About theburgwatch

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

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Bob Rozankovic, Editor, Amherstburg Politico gave no credit to information he posted pertaining to plagiarism and an administrative report to council by Anne Rota and Nicole Rubli. Rozankovic posted, “It’s sad when they plagiarize existing articles…”

Rozankovic was aware that Linda Saxon discovered the similarities in the reports to previously published articles and it was her research that enabled her to send a letter to the editor RTT on Friday, March 26, 2021 at 2:51 p.m.

Amherstburg Politico posted the information on Saturday, March 27 at 1:12 p.m. without citing the source despite a reminder to do so.

No April Fool’s Joke – Fees For Information Are Fair Says Clerk

Paula Parker, Amherstburg Town Clerk, issued a decision letter today and stated, “In reviewing your request, I note that you have not identified a financial hardship, therefore I maintain that the already reduced amount due of $892.50 to complete this request is fair as per the Act.”

BACKGROUND

The town’s Resolution, distributed throughout the province, was to request an extension of the website compliance date of January 1, 2021 due to COVID. During the public discussion, Paula Parker and CAO Miceli mentioned third party vendors.

October 7, 2020 FOI request relative to the town of Amherstburg website and third party vendors, requests for quotes, contracts and the re-design of the site.

October 9, Paula Parker confirmed receipt of request.

October 14 Paula Parker sought clarification.

October 16 clarification provided: wording was based on wording CAO Miceli and Paula Parker used in reference to non-compliance due to third party vendors.

October 20 Paula Parker advised, in part, your request is not strictly related to website compliance, this will take some time to complete and an extension letter inclusive of estimate for search and preparation time, as legislated is forthcoming.

October 20 further clarification provided; request did not include ‘website compliance.’

October 29 Paula Parker issued letter; meeting the time limit would un reasonably interfere with the operations, the application cannot reasonably be completed, the town requires an extension to December 4.

October 29 Paula Parker issued second letter; based on initial review, estimate is:

search: 22 hours and 15 minutes @ $7.50/15 minutes = $667.50
preparation: 10 hours @ $7.50/15 minutes = $300.00
total = $967.50
A deposit of $483.75 will be required in order to proceed further with the request. (original bold)

November 23 Appeal to Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario

January 2021 IPC Mediator involved

February 22 request the town waive the fees for this request pursuant to section 45(4) of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56.

February 24 Paula Parker acknowledged receipt; will review and advise in the coming days.

March 30 Paula Parker issued letter; amended fee reduced by $75.00:

search: 22 hours @ $7.50/15 minutes = $660.50
preparation: 7.75 hours @ $7.50/15 minutes = $232.50
total = $892.50
This would require a deposit of $446.25 to proceed further with the request. (original bold)

April 1 Paula Parker issued letter; “In reviewing your request, I note that you have not identified a financial hardship, therefore I maintain that the already reduced amount due of $892.50 to complete this request is fair as per the Act.” This will require a deposit of $446.25 to proceed further with the request. (original bold)

Open Air Amherstburg Access Questioned

This opinion by Linda Saxon was published in the River Town Times, March 31, 2021.

RE: Open Air Weekends Approved March 24, 2021

It was interesting to read about the variety of ideas that might possibly entice visitors or change the purpose of the weekend events.

The article mentioned, “Councillor Marc Renaud said there is a lot of parking a short walk from the downtown core, noting many will walk to and around shopping malls.”

In a report to council, Anne Rota and Nicole Rubli noted what the transportation planners suggest is an acceptable range of walking distance for retail, employee and special event parking.

The figures mirror those in an article originally published in 1994 when the authors discussed conditions that should be taken into account to determine how far people using parking garages should be asked to walk. It was determined that there was a lack of consensus for what is considered maximum walking distance.

The report mentions beliefs, perception and“the travel distance acceptable to an individual is contingent on an individual’s willingness to walk.” Transportation studies mention a willingness to walk in terms of close proximity to transit.

Notably absent was any reference to accessibility guidelines or consultation with residents with disabilities and the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee which has a mandated duty to advise council about the requirements and implementation of accessibility standards.

