Update: A letter dated March 5th (received after March 8th) was sent to The Green Room in response to inquiries made regarding the Krista Storey-Miami Condo issue on February 18th.
March 5th, 2013
(received after March 8th, 2013)
We appreciate your submissions and would like to reassure you that your concerns were taken earnestly
In your email, you raise questions over the judgement of an employee of the City Of Orillia for having accepted accommodations from two individuals that contract with the City for summer theatre.
Please be advised that this matter has been addressed internally. The matter will remain confidential, pursuant to our human resources protocol.
We trust the foregoing is satisfactory and we appreciate your bringing this to our attention.
A Florida vacation will put the smile on anyone’s face, even more so when you enjoy the comfort of someone else’s Miami condominium. On a Facebook posting to her 995 Facebook friends February 16th, Orillia Opera House Manager Krista Storey thanked Dave Campbell and Tim Webb for the use of their condominium in Miami: “Thanks for the great digs”.
But wait a second! Ms. Storey is the municipal employee directly responsible for what goes on at the City-owned Opera House. Messrs.’ Campbell and Webb are the show producers contracted by the City to provide summer programming at the Opera House.
Feeling that the optics of a City employee enjoying the use of a contracted City supplier’s condominium while on vacation was odd, The Green Room sent a letter to the Mayor and all members of Council. The letter contained a link to the post and laid out the following concerns:
- Ms. Storey is the municipally-employed Manager of the City-owned Orillia Opera House.
- Mr. Campbell and Mr. Webb are the owners/operators of Laugh Out Loud Productions. Laugh Out Loud was contracted directly by the City to produce summer theatre programming in 2012 and is again contracted to produce summer theatre programming in the Opera House in 2013.
- Prior to 2012, Ms. Storey was instrumental in bringing Laugh Out Loud to Orillia and using the Opera House for their initial 2010 season and 2011. Furthermore, she approached Council for a $42,000 grant to assure their services in 2011, and negotiated their contract and cost underwriting ($200,000) by the City for the contracted production of programming for the 2012 and 2013 summer seasons.
The letter continued by reminding the Mayor and Council of the City’s specific policy regarding staff conduct and the acceptance of ‘hospitality’ gifts as described in Part 5, Section 7, Sub-Section 1, Policy 1 of the Staff Policy Manual…..
“City employees appreciate that they have to carry out their responsibilities in such a manner as to avoid any conflict of interest, and to avoid the perception that their actions are motivated by anything other than fairness and objectivity… Gifts or hospitality should not be accepted from any person or corporation having dealing with the City, if it could be reasonably construed that the gift/hospitality is being offered in anticipation or in recognition of special consideration by the City.”
The Green Room letter concluded with the following remarks:
“Due the relationship between Ms. Storey and Messrs. Campbell and Webb, that being between a municipal employee with decision-making authority that could directly benefit Laugh Out Loud, and individuals who have benefitted and continue to benefit directly from that employee’s decisions, a reasonable person might very well construe a potential conflict of interest on the part of Ms. Storey in that, while on vacation, she enjoyed the use of a condominium owned by Mr. Campbell and Mr. Webb….
…I ask for your comments, at your earliest convenience, on the conflict of interest of Ms. Storey in this situation.”
Orillia Integrity Commissioner Suzanne Craig, who was sent a copy of this letter, issued a response. She thanked The Green Room for bringing the matter to her attention, and then went on to state:
“I do not have authority over matters relating to administrative staff actions. However, I did review your email and attachment to ensure that there were no Code issues that required my involvement. I have been advised that this will be handled as an administrative staff matter.”
This handling ‘as an administrative staff matter ‘ has been confirmed by City Councillor Tony Madden, after speaking to Ms. Storey’s immediate superior, Parks & Recreation Director Ray Merkley. Mr. Merkley in turn informed Mr. Madden that the matter has, in fact, been dealt with internally and that a letter from the Mayor to The Green Room explaining the City’s action can be expected shortly.
The Green Room will update readers as information is received.