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Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly says damning report a 'witch hunt'

Charlottetown chief administrative office Peter Kelly.
Charlottetown chief administrative office Peter Kelly.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly says he has been unfairly made a scapegoat in a report that is highly critical of his actions as former chief administrative officer with an Alberta municipality.

In a three-page statement, Kelly lambastes a municipal inspection report that determined Kelly contravened Alberta’s Municipal Government Act by acting without approval on a controversial land deal while serving as CAO for Westlock County.

Kelly calls the report “lacking, disappointing and incomplete at best.’’

He adds the report, that found Kelly appeared to not exercise “reasonable oversight of capital project costs’’, often appeared inaccurate and biased.

He disputes the report’s conclusion that he negotiated an industrial land lease and authorized site improvements in the absence of an authorizing council resolution.

Kelly says two motions unanimously passed by Westlock County Council gave direction through resolution to administration to enter into a lease agreement.

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He went on to criticize investigators for appearing to rely on unsubstantiated and unidentified individuals or staff innuendo to present allegations as fact.

“The investigation team also presents their assertions as fact with confusing language such as; ‘seems to’, ‘appears to’, ‘suggests,’’’ states Kelly.

“This wording without documentation appears to suggest a possible bias.’’

CLICK HERE TO READ PETER KELLY'S ENTIRE STATEMENT

Kelly says the report is laden with inaccuracies and seemed intent to single him out.

“Was this a selective witch hunt to find a scapegoat? From what I see, it appears so.’’

Kelly adds in the statement he sent to The Guardian Friday that he never acted out of malice or stood to gain from any of his actions or decisions while working in Westlock.

“I did what I believe was expected of me, what I believed to be in the best interest of the county, following what I perceived to be a clear council directive,’’ he states.

“It is unfortunate that after I had left there seems to be an apparent need to place the blame for all issues in the county on me and, essentially, me alone.’’

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Kelly gave an interview to The Guardian after providing the newspaper with his statement.

He would not speculate on the potential fall out of the report.

Earlier this year, the capital city lifted Kelly’s probationary status as CAO that was put in place due to the ongoing review of the controversial land deal in Alberta.

In giving Kelly permanent status, council made it clear that should he be convicted of being in violation of any law, his employment status would be reviewed.

“You can’t presuppose an outcome,’’ says Kelly.

“You let the process take its place and you go forward from there.’’

A spokeswoman with the municipality told The Guardian that council needs time to read and discuss the report.

Several councillors contacted Thursday praised Kelly’s performance as the city’s CAO.

“I have to say to date he’s done a good job,’’ says Counc. Terry Bernard.

“He’s been very engaged. He’s met our expectations so far.’’

Kelly wants to win the confidence of Charlottetown residents that may feel uncomfortable with him serving as the city’s CAO.

“I work hard for them each and every day and I stay focused on my responsibilities,’’ he says.

“I know that I will continue to serve them well and I can’t second guess peoples’ thoughts.’’

 

Jim.Day@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

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