Public Input Not Welcome?

On Friday, I emailed Paula Parker, Amherstburg’s Manager of Municipal Governance (of this post) to request copies of minutes pertaining to council’s decision to form and appoint members to the CAO selection committee as well as minutes of the committee meetings.

I also inquired if there was a notice to the public regarding the procedure by-law similar to the development charges by-law and nuisance smoke by-law.

Ms. Parker’s auto response advised, “I am out of the office on scheduled vacation, I will return to the office on Monday, Sept 8, 2014. I will mot have access to emails, however I will respond to your requests once I return. If your email is urgent in nature please contact Nicole Rubli at nrubli@amherstburg.ca or Tammy Fowkes at tfowkes@amherstburg.ca.”

Given that council will consider its proposed procedure by-law on September 8, the date of Ms. Parker’s return, I emailed both Ms. Rubli and Ms. Fowkes.

Instead, CAO Phipps replied as Ms. Parker emailed him to respond: “Hi Mike, As I am away from the office for the week, can you either reply to or assign this response to someone for me? Thank you, Paula Sent from my iPhone”

Phipps: “Thanks Paula and enjoy your vacation. This is my response to Ms Saxon.

With respect to the CAO hiring process, this matter was discussed in a closed session of Council and you are not entitled to any information from any of those sessions.

There was no notice to the public regarding the draft Procedural By-law. Incidentally, there is no requirement for notice.”

Consistently inconsistent.

Why is a CAO responding to simple inquiries from ratepayers who are paying for a bureaucratic structure at town hall?

Why advertise and welcome input for some by-laws and not others?

Why would a CAO instruct administration not to speak to members of the media, but then use the town website to set forth his version of the alleged facts?

Open and transparent but refuse to disclose information about the contentious leaving/staying CAO and the hiring of a new CAO?

Phipps’ email to me, copied to council, contained errors and omissions that have yet to be corrected but his email to Graham Hobbs is allegedly covered by the Town confidentiality statement so it cannot be shown.

The 2008 Procedure By-law has remained the same since 2008; why not let the new council update it and decide if it wants to hear from the public?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

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