Recount Resolution Warranted

Council should pass a resolution requiring a recount of the votes cast, given that Leo Meloche was declared deputy mayor by only four votes.

Council could have passed bylaws regarding:

  • Recounts
  • Ranked ballots
  • More accessible voting methods by mail or telephone

but the traditional and costly voting method prevailed.

While passing bylaws would be prudent, a recount would be the most accountable and transparent way to instill confidence in the counting of the votes; what is there to lose?

DiCarlo Disappointed With Voter Turnout

According to am800, there were about 700 fewer voters than four years ago, something DiCarlo wasn’t happy to see.

“Really in the grand scheme of things that’s my only disappointment. I take my voting seriously, obviously and it would have been nice to get a bigger turnout.”

Other municipalities, including some in Essex County, embraced the more progressive online or phone voting method whereas Amherstburg maintained its traditional polling method that yielded predictable results.

Similarly, the result of the decision to issue a policing RFP and not obtain an OPP costing as promised should have been obvious – that the OPP were excluded.

It is difficult to rationalize decisions that cost the taxpayer more than the other options that were dismissed.

The time to examine the effect of decisions is when they are made. Surely, information was available relative to cost, cause and effect of policing and polling.

Amherstburg 2018 Election Results

The new council has been elected:

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo
Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche
Councillors, by votes:
Donald McArthur
Michael Prue
Patricia Simone
Peter Courtney
Marc Renaud.

It will be interesting to see if any of the votes for change will actually result in change.

Unfortunately, since Amherstburg elected a traditional voting method, the most costly and least accessible method, I was unable to vote. And, I’m not optimistic, given the town’s lack of commitment to improving accessibility, that people with disabilities will benefit from increased inclusivity.

In 2014, among then-candidate Aldo DiCarlo’s priorities were: A need for greater transparency, accountability and “Why aren’t we discussing everything openly?”

I wondered why during the 2014 to 2018 council term the council and Joint Police Advisory Committee met in camera to discuss the policing RFP and the Windsor takeover proposal.

I had hoped that with Leo Meloche’s financial acumen, he would have realized the savings through a Windsor Police takeover were minimal, laughable to some, and cost comparisons should have been examined.

Patricia Simone never answered questions about discrimination while she was an Amherstburg Police Services Board member, which I thought was ironic given her speaking about the discrimination allegations against Windsor Police.

I have no knowledge of the rest of the council.

Time will tell.

Irresponsible Politicians

The Windsor Star quoted Drew Dilkens in its police contract signing article:

“If you were an elected official, why wouldn’t you want to consider — at least consider — the opportunity to provide the exact same service and save, in this case, $570,000 a year?” Dilkens asked. “I think it would be irresponsible for politicians. It would be irresponsible for me as the mayor of the City of Windsor, if someone presented something to me that would be delivery of the same service and saving me half a million dollars a year. For me, it would be irresponsible not to at least consider it.”

By that logic, wasn’t it irresponsible for Amherstburg’s politicians to not follow through on its motions to obtain an OPP costing and compare ALL the options? To not at least consider the most cost saving option?

OH YEAH! OH YEAH! We Have A Say!

When council and the Joint Police Advisory Committee met in camera, they excluded the public from providing input on the Policing RFP.

The RFP procedure restricted competition.

Was council’s vote for a Windsor Police takeover the most cost effective option? Probably not, since there were no cost comparisons which was the goal.

But now, big news, we can vote on a decal for the cruisers in town! Read the am800 report.

Since heritage is always a pressing consideration, one design depicts the historical soldiers of 1812, which, according to one bystander, looks like a stream of vomit.

Windsor Police Takeover On Schedule

am800 reported the deadline for the Windsor Police Service to takeover policing in Amherstburg is quickly approaching and Chief Al Frederick says everything is on schedule.

I’m not sure why implementing a schedule as planned is newsworthy.

According to the article, ‘Over the course of the contract the town will save $14-million and an additional $2-million to $3-million in pensions and benefits.’

I’m also not sure why the projected savings are repeated when, in my opinion, they are minimal and an OPP switch might have reduced the policing costs significantly.

Unfortunately, council did not follow up on its motions to obtain an OPP costing so we’ll never know. But we do know how much other municipalities pay for policing.

Windsor Police Issues Third Letter Re Denial of Policing Proposal Request

Windsor Police Service’s denial to the proposal in its entirety is under Appeal with the Information and Privacy Commission Ontario.

Windsor Police has issued a third letter, this time enclosing an Index of the 57 pages and the corresponding sections of the Act that it deems applicable.

