by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services
NNSL (Feb 05/97) - At a closed meeting Friday, Yellowknife's city council selected Bob Brooks to replace recently resigned alderman John Dalton.
Mayor Dave Lovell (left) and the seven remaining aldermen voted to appoint Brooks, a former alderman, to the vacant position.
"If you're wondering about secret meetings, it's a personnel thing," Lovell said, noting that he is satisfied the matter was being dealt with properly.
"Discussion went around the table and he seemed to be acceptable to everyone."
Asked if appointments of alderman are permitted the same confidentiality as hiring of staff, a spokesman for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs said that question isn't answered by relavant legislation.
"If your asking what is the definition of a personnel matter, I don't know that the (Local Elections Authorities Act) describes that explicitly," said assistant deputy minister Verne Christianson.
"My understanding is there is a recommendation coming forward that will be subject to some discussion at the committee level and then at council," added Christianson.
MACA's municipal legislation officer Gail Cyr, noted, "the whole process of briefing meetings is in front of the Supreme Court right now and we're not prepared to discuss anything that's in front of the courts."
One alderman has made no secret of his disdain for the selection procedure.
"This is a perfect example of how secret meetings work," said Dick Peplow. "We made the decision in secret, but we're still going through the formality of rubber-stamping it at committee and city council to make it legal.
"We do all the hard debating in secret, then everything that happens in public is like a little show for the folks," said Peplow.
The city's right to make decisions at closed meetings is currently at the centre of a court challenge launched by the Yellowknife Property Owners Association.
Closed meetings have also become a focus in the city's attempt to secure jurisdiction over houseboaters on Yellowknife Bay.
Austin Marshall, lawyer for houseboater Matthew Grogono, has asked that the city's statement of claim be thrown out because the city has never publicly made a decision to take the houseboaters to court.
Brooks, Executive director of the NWT Chamber of Commerce, served on the last council before launching an unsuccessful campaign for mayor last election.
His name is on a list of committee appointments. Barring any major reversals, Brooks will be sitting on the Community Services, Works and Public Safety and NWT Association of Municipalities committees.
He will also be an alternate on the development appeal board.
Lovell said Brooks had written the city a letter saying he would be willing to take the position.
Alderman narrowed the list of candidates to people who had served on the last two councils. Among the candidates were Bob Findlay, Marie Coe, Ben MacDonald, Brooks, Mike Byrne, Dalton himself and Lovell's predecessor Pat McMahon.