About theburgwatch

the first to create a record of amherstburg town council's performance

Windsor Police Human Rights Complaints

Jason Viau, CBC news reported, Windsor police among forces with highest number of human rights complaints in Ontario.

According to the article, Retired constable John Boyle blames the Windsor Police Service for ongoing financial struggles and mental health issues after getting hurt on the job, claiming he was then discriminated against due to his disability.

Boyle is one of the 28 human rights complaints filed against Windsor police between 2008 to 2018. That puts Windsor among the top police forces with the highest number of complaints per capita, according to numbers obtained by CBC News through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

“It felt almost like a personal vendetta against me or that they were out to get me and push me out,” said Boyle. “I wasn’t trying to be unreasonable. I just needed some help.”

Totally relatable.

No Severance, No Sympathy

Both the Amherstburg Police Services Board and the Amherstburg Police Association agreed to the ‘poison pill’ takeover clause in the collective agreement. Although it initially referred to the OPP, the parties agreed to expand the clause to include contracting policing to ‘another police service, other than the Ontario Provincial Police’ (emphasis added).

am800 reported former officer Scott Riddell was disappointed and frustrated by the town holding payments.

“Treated very poorly through the whole process by certain members of the administration and now this, right,” says Riddell.  “We’re talking about wages.  This ain’t even about the severance.” He and others have even reached out to the Ministry of Labour looking for answers when it comes to pay that’s owed to them.

I have no sympathy.

Firstly, severance is commonly paid for loss of employment not simply for rejecting an offer of employment. Secondly, being treated very poorly, in my opinion, was when: a decision was made to withhold an officer’s benefits, contrary to law and the contract at zero cost; an officer was targeted and discriminated against for years; an officer was denied promotions and trainings; officers surreptitiously observed and reported on an officer’s family members’ activities.

The drama continued yesterday when am800 reported, “It’s very disheartening and disrespectful in my opinion we’re being treated this way,” says McCurdy.

It’s incredulous the lengths some will go to when they are personally affected and frustrated. I can imagine the ramifications if a particular officer voiced an opinion about an elected official or administration in the press.

A couple of weeks without pay for what amounts to retirement? Give me a break.

FOI Request To Amherstburg For OPP Costing Information

It is unfortunate that one has to rely on the Freedom of Information legislation to access information.

My request and the required $5.00 fee was for: Correspondence from CAO Miceli to the OPP regarding the police costing, including, but not limited to, letters, emails and notes regarding telephone calls from him and his staff.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stated in part, in response to the Windsor Police Proposal Requires FOI Application: “The entire process, short of the operations information, was public and transparent.”

Town Clerk Paula Parker’s response was, “I hereby grant partial access to the records.” The usual s. 14(1) exemption was claimed; “A head shall refuse to disclose personal information to any person other than the individual to whom the information relates.”

An appeal has been filed.

Streaming Costs A Pittance

The cost of streaming council meetings is a pittance to pay for increased transparency and accountability.

Amherstburg decided to accept the proposed approximate $500,000. savings annually from the Windsor Police Service and opted not to pursue an OPP costing which may have resulted in a $1,000,000. annual savings.

I thought optimal savings for policing, the largest budget item, was paramount.

Then again, the town’s election process was the most expensive and the least accessible so was cost a concern?

The recent recount was considered costly, despite a surplus of monies being available.

Has money been available to outsource web design, landscaping, online surveys, benefits management? purchase real estate? hire new town employees? donate to charitable organizations?

The council chambers are very small, inaccessible to presenters with disabilities and streaming would be far less costly than building a new and more accessible town hall. Accessibility wasn’t a priority when the front entrance sidewalk into the town hall was renovated.

Accessing minutes poses a perpetual problem too: the most recent special council meeting minutes available are from September 24, 2018; the most recent regular council meeting minutes are from October 9, 2018.  

It’s time to put taxpayers’ money toward all those commitments to change and increase accountability and transparency; for real.

Regional Policing Planned – Why?

CBC reported, Windsor police merging beyond Amherstburg ‘should be coming’, says chief.

The article includes, “We were late to the party at this end of the province. In the GTA and most geographic areas around the province, the idea of regional policing has been well-entrenched and has been successful for many years,” said Frederick.

I disagree.

There are only 6 regional police services in the province; the majority of communities are policed by the OPP and even some amalgamated communities switched to OPP to realize savings.

