Update on Wednesday, Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m.
Tim Palmer made a public apology to Alan Mason for the impact of Mason’s one-day suspension last week, according to a news release issued by the City of Revelstoke Wednesday afternoon.
“Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer apologized directly to Mr. Mason, noting a long-valued career contributing to the economic development of the community,” stated the news release. “Mr. Palmer expressed regret for the anguish and impact on Mr. Mason’s family. Further, the suspension from the workplace was a regrettable consequence of an ill-timed unnecessary escalation of an avoidable misunderstanding.”
Mason, the city’s long-time director of economic development, was suspended with pay by Palmer last Wednesday afternoon. Mayor and council were only notified after the fact, Mayor David Raven told the Times Review.
An emergency in camera council meeting was convened that evening and Mason was re-instated to his position on Friday. The situation was discussed behind closed doors again on Tuesday and the apology was issued Wednesday afternoon.
Mason is currently on sick leave and will be reporting directly to the mayor upon his return to work.
The news release calls Mason “a valued employee,” says his position “is important to the vitality of the city,” and that the city “has benefitted greatly from Mr. Mason’s leadership.”
The exact reason for Mason’s suspension is not known, however the Times Review has heard from several people that tensions did exist between the two senior staff members.
The suspension was reported by the Revelstoke Current and widely condemned by people who knew and worked with Mason.
According to the news release, the publication of the news “has been very stressful for (Mason), his family and others.”
“The mayor and council sincerely regret that this matter has been inappropriately taken into the public forum, and regret the impacts of this on Mr. Mason and his family,” states the news release.
It should be noted that the suspension of a valued senior city hall staff member is a matter of public interest and the likelihood of it being found out should have been known at the time.
The city says they will not be discussing the matter further.
You can read the news release below. Our original story follows the news release.
The City of Revelstoke’s director of economic development was re-instated to his position after being suspended with pay by Tim Palmer, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer last week, the Times Review has learned.
Coun. Steve Bender told the Times Review that Alan Mason was re-instated on Friday, a day or so after he was suspended, but he is currently on sick leave.
Mason was suspended with pay either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. His suspension was discussed during the in camera portion of a special council meeting held on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The meeting went until after 6 p.m., said councillor Steve Bender, at which point council resolved to send out a press release on the matter.
The reason for Mason’ suspension is not known, and the two councillors we have spoken to so far said they couldn’t discuss it, while two others gave no comment to all questions.
Mayor David Raven said he was in a meeting with Mason when he was contacted by the Times Review Wednesday morning at about 9 a.m. Palmer was also in a meeting Wednesday morning. A press release is expected later today.
The decision appears to be made by Palmer alone; councillors Gary Starling and Steve Bender both said they were not notified until Thursday afternoon, when the special council meeting was called.
“I didn’t find out anything until the day we had a meeting called,” said Starling.
Couns. Chris Johnston and Linda Nixon gave no comment to all of the questions posed to him.
At the special council meeting, before going in camera, Raven addressed media reports, saying they had been very stressful for Mason, his family, council and city staff.
“The City of Revelstoke emphasizes that Mr. Mason continues to be valued as a city employee,” said Raven. “The economic development function is important to the ongoing operations and vitality of the city. The city has benefitted greatly from his leadership.”
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Times Review was not at the council meeting, but did watch the video posted online by the Revelstoke Current (skip to 36:40 for Raven’s comments).
As well, the Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures – the city’s partners in the Business Development Centre – were not informed. Nor was Loni Parker, the director for Area B Rural Revelstoke of Columbia Shuswap Regional District, which pays part of Mason’s salary.
On Monday, Community Futures wrote an open letter to mayor and council saying they were “deeply concerned” about Mason’s suspension, and said the move was “at best, inappropriate.”
“Community Futures expects the City to provide a full, and very public apology, to Mr. Mason and his family,” wrote board chair Mike Cummings. “We also urge council to investigate ALL of the circumstances of Mr Mason’s suspension and take action against those responsible.”
The full letter can be read below.
Kevin Dorrius, the general manager of Community Future’s Revelstoke, said they were still in the dark as to Mason’s status.
“One of the things that really bugs me is we deliver the administrative support to the EDC and work in partnership in delivery of business and economic development and nobody has said a thing to us as to how they want anything handled, what they want handled, and who’s supposed to be doing what duties,” he said.
Judy Goodman, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said in an e-mail she was “very upset about what is happening.”
“Alan has done an outstanding job on every project, committee or community event that I have been involved in with him. He is always helpful and supportive of the business community, the chamber and me personally,” she wrote. “This has been very disruptive to our business centre team and we look forward to a positive outcome that sees Alan back working for the betterment of our community.”
Mason’s suspension was first reported last week in the Revelstoke Current and was followed by an outpouring of supporting for the long-time city employee.
More to follow…