A statement issued by the band council to local media quoted Chief Warren Paull saying:
“Our council and Tracy Samra agree that now is not the time for her to take on the responsibilities of the CAO for the shíshálh Nation. We wish her well in future endeavors.”
According to sources, Ms. Samra signed the Nation’s employment offer on the evening of Jan. 30. The next day, the Nation announced Ms. Samra’s appointment in a news release.
However, that night RCMP arrested Ms. Samra at her home on allegations that she had uttered threats against several individuals, including this reporter, earlier in the day at City Hall. She has not been formally charged.
Where this leaves the City of Nanaimo is unclear as Ms. Samra failed to resign as city manager prior to or after her appointment in Sechelt was announced.
However, she is prohibited under a police release undertaking from attending City Hall and also is not allowed email contact.
Nanaimo council met in a closed-door session yesterday to discuss how to deal with the city manager situation.
The issue is fraught with legal risk. Council members have been warned against making public comments that could prejudice the city and its taxpayers.
An internal city investigation is underway into the incident at City Hall that led to Ms. Samra’s arrest in the middle of the night.
Vancouver-based lawyer Geoff Mason said that while he could not comment on the specifics of the case, in general there are two issues at play in such circumstances.
“First, if the city manager was on medical leave, then the city may be hesitant about dismissing her if they believe that her behavior may be related to the reasons for medical leave.
“Second, the city may think it has grounds for cause for dismissal. If they do, then they would not have to pay the city manager any severance. They may simply be waiting until the investigation is complete to determine if they have cause, as this would save them a lot of cash,” said Mr. Mason.
Samra still on payroll
Until council decides how to proceed, Ms. Samra will continue to collect her paycheque from the city every two weeks. Her annual salary is currently pegged at about $205,000, excluding benefits and bonuses.
In her absence, chief financial officer Victor Mema is acting city manager. He was appointed to that role by Ms. Samra with council approval.
Last September, the District of Sechelt filed suit against Mr. Mema seeking repayment of almost $10,000 related to allegedly personal expenses he charged to a corporate credit card. He has not responded to the allegations in court.
As of today, Mr. Mema is still not a member of CPABC and cannot legally use the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation after his name as he has been doing.
Disclosure: News Nanaimo is unable to obtain comment from Ms. Samra because she is currently prohibited from contacting this reporter directly or through a third-party under the terms of an arrest release undertaking. See more