According to a 2018 TVO article, Contracting with the Windsor police service won’t produce as great a saving as contracting with the OPP. Currently, the Amherstburg service costs each of its households $658 a year. A five-year contract with the Windsor proposal would drop that cost to just under $600 a year. (And a contract with Windsor would produce some other savings for the municipality, adds DiCarlo, such as $3 million for the Amherstburg police’s long-term benefit costs.) By way of comparison, in 2014, Lewis estimated the OPP per household cost to be $360.

In 2015 CTV reported, No tangible benefit to municipal amalgamation: report.

Another study, Amalgamation of Police Services by John Kiedrowski, Ronald-Frans Melchers, Michael Petrunik, Rick Ruddell concluded, “The majority of studies focused on economies of scale also suggest, however, that there are limited or no cost efficiencies associated with larger municipal police departments (i.e., those policing more than 50,000 inhabitants).”

I have yet to find research indicating regionalization saves money.

Edited to add: The Star’s View: Regional police no cure for costs: Regional policing should be studied, although the likelihood of Essex County’s six towns agreeing to it are extremely low – as is the likelihood of a regional force saving any money.

New Council, New Direction?

CTV News reported, “Trust, accountability and growth early focus of new-look Amherstburg council.”

I was hopeful the 2014 council would be new and improved, but the Ombudsman Reports of improper in-camera meetings continued, as did the pettiness and a lack of a strong commitment to accessibility.

My expectation for this new council is that well established practices will continue. I still have to submit FOI requests for information, struggle with the town’s website, and I imagine heritage will take precedence over accessibility, despite the human rights code having precedence over all legislation.

Want The Windsor Policing Proposal? Pay For It

Windsor Police Service has issued a fourth decision letter regarding the request for its proposal that Mayor DiCarlo advised would be made public.

The November 19 letter stated, in part, “The fee for the records requested is $26.20. This fee is in addition to the $5.00 application fee already paid and is the cost to photocopy the records (131 pages @ .20 per page).”

RECAP:

Mayor DiCarlo advised me the Windsor response would be made public.

June 6, 2018 requested Paula Parker, town clerk, provide a link to the windsor police proposal, if it’s available online, or email a copy of it.

June 6, 2018 Paula Parker advised, The Windsor Police Proposal was not posted publicly as it was submitted to the Town with a confidentiality clause attached.  If you wish to receive a copy of the proposal, you would be required to request it from Windsor Police Services directly.

Windsor Police advised I had to file an FOI request.

June 11, 2018 FOI request to Windsor Police.

July 10, 2018 Windsor Police denied access to the proposal in its entirety, citing exemptions.

July 20, 2018 Appeal submitted to Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) for two reasons: I disagreed the records are excluded from the Act and I believed more of the record should be disclosed.

August 3, 2018 Acknowledgement of Appeal from IPC.

August 29, 2018 Windsor Police revised decision letter; access is denied with added exemptions.

September 5, 2018 Notice of Mediation from the Information and Privacy Commissioner

September 12, 2018 Windsor Police; “the mediator assigned to this appeal has asked that I forward an Index of Exemptions.’ The exemptions cited corresponded with 57 pages.

November 19, 2018 Windsor Police; “during mediation of this appeal a further review of the records was conducted and partial access to the records granted.” A list of exemptions, revised November 19, was attached.

Miceli said, Pouget said

The supplementary agenda for this evening’s town council meeting includes a Final Report by Bruce Elman, Integrity Commissioner, regarding a complaint by CAO Miceli against Councillor Diane Pouget.

Elman summarized the complaint, the code of conduct, burden of proof, brief conclusion, an analysis and decision, a conclusion and finally a sanction section.

A Commentary by Councillor Pouget is attached to the Report.

Elman concluded, in part, “It is axiomatic that Council sets policy and that the Administration carries out that policy. Councillor Pouget may have legitimate questions, for example about hiring of staff, but those questions should be directed to inquiring whether the Council-determined policies have been followed.”

Shouldn’t the same logic apply when council-determined motions are carried?

Council approved motions to 1. obtain an OPP costing and 2. to work with the OPP for a costing.

An OPP costing was not obtained; who should be accountable for that?

Windsor Staff Sgt. Refers To “Blue Code Of Silence”

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario continued to hear Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette’s allegations regarding her not being promoted to Inspector.

