Amherstburg To Request An OPP Costing

In anticipation of tonight’s council meeting, the CBC reports on Amherstburg’s request to the Minister of Community Safety for an OPP costing.

Did you notice any posturing?

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said, “For us, OPP has been a tremendous fit.”

Mayor DiCarlo is quoted as saying, “We have talked to other municipalities who have switched and they did also mention there is a disconnection. For example, Amherstburg police are very involved in their community and you do see them in local events,” DiCarlo said. “I understand that when you switch to OPP, that’s something you might not notice. The OPP likely won’t be sending officers to go hang out at your sidewalk sale or Mardi Gras or whatever it is that you’re having, right? It’s just another thing you might notice different.”

In my opinion, Mayor DiCarlo should put his question to the OPP so that he could facilitate factual information to the public through the media, rather than speculation and possible fear-mongering.

In his March 7, 2016 Report To Council, CAO Miceli provides a background of the request, including council’s December 2014 motion, “Administration BE DIRECTED to contact the OPP to obtain police costing for our municipality.” I have been unable to obtain any correspondence from Administration regarding that motion.

Miceli’s Report also contains a recommendation to form a Police Advisory Committee (transition board) to further establish a mutually acceptable framework for review of policing options, consisting of :
The Police Chief
The Chief Administrative Officer
Two Members of Council
Two Members of the Police Services Board
One member of the Police Association.

Miceli’s Report also includes a RISK ANALYSIS that mentions the safe community designation and “There is a very high likelihood that a decision to move toward OPP service delivery will have significant political risk. It is also likely that the morale of police department may be negatively impacted until a decision is finalized.”

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Police Costing Facts & Myths

The choice of a police service delivery model in any municipality is contentious.

During the costing phase, posturing takes place and Amherstburg is not unique: ratepayers have a vested interest in the municipality’s highest budget item and politicians may mention loss of control.

However, unlike other municipalities, the Amherstburg Police Association and the Amherstburg Police Services Board agreed to hefty buyouts that inhibited the possibility of costing options.

A new tab is being added to the burg watch called Police Costing Facts & Myths.

New Enhanced Accessible Parking Permit (APP) and Enforcement-Related Supports

Commentary by Linda Saxon

All Chiefs of Police, Ontario’s municipalities, and the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers Association have been advised about the new enhanced Accessible Parking Permit (APP) and enforcement-related supports.

Enforcement of accessible parking infractions in Amherstburg in the past, verified by former Police Chief Roger Hollingworth, was minimal; he confirmed that Amherstburg did not have new tickets for bylaw enforcement until January 30, 2009.

In 2009, the Amherstburg Police Service issued one accessible parking infraction and one more by the spring of 2010; Hollingworth advised the town By-Law Officer may also have issued some but he did not have that information or specific information relative to the number that were contested and/or proceeded to trial and/or convictions, if any.

Since the Town of Amherstburg 2015 Public Events Manual contains outdated terminology, for example, “disabled persons parking spaces and Designated Disabled Parking spaces;” it needs to be updated to reflect the fact that the Accessible Parking Permit (APP) was renamed years ago.

And, although the manual mentions barrier free, there is no reference regarding what barrier free standard, if any, is to be implemented.

Not one member of the current council responded to my suggestions to improve and update the town’s Public Events Manual.

Taxpayers Pay For Private Firms To Obtain Public Input

Last fall, the Wynne Government announced a controversial decision to hire the Deloitte firm for $415,000. to consult the public on the Government’s problem-ridden idea of a private accessibility certification process being established. The AODA Alliance reports that the Government is not having its own Accessibility Directorate conduct this consultation.

Amherstburg has hired MDB Insight to create a community based strategic plan for just over $36,000. According to MDB Insight’s website, ‘We have grown into Canada’s largest specialist economic development consultancy and continue to evolve to meet the needs of our clients.’

