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DebraW
27-05-2007, 12:32 AM
Mayor 'in murky waters'
Public employee handling Mandel's private business raises eyebrows

Sat, May 26, 2007
By Sun Media

Residents of Stephen Mandel’s Lakeland Village trailer park and local political experts are wondering why the mayor’s chief of staff – a public employee – is handling complaints about potholes and garbage pickup for his private business.

Mandel’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Misutka, penned an e-mail to Lakeland resident Jennifer Lyka late Friday night in response to an earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel.

Lyka and other Lakeland residents are complaining of massive potholes that riddle their streets, and caused trailer park management to pile bags of trash in the middle of the road because garbage trucks can’t navigate the crumbling community.

Misutka’s email, which was carbon copied to Sun Media, states she will be handling Lyka’s complaint while Mandel is out of town.

“At this point it is our understanding that all garbage has been removed from the site…” Misutka’s letter reads. “If you have any questions (or) concerns … you can call me directly this weekend.”

University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody says the mayor has waded into murky waters by having a public servant handle issues relating to his private business, and that such a directive may be a conflict of interest.

“The proper course would have been for the mayor, as a person in private business, to have addressed this resident on his own, or to have had someone form his management company do so,” Lightbody said.

“As a public official he must be very clear in separating his role as mayor from his role as a private landowner.”

Read more in Sunday's EDMONTON SUN.

--30--

DebraW
27-05-2007, 12:46 AM
^ Okay, I purposely did not post anything relating to the roads or the garbage situation at the Mayor’s trailer park because I just did not think it was fair to Mandel. As a businessperson and the Mayor, I was cognizant to separate the two lines of (his) responsibilities something the media was not apt to do, as it does not sell newspapers or make him (Mandel) look like a shoddy property owner.

However, this is a different situation if as it has been reported the Mayor’s Chief of Staff was brought into the fray in any capacity other than to say that she could not/would not comment on his personal business hum, that I have some concerns with.

I am no neophyte and am thus well aware that the lines between job responsibilities and personal obligations are nebulous at times but they do not seem fuzzy in this situation making this is a slippery slope (downhill all the way) if the facts are as reported. :?

lux
27-05-2007, 07:34 AM
It seems to be an odd situation to make up. The only room for misunderstanding is that an overly helpful employee could have been acting without proper regard for the required separation between the Mayor's private and public responsibilities.

Any attempt to brush this off without offering a full explanation and apologies as warranted would be irreconcilable with his office.

Schweiktoo
27-05-2007, 07:38 AM
Oh good grief. Here are the unquoted parts of the article:


Mandel's councillor pal Ron Hayter came to his defence and said pundits like Lightbody are making "mountains out of molehills."

"It's easy to criticize from ivory towers. The mayor was simply using his chief of staff to deliver a message of some immediacy in his absence," Hayter said.

"If he'd been directing her to some sort of action, I'd say that's a no-no, but this really isn't a big deal."

University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

ralph60
27-05-2007, 08:35 AM
Just wondering.
Doesn't Steven Mandel's ownership of a housing development in Strathcona County put him in a conflict of interest regarding the regional cooperation issue?

Ins
27-05-2007, 08:42 AM
Just wondering.
Doesn't Steven Mandel's ownership of a housing development in Strathcona County put him in a conflict of interest regarding the regional cooperation issue?

SHouldn't his assets be in a blind trust while he's in office? I know that is the case with others in this situation such as Mayor Bloomberg in New York.

RichardS
27-05-2007, 08:44 AM
Just wondering.
Doesn't Steven Mandel's ownership of a housing development in Strathcona County put him in a conflict of interest regarding the regional cooperation issue?:lol:

DebraW
27-05-2007, 09:20 AM
Trailer park haunts mayor
Chief of staff deals with complaint

Sun, May 27, 2007
By BROOKES MERRITT, SUN MEDIA

Mayor Stephen Mandel bungled his handling of complaints at his trailer park by using his chief of staff to address his private business problems, says a University of Alberta political scientist.

"He should know better. This could be perceived as a conflict of interest - and politics is all about perception," Jim Lightbody said after learning Mandel's chief of staff Patricia Misutka was responding to a pothole and garbage pickup complaint from a resident at Lakeland Village.

Lakeland Village is a trailer park in Strathcona County that is home to more than 1,500 people.

The mayor owns it and had managed to keep its dealings out of the public domain until residents began complaining about massive potholes a week ago.

