Isaac Munroe has lived in the Village of Wentmore most of his adult life. This is his second term on council. Last week he was chosen to be deputy mayor.
In Wentmore, as in many other small communities, most residents know each other. Isaac’s hockey buddy, Winston, is the public works foreman. They have been friends since high school. Each was best man at the other’s wedding. They have taken family vacations together. Connections run deep. After hockey practice, Isaac and Winston often enjoy a beer and catch up on news. Last night was no exception. They laughed and shared stories. At some point, Winston lowered his voice and said to Isaac, “Public works employees are not happy with the clerk-administrator. This guy won’t listen to reason. Our grass-cutting equipment desperately needs replacing. The mower constantly breaks down and is unsafe, yet he refuses to purchase new equipment. He says there’s no money in the budget.”
Winston urges Isaac to act: “Bring this up at council next week, will you? It’s dangerous for me and others to be using that old ride-on. It will be too late when someone gets hurt, or worse. An accident could cost the village a lot of money.”
The friends both know the village purchased equipment for leisure services that had not been in the budget. They also know that the clerk-administrator has recently approved the purchase of a new laptop for his own office.
Questions to consider:
- In this scenario, are the boundaries between friendship and public service obligations being crossed? If so, how and by whom?
- How would you respond to your friend’s request if you were the deputy mayor?
- What issues, other than faulty equipment and employee safety, should be of concern to Deputy Mayor Munroe?
- As clerk-treasurer, how would you respond when you learn the public works foreman has been complaining to the deputy mayor? (Assume all employees report to the clerk-treasurer and the clerk-treasurer reports to council.)
Reader’s thoughts on this case as well as examples from own experience will be welcomed. Contact me by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org