In an unprecedented move, Hamilton City Council came close to banning Ward 14 councillor Terry Whitehead from entering Hamilton City Hall. Further, Human Resources staff have been ordered to prepare a report on measures that can be taken to prevent further harassment of city staff and fellow councillors by Whitehead. That report won’t be available until August, but staff said there were interim measures available to protect staff and councillors. The motion by Councillor Maureen Wilson was made during consideration of a report from the integrity commissioner. The integrity commissioner reported that following Whitehead’s earlier sanction in November 2021 in which he was docked a month’s pay for disruptive behaviour at council meetings and for badgering staff, he showed up at the clerk’s office and berated staff again. The report said Whitehead left a voicemail message for the head of Human Resources that was considered threatening.
The Integrity Commissioner recommended that this time Whitehead forfeit 45 days pay. Council had already voted to restrict Whitehead’s contact with staff below the general manager level and to compel him to direct all questions to staff during meeting through the mayor or chair and not directly to staff.
For his part, Whitehead who joined the meeting remotely, told councillors he will take another leave of absence to address his medical issues, which he has blamed for his erratic behaviour. Councillor Jason Farr, expressing reluctance to sit in judgment of a fellow councillor, wondered if the fact that Whitehead was taking a leave, eliminated the need to bar him from the building.
Whitehead attempted to join the meeting via what appeared to be a cell phone, but when he attempted to address a question to the head of Human Resources he was shot down by Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The mayor said he regretted that the matter was being played out in an open meeting. Whitehead tried to interject again after council had moved on to another item.
At the end of the discussion after Whitehead’s feed was muted, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he wished Whitehead well in his current health difficulties and hoped he would take advantage of the city’s health and welfare programs to gain assistance.