Perth South CAO Tim Ivanyshyn was scheduled, during the closed-door session of this week’s regular meeting of Township Council, to deliver a follow-up report about the investigation into the theft of a computer hard drive from the municipality’s St. Pauls headquarters.
But Councillor Liz Armstrong is leading a charge to have at least some of the information released to the public.
The theft was revealed in open session of Council on Sept. 4, during Council’s previous regular meeting. Councillor Armstrong, at that time, inquired about the investigation, citing information she had received from an unnamed source.
“I heard it from a ratepayer in St. Marys,” Armstrong said to the Journal Argus in a subsequent interview. “The person is not a police officer, and they have no direct tie to the Township. But they had been made aware of the information.”
Armstrong says she has two main concerns, if the information is true. Firstly, it apparently took approximately 10 months before the disappearance of the computer — allegedly allegedly belonging to Treasurer Rebecca Clothier — to the Perth County OPP. It went missing in September, 2012, she said, and the police weren’t summoned until June, 2013.
And secondly, she doesn’t know what sensitive information — if any —was on the computer at the time it disappeared.
“Council really does not know very much about this at all,” she said in the interview.
Ivanyshyn, also in an interview with the Journal Argus, said he was surprised with Armstrong’s revelations at the Sept. 4 meeting. He took no particular issue with the facts as presented, but suggested the matter has been “blown out of proportion” as a result of the councillor’s decision to ask the questions in open session.
“To my knowledge, at that point, it had been an internal investigation that wasn’t meant for the public,” the CAO said.
Ivanyshyn refused to reveal further details about the theft, saying only that the missing computer equipment is a “tower”-style CPU hard drive. He said further details would be made available in the closed-session report for the meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17. But because it’s a matter which could have security-related consequences for the township, the Municipal Act dictates that it must be discussed behind closed doors.
He left open the possibility, however, that some decision could be made during yesterday’s closed-door session to release some information in a public forum. And Armstrong pledged to push for exactly that to happen.
“Personally, I think there should be something let out in open session,” she offered. “I will certainly be asking some questions about what was on that computer, so the ratepayers will have some answers . . . The ratepayers need to be re-assured.”
Ivanyshyn stressed that, despite a comment made by a different councillor during the Sept. 4 Council meeting, the investigation remains open.
“We’re dealing with it and I’ll answer some of those questions in closed session,” he told the Journal Argus.
And, although he was unwilling to provide further details about the investigation, Constable Kees Wijnands of the Perth County OPP confirmed that the investigation is, indeed, still open.
“The theft of a computer was reported to us in June and we immediately commenced an investigation which is currently still ongoing,” the OPP officer told the Journal Argus.