A separate report to council regarding accessibility requirements noted, “no consultation with the committee was possible at this time” due to COVID, yet the committee met previously during COVID on zoom, as has council.

Given mandatory training on the human rights code and accessibility legislation, why was there no checklist identifying potential barriers and their removal? If persons with disabilities had been consulted, barriers could have been prevented. For example, placing a group of accessible parking spaces on Dalhousie street is unacceptable, considering the slope on the southwest side.

Administration would also recommend the elimination of the Kings Navy Yard Parklot being a primary accessible parking location. Why? These spots were allegedly under-utilized. The town is obliged to provide a specific number of accessible parking spaces so it should not remove them, unless they cannot be accessed due to road closures.

Other potential barriers should have been identified. How many accessible parking spaces are type A? type B? What is the percentage of accessible seating in the eating areas? Are there any rest areas? How many accessible washrooms are there? Are the pathways unobstructed? Is signage accessible? Is marketing material available in alternate formats?

If there is a parking problem, maybe the problem is with the plan that barricades access to the downtown area.

Information And Privacy Commission Order Concludes Appeal With Ministry Solicitor General

On today’s date, the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario orders the ministry to disclose the emails to the appellant (pages 98 and 99), except for the portion withheld on page 99 due to section 18(1)(d). Until the Order is available online, you can read PO-4127 revised by IPC for typos on March 31.

The Ministry and the town of Amherstburg objected to the disclosure and cited law enforcement exemptions.

Windsor police objected to disclosure of pages 142 and 143, floor plans, on the basis of the law enforcement harms in section 14(1) of the Act. In response, the appellant submitted, among other arguments, that the harms were not present because she already had a copy of the floor plans, which she provided, disclosed by The town of Amherstburg.

Windsor Police submitted, in part,

  • Recently a group of individuals stormed the Capital Building. During the investigation into this incident, a video was located. The footage depicts individuals discussing the floor plans to determine the best method to execute entry to the building.”
  • It is not my intent to infer that the requester will use this information for nefarious purposes; however, it has been established, in previous orders, that disclosure to one person is disclosure to the world.
  • It is for the reasons stated above access should be denied to the records. In my opinion, it is not imaginary to assume that the disclosure of the records may lead the theft of firearms, drugs, intelligence information or result in harm being committed against our officers or civilian staff.

A Year Later, No Town Policy Re Routine Requests For Information

It has now been one year since I emailed all members of council to request that council consider creating a protocol to answer inquiries from taxpayers and media.

I explained that, on occasion, information was not relevant, was difficult to locate, or it was unclear who would answer a request for information.

Mayor DiCarlo forwarded my email with an FYI to CAO Miceli, who replied; Miceli advised the Town is in the process of creating a Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy and that I might wish to review the policy when it appears on the agenda for Council’s consideration and approval in the near future.

My response to Miceli was, in part, “I will not refrain from exercising my constitutional right to democratic participation, including my right to freedom of expression. I will continue to contact my elected officials for information for as long as it is their role to represent the public and their duty to be transparent and accountable to their constituents.”

To date, such a policy has not been created.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner revised its Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy publication in SEPTEMBER 1998.

Council needs to step up and direct administration to establish such a policy – not all requests for information need to be in an official FOI request.

Mayor DiCarlo: Appropriate Avenue is FOI Request To Windsor Police

theburgwatch inquiry to Mayor DiCarlo was for the number of times in each of the past two years that Windsor Police has had to utilize specialty units in the town of Amherstburg. (November 26)

Mayor DiCarlo: The appropriate avenue to get that information is through a written inquiry sent to the Windsor Police Freedom of Information Coordinator, Shelley Gray.  I have copied her on this email. (November 28)

theburgwatch: Given recent emails, i thought you were the appropriate person, “I follow up with all taxpayer requests for information wherever and however possible.  I also follow up with the media in the same way.”