The Windsor Star article includes, ‘A “blue code of silence” exists in the Windsor police department which repeatedly blocked her path to reach the administrative ranks of the upper echelon, a female officer with 31 years experience testified.’

“She alleged after obtaining documents related to the oral and written interview process, scores by the three-member interview team for the various candidates on various pages were either fixed to be the same, missing or changed afterwards.”

Bullying In Policing was created in 2002 to raise awareness about such incidents.

Recount November 21 Through Website Links

The town’s website has posed difficulty for years including inadequate descriptions, for example, administration approved the 2018 budget while the title states council approved the 2018 budget, typos, and the programming of too many links when less would suffice.

To find the recount notice from amherstburg.ca, news and public notices reveals:

Notice of Recount
Posted Friday, November 16, 2018
Click here to view Notice of Recount
Read More…

Both the ‘Notice of Recount’ and ‘read more’ contain the same links whereas the ‘click here’ has no link. Regardless, either link should reveal the Notice; instead, both contain yet another link with similar and redundant information.

Notice of Recount
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018
Click here to view Notice of Recount

The final link directs users to town clerk Paula Parker’s Notice that contains a paragraph advising the recount will take place November 21 at 10:00 a.m. at the Libro Centre.

Redacted Windsor Policing Contract

Mayor DiCarlo advised me Windsor’s response would be made public.

The red annotation in the redacted version of the contract on the town’s site is obvious:

**Schedule 1 – The full response to the Request for Proposals by the Windsor Police Service is being redacted from the public version as it is subject to a confidentiality clause. MFIPPA exemption 8.(1) Law Enforcement may apply.**

Section 8(1) is a discretionary exemption:

8 (1) A head may refuse to disclose a record if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to,

(c) reveal investigative techniques and procedures currently in use or likely to be used in law enforcement;

(e) endanger the life or physical safety of a law enforcement officer or any other person;

(g) interfere with the gathering of or reveal law enforcement intelligence information respecting organizations or persons;

(l) facilitate the commission of an unlawful act or hamper the control of crime.

The confidentiality clause was referenced in the June 2018 Ombudsman Report into council’s and the JPAC’s in camera meetings to discuss the policing RFP.

The Ombudsman concluded:

64    While I appreciate the municipality’s concerns about complying with this confidentiality clause, at the time of the committee’s meetings, there was no closed meeting exception that generally allowed a municipality to proceed in camera to protect the confidential information of a third party. However, new exceptions to the Municipal Act’s closed meeting requirements came into force on January 1, 2018, including exceptions related to information supplied in confidence. It is possible this matter may have fallen under one of the new exceptions, but they were not yet in force when the committee met. (emphasis added).

An FOI Appeal regarding Windsor’s refusal to disclose is ongoing.

Recount On The Agenda

SEPCIAL COUNCILMEETING will be held Tuesday, November 13 and yes, you read that correctly; the typos are contained in the agenda on the town’s link to an external site.

A petition was presented to the Clerk to hold a meeting “that was cancelled by Mayor Aldo Dicarlo, without any discussion or consultation with Amherstburg Town Council.”

A municipality may, by by-law, adopt a policy with respect to the circumstances in which the municipality requires the clerk to hold a recount of the votes cast in an election.

Council should have, but did not, adopt such a policy so now must deal with the consequences.

Town clerk, Paula Parker, attached her Report regarding 2018 Election Procedures, Results and Financial Impact of a Recount to the agenda.

The legislation includes references to ‘shall’ and ‘may;’ to summarize:

  • A recount shall be held when there is a tie;
  • A recount shall be held in accordance with a council resolution.
  • Anyone entitled to vote and has reasonable grounds for believing the election results to be in doubt may apply to the Superior Court of Justice for an order that the clerk hold a recount.

Parker concluded her Report with her belief “that the recount is not necessary and will only add additional budget pressures on the taxpayer in the future.”

Firstly, council decides whether it is necessary. Secondly, taxpayers paid for the most expensive in person voting method that excluded those residents unable to vote yet still saved $50,000.

If there are concerns about taxpayers’ dollars, shouldn’t we examine savings elsewhere? what about outside consultants? online engagement software/companies to conduct surveys? web design companies? public relations? charitable donations? fireworks? parades? and the highest budget item, policing costs? Who was concerned that we might have saved a million dollars annually with the OPP compared to approximately half that with Windsor Police?

A recount at approximately $25,000. is a small price to pay to quell any doubts and maintain democracy.