A White Rock business has filed a complaint of what it terms ‘ethical misconduct’ against a city councillor.
Moby Dick Restaurant owner Yuri Makogonsky has written a letter to City CAO Guillermo Ferrero claiming that critical comments that Coun. David Chesney made about his restaurant on social media amount to “defamation” and allowing private interest to influence his “conduct in public matters.”
The complaint cites City Bylaw 2456 which governs the behaviour of council members in the workplace and elsewhere, and also applies “without limitation” to council members use of social media.
It stems from comments Chesney made to a post featuring Moby Dick Restaurant in the Facebook group British Columbia Photos on June 5.
In addition to suggesting that Moby Dick’s ratings had declined, Chesney recommended patrons visit a restaurant next door.
The account Chesney commented from, Dave Chesney, lists him as both a White Rock councillor and as creator of whiterocksun.com.
“He used his (political) position and did not distinguish it from his personal point of view,” Makogonsky charged.
In the letter, sent to Ferrero June 8, Makogonsky said “these comments are defamatory and are not supported by facts. Moreover, these comments are aimed at hurting my business by encouraging other people to avoid my restaurant and to visit another place next door.”
Makogonsky told Peace Arch News that he and his family were “very disappointed that a local politician, whose job it is to serve us and support us in any way possible, should make this kind of post.
“Everybody has a right to express their own opinion, but these comments went further than his experience of our restaurant,” he added.
“The statements were not supported by facts. Even when someone posts about their experience with a restaurant there are limits. To me, this crossed the line as as a politician, and crossed the line as a customer.
“It doesn’t matter that he’s a fan of the business next to mine. There are plenty of restaurants here that all need to succeed and feed their families. But to antagonize people he is supposed to be helping puts it on a different spectrum.”
Among other provisions of the bylaw Makogonsky cites, are sections stating that councillors should “treat other council members, staff, advisory body members, volunteers, and the public, with respect and dignity”, and that councillors “shall rigorously avoid situations which may result in claims of pecuniary interest, conflict of interest, or bias.”
Contacted by Peace Arch News Chesney said he had no futher comment, other than he felt the issue was a “tempest in a teapot” that he expected to be dealt with internally at City Hall.
Peace Arch News has also reached out to the City of White Rock and is awaiting further comment.