Langley City mayor Val van den Broek has made allegations of bullying and harassment against unnamed councillors, saying she has endured “name calling, intimidation, personal attacks and facial mocking and mimicking during council meetings, events and community meetings, by other Langley City council members.”
She levelled the charges in a July 25 “harassment, bullying, discrimination” motion that called for an investigation of her complaints under the City respectful workplace policy, the same policy that was cited in a motion censuring the mayor for allegedly bullying a City staffer in May.
In calling for an investigation and report to council, van den Broek said that she has been the target of “mocking” remarks about her appearance, the result of what she described as “major surgical repair” to her entire face following a ski accident in 1997 that required her nose to be rebuilt and left her with facial nerve damage.
Among the examples cited by the mayor, van den Broek said after council voted to investigate her mayor’s gala fundraiser, one councillor told her in front of staff “that several council members had decided they would wipe the smirk off her face and take her down as mayor.”
In her motion, van den Broek also claimed an email distributed to members of council and staff by an unnamed member of council said van den Broek “walked into my office with a smirk on her face.”
The mayor called for an independent investigation under the City respectful workplace policy on those, and a number of other incidents, with a report back to council “in a timely manner.”
Councillor Rudy Storteboom convinced the rest of council to vote for deferring a decision until City staff review the matter.
“Wow, what can I say,” Storteboom commented. “It’s just too much.”
“It’s just a list of grievances. Next thing you know, everybody on council is going to be listing all their grievances, too. I just wish we’d get past this. I think an apology would be probably in order, but maybe that’s saying too much.”
Council also deferred a decision to staff on another proposal, made during the same meeting by the mayor, that would keep the contents of the report about her alleged bullying confidential and prevent any councillor from using any portion of the report and media releases for any purposes “including but not limited to campaign materials.”
On May 10, van den Broek was censured for ‘bullying’ an unnamed staffer, according to a statement posted to the City website on Tuesday, May 31.
It said Council was issuing the statement in response to “false statements” by van den Broek about the circumstances surrounding the motion of censure and sanction issued against her for breaching the City’s respectful workplace policy.
The statement said van den Broek “misused her power as Mayor to target, intimidate and threaten an employee of the City, including by making unjustified and false statements about the employee.”
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