Lakeland resident Jennifer Lyka e-mailed Mandel Friday morning to complain that park management was piling trash in the middle of her street because garbage trucks could no longer navigate the crumbling roads.

Late Friday night, Lyka got a reply from Mandel's city e-mail account, which was carbon-copied to Sun Media.

It was written and signed by Misutka, and explained the problem on Mandel's behalf, stating he was out of town.

"At this point it is our understanding that all garbage has been removed from the site ..." Misutka's e-mail reads. "If you have any questions (or) concerns ... you can call me directly this weekend ... or at my office on Monday."

The e-mail included Misutka's mobile phone number and office number with the City of Edmonton.

Lightbody says Mandel has "waded into murky waters" by having a public servant handle issues relating to his private business.

"The proper course would have been for the mayor, as a person in private business, to have addressed the residents on his own, or to have had someone from his management company do so," Lightbody said.

"As a public official he must clearly separate his role as mayor from his role as a landowner."

Mandel's councillor pal Ron Hayter came to his defence and said pundits like Lightbody are making "mountains out of molehills."

"It's easy to criticize from ivory towers. The mayor was simply using his chief of staff to deliver a message of some immediacy in his absence," Hayter said.

"If he'd been directing her to some sort of action, I'd say that's a no-no, but this really isn't a big deal."

University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

Lightbody said it's very positive to have a mayor who is a successful businessman like Mandel.

"But private business must be carried out by private staff, period - not public officials whose positions are funded by taxpayer dollars," he said.

This new confusion of Mandel's private and public interests "is at best distasteful for him," Lightbody added.

By contrast, he said former mayor Laurence Decore excelled at keeping his public and professional lives separate. "He always had a private company dealing with his businesses and his chief of staff was always very cautious of perceptions of conflict," he said.

For Lyka, the e-mail has only left her confused.

"I'm still trying to figure out why (Mandel's) reply came from a city official," she said.

"The complaints from the people living at Lakeland Village have nothing to do with the City of Edmonton or his role as mayor. I'd have much rather heard from him directly, or at least from management staff at the park."

Neither Mayor Mandel or Misutka returned calls for comment yesterday.

--30--

DebraW
27-05-2007, 09:21 AM
^ A non-starter this is just an attempt to stir things up to sell more newspapers IMO.

ike9126
27-05-2007, 11:36 AM
The i want my name in the paper syndrome so ill send something to the sun that doesnt matter a whole lot

lux
27-05-2007, 12:34 PM
University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

The mayor would have been on solid ground if the assistant had penned a letter to the Sun about the issue, but in this case, his assistant was helping him run his business, not deal with the political issue as raised by the sun.

kcantor
27-05-2007, 06:43 PM
University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

The mayor would have been on solid ground if the assistant had penned a letter to the Sun about the issue, but in this case, his assistant was helping him run his business, not deal with the political issue as raised by the sun.
From the original article:

"Mandel’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Misutka, penned an e-mail to Lakeland resident Jennifer Lyka late Friday night in response to an earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel."

Any bets that the earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel was sent to anywhere other than "[email protected]"?

I didn't think so. And if Lyka is using Stephen's political office to make a point and if the Sun is using Stephen's political office to score points, then who is guilty of abusing that office? When all Patricial was attempting to do was respond in good faith to an inquiry while Stephen was unavailable to do so? I would expect to do the same if the occassion arose for those I work for and would expect the same from those that work for me. That's called common sense and courtesy, not bungling the handling of complaints.

No wonder good people have a difficult time making the commitment to spend time in public office when this kind of nonsense is a big part of the price. :(

RichardS
27-05-2007, 07:22 PM
No wonder good people have a difficult time making the commitment to spend time in public office when this kind of nonsense is a big part of the price. :(

yep...

Ins
27-05-2007, 07:48 PM
University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

The mayor would have been on solid ground if the assistant had penned a letter to the Sun about the issue, but in this case, his assistant was helping him run his business, not deal with the political issue as raised by the sun.
From the original article:

"Mandel’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Misutka, penned an e-mail to Lakeland resident Jennifer Lyka late Friday night in response to an earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel."

Any bets that the earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel was sent to anywhere other than "[email protected]"?

I didn't think so. And if Lyka is using Stephen's political office to make a point and if the Sun is using Stephen's political office to score points, then who is guilty of abusing that office? When all Patricial was attempting to do was respond in good faith to an inquiry while Stephen was unavailable to do so? I would expect to do the same if the occassion arose for those I work for and would expect the same from those that work for me. That's called common sense and courtesy, not bungling the handling of complaints.

