Recount On The Agenda

SEPCIAL COUNCILMEETING will be held Tuesday, November 13 and yes, you read that correctly; the typos are contained in the agenda on the town’s link to an external site.

A petition was presented to the Clerk to hold a meeting “that was cancelled by Mayor Aldo Dicarlo, without any discussion or consultation with Amherstburg Town Council.”

A municipality may, by by-law, adopt a policy with respect to the circumstances in which the municipality requires the clerk to hold a recount of the votes cast in an election.

Council should have, but did not, adopt such a policy so now must deal with the consequences.

Town clerk, Paula Parker, attached her Report regarding 2018 Election Procedures, Results and Financial Impact of a Recount to the agenda.

The legislation includes references to ‘shall’ and ‘may;’ to summarize:

  • A recount shall be held when there is a tie;
  • A recount shall be held in accordance with a council resolution.
  • Anyone entitled to vote and has reasonable grounds for believing the election results to be in doubt may apply to the Superior Court of Justice for an order that the clerk hold a recount.

Parker concluded her Report with her belief “that the recount is not necessary and will only add additional budget pressures on the taxpayer in the future.”

Firstly, council decides whether it is necessary. Secondly, taxpayers paid for the most expensive in person voting method that excluded those residents unable to vote yet still saved $50,000.

If there are concerns about taxpayers’ dollars, shouldn’t we examine savings elsewhere? what about outside consultants? online engagement software/companies to conduct surveys? web design companies? public relations? charitable donations? fireworks? parades? and the highest budget item, policing costs? Who was concerned that we might have saved a million dollars annually with the OPP compared to approximately half that with Windsor Police?

A recount at approximately $25,000. is a small price to pay to quell any doubts and maintain democracy.

the burg watch is 7 years old

Seven years ago, the burg watch was the first site to create a permanent record of the performance of council members and staff.

Some of the burg watch’s posts were about 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.

In 2014, the burg watch was the first to provide residents with an opportunity to question the candidates. Despite being threatened with legal action by a candidate, I feel it was a worthwhile endeavour although not everyone responded.

Since then, posts referenced Ombudsman’s Reports of council’s contravention of the Municipal Act along with the JPAC’s in camera meetings on the Policing RFP, council’s decision to choose Windsor Police Service without obtaining an OPP costing as promised and still, a lack of commitment to accessibility.

In 2018, a new council was elected but time will tell what, if any, patterns will be repeated.

Thank you to those who support the burg watch.

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.