How disappointing that requests for information require formal requests; maybe a new policy is required to increase transparency? (November 28)

related posts:

Windsor Police Requires FOI Request – Telephone Survey
Windsor Police Proposal Requires FOI Application

Windsor Police Requires FOI Request – Telephone Survey

I hoped the Windsor Police Service would disclose the survey questions put to residents via phone but, once again, Windsor Police requires a formal FOI request.

theburgwatch requested a copy of the Windsor Police Service survey questions to post here. (November 12)

WPS: The survey is now complete, and no further phone calls from the initiative are anticipated. If you do still seek the questions, I would refer you to LEGER – as they conducted the survey. (November 16)

LEGER has not responded. i would like a copy of any Request for Tenders, quotes, etc. for the Windsor Police Survey, as well as a copy of the purchase order/contract with LEGER for the same. thank you. (November 26)

WPS: In order for you to move forward with the below inquiries, I would direct you to a Freedom of Information Request. Step-by-step information on how to proceed with such a request is available on our website at: https://www.police.windsor.on.ca/services/info-requests/Pages/Freedom-of-Information.aspx (November 27)

related post: Windsor Police Proposal Requires FOI Application

Amherstburg Discloses Further Records Following IPC Ordered Search

The Town of Amherstburg has disclosed further records following the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario ORDER MO-3934-I regarding the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to the town for correspondence regarding the police costing from the town’s CAO and his staff to the OPP.

The IPC Adjudicator’s Analysis and Finding were:

(27)  I find that the town’s search was not reasonable, and I will order it to conduct a new search.

(28). I am persuaded by the appellant’s argument that the electronic search was too narrow and that it ought to have included the EA’s email address. The town does not dispute that the scope of the request included the CAO’s staff and it has explained that the CAO has only one staff member. While I acknowledge that the town stands by the reasonableness of the search, it has not provided a sufficient explanation for why no electronic search was undertaken of the EA’s email.

(29). I further acknowledge that the town takes the position that the electronic search was only complementary to the paper-based search. However, the town has also emphasized that both components of the search are important. To that end, in this case, I have concluded that it is in fact because the town itself relies on the electronic component of the search that the omission of the EA’s email from the search renders the search incomplete.

(30)  I am also persuaded that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that there ought to be additional records. Using the content of the records that were disclosed to her in this appeal, the appellant has established a reasonable basis that additional records ought to exist. Further, the appellant has possession of responsive records that have not been disclosed by the town in this appeal. Although it had the opportunity to do so, the town has not provided an explanation for this fact.

The town requested an extension of the August 10, 2020 deadline as it had commenced the additional searches, which yielded a large volume of records that required review; and there had been some delays in completing the additional searches due to demands on staff time because of emergency declarations for COVID-19 and flooding.

Nicholas Renaud’s affidavit states, in part, he conducted the search and provided 24,223 records for review. Kevin Fox’s affidavit states, in part, the IT Division provided 24,223 emails for review that he manually reviewed.

Paula Parker, the town’s FOI Coordinator, states three further records were disclosed: M-2018-16 Decision theburgwatch.com copy.  note: format originated from the town.

An Order will be issued.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Ordered to Conduct Further Records Search

the burg watch is 9 years old

Nine years ago, the burg watch premiered to create a permanent record of Amherstburg town council’s performance and to remind voters about some of the actions elected officials undertook on behalf of taxpayers.

In 2014, the burg watch created another historic first when it facilitated ratepayers’ questions to the then-candidates for municipal election and re-election. Hot topics emerged like policing costs, tourism and the town’s financial situation.

It also became noticeable how informed/uninformed the candidates were, depending on answers or if answers were even provided.

Early posts noted council’s Municipal Act contravention following the Ombudsman Review Of Closed Meetings, flip flops and a lack of commitment to accessibility.

In 2018, posts once again referenced an Ombudsman’s Report of council’s and the JPAC’s contravention regarding in camera meetings on the Policing RFP and council’s decision to choose Windsor Police Service without obtaining an OPP costing as promised.

In 2020, posts mentioned a lack of transparency and accountability, a lack of commitment to accessibility and what seems to be an ongoing issue, requests for information – informal and formal, all of which encompasses transparency.

Thank you to those who support the burg watch.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Background Byte

In response to the RTT article, ‘County will not endorse Amherstburg’s request for AODA website compliance’ letter by Linda Saxon as published on November 4, 2020.

I appreciate Essex County Council not endorsing the town’s request.

Is COVID a convenient excuse?