Just to recap:

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

Paula Parker, Town Clerk, advised I would have to request it from Windsor.

Windsor Police advised I had to file an FOI request.

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

Windsor Police issued a second letter with added reasons to deny the request.

Windsor Police issued a third letter with an index of the reasons for its complete denial.

How does transparency and accountability apply when information is not released?

Information Leaked – Again

The Windsor Star reported on the Amherstburg Fired Department leak of information in September 2015: Miceli wouldn’t give any specifics but said “the big concern came during the fire (department changeover)” when members of the public knew about, and were bringing up at council meetings, facts that were discussed in closed meetings.

Now the Windsor Star reported about an information leak pertaining to the Windsor Police takeover.

“I’m not going to answer it to these guys,” said Rozankovic. “Let’s not kid ourselves. This is all about the policing issue. This is all about things may not go exactly as they liked. They have promised zero cost to this transition at all five of their town hall meetings, and I can guarantee you this will not be the case. It’s that simple. They’ve got to deal with this issue.”

An ADVISORY BULLETIN REEGARDING CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION was issued by Integrity Commissioner Bruce P. Elman on June 15, 2018.

The Information and Privacy Commission Ontario has a breach of information protocol.

Police Promotions Probed At Human Rights Hearing

The Windsor Star reported Windsor Police Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette continued to lay out the parameters of her human rights’ complaint on Wednesday including allegations of gender bias, discrimination, ageism and harassment against senior ranks of the Windsor Police Service.

In response to the OCPC  investigation into Windsor Police, CBC News reported, “Complaints in the field [of policing] are inherent so I can’t say I’m surprised. The Town of Amherstburg​’s police force has had complaints. This is what happens in the business. We’d like to know what the complaints are and the details behind them,” DiCarlo said.

Regarding the same topic, the Windsor Star reported, “They are just complaints, Const. Shawn McCurdy, president of the Amherstburg Police Association, said Monday. “I bet if you went to every police service in the province, you’d find internal complaints.”

That’s right – discrimination, ageism, harassment, questionable hirings and promotions have occurred in Amherstburg, all of which are serious allegations. Shame on anyone who accepts them as the norm.

Retired Brentwood head implores council to end police “old boys’ club”

The Windsor Star reported Lawyer Dan Soulliere, former executive director of Brentwood Recovery Home, sent city councillors a letter last month imploring them to ask questions about the promotional system, leadership and oversight of the service. He said human rights complaints that triggered an investigation of the service underway by a provincial watchdog agency should give councillors reasons for concern.

Accessibility Issues With Candidates’ Websites 2018

Here we go again. Candidates want to reach as many voters as they can with their promises and platforms and are increasingly relying on social media to do so.

However, just like the previous campaign, there are website accessibility issues.

If so little thought is given to being inclusive, how will these candidates indicate their commitment to identifying, removing, and preventing barriers and comply with legislation?

Policing Decision Questions For Mayoral Candidates

Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to publish this post until now.

On July 28, 2018, the following questions were sent to both mayoral candidates – Glenn Swinton responded on July 31; Aldo DiCarlo did not respond.

Administration did not carry out council’s December 2014 motion and direction to obtain an OPP costing.

Do you believe administration should have been held accountable for not carrying out council’s direction and not obtaining an OPP costing?

After researching and participating in the processes used in the policing issue, I would suggest that much of the “direction” administration followed was ordered not by council but rather the town’s CAO. The objective was to find costing from the O.P.P. and area police services. This was not adequately attempted. I will  maintain that administration ought to have pursued the O.P.P., Lasalle and Windsor costing regardless of the service inclusions being offered, then provided an unbiased assessment of the differences between the three available service providers, outlining any deficiencies/savings. The RFP as it was design chased away Lasalle and was an unacceptable process to the O.P.P.. We refused to submit to O.P.P. under their province wide, designated format they require, then negotiated and tailored the RFP to accommodate Windsor. Yes, I firmly believe the head of our administration and those acting within his helm should be held accountable for not adequately equipping our council on this issue.

Administration did not carry out council’s January 2017 motion and direction to work with the OPP on the OPP costing.

Do you believe administration should have been held accountable for not carrying out council’s direction and for not working with the OPP?

*Please see my answer above.

Public consultation was recommended prior to the issuing of an RFP Police Services in the OACP Guidelines CAO Miceli relied on. The RTT reported CAO Miceli said he wanted to solicit information from the public before an RFP was issued, “That, to me, is the critical driver.”

