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City admin filed Sean Chu photo complaint; informal resolution reached

The photograph incident likely would never have been made public had Mayor Gondek not raised it last week.

The complaint against Coun. Sean Chu after a photo was taken of Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s licence plate was handled internally, according to city administration.

That process does raise some red flags, according to one Calgary city councillor.

Chu, who is the Ward 4 councillor, apologized Nov. 15 during a special meeting of council, admitting to photographing the mayor’s licence plate in a secured executive parking garage. That photo resurfaced in the public and eventually made it back to the mayor’s office.

Chu also withdrew from deputy mayor privileges as a result of the apology. He’s also no longer parking in the executive parkade.

Who filed the complaint and how it was handled was described ambiguously when it first came out. Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she wasn’t aware of who filed the complaint when she first divulged it last week.

According to an email from City of Calgary administration, the proper process was followed for an Integrity Commissioner investigation, as per Section 79.  City administration initiated the complaint, they said. That clause allows an informal resolution to be sought.

“City Administration made a complaint of conduct related to a breach of security to the Integrity Commissioner and an informal resolution was decided on and reached,” read a statement from City of Calgary administration.

“This addressed Administration’s security concern.”

LWC asked Coun. Chu outside council chambers Monday if he chose the informal resolution process. He said no. It was a decision made by the city and the Integrity Commissioner, Chu said.

“Well, they didn’t tell me do you agree or not. That’s what I (did), the city made the decision.”

LWC has asked the city for confirmation of Chu’s comments, including why they initiated that option if it’s the case.

The story will be updated when those responses are received.

Clarity on the complaints process

Recent complaints have often gone through the standard reporting systems, which requires a decision within 90 days of receiving an investigation request. That report would then be presented publicly to Calgary city council. A decision on sanctions is then made.

Recent examples of this include complaints against Couns. Gian-Carlo Carra and Dan McLean. Both of those were discussed and hashed out in public. Presumably, had Mayor Gondek not made public the recent incident with Coun. Chu, it would have never been daylighted.

LWC has followed up with questions on how many times this resolution process has been used. We’ve also asked why the option exists.

I hear informal resolution, of course, I think that raises some red flags,” said Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner.

Penner said the biggest question raised is what gets reported to council through the Integrity Commissioner. As a by-product of that, what then gets reported to the public.

Other questions this raises, Penner said, is how complaints against elected officials should be handled. Also, the reporting structure for corporate security may need to be reviewed, she said.

“We either need to do something within the corporation, give direction within the corporation or we need to find out a way for those to come through to the Integrity Commissioner,” Penner said.

While Penner didn’t think there were gaps in the city’s Code of Conduct for Elected Officials, it’s a gap in understanding where specific complaints should go, she said. It may be something the new council operating committee could look at, Penner said.

Over the weekend, Mayor Gondek didn’t elaborate on conversations she may have had with Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz on this topic. She directed further inquiries to the Coun. Chu himself.

“I will say this about the situation. There was a complaint made about the taking of a photograph in a secured area,” the mayor said.

“That complaint was not made by me. I haven’t made a complaint yet. So, if I choose to make one, I won’t be able to talk about it.”