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

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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.”