No wonder good people have a difficult time making the commitment to spend time in public office when this kind of nonsense is a big part of the price. :(

More appropriate would have been for her to refer the question to whoever is looking after his business affairs while he is in office. Neither he or his cheif of staff should be answering this.

If it's just an e-mail enquiry then this is nothing, if the larger issue is that his staff and himself are still running his busienss affairs while in office than this is potentially something.

lux
27-05-2007, 09:29 PM
University of Calgary political scientist David Taras also downplayed the issue.

"The Sun brought this into the public discourse so it's reasonable for Mandel to respond from public office," Taras said.

The mayor would have been on solid ground if the assistant had penned a letter to the Sun about the issue, but in this case, his assistant was helping him run his business, not deal with the political issue as raised by the sun.
From the original article:

"Mandel’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Misutka, penned an e-mail to Lakeland resident Jennifer Lyka late Friday night in response to an earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel."

Any bets that the earlier e-mail Lyka addressed to Mandel was sent to anywhere other than "[email protected]"?

I didn't think so. And if Lyka is using Stephen's political office to make a point and if the Sun is using Stephen's political office to score points, then who is guilty of abusing that office? When all Patricial was attempting to do was respond in good faith to an inquiry while Stephen was unavailable to do so? I would expect to do the same if the occassion arose for those I work for and would expect the same from those that work for me. That's called common sense and courtesy, not bungling the handling of complaints.

No wonder good people have a difficult time making the commitment to spend time in public office when this kind of nonsense is a big part of the price. :(

"Dear Ms. Lyka,
I have forwarded your correspondence regarding Lakeland Trailer Court to [email protected] as this regards Mr. Mandel's private business dealings. He will respond when he returns from holiday. Thank you for contacting the City of Edmonton.

Regards,
- Patricia Misutka"

Wouldn't that have been better? If I can think this through then I'm pretty sure someone in city administration explains conflict of interest to elected officials. If you think this is going to make me vote for Mike Nickel, forget it. But a simple and direct apology is in order.

DebraW
28-05-2007, 10:25 AM
The “not my job” or “this is not relevant to my position” attitude that is so prevalent in some organizations that it is part of the company culture has never been something I understood, tolerated or ever practiced myself.

There is no realistic way that a “job/position” description can ever cover every possible contingency thus at some point an employee must practice common sense or put things up against the “sniff” or grandmother test. (If it smells/feels bad or it is something you would not want your grandmother to hear about then it probably should not be done.)

Patricia no doubt in my mind thought she was handling something for her boss, something that needed to be done and she could do it, so she did it!

That is a mark of a great employee something to be lauded not something to be used as a means to discredit.

This controversy is contrived at best and a waste of taxpayer’s money (to address it) at worst—can the City; the Mayor et al. get back to running this city please Edmonton Sun if you would be so kind as to stop stirring a pot that does not rousing.

DebraW
28-05-2007, 10:16 PM
Mayor's chief of staff in the clear: bureaucrat
But stern words from city councilor

Mon, May 28, 2007
By FRANK LANDRY, CITY HALL BUREAU
Edmonton Sun

The mayor’s chief of staff didn’t break any rules when she addressed a private business matter on behalf of Stephen Mandel, says a city bureaucrat.

In fact, city clerk David Edey said there is no hard and fast policy that governs such situations. “There would be no rules per se,” Edey told Sun Media yesterday.

But a city councilor warns elected officials walk a fine line when they mix politics with business – and must go out of their way to separate the two.

“Have someone else (outside of city hall) handle your business calls,” said Coun. Mike Nickel, who also co-owns a business – Western Marble Craft. “I separate all my stuff, very aggressively. I’m very, very careful.”

Nickel said he even carries two cellphones – one for civic business and the other for personal business.

Last week, Mandel’s chief of staff Patricia Misutka responded to a pothole and garbage pickup complaint from a resident at Lakeland Village, a trailer park in Strathcona County owned by the mayor.

A resident e-mailed Mandel Friday morning to complain that park management was piling trash in the middle of her street because garbage trucks could no longer navigate the crumbling roads.

Late Friday night, the resident got a reply from Mandel’s city e-mail account.

It was written and signed by Misutka, and explained the problem on Mandel’s behalf, stating he was out of town.

Misutka did not respond to a Sun Media interview request today.

--30--

^ Good for Patricia.

The first thing you need to learn in media relations are just because they are the "press" does not entitle them to a reply. Unfortunately, it also can mean that the press will write or present it anyway, they want...