It doesn’t exist, as far as I am aware.”