Mayor DiCarlo Questions Media Request, Again

On Friday, August 13, theburgwatch emailed Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, as a member of the media, and requested:
1. the press release you issued regarding staff being escorted out of town hall
2. that this email address be added to media lists for the issuing of notices to the media
3. a copy of the notice of cancellation of the August 9, 2021 council meeting.

Mayor DiCarlo questioned theburgwatch’s credentials, to which the reply confirmed that we already had this discussion in October 2020.

On today’s date, Mayor DiCarlo provided the media release as a public document, not as a media request.

A link to the cancelled council meeting was provided: https://calendar.amherstburg.ca/council/Detail/2021-08-09-1800-Regular-Council-Meeting-Public-Participation-via-L

As for being included in the media, the Mayor’s understanding appears to pertain to ‘media outlet,’ a traditional, or old media, definition.  My understanding of ‘member of the media,’ includes new media.

If press releases were posted on the town’s website, one might conclude there is a willingness to embrace open government.

NOTE: In February 2020, I requested council establish a protocol to respond to inquiries from taxpayers and the media.

related:

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

Municipal Information Request Response Tested by Windsor Star Reporter

Julie Kotsis, Windsor Star reports the results of requests for information to municipalities.

Emails were sent to every municipal chief administrative officer in Windsor and Essex County, requesting basic information that should be readily available to the public.

Taxes, development fees, number of staff employees, operating budgets and Integrity Commissioners were subjects of inquiries. Kotsis reports that response times varied widely, from one day to several.

What about Amherstburg?

More to follow.

Accessing Information In Amherstburg

Commentary by Linda Saxon

The purpose of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1991, is:

a) To provide a right of access to information under the control of government organizations in accordance with the following principles:

information should be available to the public;

exemptions to the right of access should be limited and specific;

decisions on the disclosure of government information may be reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

b) To protect personal information held by government organizations and to provide individuals with a right of access to their own personal information.

Given the number of appeals and breaches of information I have endured, I would like to hear from other residents.

How open is government in Amherstburg? How are informal requests for information handled? What about Freedom of Information requests – are they routinely denied?

UCCU complex accessibility question

on october 11, 2011, i emailed brenda percy, town clerk and requested documentation to support the claim that the UCCU is a fully accessible facility; she initially did not address my request, but then advised, “With regard to documentation to support the claim – I do not have that type of information but will inquire.”

on october 31, 2011, i emailed to inquire about the status of her inquiries; she replied, “Your question has been relayed to the appropriate manager and it is my understanding correspondence is being drafted.”

on november 7, 2011, brenda percy emailed me a copy of letter dated november 7, 2011 from Cindy Burkhour, MA, CTRS, CPRP, Access to Recreation, Jenison, Michigan, the consultant used in UCCU Centre regarding accessibility of the complex.

on november 8, 2011, i requested brenda percy to make further inquiries for documentation, including reports, correspondence, accessibility audits, council minutes, committee minutes, departmental minutes and reports, etc.,  that correspond with any earlier claims that the UCCU complex is accessible.

about two hours later, brenda percy replied, “the correspondence provided should satisfy your request. For any additional information, please feel free to search the public archives available on the Town website at www.amherstburg.ca

i subsequently requested that my request and emails be placed on council’s agenda for the next meeting and the response was, “will do.”