In its January 31, 2016 article, the River Town Times reported that ‘Miceli said the matter has not yet gone to the town’s economic development committee, and told town council it is in the preliminary stages. The next step will be how to engage stakeholders such as the economic development committee and the community as a whole.’

Maybe council should put the unused money budgeted for the strategic plan consultant toward hiring an expert accessible web designer to ensure, finally, that the town of Amherstburg website is accessible.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Privacy Concerns Regarding Downtown Survey Founded

In a December 20, 2015 post, I mentioned privacy concerns about the study given that the town and Amherstburg police have breached my personal information.

I emailed members of council that I would participate as long as the collection was in compliance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). There should have been a notice pursuant to Act that addressed the collection, use, access and disclosure of personal information by the town.

Not one elected official responded to my privacy concerns.

Following a formal complaint, the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario confirmed that the Town of Amherstburg’s advertisement regarding the downtown use survey did not satisfy all of the notice requirements in section 29(2) of the Act.

Specifically, it did not notify residents of the legal authority for the collection of their personal information or provide information about whom to contact with any questions about the collection.

The Information and Privacy Commission advised that town clerk Paula Parker acknowledged that, in this case, the town did not use its usual personal information collection disclaimer and that the advertisement and online survey was not vetted through the Clerk’s department before publication. Ms. Parker confirmed that the Town will put a procedure in place that requires the Clerk’s department to vet the collection of personal information before publication.

I subsequently emailed Ms. Parker, copied to council, to notify her that an address was missing from the strategic plan survey notice per the Act.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Amherstburg Website Added To Barriers In The Burg

The Town of Amherstburg website has been added to the new barriers in the burg page, created in conjunction with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Action Kit “Picture Our Barriers” Action Kit.

Below is a screen shot of the town website taken today:

screen shot of the town of amherstburg websiteDespite my officially requesting an accessible website for the Town of Amherstburg since September 2002, changes are still needed today, March 4, 2016. There were promises to change but a real commitment has not materialized in all these years and for some strange reason, some people believe it will require funding.

I believe the well paid IT staff should be competent enough to address all the accessibility issues.

And, I wish someone would explain how a town the size of Amherstburg can afford body cameras for its police officers when larger municipalities can’t.

Considering all the financial requests council considers, money doesn’t always seem to be an issue; is it a question of priorities?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

#AODAfail

Barriers In The Burg

A new page has been added to the burg watch: barriers in the burg will contain pictures of barriers to persons with disabilities in Amherstburg in conjunction with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Action Kit “Picture Our Barriers” Action Kit.

As the AODA Alliance points out, “the Ontario Government’s effort to make Ontario fully accessible to over 1.8 million people with disabilities has slowed to a crawl, mired in lethargy and bureaucracy. A widely-respected Independent Review that the Ontario Government appointed reported, over a year ago, that Ontario lags behind schedule for full accessibility for people with disabilities and that, after ten years on the books, Ontario’s accessibility law has not made a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

For over two decades, I’ve raised awareness about the barriers in Amherstburg, at times having to resort to the human rights complaints system to ensure my equal access rights.

Yet barriers continue to exclude the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in this community; pictures will clearly depict what those barriers are.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

#AODAfail

Poll On Council To Date

As in past polls, there are no claims of scientific accuracy; this is just for fun and entertainment. Note: repeat voters are blocked by IP address and comments are moderated.

 

Election Campaign Promises Revisited

A new tab has been added at the top of the home page titled, Ask Council, that contains questions posed to members of council, both previously and currently, along with their answers, if there were any.

As mentioned in the burg watch’s questions ignored by members of council, not one member of the current council responded to or answered any of the questions.

Weren’t there promises of accountability, transparency and representing the electorate during the election campaign period?

A quick check of the River Town Times site confirmed campaign promises, in part, of then-candidates for Amherstburg council for 2014 – 2018 set out below.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo
A need for greater transparency, accountability and fixing the town’s finances are among the top priority for Aldo DiCarlo.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale
DiPasquale believes debate is a healthy part of the democratic process and that controversy arises when there is an appearance of ulterior motives or unfairness. “That’s when you get division,” he said. Transparency has to be there and be seen by the community, he added, though noting the town won’t be able to satisfy everyone.

