Original Published 12:51 Apr 28, 2022

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wheatland County Division four Councillor Tom Ikert has received a letter of reprimand from the Wheatland Housing Management Body (WHMB) regarding a violation of board policies. 

The letter accuses Ikert of recent actions falling below the standard of conduct and deserving of sanction. 

The accusation details a failure to maintain confidentiality with respect to board operations and behaving in such a fashion which has apparently been deemed damaging to the WHMB board. 

Within the letter, it is suggested that Ikert spoke to media personnel in December 2021, disclosing the board’s deliberations regarding a mandatory vaccination policy for all board members and was apparently quoted as making negative comments about the policy, as well as about the board.

The letter cites Ikert as having been quoted in an article published by the Strathmore Times on Dec. 17, 2021, exhibiting such behaviour. However, upon a search by the Strathmore Times into their archives, no such article exists matching that given date.

Outlined in the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the board, the chairperson, being Councillor Glenn Koester, is the board’s official spokesperson responsible for media inquiries. 

Koester said the WHMB has chosen not to comment regarding the letter of reprimand, citing that it was a personal issue to be taken up with Ikert and the letter is his personal property. 

Ikert did not respond to a request for information or clarification prior to publication.

“Your overall conduct has fallen well short of the standards expected of a Board member and has been damaging to the Board’s operations,” which is written in the letter. “You have publicly made derisive remarks about the Board to the media and at Wheatland County Council meetings, which are clearly intended to paint the Board in a negative light.”

The letter also cites an email apparently released to the entire board on Jan. 10, 2022 containing inflammatory statements deemed insulting and accusatory toward Wheatland Lodge staff.

Finally, Ikert is accused of releasing that the CAO of the WHMB had contracted COVID-19 despite being double vaccinated and receiving a booster vaccine. 

The letter regards the comment as inappropriate to have disclosed such information and suggests the comments were made with the intention of “denigrating” the policies of the board.

As a condition of his continued service on the board, Ikert has been requested to issue a formal letter of apology to Wheatland Lodge staff for his comments, as well as to the CAO for publicly disclosing her personal medical information.

The letter concludes that further violations of board policies and conduct failing to meet behavioural standards will result in additional disciplinary actions up to and including removal from the board.

This item reprinted with permission from Strathmore Times, Strathmore, Alberta