Do you believe the public should have had an opportunity to provide input on the community’s policing needs before the RFP was issued?

It is likely difficult for the average citizen to effectively determine the policing requirements of a community. However, public input should always, at the very least, be considered.  CAO Miceli should have applied greater emphasis on the information received from those directly involved in the current day to day operations at the Amherstburg Police Services, as they would have the best knowledge of the towns actual needs. From the JPAC meetings that I attended, it was evident that the input of Chief Berthiuame was often discounted by the JPAC chair.

The Ontario Ombudsman concluded that the JPAC and council contravened the Municipal Act when they met in camera to discuss the RFP.

Do you believe the process was transparent? Why?

I do not believe the process was transparent. In full disclosure, please know that one of the complaints filed to the Ombudsman that ended with a noted contravention was in fact from me. There is a limited scope of topics that are required to happen in camera. Outside of that realm, any member of the public that makes time to attend, deserves the benefit of inclusion.

Mayor DiCarlo advised me the OPP and Windsor responses would be made public after the consultant and steering committee reviewed the responses and council received the reports. The Windsor Police Service has denied access to the proposal in its entirety in response to my FOI request.

Do you agree that the Windsor Proposal should have been kept from the public?

No. There are definite and clear discrepancies within the initial proposal that would lay proof to the fact that the projected savings is un-attainable or at the very least, far from accurate. There are clauses that give monetary advantages to the WPS, such as the transfer of registered assets for a monetary registration fee for insurance purposes. This in itself should be viewed as a loss since it translates to this: If our squad cars for example were valued at $50,000 EACH (estimate number for ease of use), we will be transferring them to the WPS for a $1 registration fee. (The typical “monetary value” used between government agencies) Vehicles that are budgeted to be replaced in 2018 must still be replaced before the contract takes effect. So essentially, we will be handing over $49,999 to Windsor in just one of our vehicles. These simple clauses that the public is shielded from will result in expenditures that we will have to eat over and above the contract’s initiation fee of $1M. Or perhaps that clause that indicates that the Windsor Police Services have not noted any renovations or upgrades to be required to the existing building BUT if they do, these costs will be transferred to the taxpayers of the Town of Amherstburg? No indication of limitations or monetary caps of any kind. This is just two of many examples. Do I believe that allthe public would benefit from viewing the proposal, probably not. BUT there are many in this town that will change their opinion of my findings if they could.

The Amherstburg Police Services Board agreed to severances in the 2017 – 2019 Amherstburg Police collective agreement whether OPP or any other service policed the community.

Do you believe officers are entitled to severances despite no job losses as stated?

Severances are still left to be disputed. Despite any opinion one way or the other, labour disputes are often a complicated and expensive legal matter. One that again, will be carried by Amherstburg taxpayers. To my knowledge, this issue has not been resolve as of my authoring of this response; even though an apparent contract has been drafted and approved in efforts to beat a lame duck council. I believe our officers should exercise caution in this area to ensure that any credit for years of service, as it relates to severance are transferred to any new position with the Windsor Police Services. I would hate to see any officer (or office staff) with years of service in Amherstburg, walked out the front door of the WPS headquarters after a few weeks without any severance which they may have waved on the promise of a position elsewhere. Because the Amherstburg Police Services will be abolished rather than amalgamate with Windsor, each APS employee will likely be recorded as terminated from Amherstburg with a new start date in Windsor of January 1 2019. The only exception I have noted is with respect to “benefits” which takes into account years of service. Severance, or termination pay is not considered a benefit.

An exercise that was to compare all policing options, benefit the ratepayers financially, and preserve local governance transformed into an unprecedented process that excluded the OPP from participating, did not result in optimal savings, forfeited governance, restricted future decision making and resulted in a continuation of the status quo.

Do you believe the Windsor option is in the best interest of Amherstburg ratepayers? Why?

No, I do not. I believe that it is irresponsible to suggest that this process can be reversed in five years if we so desire. I would suggest that our ever developing, continually growing population will also be met with an evolving requirement for policing services. To base a 20 year prediction of savings on todays policing needs, is unrealistic and plain unreliable. We should consider that this proposal is putting the tax payers of Amherstburg at risk of being hit in the near future with a decision of either accepting basic “adequate and effective” policing that fits the payment plan or accepting the elevated per capita rates taxpayers in the city of Windsor currently pay for the services which they own. The only savings that can be verified for certain is the salary of our Chief and Deputy Chief which are said to be transferring onto Windsor’s payroll. A savings that Windsor taxpayers may have yet to realize, is thanks to them.