Complaints against Yellowknife city councillor Niels Konge are numerous and more egregious than previously reported, according to one city councillor.
Coun. Shauna Morgan, who co-signed a request for a code of conduct review toward Konge with Mayor Mark Heyck, would not elaborate on the complaints but said they were “a set of complaints filed by multiple employees” in late November and early December of 2015 that allege “mistreatment, abuse of power, (and) harassment on multiple occasions,” and that Konge’s behaviour had been “common and ongoing.”
“I could not let this matter drop because it goes far beyond a personal, isolated incident,” said Morgan. “It’s about us as a council being clear what responsibility we have to treat everyone respectfully, including staff given our position as leaders.”
Konge says the complaints against him were mishandled by the city, and lodged his own complaint against Heyck for his role in the dispute. He suggested the mayor has a vendetta against him.
“This is a personal thing,” he said.
Konge is president of Konge Construction and regularly shows up to committee meetings wearing hoodies and work clothes.
“The mayor has made comments about my attire at city meetings,” said Konge. “He thinks I should go home and dress up I guess, put on a monkey suit.”
He added he and the mayor disagree over who should enforce the Liquor Act.
In addition to RCMP and liquor inspectors, Konge wants bylaw officers to have authority to enforce Liquor Act violations, such as carrying an open liquor bottle outside.
“I think the mayor has had a problem with me since day one,” he said.
Morgan says Konge made things personal when he asked for a public apology from Heyck.
“There had been an attempt at that point to avoid making it personal,” she said, but “now Coun. Konge was was accusing the mayor of personally attacking him … of doing something that required a public apology.”
Konge was unclear about the number and nature of the complaints against him when News/North spoke to him last week.
At one point in the interview, he said there were three complaints, and at another, he said there was “like a dozen different complaints.”
Konge reiterated a complaint from a building inspector who visited his job site in 2015. He suggested there were tensions between himself and the inspector prior to the incident in 2015, and that there was another time when he yelled at the inspector, which sparked a separate complaint.
Konge believes his position as a city councillor was not a factor in the complaint lodged by the city inspector.
In Konge’s view, his critics “just blast out a whole bunch of allegations and see if anything sticks.”
He said three city workers are behind the complaints: an inspector, a manager and a director. He would not offer names.
Konge says the way the complaints were handled is invalidated by the fact that there isn’t a clear procedure for dealing with councillor conduct.
“This was ad-hoc. There was no policy,” he said, adding the mayor didn’t have explicit authority to involve himself in the process.
To Morgan, the absence of a policy did not justify abandoning the allegations against Konge.
“Because a formal process has not been laid out, a process had to be invented if these complaints were to be followed up on,” she said.
“So yes,” she added, “the mayor was involved in some decisions about finding a path forward in terms of a process.”
City spokesperson Kerry Penney did not respond to repeated requests for information about the complaints before deadline.
Last week, council tasked senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett to draft a list of people to sit on a conduct review committee that will investigate the complaints against Konge and Heyck.