“Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave”

Here’s a souvenir program guide to the Saanich Soap Opera starring newly elected Mayor Richard Atwell with a supporting cast of council members, the police department and its governing board of directors, a chorus of workers at Saanich Municipal Hall and an audience of baffled citizens from Vancouver Island’s largest municipality.
November 15, 2014: Richard Atwell, a newcomer to politics, is elected Mayor of Saanich.
December 1, 2014: Atwell is sworn in and assumes his role as Mayor of Saanich. Sometime between his election but before he was officially sworn in he informed city administrator Paul Murray his services were no longer required. No reasons have yet been given.
December 8, 2014: Saanich council meets in camera to discuss Atwell’s action and the close to half a million dollars the severance of administrator Murray will cost tax payers. Following the meeting council issues a unanimously signed letter disassociating all members from the Mayor’s unauthorized decision.
December 11, 2014. Mayor Atwell made a late evening call to 911 because he feared a verbal exchange and a “minor scuffle” between him and the fiancé of a woman friend could escalate from a verbal exchange to something more dangerous. Police attending suggested criminal charges be laid but Mayor Atwell declined dismissing the incident as “a nonevent”. The story didn’t make newspaper headlines until January, 2015.
December 15, 2014, Mayor Atwell asked for a report on a new program installed on his Municipal Hall office computer. And voiced his first concern that he was being spied on.
January 8, 2015: News reporters began asking Mayor Atwell for details about his December evening visit to the home of the female former campaign worker during his election. He admitted to strong verbal exchanges and bit of pushing and shoving as he left the house and called 911but strongly denied any sexual relations with his former campaign worker .He insisted he dialed 911 because he feared for the safety of others. Throughout a series of radio, TV and newspaper interviews he denied any sexual relationship with the woman.
January 12, 2015.Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie reported to council meeting in camera that no criminal wrong doing had been committed when a computer program known as Spector 360 was installed for security reasons on the Mayor’s office computer and other’s including the computer assigned to Chief Downie’s wife who works in Municipal Hall. Mayor Atwell whose area of expertise lies in computer software and hardware sharply disagreed with Chief Downie’s findings, and accused him of being in a conflict of interest position and repeated his claim that he had been harassed by the police and was being spied on.
The Mayor has asked for a full review by the Police Complaints Commission. The PCC says it may take some time to investigate and report.
January 13, 2015: Mayor Atwell called a hasty press conference in the board room of a private company and well away from his private office in Saanich Municipal Hall. He wanted to confess to lying about his relationship with the woman whose fiancé‘s actions led to the December 911”minor scuffle” call. The relationship had been sexual and he was sorry he had lied initially.Most of his rambling statement involved further charges of harassment by Saanich police, and the claim that he was being spied on when he worked from his Saanich Municipal Hall office. He renewed his demand for a full review of the installation of Spector 360 on his office computer which he feels was set up by ”someone planning to spy on everything I did on my computer.” Municipal staff immediately responded that the installations were for security and that last December 2 the Mayor was given the standard Network Access Terms and Conditions Form all employees and council members are required to sign. They claimed Mayor Atwell has not returned the consent form which would give the municipality the standard to “access, inspect, retrieve, read, copy, store, archive, delete, destroy and distribute…..all communications and system data use….”
The system was recommended after an independent audit felt the Saanich system was vulnerable to external hacking and required protection against :”…internal activity that may result from external threats.”
January 14, 2015: Saanich Police Board members asked Mayor Atwell to vacate his position as chairman pending the outcome of various investigations now underway. Atwell vacated the chair but said he found the request strange. He would abide by it pending the legal clarification he was seeking from his personal lawyer.
The Police Complaints Commission investigation could take two or three weeks once initiated.
Stay tuned, as they say in radio. And while we wait for Mayor Atwell to vindicate his claims of harassment by his own municipal police force we may recall what Sir Walter Scott wrote many years ago: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
It’s a maxim all politicians – real or would be – should live by.

One comment

  1. But did Saanich do a reasonable job of informing him the standard consent form allowed capture of all screen images, keystrokes and passwords entered into the mayor’s computer? There’s a difference that and ordinary document storage.

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