Integrity Commissioner takes centre stage at Essex council Monday

Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze

The Integrity Commissioner of Essex has a busy Monday evening council meeting ahead of him.

Robert Swayze is expected to address two separate incidents involving town councillors Chris Vander Doelen and Sherry Bondy.

Vander Doelen has until the end of Monday to complete a list of recommendations requested by Swayze or be suspended without pay for 60 days.

In April, hundreds voiced their concerns on social media after Vander Doelen tweeted:

“My test for the Chinese flu came back positive. So I hafta lay low for another week. A punishment worse than the illness proved to be.”

Integrity Commissioner, Swayze, presented a report to council recommending Vander Doelen:

• Remove all tweets from his Twitter account which refer to the Chinese Flu, China Virus, the Chinese Origin Virus and/or the Murderous China Regime

• Prepare a draft apology for the approval of the Integrity Commissioner to be read by him in an open session of Council, and

• Attend an in-person Diversity and Inclusion training session chosen by staff and paid for by the Town. If staff advises the Integrity Commissioner that the course is only available remotely, the training may be attended online.

The report details Swayze received 80 complaints from residents regarding the tweets.

“I have served as Integrity Commissioner for multiple municipalities over the past 13 years and have never experienced an outpouring of such emotion over the behaviour of a member of Council,” he writes.

Vander Doelen alleges that he apologized “profusely” on various media outlets in the Windsor area for making the Asian Community “nervous” and he stated that he did not intend to do that.

Swayze is also expected to call for a 30 day pay suspension following the alleged actions by Ward 4 Councillor Sherry Bondy.

In a report sent to Essex Council, Robert Swayze, details a complaint he received from Mayor Larry Snively alleging Councillor Bondy publicly harassed staff at E.L.K. Energy Inc. by posting negative comments about the municipally-owned local electric distribution company on social media violating the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Boards/Committees.

Attached in the report is a screenshot of Bondy’s most recent post of an artist’s rendition of an electrical staff member being ‘forcefully led as a prisoner to the gallows and about to be hanged.’

In a written letter to the Integrity Commissioner, Bondy claims the social media post attached in the report has ‘nothing to do with E.L.K. and everything to do with Essex politics.’

Bondy agrees detailing in the letter “I am critical of E.L.K., its service delivery model and its Board of Directors. In my opinion, I am in no way contravening the code of conduct.”

Swayze is recommending a 30 day suspension of Bondy’s pay. He goes on to say if she continues with her public criticism of any staff after this report, he would recommend a 90 day paid suspension each time.