February 28th was ’Pink Shirt’ Day, a.k.a. known as ‘Stop the bullying’ day.
At the offices of North Cowichan district, did Mayor Jon Lefebure and his ’code of conduct’ sidekick, Councillor Al Siebring, arrive for work wearing their pink T-shirts, stop before the hallway mirror to admire their reflections? Did their favourite target, Councillor Joyce Behnsen, enter the office wearing a sensible black day-dress, perhaps to convey her own subtle message: ‘Stop the harrassment?’
Councillor Behnsen is not a ‘bully,’ as the mayor, Siebring, and their dumbed-down few at the district offices are so anxious to have us all believe. Numerous citizens of the Valley, who have met Behnsen, talked to her on the phone, interacted with her regularly, also two summers ago by the doomed heritage Maple Tree (another Municipal magic moment) at the Cowichan Community Centre/Theatre/Library, would certainly know by now that Joyce is no ‘bully.’ She is a most approachable, friendly, empathetic citizen and councillor, whose personal mission in her current profession is to represent and advocate for all municipal voters.
This due diligence would include — uncomfortably for the mayor and other councillors (engaged in a personnel cover-up, it’s alleged) – Councillor Behnsen finally being compelled, from her own frustration and following numerous angry calls from property owners and/or applicants for planning approvals, to “call out” a powerful member of the district staff. Pertaining to ‘lack of respect’ for— also failure to reasonably engage with— said applicants, on a regular basis. Moreover, Councillor Behnsen has actually been prevented by council (i.e. muzzled) from even stating the employee’s job title. Never mind the name—which would be against HR policy.
Instead of having the professional gumption, and ability to render proper service to the Cowichan community, by taking the actual bull by the horns in order to mitigate frustration, annoyance and now dissension within the secretive denizens of North Cowichan Municipal offices, red herrings labelled ‘she’s a bully!’ have been deployed by sanctimonious ‘management’ under some novel ‘Code of Conduct’ banner.
Docking pay, my foot, isn’t that what happens in a factory when a worker goes home early without permission? Correct procedures for dealing with the root cause of a long-term problem under District Human Resources auspices don’t appear to be on the council’s radar, resulting in a dedicated female Councillor Behnsen, being hung out to dry.
Residents and voters in the Cowichan Valley are not all stupid or gullible. Many of us are aware that certain entrenched members of the North Cowichan District Council are ‘pulling the wool,’ letting down the public and approaching their past due date.