New Council Sworn In, Next

New council was sworn in, or sworn at, depending on your perspective, on November 28, 2022.

How will accessibility be prioritized by this group? No masks, no physical distancing, a stage with stairs, Prue’s wish list including we need a heritage district and not a word about accessibility. Really? We need accessible buildings and barriers removed.

Training meetings held all day November 29 and November 30 at town hall should be live streamed like other municipalities. Looks like an in-depth review of all town departments.

Then two Regular meetings are scheduled for December 5 and 12 which I’m guessing will include Bill 23 and hopefully everyone does their homework.

Follow Up Questions New Council Swearing In

Valerie Critchley, CAO, answered my follow up questions:

Q. if the council members have already been sworn in, what is the purpose of the swearing in ceremony november 28 instread of a regular council meeting?

A. The purpose of the formal Inauguration Ceremony is to allow the members of Council to declare their oaths publicly for the purpose of transparency and also to allow the public to be present for this formal ceremony. I would note that this formal event was originally scheduled for December 5, 2022 which would have left only one Regular Council meeting, being December 12, 2022, until the end of the year. We revised the scheduled to have the Inauguration on November 28, 2022 and now have two Regular meetings scheduled for the month of December, on the 5th and the 12th.

Q. would you please send me a copy of the oath that was sworn to?

A. Declaration of Office

Q. would you please provide me with the dates, locations and topics for new council training sessions? thank you.

A. The Council Orientation Sessions are scheduled for November 29th and November 30th and will be held from 8:30am-4:30pm on each day and will take place in Council Chambers at Town Hall.  The Agenda will be publicly available tomorrow and will be posted to the Town’s website.

New Council Make Declarations

Valerie Critchley, CAO, answered my request to provide the members’ names and dates of each of their swearing in:

Mayor Prue – November 8th, 2022
Deputy Mayor Gibb – November 8th, 2022
Councillor Allaire – November 10th, 2022
Councillor Crain – November 10th, 2022
Councillor Pouget – November 10th, 2022
Councillor McArthur – November 14th, 2022
Councillor Courtney – November 15th, 2022

She added, ‘Please note that regardless of the date on which a member makes their declaration of Office the Municipal Act provides that they do not take office until the statutorily appointed date being November 15th.’

However, not all councillors believe that they were sworn in nor will they be until the November 28, 2022 ceremony at the McGregor Columbian Club at 6:00 p.m.

CBC, November 15, reports:

Leamington, Kingsville, Tecumseh and Lakeshore councils hosted inaugural council meetings last night.

The inaugural meeting for the new Essex council  is on Nov. 21.

LaSalle will host its first meeting of the new council on Nov. 22.

The first meeting for Amherstburg’s new council will be held on Nov. 28.

Amherstburg’s website lists the ceremony on November 28 and the regular council meeting on December 5, 2022.

Lack of In-camera Information = Lack of Transparency?

In its January 2012 Report, TOWN OF AMHERSTBURG – “BEHIND CLOSED DOORS,” the Ombudsman stated, paragraph 73:

“In my view, the council’s resolutions authorizing closed sessions, which were reviewed during this investigation were deficient and failed to provide adequate notice to the public, as well as individual members of council, as to the nature of the proposed subject matter and the justification for having an in camera meeting.”

Council’s resolutions today typically cite the applicable Municipal Act section; the June 28, 2021 SPECIAL IN-CAMERA COUNCIL MEETING Resolution# 20210628-210:

That Council move into an In-Camera Meeting of Council at 3: 34 p.m. pursuant to Section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended for the following reasons:

Item A – Section 239(2)(d) – Labour relations or employee negotiations; and, Section 239(2)(f) – Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.

Item B – Section 239(2)(f) – Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.

Item C – Section 239(2)(i) – A trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position, or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization.

Item D – Section 239(2)(c) – A proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of the land by the municipality or local board.

Clerk Valerie Critchley’s Response:

Regarding the In Camera Minutes, you noted examples from June 28, 2021, August 8, 2021, August 16, 2021, August 25, 2021, September 13, 2021, September 16, 2021, November 16, 2021 and December 13, 2021. I would note that the November 16, 2021 and December 13, 2021 minutes have not yet been approved by Council and will be on an upcoming Agenda.

With respect to the other meetings, s. 239(4)  of the Municipal Act  states that:

s. 239(4) Before holding a meeting or part of a meeting that is to be closed to the public, a municipality shall state by resolution:

(a)   the fact of the holding of the closed meeting and the general nature of the matter to be considered at the closed meeting.

