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Oakland-Wawanesa councillor responds to mayor's allegations

09.03.2018 23:16
By: Matthew Higgs

Dennis Rome explains his actions

Wawanesa, MB (CKLQ) - Municipality of Oakland-Wawanesa councillor Dennis Rome has been accused of harassing the RMs Public Works Manager over social media back in November.

Earlier this week, Mayor Dave Kreklewich sent out a letter to homes in the area acknowledging that there was an in-camera meeting to deal with the alleged violation of their harassment policy from one of their councillors towards a staff member from the municipality.

The letter does not mention any names, but makes it perfectly clear that the councillor in question did not attend the in camera meeting.

The only councillor that fit that description was Rome.

Rome says he had gone on his social media to complain about the public works manager on more than one occasion in November of 2017.

But Rome says there was never a harassment complaint made by anyone to the administration, a claim confirmed by the CAO Joni Swidnicki.

Even though there was no complaint to address, Swidnicki, Rome and the Public Works Manager discussed the social media incidents.

"We agreed that we had discussed it, we didn't agree on all points, but we had come to an understanding," said Rome.

A few weeks after the incident, Kreklewich addressed it at the next council meeting, condemning harassment and bullying in the workplace.

"The mayor did a little grand standing, and being an election year, he thinks this will benefit him." said Rome.

He says the letter being sent out all homes in the Oakland-Wawanesa area, was Kreklewich's idea, and he has no reason to do so.

"This was a letter that was initiated by the mayor solely on his own," says Rome. "I think it is irresponsible for any elected officials to make allegations when there's no grounds to do so."

Mayor Kreklewich says that all he wants to do is keep the public informed of any wrongdoing in council.

"We just want to let people know we're taking as much action as we can so this doesn't happen again." said Kreklewich.

Rome says he doesn't think this will hurt his chances in the next election.

He says it was Kreklewich's idea, and just a way to make him look bad.

"I wanted everyone to know that we are blocked from doing things, but the court of public opinion has to come forward with this and decide if they want this in their municipality," said Kreklewich.

Oakland-Wawanesa was recently one of four municipalities in the province that introduced an initiative to try to stop workplace harassment.  

At the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, their proposed resolution was passed with any overwhelming majority, asking AMM to lobby the provincial government to review the Act to allow for stricter penalties for anyone that violates a policy.

Kreklewich said in the letter to residents, harassment has become a great cause for concern.

"We shouldn't have to deal with anyone that commits any type of harassment." said Kreklewich.

As for Rome, he says that he is confident the letter will not tarnish his name.

"Most people already know the letter is coming, and most people are on my side," said Rome.