For eighteen years, since September 2002, I appeared before town council and the town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, emailed the town’s IT Department, wrote letters to the editor and appeared before the provincial Standing Committee on Justice Policy regarding the need for an accessible town website. The Manager of Information Technology assured me twice that a new website was being launched and would comply with web accessibility standards and informed council the site was standard compliant in July 2007. I provided site check results indicating the site failed minimum standards in June 2008 and in January 2009 after the launch of the newly designed site.

I served on the Essex County Website Redesign Committee when the county launched its redesigned site in 2014.  Why did Amherstburg wait until 2016 to hire the same web design company? And, in the four years since, what is the town’s excuse for non-compliance? Obviously, it isn’t COVID.

The Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee should have also ‘vehemently’ opposed the town’s resolution that was distributed to all other municipalities in the province.

Most disappointing was that council members placated administration when the question on behalf of the community they serve should have been, why are we not compliant by now?

Although the report to council claims COVID is the reason, administration explained at the council meeting that it was due to third parties. I guess no one on council realized the town is also responsible for third party vendors because no one commented.

From the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, nothing in the legislation prevents a community from implementing accessibility earlier than deadlines that were carefully considered and allowed for plenty of time to comply. It is shameful that the town requested an extension when it was aware of the compliance deadline for years; certainly, for longer than COVID has existed.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

Amherstburg requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Third Party Vendors

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Third Party Vendors

Councillor Patricia Simone asked if it was possible to get assistance from a third party that deals specifically with websites; if it was possible to potentially get a quote and then weigh that against the time staff would need to be in compliance. (September 14, 2020 council meeting discussion).

The Town of Amherstburg’s website is already designed by a third party, eSolutions (stated at the bottom of the town’s site).

Other third parties:

Wired Solutions

Next ideas

Cinnamon Toast New Media Inc.

Bang the Table Pty Ltd. for the Town of Amherstburg’s TALK THE BURG.

CAO Miceli and town clerk, Paula Parker, also referred to third party vendors during council’s discussion regarding non-compliance. Miceli referenced third party vendors that the town hosts on its own website; Parker mentioned the town has some third party vendors who are responsible for such things as the tourism website, the fire website is another one that is third party.

Email request for information

Ms. Parker’s response to my request for information regarding third party vendors for the town’s website was:

There are a number of third party vendors providing services to the Town in a variety of manners and a review by Town staff is ongoing as to redundancy, duplication and contract terms/conditions.  While this review is underway and not yet complete, I cannot at this time provide a thorough list.  A report is expected to be available in 2021 with suggestions from Administration for efficiencies in service delivery and a streamlined approach to web content delivery.

FOI request for information

  1. The names of all third-party vendors that the Town of Amherstburg hosted on the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  2. Copies of all Requests for Proposals, Requests for Quotes and Tenders for the redesign of the town’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  3. Copies of each individual contract for the third-party vendors with the Town of Amherstburg website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  4. All the costs of each individual purchase of the third parties’ services for the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  5. All the cost of hosting each of the third parties’ services for the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.

Ms. Parker sought clarification. Ms. Parker was advised, the wording was based on the wording CAO Miceli and she used at the September 14, 2020 town council meeting when both referred to the town’s website non-compliance of the accessibility standard due to third party vendors.

Ms. Parker then issued two decision letters:

  1. the Town of Amherstburg requires an additional 30 days to December 4, 2020.
  2. a fee estimate of $967.50, exclusive of photocopies.

more to follow.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

The River Town Times reports that on Wednesday October 21, Essex County council voted to not endorse the town of Amherstburg’s Resolution.

In a letter to county council, the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee (ECAAC) stated, “The ECAAC does not support the resolution from the Town of Amherstburg, but also vehemently opposes any extensions to this deadline for compliance.”

The members of the ECAAC noted that “fifteen years is long enough to take the necessary steps in achieving website compliance” and “not only does this request undermine the legislation as it stands, but also sends a message that meeting accessibility standards is not important”.

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Good Queen spoke against the resolution and Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche, in the absence of Mayor DiCarlo, offered an explanation.

View the discussion at county council meeting.

More to follow.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

The town of Amherstburg circulated its September 14, 2020 Resolution to The Right Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and cc: The Right Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and All Ontario Municipalities.