As a result, Notice is given in the manner that you have set out below and a resolution is passed which cites the allowable exception pursuant to the Municipal Act which the Municipality is relying on to move camera. That allowable exception also serves to provide the “general nature of the matter to be considered”.

Further, sections 239(5) (6) and (7)  Municipal Act states as follows:

s. 239(5) Subject to subsection (6), a meeting shall not be closed to the public during the taking of a vote;

s. 239(6) Despite section 244, a meeting may be closed to the public during the taking of a vote if,

(a) subsection (2) or (3) permits or requires the meeting to be closed to the public; and

(b) the vote is for a procedural matter or for giving directions or instructions to officers, employees or agents of the municipality, local board or committee or either of them or persons retained by or under a contract with the municipality or local board.

VOTE October 24, 2022 – hold candidates accountable.

Lack of Link = Lack of Transparency?

Residents notified me of the lack of links to view meetings and I verified the town’s calendar page for the February 28 regular council meeting did not contain a video link.

It’s worth repeating, as mentioned in the post, No Link To Committee Meetings Workaround, how is transparency possible if people are unaware of a workaround to the lack of the town’s posting the links.

The Town’s Amherstburg’s Transparency and Accountability Policy contains definitions: 4.8.  Transparency means how outside parties, such as the public, are able to observe how the decisions of Council, Staff, Committees and Local Boards are made. The Town of Amherstburg actively encourages and fosters stakeholder engagement in its decision making process.

LASALLE YOUTUBE CHANNEL – town residents can view council and some committee meetings, just like some other municipalities in the province.

the burg watch is 8 years old

Eight years ago, the burg watch was the first site to create a permanent record of council’s performance as a reminder to voters heading to polls.

Early posts were about council’s contravention of the Municipal Act following the Ombudsman Review Of Closed Meeting, flip flops and a lack of commitment to accessibility.

In 2014, the burg watch provided an historic opportunity for residents to question the candidates directly. Despite being threatened with legal action and negative comments, I feel it was a worthwhile endeavour even if not everyone responded as that indicates, to me, their future behaviour.

In 2018, posts referenced another Ombudsman’s Report of council’s and the JPAC’s contravention regarding in camera meetings on the Policing RFP and council’s decision to choose Windsor Police Service without obtaining an OPP costing as promised.

Thank you to those who support the burg watch.

Meloche Wants Deputy Mayor Seat

The River Town Times’ write up on Current Councillor Leo Meloche states Meloche believes he has the leadership skills and decision-making ability to be deputy mayor.

Like DiCarlo, Meloche acknowledged the controversial policing issue; Meloche voted to have Windsor Police takeover policing the community.

According to the RTT article, Meloche said Essex had $3.9 million in policing costs in 2018 as compared to Amherstburg’s $5.8 million.

“Yes, we get a higher level of policing but what we need to look at is are we really getting value for the difference,” he said.

“Overall, we thought it’s a good deal for Amherstburg as a whole,” he said, noting there are $14 million in potential savings over the next 20 years.

DiCarlo’s Objectives For Second Term

The River Town Times started reporting on the candidates that have registered so far. Current Mayor Aldo DiCarlo’s write up mentions some objectives, along with the controversial 20 year policing contract with Windsor Police.

The article concludes with this quote, “My simple message is if you like what you’ve seen the last three-and-a-half years, expect more of the same,” he said. “If not, don’t vote for me because plan to continue with what I’ve been doing.”

Ward System Needed?

During the 2014 municipal election campaign, the burg watch invited readers to submit questions to the candidates, one of which was Question 28: Amherstburg seems to have an unusually high amount of staff for its size and population; do you think the town has grown to the point that a ward system would better serve the residents?

Although Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale did not answer the question, the River Town Times now reports that DiPasquale is once again trying to see what the level of interest is in bringing in a ward system to Amherstburg; his notice of motion will be brought forth to council as a motion during the March 23 meeting.

What do you think?

reminder: this and any other polls are for entertainment purposes

Should Council Accept 0% Salary Increase?

According to the Windsor Star, “Currently, the mayor is paid $26,872 per year, while the deputy mayor receives $18,413 and councillors are paid $15,936 in base salary. They are also provided with a $1,500 discretionary fund to assist with the costs of phones, computers, publications and other requirements of the job.”