Mulmur council lawsuit settled in final hour
A lawsuit filed by former Mulmur deputy mayor Rhonda Campbell Moon has been settled after seven years.
Campbell Moon said she agreed to a settlement in the final hour before going to trial on Nov. 30.
The terms include an undisclosed financial settlement and a retraction of a public statement condemning and denouncing Campbell Moon’s behavior.
“I was looking forward to my time in court. I was very upset with what they did, and that I was wronged and I wanted to reveal what actually went on but I think for the interest of the public, I am satisfied that we were able to settle out-of-court because it would have been a very big mess,” said Campbell Moon.
Following an in-camera session on Dec. 6, Mulmur council voted unanimously to rescind the previous council’s motion on the condemnation and denouncement of Campbell Moon’s behaviour.
The decision relates to a “media release” in the form of a paid ad that Mulmur published in The Creemore Echo on April 29, 2011.
It read, “The motion cited recent instances in which the deputy mayor engaged in undesirable behavior characterized as ‘conduct unbecoming an elected official’. The motion referenced an April 5, 2011 council meeting and an April 14, 2011 Dufferin County council meeting as examples of the deputy mayor’s undesirable behaviour.”
At that April 14 Dufferin County council meeting, Campbell Moon voted against a motion that the rail sub-committee be asked to continue to consider options regarding the potential sale of the former rail line. She also voted against discontinuing discussions regarding the sale of the former rail line in Dufferin County with the Highland Companies, who were planning the infamous megaquarry, the application for which was later withdrawn. On the second motion, Campbell Moon voted against her Mulmur counterpart, Mayor Paul Mills.
Mills declined to comment on the settlement, saying he cannot speak to matters of litigation, citing confidentiality.
According to county council minutes, Highland Companies had proposed the purchase of the former rail line from the County of Dufferin and had advised that the track will not be reinstalled on the former rail line until they deem it economically viable.
“It became a play on words and to me, council was already going after me to silence me so they decided to throw that in there and make it a tempest in a teapot,” said Campbell Moon. “There was nothing going on. They didn’t like that I was holding them accountable. I was trained in the fire service, and in some of our departments there was not efficient professional training and I was speaking up for that. I had concerns with administrative process and transparency, I was speaking up for that.”
Mulmur’s “media release” said, “The council motion recognizes that the will of the electorate must be respected, but states that the council ‘has the collective oral duty to uphold the integrity of council as a whole and the corporation of the township of Mulmur and that such a duty requires council to hold individual members to account for their actions’.”
“Through its motion, council has demanded that Deputy Mayor Campbell Moon offer a formal and public written apology to the ratepayers of Mulmur Township to the members of council and municipal staff for her recent actions. If no such apology is received by April 26, 2011 the motion provides that the deputy mayor should resign or face other actions to maintain and defend the integrity of council as a while and the corporation of the Township of Mulmur.”
On May 3, 2011, Mulmur council voted that Campbell Moon no longer officially represent council or the Corporation of the Township of Mulmur at social functions, seminars, non-council meetings or conventions.
Comments made during the May council meeting and the subsequent “media release” prompted the first of two lawsuits filed against the municipality by Campbell Moon. According to Creemore Echo reports of the day, Campbell Moon sued council members Paul Mills, Earl Hawkins, and Heather Hayes for slander and libel. That lawsuit asked for an apology and a retraction of the news release.
“I did nothing that would be conduct unbecoming, nothing. I held council accountable. I stood for accountability and transparency and that’s all that I did and all that action was a way to stifle me and to stop me from doing my job as a council member,” said Campbell Moon.
“I voted to stop the discussions and the second vote had no impact at all…” she said. “Under the Municipal Act they are not allowed to tell me how to vote and they were told that by an investigator who wrote a report… that said what they did was not within their authority to do.”
A second lawsuit was filed by Campbell Moon in 2013. She was suing the same three council members and the municipality claiming that in or about late 2010 or 2011 the defendants, using township property, services and funds caused a private investigation to be conducted into Campbell Moon’s personal and public affairs and procured private and confidential information about the deputy mayor. The resolution of the second lawsuit is folded into the first one and is also considered resolved.