As of this writing, five of the other 443 municipalities endorsed and supported The Town of Amherstburg’s resolution related to the website compliance deadline extension.

The letter as it appeared on the Town of Essex Agenda: CORRESPONDENCE – Town of Amherstburg Resolution RE AODA Website Compliance Extension Request.

More to follow.

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Members of Amherstburg town council were asked to provide the reasons for voting in favour of the Resolution on September 14, 2020.

The following responded.

Councillor Michael Prue: Please view the tape or the video. I was very passionate about why this should not be done. If this is not possible call me.

Councillor Patricia Simone: After reading the report provided in the agenda, discussion with administration and staff and research I conducted before the meeting.

Follow up question: What kind of research did you conduct and would you cite the sources you relied on to reach your decision?

No response.

Councillor Donald McArthur: I voted the way I did because I believe the extension request was earnest and made in good faith by staff, who are diligent, dedicated and hard-working.

As the report to Council makes clear, the Town’s robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on operations and established work plans.

“The work plan to address website accessibility did not anticipate the interruptions and redeployments caused by the declared pandemic, COVID-19,” said the report. “The demands of addressing the emergency declaration have devoted key resources away from other projects to ensure the safety of the community and staff, continued operations and new procedural changes to how the municipality ensures the provision of its services during a pandemic.”

Follow up question: regarding your comment at the meeting that amherstburg is not the only one of the 444 municipalities asking for this extension: would you know the numbers or names of those other municipalities?

McArthur: I based my comments off the report: ‘The Town of Amherstburg is not alone in finding it difficult to meet this timeline. Other municipalities have stated that they understand they may not be able to meet this target, especially given that there have been no funding announcements from the provincial government.’

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

More to follow.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

On September 14, 2020, the following members of Amherstburg town council voted in favour of the Resolution to request the province to extend the compliance deadline ‘to meet the compliance standards, by a minimum of one (1) year to at least January 1, 2022.’

  • Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and
    Councillors
  • Michael Prue
  • Peter Courtney
  • Patricia Simone
  • Marc Renaud
  • Donald McArthur.

A discussion was held and is summarized below; disclaimer – this is not an official transcript.

Councillor Michael Prue spoke first and recalled his involvement with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) enacted in 2005. Prue wondered if they were doing the right thing to attempt to delay the website when the town has known since 2005 it had to be done and since the 2011 schedule saying it had to be done in 2020. He didn’t think they were doing a service to persons with disabilities or that it was in the municipality’s best interest.

Paula Parker, town clerk, agreed they were aware of the deadline for some time but COVID became a priority and they requested the extension to prevent the order or fines if they are non-compliant.

Councillor Michael Prue responded to Paula Parker: he didn’t understand why they would need a year extension when they only lost 5 months.

Councillor Donald McArthur disagreed and thought it was a bit of a cry for help from staff and that they should listen; that they’re not the only one of the 444 municipalities asking for this extension and he thought it was reasonable in light of COVID.

Councillor Patricia Simone asked about the possibility of a third party that deals specifically with websites and weigh that against staff time needed to be in compliance.

CAO MICELI mentioned Kevin Fox advised they can’t comply because of third party vendors and their information and those parties don’t follow the same rules.

Councillor Peter Courtney would support the extension on advice of administration and hope they have some compassion for them and hope the town doesn’t face any consequence.

Councillor Michael Prue asked if the matter went before the disability committee and wondered what people think of the town not meeting the deadline.

Councillor Marc Renaud, council’s representative on the Accessibility Advisory Committee, remained silent.

Paula Parker responded that it had been dealt with by the committee on a number of occasions and believed most recently at the end of last year. Parker responded to Courtney’s comments and pointed out the town’s website does meet the WCAG level 2.0 not only single A but double A. Parker mentioned the problem is with PDFs and some third party vendors who are responsible for such things as the tourism website and the fire website.

Councillor Michael Prue acknowledged the consensus but wasn’t sure if politically it was wise.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche agreed they need to get this done and mentioned part of the problem for years is administration puts in requests for help and council denies and they all just have two hands and can’t do the work of 4.

More to follow.

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution