No Answers Equals No Transparency Or Accountability

Commentary by Linda Saxon

On February 27, 2018, I requested CAO John Miceli answer three questions for me to post to theburgwatch.

  1. Were any Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Police Service Advisors involved in the police costing process?
  2. Would you provide me with a copy of Berthiaume’s Completed Form as requested by the OPP?
  3. Would you confirm whether or not Council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing were rescinded?

On March 1, I emailed Miceli, cc council, that if he was unavailable to respond to my media questions, if he would please forward them to someone who can.

Eight minutes later, Miceli responded:

“All of the questions that you are asking are in relation to an OPP costing process. As you may or may not know the Town did not request an OPP costing instead the Town developed an RFP dictating the minimum level of service requested from proponents. Council approved this method of procurement of services and the OPP was invited to participate in the process. The OPP elected not to respond to the Town’s RFP. All of this was disclosed in public reports. With that being the case I do not believe I can offer you any further information.”

Unsure that there had been any investigation into obtaining the requested documentation, I emailed Miceli back:

“If you review my questions, the first involves Ministry Advisors, as mentioned in the OACP Guidebook you relied on and i’m merely asking if any were involved in the police costing process, in other words, the costing process the town undertook.

i conclude from your response that Berthiaume never did complete the form for the OPP; did he complete an equivalent form for Windsor?

The third question, if you refer to it again, relates to council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing and whether or not they were rescinded; council’s motions are not part of the OPP costing process, as you well know. “

Police Costing Process – Transparent and Accountable?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I emailed members of council the following:

As happy as I would be to be rid of Berthiaume, the Amherstburg police service and board, I fail to see how a contract with Windsor police will benefit the ratepayers, never mind entrenching a 20 year contract.

I wonder what all of you would say about such a contract if you were campaigning against a current council right now.

In my opinion, this costing process has not been transparent and it lacked accountability and responsibility.

Shortly after being elected, council was committed to obtaining all police costing comparisons.

The media reported that a committee was established to discuss costings. 

The JPAC recommended that administration be directed to hire MPM Consulting and the media reported in January 2017 a consultant was hired to “weigh the benefits of keeping its own police force, amalgamating with another force or hiring the OPP.”

At the same time, the JPAC recommended that administration be directed to, in part, develop an RFP for Windsor and LaSalle to respond to and work with the OPP on the OPP costing.

It appeared the OPP would still be an option and that council was committed to its two motions to obtain an OPP costing despite the committee determining earlier the OPP costing was not feasible.

Council should have held administration and the JPAC accountable for not implementing council’s motions.

The River Town Times reported Town council wants to make the decision once and doesn’t want to accept or reject any proposal without knowing all the details, DiCarlo said. “It was always council’s position to look at all of the options at the same time,” he said. “The goal is to have all of the information in front of us.” (emphasis added).

In the end, taxpayers were denied an opportunity to provide input on a comparison of all policing costs and options and instead were reduced to submitting subjective and emotional responses to a limited choice.

Phipps Flip Flops – Will The Town Pay Two CAOs?

On May 9, 2014, Mary Caton reported in The Windsor Star that Amherstburg CAO Mike Phipps confirmed Friday that he intends to leave his position before reaching the end of his two-year contract with the town. “I am meeting with council shortly because we’ve got to get a plan in place,” he said. Phipps said he intends to see the town through the impending municipal election and municipal review. “I feel an obligation to hang in there,” he said. “To see that the election is run properly and legally.”

The town advertised for a new CAO and invited applicants to submit a resume by June 30.

In a July 16 Windsor Star article, Phipps said he’s staying put. Candidates for the position are undergoing a council approved vetting process that includes a five-member panel made up of Phipps, human resources manager Michelle Rose, another county CAO that Phipps wouldn’t identify, a “fairly senior” local business leader and a resident.

Why was a panel needed? How was the panel selected? What are the members’ qualifications? Was there an Information and Privacy Commissioner privacy assessment, considering residents are panel members who will access personal information?

The article ends with a quote from Phipps: “So we thought, if we can get the right person that at least this council is satisfied with … I have faith we’ll get the right person,” he said.

Who is “we?” Has Council agreed to rescind his notice to leave plus hire a new CAO?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Financial Audit Converted To Review Raises Questions

In a November 20, 2013 Windsor Star article, Julie Kotsis reported Hurst cast the deciding vote to oppose the motion to request an independent audit and called it the beginning of the “silly season” noting that an election was coming up next year.

At its January 20, 2014 town council meeting, a unanimous motion was carried to ask the ministry for an audit. According to The Windsor Star, Councillor Diane Pouget said she called the ministry as well and was told “it is council’s responsibility to request this audit.”

Phipps’ March 21, 2014 Report To Council included a recommendation that,Council approve, in principle, moving forward with the Financial Management and Practices Review for the Town of Amherstburg with the costs of the Review being borne by the municipality. Council unanimously agreed.

According to a July 17, 2014 Windsor Star article, Pouget said, “We need an in depth investigation of what happened to that money (that was moved from reserve and other dedicated accounts) and how it got moved and who moved it. We need answers and I would have never agreed to spend $100,000 just to review policies and procedures and to tell us how to do something better.”

Council Flip Flops – Ministry of Municipal Affairs to Audit Aburg’s Finances

according to the November 20, 2013 Windsor Star, Julie Kotsis reported Amherstburg Town Council was split over the need for further financial auditing. Councillor DiPasquale’s motion to request an independent audit of the town’s financials was defeated as follows-

AGAINST: Councillors John Sutton, Carolyn Davies and Bob Pillon

FOR: Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland, Councillors DiPasquale and Pouget

Hurst cast the deciding vote to oppose and called it the beginning of the “silly season” noting that an election was coming up next year.

At its January 20, 2014 town council meeting, a unanimous motion was carried to ask the ministry for an audit. Sutton is quoted in The Windsor Star, “I agree wholeheartedly that a more thorough investigation should be done … I totally agree that has to be 100 per cent public. “There can’t be anything hidden.”

Accessibility After The Cart

reprinted from the Amherstburg Echo

RE: Town council to discuss bylaw exemptions to allow horse and buggy business in Navy Yard Park

With the exception of Councillor Diane Pouget, shame on council for putting accessibility after the cart. In particular, shame on Councillor Bart DiPasquale, a member of the town’s accessibility advisory committee, for not representing the rights of residents with disabilities.

After having appeared before council for the past ten years to raise accessibility issues, critique the town’s annual accessibility plan, and to question the town’s commitment to accessibility, I once again question council’s rationale for its action – the town has an obligation to ensure the safety of all its residents, including persons with disabilities and equal access to its amenities.

Randy Fasan, as a business owner, is also subject to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its Regulations and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Will customers with disabilities be able to access his business, provide feedback in an accessible manner and will he change his website to make it accessible?

Fasan is quoted as saying, “if I have to abide by these bylaws as they stand today I am going to have to move to another town or discontinue any type of business to Amherstburg.” I’d like to know how he assumed he did not have to comply with the bylaw in the first place.

Making an amendment to exempt a business from a bylaw that has not been prosecuted while operating in violation of the bylaw for years sets a precedent for anyone to ignore any town bylaw and illustrates council’s disregard for the safety of its residents.

Linda Saxon

also published in Accessibility News

Exemptions Discussed For Horse and Buggy in Navy Yard Park

According to the Amherstburg Echo, Administration will meet with horse and buggy owner, Randy Fasan, to allow him to continue his business in the Navy Yard Park. Fasan acknowledged the park’s passive nature and advised that he’s “worked with the parks department for the last few years.” That work included widening of sidewalks and working on improving turns for the horses and carriage.

De railed

At the April 18, 2011 Council Meeting, Council directed Administration to proceed with installation of the hand railings in Rink A of the United Communities Credit Union for a cost of no more than $4,000.00.

However, rails will not be installed; The Amherstburg Echo quoted Rick Daly, “Installing these railings as directed would put the town in violation of the Ontario Building Code as well as the Ontario Fire Code.”