Councillors

Joan Courtney
Open, free-flowing communication between council and administration will help address accountability and transparency concerns, she added.

Rick Fryer
Fryer wants to help put Amherstburg “back on track” and said it will be a black-and-white type of campaign, right from his platform to the colour of his election signs. He said that, if elected, he will provide black-and-white answers to questions that residents pose.

Jason Lavigne
Lavigne expects all candidates to be transparent, fiscally responsible and             accountable and added several of his ideas to achieve those goals, including having the budget process include a 5% reduction strategy.

Leo Meloche
While he is from McGregor, he said that he is interested in serving the entire community and not just be a representative from one section of it. Having lived in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City earlier in his career, he said it has enabled him to look at things on a broader scale. “That’s what Amherstburg leaders need to be mindful of. It’s a big area, said Meloche. “There’s a broad range of residents to consider.”

Diane Pouget
Residents have to feel comfortable coming before council, she said. “We have to respect our residents. They are very concerned with the financial situation and rightly so. I believe we have to respect their opinions,” she said. “I know I learn a lot from our residents.”

What Do Amherstburg And LaSalle Have In Common?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

In yesterday’s Windsor Star, Columnist Anne Jarvis promoted the benefits of regional government and proposed, “How about one regional police force, cutting administration costs and providing all special services, from tactical team to canine unit, within minutes.”

Jarvis didn’t mention any studies that show there were no benefits from amalgamation nor the Auditor General’s Report documenting the cost savings to OPP policed communities.

Jarvis critiqued “politicians like LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, who snarled recently, “What do we have in common with the City of Windsor? We share a border. That’s about it.”

What Do Amherstburg And LaSalle Have In Common? Besides sharing a border, both Amherstburg and LaSalle Police Services Boards were sued by one of their own police officers.

Ian Russell was a defendant in Praskey v. Toronto Police Services Board, retired from Toronto Police in 1995, then resigned from the Ontario Parole Board to become Chief of LaSalle Police Service in April, 1997.

Russell was a defendant in Renaud vs. LaSalle Police Services Board; he retired in 2000 amid controversy.

In Saxon vs. Wilfred Fryer and Amherstburg Police Services Board, the local news reported that Fryer was named as chief and that the motion was rescinded.

Policing options are contentious in any community and debate is sometimes clouded by the perpetuation of myths, fear mongering and misinformation.

Edmonton Police Body Cameras On Hold Due To Lack Of Funding

On January 23, 2016, CBC News reported, “The project is by no means a cheap one. With an initial hardware and software cost of $412,000 and an operating cost of $425,000, the program would run just shy of costing a million dollars.”

Amherstburg Police began its body camera pilot program for 30 days in April 2013 when the River Town Times reported police aren’t sure how big of a server will be required to store the data so it is unknown how much the entire project will cost if brought on board on a permanent basis. The article quoted Amherstburg Police Chief Tim Berthiuame, “At the end of the 30 days we will see how big of a server we will need and if it’s a good fit for the Amherstburg Police.”

The Amherstburg Police project was scheduled to conclude its study by the end of 2014, but in 2015, Amherstburg chief wanted all front-line police to wear body cameras.

Policy Needs Corrections Made

The Town of Amherstburg website contains a list of policies, including a MFIPPA Policy, (Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy), that lists the ipc.on.ca site as its source with date enacted and date amended both blank.

Page 2 mentions the City of Ottawa twice; the first states that individuals wishing to access municipal government records should begin by contacting 311 in Ottawa.

Page 3 states upon receipt by the Regional Clerk’s Office…

Page 3 also mentions the Region of Peel’s commitment.

The document ends at page 4 of 6.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found Town of Amherstburg documents borrowed from other municipalities that include references to the other municipalities.

Should the town budget for a proofreader?