Reporter’s And Individual’s Requests For Information Compared

How does a reporter’s experience compare to the average residential taxpayer where there may not be an incentive to quickly comply with requests for information?

Julie Kotsis, the Windsor Star, reported that Amherstburg CAO John Miceli responded to her email on Day 2.

My experience requesting information from the Town of Amherstburg and Windsor Police differs.

For example, information that should have been readily available required an almost two-year formal appeal process and an Order for the town to search for more records. Windsor Police objected to the disclosure of its Amherstburg policing proposal which resulted in a two-year wait for an Information and Privacy Commission Order to disclose all but two pages of the 131- page document.

Mayor DiCarlo advised the appropriate avenue was through a written inquiry sent to Windsor Police for information pertaining to the utilization of specialty units in the town of Amherstburg since the take-over.

Windsor Police referred me to the company that conducted its telephone survey, which did not respond. Back to Windsor Police who directed me to submit a Freedom of Information request.

Most recently, the town of Amherstburg insists it is fair to impose an $892.50 fee to complete a request for detailed information that the clerk and CAO publicly stated during a council meeting.

Over a year ago, I requested councillors consider creating a protocol to answer taxpayers’ and media inquiries. In response, the CAO advised the town is in the process of creating a Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy and, until adopted, requested that all information I seek be made through the formal process.

I repeated my request in April this year for council to adopt the Information and Privacy Commissioner recommended Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy, revised in 1998.

The town clerk advised COVID impacted services and only Councillor Prue supported it and reminded members of council that during the last election, they all said we need more openness and citizen involvement.

I wonder which will come first; a policy or more campaign promises to be open, transparent and accountable.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

the burg watch is 4 years old

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Four years ago today, the burg watch started a permanent record of the performance of council members and staff; it was intended to be a reference for voters heading to the polls just in case some issues were not mentioned along with all the campaign promises.

In November 2011, some of the burg watch’s posts were about town council’s contravention of the Municipal Act following the Ombudsman Review Of Closed Meeting, council’s flip flops and a lack of commitment to accessibility, for example, the town’s website; I have raised awareness about it since September 2002 when a mandatory municipal annual accessibility plan had to be created.

In 2014, the burg watch provided an opportunity for residents to ask the candidates questions during the campaign period. Despite being threatened with legal action by a candidate, I continued and feel it was a worthwhile endeavour.

It has often been suggested that the naysayers should stop criticizing and offer constructive solutions, but I have repeatedly submitted solutions to no avail.

I have been subjected to insults and name calling and I continue to receive harsh criticism for raising certain issues, but I will continue in the spirit of freedom of expression.

Thank you to those who support the burg watch’s intentions.

the burg watch is 3 years old

Three years ago, the burg watch began chronicling how well the Mayor, Councillors, and staff performed; it was intended to be a reference for voters heading to the polls who would be inundated with campaign material.

In November 2011, the burg watch blogged about:

Amherstburg’s Mayor Wayne Hurst’s mention in a MACLEANS Magazine article, “Canada’s Lousy Mayors;

Council’s contravention of the Municipal Act following the Ombudsman Review Of Closed Meeting;

Difficulty with navigating the town’s web site, after having pointed out issues since 2002;

Council’s flip flops on:

  • its decision to allow a man convicted of sex crimes to purchase naming rights at the town’s new arena
  • the decision to install railings at the United Communities Credit Union Complex, which was expected to lose $895,000 by the end of December 2011
  • the recommendation to hire an engineer to investigate what caused more than 500 homes to flood during a severe storm in August.

Today, some issues remain unaddressed but there is a new council and hopefully, a new era in municipal politics. Not only has administration been uncivil and unwilling to provide access to information, but there has been an unprecedented amount of criticism directed toward those community residents who have exercised their democratic rights.

the burg watch has also received criticism for informing the public of certain issues and was threatened with legal action, but it will continue in the spirit of freedom of expression.

Councillor Davies On Her Performance

at the end of each year to date of this council’s term (2010 – 2014), all councillors were asked, “if any of you would care to provide a comment regarding how you think you have performed.”

at the end of year two Councillor Carolyn Davies emailed the following: (note: any spelling errors originated in Councillor Davies’ email)

“Thank you for your email  Dec 5/12.   As for your question on how do I think I have performed during the second year of my term is really not for me to answer but for the constituents to do so.  I understand that in a democracy everyone has a different view point, will interpret activities that come closest to their own understanding and needs.   As always, I am working consistently with my commitment to the consituents of Amherstburg. I want for other that which I would want for myself, fairness, justice and provide a voice to issues, if at all possible. I always look forward to what can be,   to what compromises can be made vs an either or and how we can move our community forward toward an improved quality of life and remain optimistic that a positive appoach will always provide more successful results. Regards, Carolyn Davies”