Updated: Port Moody councillor advocated for spouse at city hall, suggested ‘inappropriate’ meeting, emails show

Port Moody Councillor and mayoral candidate Steve Milani may have requested an inappropriate meeting at city hall to advocate for his spouse who is also a city employee, according to documents released on social media.

The emails posted to social media by @moody_staffer were consistent with redacted files obtained by the Dispatch through a freedom of information request.

In September 2019, city manager Tim Savoie sent an email to Mayor Rob Vagramov regarding Milani’s spouse.

Classifying the issue as an “operational matter,” Savoie advised the mayor to leave it to him to investigate.

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“I would like to insulate you and council from staffing matters as I never know where things like this may land,” he wrote. “I had heard about this issue yesterday from Steve and I suggested that [Milani’s spouse] sit down with her manager to discuss which would have been the appropriate thing to do.”

In January 2020, Milani emailed the city manager while copying Vagramov. The email referred to a survey of city employees as well as “goings on” at the rec centre.

“My wife would be willing to sit down with you to talk about her concerns. While it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to be present, perhaps the mayor could also attend,” Milani wrote.

Milani added that his wife was not receiving any shifts, “most likely due to the fact that she has ‘spoken up’ about the goings on . . . so they are trying to keep her away.”

In his response, Savoie explained that he could not comment specifically on the concerns of a city employee due to privacy reasons.

Savoie also expressed concerns over a potential meeting, citing both union issues and the risk of a council member moving toward breaching council’s code of conduct bylaw.

“. . . it would be completely inappropriate for an employee to meet with a member of council or the mayor regarding an operational concern,” he wrote. “Operational staffing/HR matters are not the responsibility of council.”

Milani responded shortly after, explaining that his wife had already reported concerns to her immediate supervisor. Those concerns were: “merely dismissed and never moved up the chain,” Milani wrote.

Milani also specified that he was not writing to the city manager as an elected official.

“I understand all of this is ‘operational’ and I just wanted to bring it to your attention as [a] husband and NOT as a councillor,” he wrote. “I’d be happy to send this type of email to you from my home email address if you’d prefer. As you can appreciate, I am put in a rather awkward situation.”

Milani signed the email “Concerned Husband.”

Milani’s response

Milani passed his concerns to Port Moody’s city manager after hearing from his wife about workplace problems including “allegations of retaliation,” Milani told the Dispatch in an emailed statement.

“As a new councillor, when it was made clear to me to not continue pursuing the issue, I did not, and the entire exchange was assessed by the city’s legal team and put to rest,” he wrote. “I can assure the public that I had not violated any rules or laws.”

Milani added that the issue is only being brought up because it’s election time.

“My opponents are trying to use personal attacks to win political fights, rather than adding value with new ideas,” he wrote. “I wish my opponent and their supporters would spend more time sharing their ideas for how to improve Port Moody, rather than regurgitating old news on fake twitter accounts.”


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